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Paws-on: DayZ, mod for Arma 2

DayZ, mod for Arma 2 (Comined Operation)
PC only

So, you have heard of it, and probably seen it on Youtube. DayZ had a quick gain of popularity. Lots of peoples wanting to try the game and buying Arma 2, making the sales on Steam rise to the first place for a few days (And still on the top 3 as i'm writing this) But why?

To be honest, i don't really know. It can be a lot of things actually...
But first, be warned, this is an Alpha, so a lot of bugs, and the way to install this game is quite weird (But not that difficult)
Also, DayZ can be terribly hard sometime.

When you'll get in the game, you'll have to bind your keys... the keys... God the keys... So much keys... And most of them are redundant, or almost useless. But thats Arma 2's fault, not DayZ itself. I actually suggest you take a quick jump into the game to know what keys you need to bind, because most of the commands are useless for DayZ.

So, actually, everyone start his "new life" at the Beach... Of a 200km²+ map. Yeah, if you are not used to Arma 2, it's that big, because the Engine permit it.
So what to do? What's the goal? There is no real goal, but plenty to do. DayZ is not actually like most Zombies game, where the goal is to run through them smashing or shooting at them without much troubles before hitting a safe room.
In DayZ it's more "sort-of-realistic" (Zombie + Realism = Does not compute, but it can be a bit) so actually you can die from pretty much anything... One punch of a zombie can make you bleed, and if you don't have any bandages left, you will probably bleed to death. If you are hungry or thirsty, and have no food or water, you are done. etc... You can even get cold. Yeah, it's going that far.

So back to our beach... What to do? As i said just above, you can die really fast, so you'd better find some supplies and find a safe area, as the beach is where peoples spawn after they died... And when you die, you lose everything, so peoples have this "Nothing to lose" rush when they are freshly spawned, and therefor, shoot at anyone on sight. Yep, PvP is always on too. Did i told you that this game can be terribly hard sometime?

So, you'll probably have your own survival tips and tricks, and usually, for everyone it's about finding buildings, and towns, to find supplies. But the problems is... there is a lot of zombies in towns... They are not really smart or anything, but they are fast... Faster than you, actually. But thanks to a weird and sometime bug'd AI, there is a few tricks to get them without too much pain. But i won't spoil you.
Actually, your first encounter with zombies will probably go really badly. You will either try to shoot them, and attract half of the town in your face, or sneak between them, and fail horribly.
And even if you manage to do that, you will get shot by a player you didn't saw from afar.
Did i told you that this game can be terribly hard sometime?

Then, you will have supplies, food, something to drink, maybe a new weapon and some ammo. Good start. Maybe..? Now, you will feel the need to be safe.
There is two solution, a bad one and the horrible one.
You can ask in the chat if you can join someone's group, or... head to the forest trying to camp in there.
So, which solution is the horrible one here? The group.
"-Wait, what?" You'll say.
"-Trust me, rookie" I'll say.
I'm always amused by peoples asking in chat if they could group with some others peoples... Because 75% of the time... It's a trap. And you will give your position in the chat, and therefor, attract a lot of bandits.
But there is a small chance to succeed, find nice peoples, etc... Which may not betray you later on, too. But that's rarely the case.

The forest is a good solution, but you may end up face-to-face against a bandit, which often hide in the bushes, taking pot shot at peoples in town or on the roads...
Actually, the best way is to actually have a friend (A real one, not an in-game one) on Skype, Teamspeak, etc... and hit the forest. Doing run to town together once in a while, etc...
The bigger your group is, the less trouble you will have. As bandits will mostly avoid peoples in group.
Be warned though, if you want to help a complete stranger with your group: There is a good chance he will betray you, in a way or another.

So now you are loaded, you have supplies, and maybe a few friends. Then things will start to get interesting for you.
The loots inland are way better than the coast one, you will even be able to find military grade weapons and equipment, such as AK and Night Visions goggle. So you will go there. sooner or later.

You will probably be more used to the game too. Taking cover every second, not shooting at every zombies you see, trying to stay stealthy, managing your inventory like a pro... But you'd better not be over-confident as the inland have less peoples, but they are better... Better weapon, better equipment, better aim, better stealth, etc.. And usually, they only want your can of beans and ammo, not your not-so-magic friendship.
Also, the game use real time of day. So if you are playing in the middle of the day, it's "fine", because you can clearly see around you (And so does bandits...) but if you are playing at night... You may have to take some hard choice.

Moving at night is hard, you can try to light a Flare, or use a Chemlights which last from 5 minutes for the former to 60 minutes for the later. But you will be a lighthouse in the night. The Flare is probably the worst idea, it give you a lot of light, but peoples can see you from really far with this. Chemlight is not so bad, as peoples hardly see you as soon as you move between the trees and bushes, but you have barely any light. The last solution is to move without light at all. You will be invisible for most peoples, but you will see sh*thole. Even more if there is no moon. And actually, you may encounter peoples with Night Vision Goggles, which will clearly see you, and you wont...
Did i told you that this game can be terribly hard sometime?

