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“This Month in Gaming” or “October 2012″

November 1, 2012 3 comments

Welcome to a brand new monthly segment here on Are We New At This called “This Month in Gaming”, where I will discuss why this is a great time to be a gamer, the games I was privileged enough to enjoy the month prior, and what I am currently playing.

No MMOs

October 2012 holds the dubious honor of being the first month since at least August 2004, when I did not play an MMO. Not a single one. I even sought public opinion on whether I should play Guild Wars 2 or The Secret World, which garnered a very large number of opinions. The Secret World won in the end, but for some strange reason, even though the installer sits in my downloads folder, I cannot quite bring myself to play it just yet. It is an odd feeling. I have this inkling to get my grubby paws on whatever MMO I can find and play it, just to satisfy the itch. But then I look at the list of everything else I was able to play and enjoy this month, and I realize that maybe this is a good thing!

October 2012

First, just the list:

  • Faster Than Light
  • Of Orcs and Men
  • The Walking Dead: Episode 4
  • League of Legends
  • The WarZ (alpha)
  • ARMA II: Army of the Czech Republic
  • Deadlight
  • Mark of the Ninja
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Dishonored

Aside from XCOM and Mark of the Ninja, I “finished” every other game on that list. To put a long story short, October 2012 was an amazing month for gaming, with some of the best, original and refreshing titles I have had the pleasure of playing in recent years. Check after the jump to see what rocked, almost rocked and flopped altogether!

Read more…

“DayZ of our LiveZ” or “Seriously, Are People Still Playing?”

September 18, 2012 2 comments

The DayZ craze for me wore off almost as quickly as it engulfed me. There was a point when I played DayZ for 16 hours straight. At the end of those 16 hours, I had a character with damn near nothing, having recently spawned on the coast. Even then I couldn’t get enough.

I have not played DayZ in several weeks, and I haven’t thought much about it either. The reason is fairly simple. With the announcement of the standalone, and the obvious diverting of resources, including the mind of Dean Hall, into its development, DayZ has sort of died. There used to be patches in quick succession, tweaking with weapon ranges and accuracy, fiddling with items, adding new content, experimenting with new ideas. That core philosophy seems to have taken a back seat, as the team behind the mod is working hard to create alpha build of the standalone.

I suppose subconsciously I made the decision that I will just play the standalone version when it is out, instead of suffering through an alpha that the developers have little to no reason to invest in any longer. Are you still playing DayZ? How is Chenarus faring?

Categories: Arma II, DayZ, ZOMG Zombies!

“Another Post-Apocalyptic Title Announced” or “Is it Christmas Already?!”

August 31, 2012 1 comment

There is a new one. It’s called Nuclear Dawn. Its being developed by Best Way. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world. So what do we have so far?

  • DayZ
  • WarZ
  • Ravaged
  • State of Decay
  • Nuclear Dawn
  • The Last of Us
  • Metro 2034

Ah yes. This is beautiful. We have a ton of post-apocalyptic titles coming out in the next few months/quarters, and I couldn’t be happier. What a great time to be a fan of the Post Apocalyptic genre.

“The Undead Plague Video Games” or “DayZ Really Seems to Have Released the Virus”

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

 

DayZ’s popularity is undeniable. From hundreds of thousands of YouTube videos to million and some change players running and gunning for their lives in the 225 square kilometers of the fictional state of Chenarussia, DayZ has taken the industry by storm. I would even go on to say it is the new MineCraft. It is novel. It is a lot of fun to play. It redefines open-ended. And it allows you to set a goal and follow it without any one telling you to do it.

However, this foray by Dean “Rocket” Hall into the post-apocalyptic zombie-survival genre also seems to have had the fringe benefit of snowballing this little niche. Promptly after the mod gaining immense popularity, came the WarZ reveal. The equally silly-named title claims to have little to do with DayZ, and the work on it so far seems to indicate that this may well be the case. My guess would be that they rushed the reveal, fearful that they might be pegged as copycats the longer the delayed the announcement. So after gilding the lily a little, some screenshots and a makeshift website was released. But then again, this is all conjecture on my part. The point is that I don’t think we would have heard of WarZ so quickly, if DayZ had not existed.

