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Every time you enter a territory, some towns will be shown on your map with a '?' that says Status: Unknown. Upon arrival the town it will be under attack by the Undead, and it can then be saved. There is a bug, known for the Xbox 360, where if a town has been lost, it will show up some time later on your map as a '?', (unconfirmed on PS3).
When entering a town, there are two ways to save it:
1. Go to the survivor leader and give the survivors ammo, and then finish off the remaining undead.
2. Take out all of the undead without giving any survivors ammo, although this method may take longer.
By giving ammo or by killing four undead, the player completes one circle. Once all circles are completed, the player will then be tasked with finishing off the remaining undead. The number of circles depends on how many survivors there are in a settlement.
After saving a town it will come under attack again after five or six days. There are a few different statuses that a town can have:
- Unknown: The player has never been to this town before, and it maybe under attack as soon as they go there.
- Under Attack: When the player discovers most towns for the first time, they will be under attack. Usually after five to six in-game days they will come under attack again.
- Overrun: Appears when a town comes under attack for the second time when it has not been saved the first time the player got the message it was under attack, with the only difference being more undead and more circles that must completed in order to save the town.
- Safe: Appears when the player has saved a town.
- Safe Zone: This town is always safe. There are three safe zones, which are Fort Mercer, El Presidio, and Casa Madrugada.
- Lost: If the player does not help survivors in a town and they are all killed, the town will be lost forever. While clearing out the undead will allow the town to return to be labled "safe", it will usually come under attack more often. The player will receive the message "(name of town) is lost".
On XBox 360, a glitch may cause towns to suddenly become "Lost" with no warning and no prior "Under Attack" or "Overrun" status.
List of towns that can be saved
|Great Plains||Blackwater||Sniper Rifle|
|Tall Trees||Cochinay||Sniper Rifle|
|Tall Trees||Manzanita Post||Tomahawks|
|Tall Trees||Pacific Union R.R. Camp||Sniper Rifle|
|Hennigan's Stead||Thieves' Landing||Revolver|
|Hennigan's Stead||MacFarlane's Ranch||Repeater|
|Cholla Springs||Armadillo||Revolver and Repeater|
|Cholla Springs||Twin Rocks||Pistol|
|Cholla Springs||Ridgewood Farm||
|Gaptooth Ridge||Rathskeller Fork||Repeater|
|Gaptooth Ridge||Gaptooth Breach||Revolver|
|Río Bravo||Plainview||Sniper Rifle|
|Río Bravo||Fort Mercer||Safe Zone|
|Punta Orgullo||Tesoro Azul||Revolver|
|Perdido||Chuparosa||Revolver and Sniper Rifle|
|Perdido||Las Hermanas||Rifle ammo|
|Diez Coronas||El Matadero||Pistol|
|Diez Coronas||Casa Madrugada||Safe Zone|
|Diez Coronas||El Presidio||Safe Zone|
Each town has a certain number of survivors who will appear as defenders of the town. In most cases, these characters can be found in free roam in the normal game (including as lawmen, shopkeepers or outlaws). Once one of these survivors dies, they are gone for good.