DayZ is an early alpha stage zombie survival game, only accessible on the PC. Most of you probably haven’t heard about it, but chances are with over 3,000,000 copies already sold, you soon will. When we think of a typical zombie survival game we usually picture the famous Resident Evil “shoot-em-up” platform. DayZ, however, is completely different, and puts a fantastic adventure spin on a classic genre of gaming.
DayZ is set in a fictional version of a former Soviet Republic, Chernarus. The map is immense, at over 85 square miles. It far surpasses the much smaller maps of other open world games such as Oblivion or Battlefield. The terrain in DayZ transitions from the coast, to small towns, to large cities, and ends in the northern mountainous region of the map. Of course, like most all other games, “loot” spawns at random, and different locations provide different loot.
The overall goal of the game is simply “survival”. However, with DayZ being a mass multiplayer online game, the term “survival” takes on a whole new meaning. The player is tasked with keeping their avatar “healthy”, which means: if you’re cold you must warm yourself up, if you’re hungry you need to eat, if you’re thirsty you need to drink, if you get sick you had better find medicine (and fast!). The amount of freedom in this game is unreal; you can break a leg, get an infection, and bleed out all in a matter of minutes. The player can, however, splint the leg, use a disinfectant, and bandage to stop the bleeding. Fixed right? No, the avatar will forever run with a gimp and suffer long term “survival issues” from that point on. Pretty cool, right?
Starting out, the player is dropped at a random location along the coastal region of the map, and is simply equipped with only basic clothing, a road flair, and some rags. You better get into a town, quick. The map is generally cold, and without a proper outer layer of clothing the player will soon freeze to death. You also start out both hungry and thirsty. The coast is a somewhat cruel place to spawn the player, due to being the sparsest location in terms of loot. The player needs to scavenge fast and hard, get some essential items, along with some food, and make haste inland. Next, you’re tasked with finding a better weapon and equipment. Found a gun? Great. Oh, wait, now I have to find the right clip, ammo, and a back pack to carry it all. It gets pretty intense.
Here you get some general freedom on where you want to go, and what you want to do. You can take the farmer lifestyle, growing and producing food and resources. You can take the militaristic approach, arming yourself to the teeth with whatever weapons are available and hunting down anything that stands. Or, the player can take the nomadic approach and frequent small towns and cities seeing what you can gather along the way. This approach can, and probably is, the most dangerous in the game, as the player will not only encounter zombies (these aren’t your run of the mill slow “eat your brain” zombies, these suckers are FAST!) the player also takes a chance of encountering other players. Here is where the social experimentation ensues. When encountering another player, the player must be cautious. Do I approach and speak with them? Do I hide until they’re gone? Do I shoot and kill them? All questions race through your head as the other player approaches.
Some encounters go well; players meet up work and survive together. Others, not so well. I, myself, have encountered malevolent players, ones who promise companionship and help only to wait until your back is turned to kill you and take your belongings. I’ve also met “shoot on sight players” whose only desire is to play the game much like Call of Duty. Players can team up, and most do, or they can choose the solitary survival stance. How you survive is really up to you. All this aside, it’s a fun twist to put on a survival game. If you really think about it, it sort of puts the realm of gaming into a real-life perspective. Scary to think about, huh?
The game was created in 2012, and is still in the early alpha stage. But, with what’s at hand, one can see why. This is perhaps the most creative and “free” open-world game that I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Being only available on the PC platform is kind of a downer, but if you have a computer capable of running the game I highly recommend investing the $40 and playing. See how you do, see how you survive, you might surprise yourself. It is a social experiment, after all.