And now we have another contender entering the ring. State of Decay is an open-world zombie survival game that has vehicles, a ton of guns, vicious zombies and ridiculously over-the-top action. It actually sort of sounds like Undead Labs’ zombie MMo codenamed Class3, doesn’t it? Well that is because it is Class3. The MMO is no longer. This is what remains. Instead of trying to tell you how clunky the animation looks, or how good the world looks because of CryEngine, why don’t you just take a look yourself?

Categories: DayZ, State of Decay, warz

“DayZ Hits One Million Players” or “Another Way To Look At DayZ Statistics”

August 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I was bored at work today, so I played around with the statistics on the DayZ page, and came up with the following. Enjoy!

Categories: DayZ

“DayZ: How to Survive In the Wilderness” or “Hate Cities?”

August 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Technically, the image above should suffice for the complete guide, but for the sake of thoroughness and the ire of brevity, let us also talk it to death.

To survive in the wilderness, you need food, water, fire and medicine. That’s it. If you have these four things (and associated combination of items), you will never need anything else.

Food

Canned food sucks, though it is better than nothing. It gives you four times less blood than cooked meat (200 vs 800), and you will need to go into a building in or near a town in order to get it. If you can secure a hatchet (or woodpile), a skinning knife and a box of matches, always cook and eat meat from the wilderness. The following animals can be killed for corresponding amounts of meat:

  • Cow – 8
  • Sheep – 5
  • Boar – 4
  • Goat – 3
  • Chicken – 1
  • Rabbit – 1

Step 1: Unless you are certain no one is nearby, equip your hatchet (right click it in toolbelt and click remove from toolbelt), to silently kill the animal, or use a silenced weapon. Use your skinning knife to get the meat. You will need to pick up the meat as the next step, it will not automatically transfer to your inventory.

Step 2: You need wood. You can pick up woodpiles as loot. Or if you have a hatchet, you can chop up some wood. Wood can only be shopped from forests, which is dense foliage. You can’t walk up to any tree in s small cluster (or by itself) and expect it will yield wood. If the tree is not part of what the game thinks is a forest, you will get an error message instead of a woodpile.

Step 3: Once you have the wood and the meat, find a safe spot to build a fire since it can be seen from quite a distance. Right click the box of matches in your inventory and build a campfire. If you don’t have a woodpile, you will get an error message. Otherwise you will build a campfire directly underneath your character, so you may need to move to see it.

Step 4: Light it by interacting with the campfire via mousewheel. Place all uncooked meat in your main inventory (you can’t cook it is it is in your backpack). Cook the meat by interacting with the lit campfire via mousewheel. Your raw meat will transform into cooked meat in your inventory, you never have to actually take it out or anything. Put out the fire by interacting with it via mousewheel.

Step 5: Profit.

You should aim to have 2-4 cooked meats on you at all point. Try to get more stocked up if you have just one left. Don’t panic if your meter starts flashing and you have no food, it will be a while before you die from it. Get your shit together and figure it out.

Water

Soda cans suck. They take up space in your inventory unnecessarily, when water requirements should ideally take up only one space in your inventory via a refillable canteen. Practically speaking, you should have 2-3 canteens filled at all times, and drink soda whenever you find it. But as a bare minimum, if you have a canteen, you can fill it from the dozens of fresh water sources on the map and never need to go into town looking for soda.

To fill water, step up to a water source (a fresh water pond or lake) and right click the canteen, then click fill water. You can also fill water from water sources in towns, but the idea of this guide is to never go back to civilization!

Fire

If you read “Food” above, you already have fire. Your temperature will drop at night and in the rain, if it gets too low, you will need to warm up. You can do that by applying a heatpack (unnecessary waste of space – but good if you are not sure if you are safe), or by sitting a while at a campfire you build.

Medicine

The above graphic shows morphine and antibiotics. But there are also bandages, epi-pens, blood bags and painkillers.

Bandages fit in your secondary inventory, and you should always have two on you.

You only need an epi-pen to be used on others. Feel free to carry one in your main inventory to help someone, or for them to take it out of your backpack and help you if you get knocked unconscious, but it is not necessary as far as I am concerned.

You should always have at least 2-4 morphine auto-injectors in your inventory. Broken bones from zombies are rare, but they can happen. Broken bones from gunshots will kill you 90% of the time, so that is not a major concern.

If you get infected, you will cough frequently, constantly giving away your position. Antibiotics are EXTREMELY hard to come by, and very rarely spawn, so be careful. Since you get infected very rarely (I have never been), carrying one does not hurt.

