DayZ, released in 2013 on PC, is a persistent, open-world Zombie game that puts you in the shoes of a single survivor, washed up on a beach in a post-Soviet country called Chernarus. You spawn with nothing but a can of beans, a few bandages and all you have to do is survive, but that’s easier said than done.
DayZ is incredibly unforgiving. My first attempt lasted all of five minutes. The problem: I didn’t realise these zombies were the running kind, not the idiot kind and I quickly died. My second attempt was a little more considered. I explored for a bit, dodged a couple a hairy situations and when I finally felt comfortable enough to try something new, I shot a zombie in the head and unintentionally brought a hoard of 20-30 zombies down on my ass and then watched them rip my broken body to shreds as I tried to crawl away from the horror.
My third and final attempt – that day – I came across my first survivor. We ran to each other like long lost lovers, skipping and jumping in animated flourishes and once the excitement had passed we set about exploring the world. We looted a few stores, I found a compass, a map, and even a shotgun and as we set off to leave the city and frolic in the country surviving on nothing more than wild-boar and moonlight he shot me in the back and took all my stuff.
I trust no one now, I’ve just been burned too many times and I’ve gotten to know myself better as a result: If there ever was a real world zombie apocalypse I would quickly become the type of world weary survivor that has lost all faith in humanity.
“DayZ is the kind of game you play with friends, or you play alone.” That said, DayZ is a game that thrives on people’s experiences rather than thrilling gameplay. You’ll find that it is the unique characters that inhabit the world that make it an exciting game to play. I’ve heard incredible stories that quickly go viral and are being featured on every big gaming website of note. Just to give you an example, there is one story doing the rounds at the moment of a team of players who go around taking new survivors hostage and forcing them into doing menial tasks that are a little too dangerous even for veteran players… and making them pose for photos as well.
Other stories where crazed lunatics run around in circles, spouting gibberish and freaking “regular players” out so much so they are forced into shooting them and continuing to shoot, despite being attacked by actual zombies. And the list goes on.
DayZ also has a real 24-hour day and night cycle and a weather system that will affect your health. Get caught up in a shower and your body temperature will plummet. That’ll cause you to catch a cold, and without a set of heat packs to warm you up you’re going to succumb to a virus that will ultimately kill you. But there’s more. Get hit by too many zombies and you’ll need a blood transfusion to top your stores back up. Break a leg and you’ll need morphine. Narrowly escape death and you’ll need painkillers to calm your nerves. It is these various innovations that truly connect you to the world, in a way that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced in a game. It is truly remarkable.
All in all, DayZ is the kind of game that is only possible as a result of the modding community. It is also a refreshing reminder that games are FAR too easy. When you give it a go for yourself, maybe consider getting your heart check-up before because it’s going to be pounding as if it were going to explode. And remember, if and when the apocalypse does arrive – DON’T. TRUST. ANYONE. You should also note that DayZ is expected to release on PS4 and Xbox One in the near future.