So, you finally decided what to do about this little Nighty problem, and you move inland with your group... and hear gunshots in the distance... What to do? Are they shooting at zombies? At players? Are they friendly? Are you friendly?
The first time you will encounter a player before they notice you, will probably be the most stressful experience in your gaming-life.
In the end, you may do it like me, and do nothing, hiding somewhere, aiming at them in case they become aggressive, letting them pass without knowing someone is watching them. Stalker style.
You can ask them if they are friendly, before showing up, doing a high risky but high reward move.
You may also end up shooting them, either because it's safer, or because you want their stuff.
But actually, it will mostly depend on you, everyone have a different way to deal with that problem. You may even do something completely original, like... following them, and try to steal stuff directly from their backpack? Because, yes, peoples can steal your stuff without you knowing.
Did i told you that this game can be terribly hard sometime?

Then, the rain...
"-Damn, i can't see anything" you will say at first
"-Why is my temperature going down suddenly?" you will say a few seconds later.
Yes, the rain will lower your body temperature, because there is body temperature. And if your temperature is going to low, you may end up coughing (Stealthy!) and even lose some blood. And in the end, you may simply die. So you will need to find a shelter, maybe make a fire if your temperature is too low, or find something to heal your sickness... And Medical supplies are rare and hard to find. And the few locations where you can find the best medical supplies are hot spot. So actually, trying to find something to cure your bad cough, may kill you.

Which lead to the last thing you need to know about this game: Your death.
You will die in this game, sooner or later. There is no way to avoid it. Personally, i don't die that often, and my longest life was 8 days. Sound short for a survival game? The average surviving time in DayZ is 30 minutes at this moment (4 Hours before the Huge raise of population). Sound short now?
In the game, dieing is way more painful than in many game. Usually, in most games, you just spawn back, 10 seconds later, with the same equipment, and banzai banzai...
In DayZ, you lose everything you had. Your awesome AK-74? Gone. Your useful map and GPS? Now in the pocket of some bandit. Your sh*tload of food and ammo? Still on your previous corpse... on the other side of the 200km² map.
So you will just spawn, with the base equipment, in a random spot on the coast, back to the beginning for short.

But, you may "save" some stuff: If you are lucky enough to find a tent, you can pitch it somewhere, and put some of your stuff inside. So if you die, you can just get back to your tent, and take the said stuff back. But be warned, anyone can put and take what is in your tent. Friend, and not-friend.
Also, the tent is server sided, so if you go to another server, you will not have your tent on this other server.

Also, a few quick note: There is vehicles in the game, but i didn't had the chance to repair one and use it. As they are rare, really well guarded, if you know what i mean, and hard to repair for only a few peoples (I was with a small group of 2 to 3 peoples) but i had the chance to see an helicopter (And actually, jumped into cover, as you will also do)
Also, your inventory is saved into a specific "login" server, if i can it like that. So you will have a permanent character, whatever the server you are on.

About the sounds, music, graphism, etc?
Well, DayZ is a mod for Arma 2, so there isn't much to say. But if you don't know Arma 2, i may do a quick tour:
The game looks fine, it's not super-duper, but that's not the point for a game like Arma 2 and a mod like DayZ. Plus the map is big, so it's quite good for an open world engine.
The sounds are nice, and if you think the weapons and gunshots sounds weird, it's because they are realistic. Yeah, i know, reality is weird, right?
The zombies have custom voice now, which are nice, better than the previous one. They used the Left 4 Dead zombie voice, which was not that good for DayZ, and very loud. But now it's way better. There is also a found custom sound here and there, like the panic sound, etc...
The music fits DayZ quite well, but you may end up reducing it, and turning it off, as it can help you survive longer.
The movements are sluggish though, it's hard to move in this game, and not really natural. You may even end up stuck in a hallway, because you can't turn if your gun hit the side walls... So you will need to walk backward... Derp.
And since DayZ is an alpha, expect bugs, lots of bugs. Losing stuff or log back on the coast even if you were inland previously... Those sort of things.

So for short, you have to play this game, because it's a nice gaming experience. Survival games are rare, and even more rare when they go that far.
It's also not so much about zombies, but mostly about the players. A bit like EVE online... Even if the game have nothing else in common.
Also, Arma 2 devs actually support the mod now, or at least they help the guy who made it (It's actually someone from their team) so that's nice to see a company supporting a mod, and keeping their game alive. It happen rarely those last time.

In the end, you may not play it for that long. The game is quite fun, and that's all you ask from a game, but after a while you have seen the majority of it, and play just once in a while.
I like Survival games, and realistic games. But i think some games, like STALKER and Red Orchestra 2 are better when it come the compromise between Realism and Gameplay, making a game more enjoyable on the long terms. But DayZ is surely really an interesting game to play, at least once in your gaming life, because you will have great moment in it.

Paws-on note:
Is DayZ worth the 25€? (DayZ is free, of course, but you need to buy Arma 2 Combined Operation)
You will have Arma 2, plus DayZ for this price, and you will sort-of support both the DayZ's dev, and Arma's Devs with this money. Which deserve it.

Next on Paws-on:
*Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 2.
*I don't know yet.
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Added: 6 years, 8 months ago
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