Blood bags require help from another player and take up unnecessary space. You can keep one, if you fall below 3,000 health (implying you will randomly lose consciousness). But for me, easting a few cooked meats boosts me back up close to 12,000. If not, hunt down some more animals. Self-sufficiency is a blessed thing.

Finally, you can keep a set of painkillers on you, but aside from moderately affecting your first-person aim (and that too sparingly), it won’t kill you. It can be annoying though, so this one is really your call.

Hope this was useful people!

Categories: DayZ

“Two Crazy Videos of the Day” or “Paranoia and Meticulousness”

July 31, 2012 2 comments

I came across two very cool videos today.

DayZ, Where Paranoia Can Kill You Faster Than a Bullet

One of them highlights paranoia and the sense of dread in DayZ, and how easy it is for things to go to shit in a heartbeat. A player infiltrates band of players and spends some time with them until they realize one of them is not who they say they are. Violence ensues, as they turn on each other in an attempt to oust the infiltrator with some very disastrous results. It is a fun video to watch.

This … is… Skyriiiiiiim!

In the second, a guy re-created all of the major battles from 300, but using the Skyrim Engine and Creation Kit. I thought it was a cool attempt, but the fight sequences in 300 were pretty epic in scope and design, and I personally feel that he falls just a little short. But you be the judge!

Categories: DayZ, Skyrim

“Declaring WarZ on DayZ?” or “Zombies Are the New Nazis!”

July 30, 2012 4 comments

There is a great interview up on PC Gamer with regarding the upcoming “zombie MMO”, WarZ, where developer XYZ’s Executive Producer Sergey Titov was interview by Evan Lahti. WarZ was announced very recently, and has been the object of some criticism because of the many similarities it shares with the rabidly popular DayZ, Dean “Rocket” Hall’s Arma II mod.

Both feature a zombie apocalypse, with open world gameplay, lacking a traditional quest/mission structure, with no real “victory” scenario, beyond surviving the apocalypse and trying to maintain a good stock of critical supplies to stay alive.

WarZ has a few features that really grabbed my attention though. First, it is an in-house engine, Eclipse, which they have tweaked and tempered over the last few years. Screenshots should always be taken with a grain of salt, but I have to say, the game looks pretty sweet. Second, while DayZ starts to stutter and lag with a soft cap of 40 players per server, WarZ will support 250. Then we have wildcards like Eve Online style bounties, and vaccinations that can be crafted by hunting stem cell zombies, which, inconveniently, only show up at night. Your weapons can be modified using a variety of appendages, such a silencers for quiet kills, or grips for better recoil.

All in all, it looks very interesting, and unless some very conflicting or negative information comes out, I will be purchasing this little title. The article is up on PC Gamer, and worth a read for zombie apocalypse enthusiasts (is there such a thing?) everywhere!

Categories: DayZ, warz

“Mists of Pandaria Release Date” or “Pandas Are No Longer Extinct”

July 26, 2012 2 comments

On September 25th, 2012, Pandas will invade and the world will forever remember the day the near-extinct species rose out out of the fog, and invaded the world of mortals.

In other words, Mists of Pandaria will be out.

Will I get it?

I don’t know. I am pretty occupied with life at the moment, and the very limited time I have is consumed by the likes of DayZ. Then of course, I have to consider trying The Secret World, a title that I have been rabidly excited for, but have not invested in simply because I have no time. I suppose only time will tell!

“DayZ Headslot Items Guide” or “Binoculars, Rangefinders and Night Vision Goggles”

July 24, 2012 Leave a comment

DayZ has three items in the head slot. You start with none of them, but you can acquire them as you ransack loot areas.

Binoculars

  • These are pretty easy to find, and exist in most residential areas, and stores.
  • It is as common as a map, compass or a watch.
  • You can use your binoculars by pressing B.
  • Binoculars can be used standing up, crouching, or prone.
  • You can move sideways in small fractions and you will not zoom out, but move too much, and you will go back to first or third person before looking through the binoculars again.

Rangefinders

  • The rangefinders are extremely rare.
  • They are normally found in high-yield military areas.
  • Rangefinders replace your binoculars and function exactly in the same way.
  • The numbers that pop up in the rangefinders is the precise distance in meters from you to the whatever the cross-hairs in the rangefinder vision is pointing at.

