“Stop right there. Hands up and don’t move – or you’re dead.” Our first human contact you could say was not the most humanitarian of first encounters. We were headed to meet up with a friend of ours in another small town when we heard those words. We turned around to see who they were and what they looked like. “We’re not going to hurt you”, they assured us. At this point we had a few hours of gameplay under our belts and had some items we would have rather not been forced to give up. Against our better judgement we decided to make a run for it, zigzagging into the woods hoping to dodge a bullet or two and lose our assailants in the forest.
Welcome to DayZ, a zombie survival game on the PC which takes place in a not too distant future where zombies have ravaged the human population to a core set of survivors. These survivors are played by other real people on servers and it is left to each individual to decide how they want to play, with only one rule – Stay alive. Players scavenge food and water, weapons and armour to better their chances in the world and can either work with, or against, you to better serve their needs.
The title was originally a free mod on the ARMA II engine but it is now being developed as a standalone game for release on the Steam platform where early access is available to pre-purchasers. Players have a small option of customizing their character before joining a server where they spawn in a random location on the map and are left to fend for themselves.
The map of Chernarus, the location the game takes place, is varied and interesting for the most part, with ponds, forests, industrial sites and towns to keep you occupied on your travels. If it wasn’t for the constant fear of death from zombies, players or starvation it would probably be a nice place to visit. Most buildings but not all are functional with players able to explore them to find scarce supplies. As development progresses, the number of and type of items is increasing. You’ll find weapons, clothes, food and many others.
The mechanics of the game are already in place, and solid, for the most part: If you don’t eat for a while you will starve, get attacked and you will bleed, let your guard down and you will become a victim. Players must find what they can to keep themselves healthy and that includes avoiding rotten fruit or unclean drinking water, lest they make themselves sick. Tools can be found to assist such as the can-opener for tins or clothes that can be torn into rags to stop bleeding.
Servers are capable of hosting 32 different players in the world at any one time, and players can leave one server to join another and keep their gear. At times there are some connection issues, where there can be a delay in interacting with items – in a game where you have to be always alert, dodgy connections can be your undoing. So be warned, the game is very much in active development. We died at least twice in our time playing, due to lag not registering our axe swings at a zombie. Another issue currently with the zombies is that there is no collision detection with the worlds objects, so you might think it wise to run into a building and close the door to escape an infected, but they will just glide through to take a bite of you.
DayZ is still in pre-alpha development, despite that the game already has a solid framework to build on top of. Bohemia have created an experience which keeps the player on their toes and more importantly, reveals what kind of person they are. Will you help the weak or will you help yourself ?
DayZ is now available as an early access game on Steam.