Sorry folks, our regularly scheduled Tuesday Games Night had to be rescheduled. Our regular host fell ill and we had to cancel. In place of the usual Wrap Up I present to you a review of DayZ!
So for those of you know, or all of you that may read this blog, I have been pretty well suckered into DayZ, the zombie survival mod for ARMA II Combined Ops.
Together with Scumcleaner and DG, the three of us have been meandering around Chernaras trying to survive and meet up, and then go and survive more!
DayZ takes the extreme isolation affect of zombie horros and then adds bandits (players who kill other players) to the mix, all of which makes the standard time a player lives about 45 minutes on average. That is a newly spawned player, who has naught but a flashlight, bandage and painkillers, will run around for about 45 mins collecting what they can until succumbing to zombie infestation (or a bullet in the back) and losing everything! Yep, you heard right, this is no fancy FPS where you respawn with a whole heap of gear, nope, when you die, that is it, you respawn with your 3 starting items. ‘Old school’ gaming here my friends!
You’ll notice that starting items do NOT include FOOD or WATER. You got it, the first things you are going to need are food, water and a way to protect yourself, usually a gun or a hatchet. Yep, you read right, you are UNABLE to defend yourself from a zombie until you have a weapon. That means either sneaking or LOTS of running.
So, is this game hard or what? Well, not really. It isn’t difficult per say, but it IS unforgiving. Even loaded up on goods, a mis-step or poor decision will leave you dead (and respawning with a flashlight, bandage and painkillers). The learning curve starts out steep initially and then flattens out quickly. Once you get used to the scroll whell interface ansd what the Zeds (DayZ name for Zombies) can do, your main concern is other players, whose attitudes generally are shoot on sight. There is little to no trust in DayZ, where food is hard to come by and nothing is certain.
DayZ is also in it’s Alpha stage which mean it is riddled with bugs, however things get fixed with patch releases and those releases are made quite frequently. Some bigs you learn to work around, like the bug where you can break your leg by crawling into a bulding on eneven ground, through to graphic tears to destroyed/ dissapearing items. None of these are a deal breaker for me, however, as Alpha stage gameplay is about sorting out the bigs. The 2 worst case of bugginess we have seen are Lost in the Wilderness and the Great Teleportation Caper
Lost in the Wilderness
There is a bad respawn bug which rears it’s head on occasion, if you die, you respawn in ‘The Wilderness’ or ‘Underwater’. Both affects have the same net result. You are outside the main game world and it is all but impossible to re-enter it. How do you get back then? You need to wait, until you dehydrate and then die of thirst. Of course this process is long, like HOURS long… It was a bad night for Scumcleaner, I hope we never see it again.
The Great Teleportation Caper
After kitting up and getting a little too cocky I was low on blood (DayZ uses blood count as a health monitor – you start with 12000 blood, a weapon hit might do from 2000 to 24000 depending on the weapon size). I had under 4000 which meant that my screen was shakey and greyscale and blurring in and out (to reflect low health your visibiliy reduces as you take damage). I was hiding in the woods waiting for Scumcleaner and DG to come to my aid, I had blood packs in my bag (stolen from someones tent!) but you need another person to admister them (a blood bag takes you back to full blood). After a night of follies and incidents Scumcleaner finally got to within 100m of my location when the server restarted (a common occurance as most servers flush out their memory for better performance every 6 to 12 hours). So selecting a new server were all set to meet up, heal me and then go off searching for DG. Instead, the next server we loaded into glitched me out, told everyone I was dead and respawned me… BACK ON THE COAST, half a map away from Scumcleaner. ARGH. On a bright note, I wasn;t really dead, I was still at 3600 blood and had all my gear. I did meet up with a respawned DG but lost my backpack when I went for a swim – but that is another bug and another story for another time.
Strangely enough, DayZ makes it difficult for multiple players to meet up. This is another great challenge to the game. You have no map, no compass, no watch. You have NO IDEA which road you are on. Even using voice chat and an onlinemap, it takes a co-ordinated effort to have 3 people meet in one location, healthy and with gear.
Of course it is exactly that level of challenge that keeps me coming back!
So, in a harsh, unforgiving game where other players are often your worst enemy, what is it that makes DayZ just so enjoyable?
The atmosphere, well and truly. This game is simply amazing in delivering a world that looks, sounds and feels like a zombie apocalypse. You start with nothing, you need to fight tooth and nail for every scrap. All this to simply survive. All this in a game where you can’t even fight back against a zombie to begin with. So tense.
The game world times are supposed to be matched with real world times. Day andnight last about as long as they should and the game uses phases of the moons. Night time is DARK, there are no building lights, street lights, anything! If you do make a fire or light a flare or chemlight then you are a beacon – the only light that is likely to be visible. Well done! You can see. You also made youself the biggest target around (Zombies are attracted to bright lights and loud noises – they love Disco’s and Rave’s, so do bandits).
DayZ is truley a game where crawling around through a town at night with a sliver of a moon is spooky. The tension, at times, is palable. The music, lighting and voices all combine to keep you on edge. It is fantastic (Yes I know you can adjust gamma setting but why not play the way it is meant to be playeed).
These are my initial impressions of DayZ. So, while we are still new to the game we understand the basics, we can gear up for survival reasonably well and quickly. Our aim from here is to get a vehicle and start raiding some of the larger areas up North. Presuming we can all meet in one area!