Night Vision Goggles

  • The night vision goggles are also very difficult to find.
  • They are normally found in helicopter crash sites and high-yield military areas.
  • You can use your night vision goggles by pressing N.
  • You can use the night vision goggles and the binoculars at the same time.
  • Sometimes, especially during changing light conditions, your eyes will take a little time to adjust to putting on or taking off the night vision goggles.
  • The only sniper rifle that works with the night vision goggles is the DMR. All other sniper rifles, when scoped, will remove the night vision effect.
Categories: Arma II, DayZ

“DayZ Tools Guide” or “Entrenching Tool, Toolbox, Hatchet?”

July 23, 2012 8 comments

Please note that all items in this list go on your toolbelt, and unless you “equip” it (hatchet for primary weapon slot and flashlights for secondary slots), it will stay in your toolbelt, taking up zero of your inventory space. All of these items can be picked up and placed in your backpack as well (to carry extra for your team mates), and in that case each item takes one inventory space in you backpack.

Your toolbelt can have the following items (in order of rarity):

  • Hatchet
  • Map
  • Box of Matches
  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • Hunting Knife
  • Watch
  • Toolbox
  • Entrenching Tool
  • Flashlight (Military)
  • GPS
  • Radio

Hatchet

  • You can find a hatchet just about anywhere, and it is probably the most versatile tool in your belt.
  • If you don’t have a primary equipped when you pick it up, the hatchet will become your primary weapon.
  • You can right-click it in the gear screen (G) and Add to Toolbelt to place it in your tools inventory.
  • Conversely, you can right-click it and select “Remove from Toolbelt” to equip it as a primary weapon.
  • You cannot equip it and a primary gun at the same time.
  • You can also use a hatchet to chop up wood. Stand next to a tree trunk and open your gear screen (G), then right-click the hatchet and click the option to harvest wood.
  • You can only harvest wood from a tree in a forest (dense cluster of trees). A standalone tree in a town or in the wilderness will not yield wood.
  • The woodpile you generate takes up two slots in your inventory, so make sure you have at least that much space in your inventory.

Map

  • You can use the clouds, the sun and your watch, or the stars at night to navigate, but obviously, there is nothing better than a map.
  • Maps are found just about everywhere, including stores, residential buildings and military areas. They are very common.
  • In order to use your map, use the map key (M).
  • You can right-click and hold to move around the map.
  • Your mouse wheel zooms in and out of the map. The zoom-in is centered on your mouse, so you can use this to quickly zoom out of one location and into another.
  • If you zoom in enough, you will start to see a grid with numbers along the sides of the map. Zoom in further to get three digits next to each of the grid squares.
  • You can use this grid features to give your team your approximate location. 113056 would mean that you are at grid square a the intersection of the numbers 113 (top and bottom) and 056 (left).
  • You can place waypoints that show up on the terrain in meters. To do this, place your mouse cursor to where you want the way point to appear on the map, and shift click. A circle with a dot in it will appear on the map and persist until you place a new waypoint, or log out. Close the map (M), and you should see the waypoint on your screen somewhere with an exact distance in meters.

Box of Matches

  • This is a very common item, found almost anywhere.
  • It has only one function, and that is to create and light a fireplace.
  • Fireplaces and build by using a pile of wood that you harvest with a hatchet from a forest (or pick up), and they can be built anywhere.
  • You build a fireplace by right-clicking the box of matches in your inventory and click build campfire. As long as you have a pile of wood, you will be able to build one. Then look at the campfire you just build, and use your mouse scroll until you get the option to light the campfire.
  • Campfires have two functions. To warm you, should your temperature fall below a dangerous threshold (35), and cook meat found by gutting animals you have hunted in the wilderness.

Compass

  • This is a very common item, found almost anywhere.
  • You can access the compass by pressing K.
  • Remember that clouds in Chenarus always move east, so if you don’t have a compass, stand still and look at the clouds.

Flashlight & Military Flashlight

  • The first is a very common item, found almost anywhere. The second is less common, though not rare and found primarily in military areas.
  • You can toggle the flashlight on of off by pressing L.
  • However, the flashlight will only be operational if you have it equipped in the secondary weapon slot. In order to do this, just right-click it in your toolbelt, and select the option from the menu.
  • You cannot have a secondary weapon equipped and a flashlight equipped at the same time.
  • The normal flashlight is bright and can be see in a fairly large radius.
  • The military flashlight has a very tight radius, gives a red cone in front of the player and does not go past solid walls.

