I never really played Arma II, the hyper-realistic military simulator from Bohemia. I was a big fan of Operation Flashpoint, and played the many mods it spawned, but somehow I never got into Arma II. I think part of the reason was my obsession with MMOs, and that fact that at the time of Arma’s II’s release (summer 2009), I was having a great time with WoW and an assortment of other MMOs. Boy did I miss out!
DayZ is an independent and (so far) free mod for Arma II, and although it is still in Alpha, the mod is very playable. In fact, it is gained such an amazing amount of momentum in such a short period of time, that it is single-handedly responsible for boosting Arma II Steam sales to the top of the list, over three years after the game’s release.
The concept is very simple. You have 225 square kilometers of land, complete with roads, railways, ports, two major cities, smaller towns and settlements, military bases, airports and … zombies. An unknown infection has wiped out the local population. The husks left behind are brain-eating monsters who will react to your presence, and come at you with astonishing ferocity. Your job is to gear up, find critical supplies, food and water, and survive. That’s it. There is no magical solution to the infection. You are not waiting for rescue. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. It is a massive world ripe with opportunity, and fraught with danger, and your only job, is to survive.
DayZ is hyper-realistic. When you spawn, you have no map, no compass, no sense of direction, no weapon , no gear (save a small backpack, a bandage and a flashlight), and no additional information. All you have is the ocean to your back (you always spawn at the coast) and, for a split-second, the location of the nearest settlement (but no sense of which direction it is in). You need to drink and eat every once in a while or you will die. You need to find shelter when it pours to avoid hypothermia. You can get an infection from your wounds. If you get hit, you bleed, and must take steps to stem the bleeding or risk an untimely death. You can get broken bones, limiting you to crawling on all fours. You can faint, causing a timer to appear and you cannot do anything else unless that timer goes away.
Supplies are found in settlements, as are zombies. You need to learn to sneak, because they will react to your presence, and if detected (it is very, very easy to get detected), they will chase you to the edge of the map to get a bite out of that fresh meat. Once you get a weapon, you cannot go on a rampage. Weapons and ammo (unless you are in a large, organized ‘farming’ squad’) are scarce. Aside from a handful of firearms, they all make a lot of noise. Even a small pistol will attract zombies from all across town.
But this is not the best part (or worst part, based on your experience and perspective). The best part is that since this is a realistic game, friendly fire is on. There are no guilds, or headquarters, or cabals, it’s every man for himself. This has created an emergent gameplay experience, where if you come across another player, you don’t know if he is a friendly, a bandit, or someone who will shoot you simply to ensure no harm comes to him. Major settlements have turned into heated PvP zones, as survivors flock to these locations to search for supplies and equipment. Bandits raid along smaller settlements, often camping prized loot points (such as downed choppers), to pick off anyone trying to get at the goods.
Different people view DayZ in different ways. Some see it as the ultimate post-apocalyptic survival title. Some see it is an adventure game. Others see it as a shooter. More hardcore teams treat it as a military simulator with ‘an added variable’. For me, DayZ is a massive social experiment. If everything goes to shit, and you are forced into a corner, what will you be willing to do to survive?
If you are looking for additional information on DayZ take a look at: