As you may know, I’m going to be streaming Day Z this Saturday. I’ve been practicing a lot lately because, frankly, I need it. Surviving in a world full of zombies and loot hungry players is hard. Read after the jump for my impressions on this Arma II mod.
As I’ve said before, but just to reiterate, Day Z is a zombie survival game, modded from Arma II and Operation Arrowhead expansion, which is a tactical shooter. Unlike most modern shooters, Arma II is a slower paced, realistic affair where firefights happen 50 to 100 meters away more often than they do in games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. One or two bullets are enough to kill you, and you might not even see who killed you. Clearly, it’s not for the faint of heart.
Like Arma II, Day Z takes place on a massive map. 225 squared kilometers massive, in fact. Day Z looks and feels like Arma II, which is to say a little bit dated, but not bad by any means. You can see huge distances of jutting hills and small towns connected by a complex systems of roads. Zombies spawn next to buildings when players are nearby (which helps the server strain), making the wilderness safer than towns. However, you’ll only find loot like guns, food, ammunition, medical supplies, and parts to repair vehicles, among other things. You’ll start out with practically nothing, your gear consisting of a flashlight, one bandage, one painkiller, and a small backpack, so you’ll have to put yourself in danger to survive. Your character is saved across all servers, which is a nice touch. Also, if your character dies, you have to start over from scratch, adding into the hardcore-ish aspect of the game.
As the game is being patched pretty constantly, zombies are getting smarter and more alert as time goes on. Currently, they’re already pretty deadly, but aren’t quite balanced. For instance, it’s great that moving too quickly or staying in the line of sight of a zombie will alert them to your presence. Day Z is at its highest when you’re crawling on your stomach through a patch of zombies hoping you won’t be spotted; It’s nerve wracking, as it should be. If one zombie spots you, his hungry screams will let all the other zombies know there’s food nearby. Gunshots will draw massive crowds of zombies, depending on the volume of your gun, making you choose when to use it. Again, when Day Z plays like this, it’s exhilarating. Other times, when zombies run through doors it’s kind of disappointing. Despite this, the negatives are outweighed by the positives in this aspect.
Zombies aren’t the only thing you have to worry about, though. Day Z is a multiplayer game, and you’ll eventually come across another player. If you’re lucky, you may just find a teammate, making surviving Day Z a lot easier. Of course, perhaps that shiny gun you have is just what another player is looking for, and since there are no laws in Day Z, that human you run into might be putting a bullet through your brain instead of a zombie’s. Play long enough, and you’ll probably be killed by another player for your loot, or a player who has killed so many other players that they’re considered a bandit. Bandits have a special skin, making them easy to spot, just making it more painfully obvious that you have to keep your head on a swivel at all times when playing this game.
The average lifespan for Day Z is 32 minutes right now, according to the official website. This is a hard game, but that helps makes it fun. When the game is behaving correctly, it’s intense, nerve wracking, paranoia-inducing, white-knuckle play. But it’s not perfect; The zombie AI needs a little more fine tuning and there are bugs, as is to be expected with alpha versions. Perhaps the most frustrating part is the installation, which takes a bit of finagling, but is by no means difficult. The worst part, rather, is that you have to continually look to see if new patches have been released. It’s fitting that Day Z and Arma II, which it was based off of, have a degree of difficulty that casual games don’t have. It’s almost part of their genetic makeup; These are hardcore games for hardcore gamers, but the pay off is great. I’d definitely recommend Day Z to anyone who enjoys zombies, survival, or hardcore games. Bring a buddy if you can, because the zombie apocalypse ain’t no walk in the park.