DayZ Standalone: Thoughts on the Apocalypse

Picture courtesy of MizuLD on

DayZ is currently on sale through Steam for $30 dollars as an early access title. Still being in alpha, I really can't review the game since it's not finished. Instead, I'll take you for a stroll in my mind, and give you my thoughts on this title, and what I hope the future brings. Hopefully, it's coherent enough to read.

Damn. Kudos to Dean Hall. His idea for an Arma II mod shook the gaming community to it's core. I remember browsing through the slum pits of the internet a few years back, and seeing people talking about this mod for the first time. I took note of it, and went about my business. Sure enough; months later, it exploded onto forums as one hell of a Post-apocalyptic Zombie Survival game. I suppose people's infatuation with The Walking Dead also fueled this mod's rise to fame substantially. I watched videos, and read stories about people being held up for their cans of beans, and running into packs of zombies only to end up getting killed by another player after they had escaped. I never did think much of it but, the stories always interested me and made good topic for conversation amongst friends. The magazine PC Gamer even called the mod one of the most important things to happen to PC gaming in 2012 as well as one of the five scariest games of all time. The mod grew in popularity so much, that Bohemia Interactive partnered with Dean Hall to develop the mod into a completely standalone title.

Now, despite being in the alpha stages; DayZ has already sold well over 2 million copies of the game. This did not surprise me. It's an amazing game, even for being in the alpha stage. I've noticed my fair share of bugs though. Zombies clipping through walls and doors, wacky hit-boxes for melee weapons, and getting stuck in walls; to name a few. Besides the bugs, and strange goings on in the game, it still delivers that gritty experience you've heard about.
The Main Menu shows how your current character looks and gives off a very minimalist feel.

I was thrown into the world with nothing but the shirt on my back, pants around my ankles, a love letter written in Russian, and a flashlight. After coming to, and realizing the apocalypse happened; my character feels a bit empty in the gas tank. So we're off to grab some food. After finding some food that wasn't rotten (which took a good 30 minutes), I then began to search for a weapon. After traveling a bit down the coast I stepped into a big warehouse nearer the coastline. Lo' and behold, I meet my first survivor. Who promptly commands me to put my hands up in the air and face the wall while he hand cuffs me and asks me where my friends are. After I convince him I'm alone; he takes my beans, strips me naked, force-feeds me rotten fruit, and then promptly sticks a pickaxe in my face. He is then shot by a sniper that was watching this whole ordeal unfold about 5 rooftops away.

This is the experience that is DayZ. You will always hear Youtubers or even pro players say this:

    Be paranoid.

This is an absolute necessity for survival. Check every doorway, listen at every sound the wind throws your way, watch for any form of movement. If you think you are alone, you probably have cross-hairs on your back. If you think you have cross-hairs on your back, there's zombies right around the corner.My play style is usually Gun-ho, break faces, spray bullets, and loot corpses later, but I couldn't tell how much time I've spent shutting doors, and looking at rooftops and windows than actually searching for gear or reaping souls in this title. I've even been asked for help by a new player, only to be led into a courtyard where a sniper killed me and his buddy looted my corpse. Paranoia will save your life. You can only trust those people that you bring with you into this hell. Even then, only trust them with their safety on.

The scariest part of this game isn't even the other players. It's the locale. Towns are so scary quiet that a chain-link fence blowing in the breeze will make you jump out of your skin. Being in a city, completely alone is the most terrifying thing that I have ever been through on DayZ. Every alley I passed through, felt a mile long. And for every fence I jumped, I could feel a sniper watching me across the rooftops. Alone in the woods would have been perfectly fine for me. After all, there's room to run in between the trees. A city is a huge mouse trap. One wrong turn running from some Zeds will have you facing a big stone wall, with no where to go but the respawn screen. Every step was pure, damned, terror.

Now, from a community stand point; there is a ton of camaraderie in DayZ. Self-proclaimed "Heroes" will go out of their way to find and hunt down bandits, and give support to new players or freshly spawned players. Many of these guys will approach you cautiously with gun drawn, but will be very friendly about putting you in harms way. Remember: Be paranoid. They're only following the one rule after all. But these guys often travel in squads, and perform very fluidly. Most of the time with an almost military level of profession. For a very good example of these watch some of Rhinocrunch's videos; here. I've even been approached by one of these Hero types and been given a full set of military grade clothing and a weapon with tons of magazines; with my only payment being a heartfelt thanks. If you ever see these guys in a bind, be sure and give them a hand. They deserve it.

As for the future, I feel like DayZ is going to only get better. I can't wait for dedicated servers, more weapons, clothing, and more space to travel in Chernarus. The community is growing day by day, and as a result; is only getting more complex with all of the different clans and squads popping up. Bohemia Interactive is only doing a better and better job at pushing this game to be all it can be, and I am really stoked to see how it will turn out once it's completely finished. The only thing I'd like to see implemented for myself is a choice of spawning location. Playing with friends is tough when you have to walk for hours just to find each other!

If you're looking for an amazing game, where player interaction can either make-or-break you, a zombie survival game, or even a decent robbery simulator, DayZ is the game for you. Good luck in the Apocalypse!

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