DayZ is a sandbox survival game set after the zombie apocalypse. Scavenge the remains of an enormous world, Chernarus, searching for resources and weapons to defend yourself against zombies and other players.
|Publisher: Bohemia Interactive
Type: Sandbox Survival
Release Date: April 12, 2012
Pros: +Huge open world (225km²). +Dynamic weather system. +Customizable weapons.
Cons: -Unoptimized client. -Zombies glitch through objects. -Clunky gameplay animations.
DayZ is an open world survival game developed by Bohemia Interactive. Spawning hungry, thirsty, and alone, players are forced to scavenge the fictional post-soviet state of Chernarus. The zombie apocalypse has struck and the undead roam the husk of a ruined world. But the most dangerous foe to your health isn’t the living dead, but other players. Armed bandits shoot players without regard, hiding in the woods and firing down on unsuspecting travelers. Beware of other players as you venture into former cities like Elektrozavodsk. Or, travel inland and explore the massive 225km² map that takes hours to cross. Hop in a vehicle to hasten the journey, but the engine will alert eager players to your presence. Survive by hunting animals for raw meat or fish the various shores of Chernarus. How long will you survive in DayZ?
DayZ Key Features:
- Huge Open World - explore over 70 towns and villages searching for loot and weapons across a 225km² map.
- Dynamic Day and Night - playing when the sun is risen is starkly different than when night has fallen—use the day and night cycle to your advantage and be prepared.
- Various Weapons - huge catalog of weapons to use, modeled on their real-life counterparts.
- Hunting And Fishing - don’t just survive by collecting dusty cans of beans, hunt and fish wildlife!
- Vehicles - save your breath and travel across Chernarus by driving, but you’ll have to fix your vehicle by scavenging for parts.
DayZ Featured Video
By, Sean Sullivan
DayZ’s influence on video games in recent years is undeniable. Countless clones, from Unturned to WarZ, have emerged and new survival games in the spirit of DayZ can't stop showing up on Steam. It’s one of the first mod to riches games, and its popularity exploded—seemingly—out of nowhere. Even in the post humble bundle gaming scene DayZ managed to dominate the Steam top seller list for weeks, then months, and still pulls its weight as one of the most purchased games in the top 20. Videos highlighting player’s capacity for cruelty were watched in awe by many—and horror by a few—on YouTube. It seemed like everyone was talking about DayZ. It’s been nearly two years since the standalone version of the game graced Steam, and I was ready to see how much Chernarus had changed. After editing DayZ’s configuration file to play the game borderless window, I was set to enter the unforgiving apocalyptic world.
The control scheme in DayZ is not easy, and disorienting for many new players. Being based, in part, on the Arma series controls present a realistic schema. WASD moves your character but you’ll feel clunky at first. Unlike most games your character is not an amorphous phantom running across an environment; your avatar has a skeletal structure and mass that is forced to negotiate the world. You can’t easily pirouette and pull off headshots like Counter-Strike. DayZ is built on a tactical military third-person shooter and it plays like one. It takes time to habituate, but does eventually become second nature as you sprint across Chernarus.
Being inspired by Arma, there are a wide array of movement mechanics to keep in mind. Spacebar draws your weapon—your fists at first—while shift can be held down to sprint. You can vault over small picket fences by pressing “V,” and drop to the ground when you spot a sniper hiding in the treeline by pressing “Z.” Holding “Alt” will allow you to look around while you run, a crucial habit to form as other players can sneak up on you or line up their scope as you move. Learning patience, crouching in thick bushes, and using the element of surprise is the only way to survive as you search for tools and resources.
DayZ’s gameplay focuses on scavenging for goods, moving from one area to the next, searching for invaluable loot and collecting weapons to defend yourself. You’ll spawn hungry and thirsty with only your fists—”Persuasion” and “Reason”—to protect you. Houses, hunting posts, and industrial parks are home to fireaxes, cosmetic hats, and weapons to ensure your survival.
But collecting in Chernarus can be an excruciating effort in a high population server. Because every player spawns on the coast of the map, the majority of villages will be stripped clean—unless the server recently reset. Meaning you either test your luck in bandit-filled cities or you head inland, running until your heart explodes to find a can opener for the 12 cans of beans festering in your pack. Of course, you could join a low population server, gear up, and head back to the killing grounds. But what’s the fun in that? It reminds me of server hopping WarZ to kill unsuspecting players before moving to the next server, a repetitive and boring process that ultimately feels undeserved.
Too Many People On The Coast
I hope by the time the game is completed spawn points are scattered across the entirety of the map. I can imagine that there are a large number of players who have never seen cities like Stary Yar and Novaya Petrovka because they’re confined to the coasts. Perhaps it was designed this way to prevent new players from becoming disoriented, but why is that a good thing? You should be disoriented and lost in a game like DayZ, making exploration a rewarding experience. I admit that choosing to make spawns ubiquitously coastal creates a sense of notoriety for those cities, a well-known place for players to gather. But it underrepresents the wide variety of places in the game, and makes exploration a secondary experience. How about mixing it up a bit, and still keeping a minority of players confined to the coast? Because to compensate for the localized spawn points numerous servers institute double loot spawns, granting everyone down the Chernarus coast a melee weapon and overabundance of jackets, transitioning DayZ away from simulator and towards Battle Royale.