Hunting Knife

  • This is a very common item, found almost anywhere.
  • The hunting knife is used to gut animals you find in the wilderness. Hover over the body of the animal, and use your mousewheel, if you did it right, you will get an option to gut teh animal.
  • Cows give 8, sheep give 5, boars give 4, goats give 3, rabbits and chickens give one raw meat each. Each raw meat takes up one inventory slot.
  • Raw meat can be cooked at a camp fire.

Watch

  • This is a very common item, found almost anywhere. In fact, I would say this is the second most common item after the hatchet.
  • You can access the watch by pressing O.
  • If you have a watch but no compass, you can use clouds to determine north. Clouds always move east.
  • Another way is to find an object that casts a long shadow. Open your watch and look down at the shadow. Align the hour hand with the shadow length-wise. The point between 12 o’clock and the hour hand is north. Let me know if you want me to explain it better.

Toolbox

  • A toolbox is only found at industrial sites, but it is significantly more difficult to find the items above.
  • You can use the toolbox to take down those annoying barbed fences and tank traps. They are also used to set up fences, tank traps and bear traps.
  • In order to take down a fence or tank trap, you have to use the contextual mousewheel menu when you are close enough to the object.

Entrenching Tool

  • The entrenching tool is only found in military locations and is quite rare.
  • The only function of an entrenching tool is to help you set up sandbags, if you have some in your inventory.

GPS

  • This is the sexiest and most elusive tool in the game, and only spawn in military areas.
  • It pinpoints your latitude and longitude.
  • You can press Ctrl+M to place a minimap on your screen.

Radio

  • Allegedly there is a radio in the game, but it has no function, and I have yet to find one.
Categories: Arma II, DayZ

“DayZ’s ARMA II on Sale” or “Steam Summer Super Sale”

July 22, 2012 Leave a comment

I have been ranting about DayZ pretty relentlessly. If you want to try it, you will need Arma II, and it’s expansion Operation Arrowhead (packaged together as Arma II: Combines Ops).

Combined Ops is currently on sale in the Steam Summer Sale, available at a 40% reduced price of just $17.99 (as opposed to $29.99). Go get it, and then come play with me!

Categories: Arma II, DayZ

“DayZ Guides” or “Toolbelt Items Next”

July 20, 2012 1 comment

I am putting together some more DayZ guides. The logic is based on how long it took me to figure out what half of this shit actually does.

Stay tuned!

Categories: Arma II, DayZ

“Infected Cherno” or “The Stuff of Nightmares”

July 17, 2012 Leave a comment

This image will give DayZ players nightmares. Click to enlarge. Also works as a wallpaper!

Categories: Arma II, DayZ

“Two of my Scariest Gaming Experiences Lately” or “Mannequins and Zombies = Paranoia”

July 16, 2012 Leave a comment

1. Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is a bloody, bloody game. It has an interesting storyline, and some moral complexity to it that blatantly masquerades as gratuitous violence. But it works. There is this one section of the game where you are fighting your way through this massive multistory mall in a devastated and crumbling Dubai. You are separated from your team, fighting through a department store. In truly on-rails style, the game forces you to go through a room with a light that flickers on for a second before plunging the room into pitch blackness, and then repeats this pattern. You are up against a heavy, a massively armored unit, the Spec Ops’ version of the Juggernaut from Modern Warfare.

The only thing that lights up the room when it is dark is your muzzle flash, and the heavy takes a lot of rounds to go down. The freaky part is that you keep shooting at the advancing heavy, but every time the lights flicker on, you realize you have been shooting at a store mannequin, which promptly shatters. The heavy, however, is still coming at you, but from a different side now and always a bit closer. It is a claustrophobic, mania-inducing moment, and it plays into the consistently deteriorating mental condition of the main protagonist Walker, played to perfection by voice artist superhero, Nolan North.

2. DayZ

The easiest thing to do when you are in imminent danger of dying in DayZ is to hit Alt+F4. your character immediately disappears from the world and you can log into another server to save him. This is because the hive server saves your position in the world, so no matter which game server you log into, you are in the same location. Got 30 zombies on you? Hit that treeline and Alt+F4. Then log into a different server, and viola, no zombies. Under fire from some unknown sniper? Alt+F4 and move to a different server. It is the pussy’s way of playing the game. The game is in alpha, so it is not technically “illegal”. A worse form of this technique is to reposition yourself closer to the enemy on a different server and then log into the prior server to kill them. This is called “ghosting” and it is a mechanic that completely breaks the game.

