DayZ: Brief Review

A bit more than a month ago we were supposed to see the end of the world, the deadly apocalypse predicted by Maya civilization. However, as you can see yourself, the world is still turning and we are still playing computer games enjoying all the fun. But the touching topic of apocalypse and our future is still something that people can’t get out of their heads. Suit for yourself: the number of movies and computer games about the world in pain has increased enormously and almost every next title either shows a total collapse after asteroid shower or tells us a story about some kind of virus that turns people into zombies. I am Alive, The Walking Dead and others are great titles that offer interesting gameplay and have a story to tell. But, there is one game that offers a totally different gaming experience and it is called DayZ.

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Frankly speaking, I am not even sure how DayZ should be referred to. It is definitely not a shooter, not a quest and not an RPG. However, it has something from all the mentioned above and actually can be called a multiplayer survival horror with the elements of tactical shooter. But I am not sure if these words fully describe the game because there is more than just fighting enemies and shooting them with style. DayZ is a realistic, cruel, dramatic and unpredicted game where your every move counts and if you do something wrong – there is a great chance you are not going to see the dawn.

The World of DayZ

DayZ was designed as a mod for the popular online tactical shooter ARMA 2. The history of DayZ is really simple: the original title ARMA 2, for some reason, has lost its popularity and its developers were forced to create something that would revive the game and turn it back to life. Well, ARMA 2 hasn’t changed a lot but its mod known as DayZ is getting popularity in a speed of light at the same time being only in alpha stage. With all the bugs, problems, glitches and whatsoever, gamers all over the world want to play DayZ. They pay money, they spend hours running in the dangerous world and they enjoy it very much.

DayZ uses a redesigned map of the original title ARMA 2. The territory you play on is a post-Soviet state of Chernarus located on thousands of square kilometers covered with deep woods, villages, mountains, army bases and big cities. This former post-Soviet republic has seen lots of things including wars, dictatorships and depression in all spheres of life. But this time the Death itself came to visit the forgotten and devastated republic.

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When you see Chernarus for the first time, you get this strange feeling that life has abandoned this place: roadsides with broken cars, empty houses with no families inside, stores with empty shelves, churches with no priests. However, cities and villages are not empty. They are inhabited with some special residents. They scatter across the city, crawl on their hands and growl in a strange manner. They are the living dead and now Chernarus is their home.

DayZ: Beginning

Yes, DayZ is a post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies. Probably, something or somebody revealed the virus that turns people into zombies and now they are the masters of this world. You appear as one of the survivals and your inventory is not that impressive: a can of beans or pasta, a bottle of water, Makarov and a few rounds to this popular Russian pistol, first-aid-kit and that pretty much it. As you can see yourself – nothing that can keep you alive for a long time and, obviously, now your task it to increase your chances and survive in the game as long as possible.

The main principle is very simple: you have to walk around, gather some useful stuff, keep an eye on your character’s health and move further. Usually, every new player appears on the beach. From that point he can walk in any direction he likes. On his way to survival he is going to visit villages, big and small cities, some special locations like hospitals, army bases, airports and else. However, human’s survival instinct is rather predictable and if you plan to visit a big city, be ready to find some other survivals there. If you get lucky – you will find a map or a GPS navigator that will help you understand where you are now and where should you go next. But that won’t be easy and here’s the reason why.

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Game Tactics

So far DayZ is the most realistic survival game from ever created. Lots of people think that zombies are the main source of danger. Well, they actually are extremely dangerous and it is kind of hard to shoot them when they attack. But, if you play silent and remain unseen, there is no way a zombie will attack you. Just on the contrary – the biggest problem here are the real players. DayZ is said to be the toughest PVP online survival and there is a reason for that. Like in every post-apocalyptic society, there are people who are not looking for troubles: they just walk around, get what they need and continue walking. But there are also those who enjoy creating troubles and no matter if you want them or not – you are definitely going to get some.

Usually, DayZ servers are limited to allow a maximum of 50 players to be present on the server simultaneously. But even with this territory that big and players’ number that small, in an hour or two you are going to meet someone who is not a zombie and then the question will stand: is it good or is it bad? You know what to expect from zombies but there is no way you can predict what to expect from a random player. There are players who shoot first without asking any questions; there players who try to warn you using chat; there are players who will attempt to make a contact with you and there are those who will be kind and helpful but in a few minutes will send a bullet in your hand. So, meeting someone is a real gamble and usually experienced gamers try to minimize the chance of being killed and either shoot first or warn and then shoot.

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Dying in DayZ is not fatal: you can always restart the game and start playing again. But here’s the catch that makes things tough and the game itself so unique: you are not allowed to save here. Well, technically, the only save mechanism here works when you log out. When you quit the game and then come back, everything you have will be with you. But, if you die or someone kills you – you will be forced to start everything all over again. There is no save that can be loaded to prevent you from dying and there is no coming back. Every next step can be your last step and you have to think carefully, move carefully and survive carefully to stay alive as long as possible.

Now death is the ruler here and you can die from practically everything in DayZ:

– you can be killed by a zombie because even with a decent weapon they are pretty hard to resist;

– you can be killed by another player;

– you can die from the injury;

– you can die from hunger or dehydration;

– you can die in an accident;

– you can die from almost anything.

If you are a noob, dying is not painful at all because you have nothing to lose. But when playing for hours or even days, it is more than just unpleasant to be killed having a backpack fool of great things.

Game Strategy

This game does not have any particular goals: you can either live by your own, search for some great things or hide in the woods trying to find something useful and something to eat. You can try to enter the city and find something more useful there. As a rule, bigger places have better loot. Or, you can play with your friends and organize either a mercenary squad or a bandit group. Surviving in DayZ is easier together because your friends will always cover you and you will always cover them. Also, in case of emergency and lethal outcome they can always take your stuff and give it back to you later. The most interesting part of the game is searching for cars or helicopters and getting them together. When you repair a car, you can get inside and drive. Well, together with the perspective to cover distances faster you also receive an amazing opportunity to surprise zombies and others with a piece of forgotten technology. But, as well as good guns, cars and helicopters are wanted but lots of players.

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DayZ is a true-to-life survival simulator and it kind of reminds me the good old Sims game. The only difference between those two is that in Sims you simulate your life and in DayZ you simulate your survival. Everything here is based on realism but what is really important – you get a chance to get in survival’s shoes and become a reasonable traveler or a cruel bandit shooting without warning. Yes, some players deserve to be killed, others – don’t but you never know who is who and thinking “It’s always better to be on the safe side,” you can easily turn into a serial killer without even noticing.

Playing DayZ is not about winning something or killing others because you have a tougher gun. It’s about the atmosphere of a broken world where common social norms are not working anymore, where people are cruel and can’t be trusted. You can’t just hide in the woods and live there for ages. You need to risk, search for food and water and if you are not looking for troubles, it doesn’t mean that they are not looking for you.


Author: Oleg Repetskiy

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