There’s a fairly large assortment of guns and weapons to use to slaughter other players . From sledgehammers to the M4A1, you choose how to survive, if you’re lucky enough to find the weapon. Once you have a firearm they’re easy enough to use. Equip and then hold right-click to aim down the scope. Because DayZ takes a realistic approach to combat, bullet drop has compensated for long range shots. Some players can pick heads from impressive distances (Frankie), knowing exactly where to aim to make up for the kilometers separating bullet and forehead. More intimate firefights are fast-paced, and typically the first person to fire can get the jump. It takes a calm demeanor to take fire and return it effectively, and success relies on using the environment to your advantage and not allowing yourself to be caught in open areas.
One of the most infamous player bases inhabits the dense woods of DayZ. Videos of players being stripped naked while held at gunpoint, or forced to fight to the death for the amusement of cruelty were shared between people who had no interest in the game. Too often I ran into players who feigned amiability only to cut me down while my back was turned. It adds an interesting paranoia to the game, as you can’t trust anybody. And every tree and building may house your next death. The brutal nature of losing your belongings upon death combined with the hours typically taken to accumulate worthwhile items makes death a heartbreak.
DayZ has a particular art style, a realistic quality that sets a somber tone. It’s sharp, and gritty atmosphere is betrayed by beauteous beams of sunlight that blind your screen as you run down the coast. If you’re computer can handle the high settings, DayZ has a polish that earns it the reputation of being a simulator, particularly for its impressive cloud effects. Chirping birds and irritating flies will harass you as you travel, breathing life into the undead world. While the firing of a gunshot has a ferocity that forces you to press Z to prone, and prevent your head from being blown off.
DayZ is still an Alpha game in Early Access but its optimization sets the bar for the worst in any I’ve played. Nearly two years after release and the game runs horribly by its default settings. The standard argument is to insult my graphics card, but after upgrading from a Radeon R7 265 to a GTX 970 I failed to notice any improvements. And there are countless guides scattered online to improving you frames, a sad testament to the state of gameplay. Running into town made me question whether I’m a masochist as my frames dropped to around 15, and I continued to explore. Zombies move through walls and doors, like a phantasm with teeth, and their AI is dull-witted. Animations are clumsy and sound effects for melee weapons are out of place. Desync sees you rubber band across town, wondering if all of your recent actions were a dream. I ended up staying away from the cities and moved to the country.
Crossing The Country
As I played I tended to move inland, and circumnavigated the map in search of chance encounters and rare gear. There is no story to DayZ—beyond the apocalypse—so you’re left to your imagination to create a context to your survival (a single-player campaign is planned according to lead Developer Brian Hicks). One of DayZ’s issues is that players choose to view it as a “kill or be killed” game, where Cormac McCarthy’s The Road serves as the Bible. But I prefer to approach it as Mad Max, as a survivor who prefers to only kill when forced to. It creates tension when two players randomly meet each other, rather than opening fire.
And that’s the most interesting part of DayZ and likely why so many people continue to return to the game. Interactions between players are unscripted and because of spontaneity you never know what’s going to happen. You may meet a friendly player and band together to survive, or come across a bandit whose only waiting for an opportunity to cut you down. Holding players at gunpoint, handcuffing them, and forcing them to drink bleach is just one way to approach a scenario. And the most interesting people are the ones who buy into the situation, the one’s who roleplay as their character struggling to survive. Otherwise you end up with a bunch of bandits treating the game like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, rather than an apocalyptic simulator.
Final Verdict - Fair
As of this writing, DayZ is a passing game. It has a high price tag while still in Alpha, and promises more than it delivers. The original mod of the game offers a far more complete experience, and I can only recommend purchasing DayZ if you have full confidence in the development team and have already been sold on the idea. With a planned release sometime in 2016 I am still hopeful that DayZ will shape up into a project that rivals its mod origins. Even in the zombie apocalypse it's worthwhile to be optimistic.
DayZ System Requirements
Operating System: Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz or Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5800+
Video Card: GeForce 8800 GT or Radeon HD 3830
RAM: 2 GB
Hard Disk Space: 10 GB
Operating System: Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
CPU: Core i5-2300 2.8GHz or Phenom II X4 940
Video Card: GeForce GTX 560 or Radeon HD 7790
RAM: 4 GB
Hard Disk Space: 10 GB
DayZ Music & Soundtrack
DayZ Additional Information
Developer(s): Bohemia Interactive
Designer(s): Dean Hall
Lead Developer: Bill Hicks
Art Director: Chris Torchia
Game Engine: Real Virtuality (heavily modified)
Other Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One (Not yet released)
Announcement Date: August, 2012
Release Date: December 16, 2013 (Early Access Alpha)
Steam Release: December 16, 2013 (Early Access Alpha)
Development History / Background:
DayZ is developed by Czech Republic based independent developer Bohemia Interactive. Dean Hall originally designed DayZ as a mod for ARMA 2: Operation Arrowhead. Following the success of the mod, a full standalone version of the game was announced in August, 2012, with Hall working with Bohemia Interactive. The Alpha version of the game was released throught Steam on December 16, 2013. In the first 24 hours it sold 172,500 copies, totaling over $5 million. After one week 400,000 copies had sold with 200 purchase per minute. By January 2015, DayZ sold 3 million copies. In February, 2014 Dean Hall left Bohemia Interactive and the DayZ project to start his own New Zealand based studio RocketWerkz. The full release of DayZ is expected sometime in 2016.