That being said, I faced off against an Alt+F4 ghoster. I was in Cherno, going through an apartment building. He entered the same building. I am not one for shooting at people on sight,  but I am not stupid. So I immediately dove for cover, which was smart because before I could ask him if he was friendly, he had fired several MP5 rounds at me. I use third person to spot his exact location out in the hallway when he suddenly disconnected. Cursing, I went around the rest of the apartment looking for goods. I move onto the apartment building next door. As I am clearing the first room, I hear movement, I look around. A player has just logged into the doorway, aiming his MP5 at the building where I first saw this asshole. So he essentially ghosted from another server to train his weapon at the entrance to the building in the hopes to nail me.

Unfortunately my shuffling also gave me away. He turns. I fire, he sprays and prays. He dies in one hit, thank you Lee Enfield! I am at 4,600 health and bleeding with a broken bone. I am lying about 10 feet from the entrance to the building. The Lee Enfield is loud. I have very little time before zombies attack the house, or worse, another bandit decides to investigate. I have very little time and some quick decisions to make. I decided to use morphine first, shooting while prone is very hard, I should be able to at least move around. The first two zombies enter the building and growl at the sight of me in the very first room. The morphine is administered, and my bone is no longer broken, but it was a bad idea. My blood has fallen below 3,000, the zombies are just a few feet away and I am at risk of losing consciousness.

Suddenly, an hourglass appears, and I fall unconscious, still bleeding, zombies advancing.

It has to be the most nerve-wrecking moment of my gaming experience. I am unconscious for only 4-5 seconds (thank god), but it passes by so slowly. I get up with 1,500 health and immediately shoot the zombie that is closest. A new bullet enters the chamber. I shoot the one behind it, no doubt attracting additional zombies, but at least I am not in any danger of being mauled to death while on low health. I frantically open by backpack and apply a bandage to stem the bleeding. With my world spinning, I manage to stop the bleeding with 114 health to spare. I am damn near dead, but not quite yet. I make my way upstairs as quietly as I can, and go prone in the room at the end of the hallway to avoid any zombies detecting me.

How on earth, I ask myself, will I ever get out of this one? This ladies and gentlemen, this feeling of elation and adrenaline, is what DayZ is all about!

“DayZ Complete Weapons Statistics” or “Man, Lee Enfield is Freaking Loud”

July 12, 2012 11 comments

Edit: Updated on July 30, 2012 for patch 1.7.2.4.

I compiled a comprehensive list of all DayZ weapons, complete with the following statistics:

  • Name
  • Damage
  • Audible Range
  • Effective Range
  • Ammo
  • Magazine Size
  • Mode
  • Extra
  • Rarity

The data has been compiled from three sources:

Click the image below to enlarge, and enjoy!

Categories: Arma II, DayZ

“DayZ: Day One” or “My First 3 Lives in DayZ”

July 11, 2012 2 comments

For me, the mark of a video game is when I slam my keyboard in disgust because my character died. Permanently. Only to come back to it an hour later, hungry for me. That is what DayZ does to you. It is an intoxicating love affair. It is terrifying, heart-pumping, and incredibly, frustratingly arduous. But it is currently the most fun I am having online.

The following details my first three lives in DayZ. Bear in mind that during these three lives, I didn’t know you could simply respawn instead of having to get yourself killed if you wanted to start over.

Life 1

I spawn at the beach. I had read some tutorials so I knew the most important thing in the first few seconds was to get a good bearing on my position in the 225 square kilometer world of DayZ. This information appears in the form of the nearest town in the bottom right corner of your screen for all of two seconds. Yet somehow, as I looked around the completely dark surroundings, I miss that critical piece of information. I know that by walking along the coastline, I will undoubtedly come across some settlement, and from there I can get my bearings. I turn left, and start running. Since you spawn along the coast only, you could be headed south (if you spawned on the eastern shore) or west, (if you spawned on the southern shore). What I did not know, because I had missed the location information initially, was that I was near Kamenka, a the south-western most settlement on the map. And by going left (further west), I would never come across any other towns.

I ran for fifteen minutes, and in the first few minutes, the terrain turned into a bare, barren wasteland. I switched to a daylight server, and ran some more. I ran inland, hoping to find another landmark. I ran further along the shore. Soon, however, I realized that my water and food need was growing rapidly, and turning an uglier and uglier shade of red. I alt-tabbed, and read up on what I was doing wrong, since it had been a good half hour since I had spawned. Some forums tell me that if I can’t find any settlements and all brush, trees, roads etc. have disappeared, then I have traveled off of the map.

Shit.

I run back to the shore then, and start making my way back. My thirst level reaches flashing red before I reach the play area, I start losing health every few seconds. By the time I reach Kamenka (I have been playing for close to an hour now), I have 2K health left, and no hope of finding water. I run into the first zombie I find, and I let him kill me.

I was upset initially, thinking I had fucked up. But the fact of the matter was that I had screwed up royally. I breathe deeply, and get into it again.

 

Life 2

I don’t miss my spawn location this time. It says “Komarova”, but I have no idea where this is exactly. I open an external map, and see that this spawn location is very close to my previous spawn location, just a little east. I take a look around. To my west, I see a lighthouse in the distance. To my east, I see some docks in the distance. I decide to go west first, and see if I can get anything from the lighthouse. I keep a lookout for any movement, knowing that zombies are found near all settlements. But I suppose a lighthouse isn’t exactly a settlement, as I find none in the area. I get to the lighthouse, look around it, go inside, climb to the top, but I see zero supplies. Cursing myself, I realize that the height is a good vantage points. So I look to my east, towards the docks. I can see a big industrial building. Surely that must have some supplies.

I descend the lighthouse and start running towards the docks, closer to where I spawned I suddenly come across another survivor. My heart get caught in my throat. What the fuck is he doing all the way out here? I ask myself. The survivor looks around, realizes that I am standing barely fifteen feet away and goes completely still. Then I get a local text message.

“Don’t shoot, friendly!”

“I have no gun,” I type out.

“Whew. Well take care!” He takes off directly north.

“Wait,” I say, running after him. “You want to team up?”

“No offense man, but my team is in the S.Barracks,” he says. “And trust me you don’t want to be there, I just got sniped up there.”

I watch him leave, as he clambers up the steep hill, and disappears over the ridge. I turn east, and get back to making my way to the docks. Closer to the docks I crouch run. Then I crouch walk, then finally as I approach the crumbling concrete wall, I go prone. Thank god I did, because on the other side of the wall is a zombie, a fat dock worker wearing a beret. He shuffles aimlessly a few feet in front of me, and slowly moves away.

I realize I had been holding my breath. I exhale slowly, and crawl over to the blue double-doors of the first building. It has a ramp circling the internal perimeter of the building. I hear a noise. In the dank gloom, I realize I am not alone. The other inhabitant of this building is another zombie, crouching low and making low growling noises. I slowly back off, and it starts to move. I cut a small circle around the inside of the building, and I realize that it detects me. I have 1 visibility and 1 audibility, implying that at such a close range (3-4 meters) it can detect there is something there must get closer to investigate.

And that is exactly what it is doing, getting closer.

We play this cat n’ mouse out into the courtyard, and I finally manage to lose him by crawling in a straight line for a while, then making a sharp 90 degree turn, and going a little further. With the zombie out of the building, I am free to explore it. So I get inside, and try to get up the stairs. No matter how hard I try, or which angle, I can’t seem to make it up the slope. So I have to at least crouch. Crouch-walking creates a sharp “clank-clank” on the floor that makes me wince with every step. I find flares, a can of beans, some wire, some scrap metal and several empty cans. I pick up everything but the empty cans. If I had known at the time that the empty cans could distract zombies, I would have picked up some.

I get out from the eastern entry, and crawl around to the next building. There is a door that serves as a ramp between the floor and the ledge that leads into the second warehouse. I crouch again and make my way up there, and in that same moment, the beret zombie comes shuffling around the northern corner of the building. I hit the deck, hoping it has not noticed me, but to no avail, it has changed direction and it walking towards me. In short, it has not seen me, but it knows something is there. I hastily crawl into the building and look around for an escape. There is a door on the other side. I crawl over to it, only to realize it has barb wire all over it.

I am trapped, shit!

I realize that the building has several ladders that go up to higher platforms. The zombie is at the entrance of the building. I crouch walk to get to the first ladder and climb up as quickly as possible. Once at the top, I go prone again, with the lower half of my body dangling off of the ramp…

… and then a very prominent glitch causes me to fall through the ramp. I land on the floor, there is the sound of a crunch, my interface flashes a broken bone icon, and an hourglass timer appears, indicating that I am unconscious. And that is when the zombie starts eating me. So much for life 2.

Life 3

This time the text says “Prigorodky”. Looking at the map, I realize I am someplace between the two largest urban centers in Chenarus, which also happen to be two major PvP hubs because of the plethora of supplies, equipment and weapons that spawn there. To my east is Elektrozavodsk (or Elektro for short), and to my west is Chernogorsk (or Cherno for short). My first instinct is to go to a city, and Elektro being the smaller of the two seems like a reasonable choice. But as I start making my way over to Elektro, I hear shots in the distance. There are small bursts, like a rifle, and then a few, sharp, cracking shots, like a high-caliber sniper rifle. I decide that I don’t have enough know-how in this game to just waltz into a major city, so I take a u-turn and head back towards Prigorodsky, along the main road.

Once I am right next to the main town, I crawl around, avoiding the first few zombies. I decide that one of the best ways to try and learn the game is to crawl through the middle of the town, avoiding zombies as I go searching the different houses for supplies. This is where I learn two very important lessons. First, avoiding zombies is actually very easy, as long as you understand how they function, and how sight and sound work as you move around at <insert speed> at <insert day time> on <insert surface>. Second, and perhaps more importantly, not all houses can be entered! Several houses are just static markers, useful for cover and just about nothing else. The first house I actually manage to enter has some ammo that I cannot understand, it has a long, complicated name. I also find some food, a can of soda and blue chemlights. On the porch of another house, I find camo clothing. I get super excited and immediately change into it.

I realize that there is a large barn in the distance, and I know barns have a high chance of spawning at least the starter weapons. I start making my way towards the barn, crawling ever so slowly through this suburban nightmare. During this long crawl, I realize that you can move faster by pressing shift (or by toggling it with a double-tap) in any mode, walk, crouch or prone. I finally get to the barn, and on the first landing I find a hatchet. Further up, I find wire, some empty cans and flares. From this vantage point I look across at the other ledge, and see a rifle. I am elated! Finally a weapon. The weapon turns out to be a Lee Enfield rifle, complte with two magazines (that’s 20 rounds total). I also find some more food, a bandage, and two cans of coke.

I decide I have enough gear to at least try and flirt with the outskirts of one of the major towns. I get out of the barn, head north into the treeline, and then head southwest. After a little distance, I realize I need to do a little more research on what to expect once I get into Cherno. I crouch by a tree next to the railway tracks, and alt-tab out. When I tab back in a few minutes later, I see a zombie, crawling in prone, moving determinedly toward me. I have no idea where it came from, but it is so close that if I go prone, I might not have enough time to get away and it could get a few swings in. If I run now, it will detect me. So I do the only thing that this split-second allows me, I aim my Lee Enfield at the little fucker’s head, and fire off a shot.

Worst. Idea. Ever. (see footnote)

I am still in close proximity to Prigorodky, and at least half a dozen zombies. I start firing shots. I get hit a few times. I start bleeding. I fire off more shots. They keep coming. I have only six shots left when the last zombie collapses to the floor. My heart is thundering in my chest, I have a dry throat. I am frightened. But I know i have survived my first real fight with the zombie horde.

The screen goes black and white as I take damage. My screen is clear so I turn around, and realize at least a dozen other zombies have been attracted to the gunfire from a settlement that is neither Prigorodky, nor Cherno. I manage to get three shots off before another melee swing results in a broken bone, and I lose consciousness. I die before I wake up.

Footnote: Firing off a Lee Enfield near a settlement is a terrible idea. The weapon has an effective audible range (for zombies) of 234 meters. Compare this to a sidearm’s average range of about 55 meters, or an M16′s or M4′s 80 meters. No wonder it attracted zombies from half a kilometer diameter!

Categories: Arma II, Bronte, DayZ

“DayZ: A Mod After My Own Heart” or “The Most Fun You Can Have Online”

July 9, 2012 2 comments

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:

Categories: Arma II, DayZ, ZOMG Zombies!
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