Welcome to Chernarus. A 225 km2 open world post-soviet state and one of the areas hit by a new and presently unknown infection which has wiped out most of the world's population. You are one of the few who have survived and now you must search this new wasteland in order to fight for your life against what is left of the indigenous population, now infected with the disease.
Go Solo, team up with friends or take on the world as you choose your path in this brutal and chilling landscape using whatever means you stumble upon to survive.
This Might be the Greatest Zombie Game Ever Made
I don't like most zombie games because, well, they're not really zombie games. They're action games using the texture of a walking corpse as your opponent. From Resident Evil to Left 4 Dead, they don't really capture the essence of a good zombie yarn like Dawn of the Dead or The Walking Dead manage.
So it was with a little bit of excitement this week when I sat down with DayZ, a new zombie mod for ArmA II, a hyper-realistic combat simulator that also happens to be one of my favourite PC games of all time.
If you've never played ArmA II, it's an open world shooter where you control a single character who can...do whatever they want. Shoot a rifle, fly a plane, drive a tank, whatever. Only catch is nearly all those things handle and react as they would in the real world. So shooting somebody from 100 yards away, a mundane act in Call of Duty, becomes something to celebrate in ArmA. Especially since damage is also realistic.
So, into this framework comes DayZ, a multiplayer experience which has you taking the role of a zombie apocalypse survivor, stranded on an island that's populated with hundreds of zombies and dozens of other humans. Some of whom are there to help you, while others are there to kill you and take your stuff.
It's a bleak, brutal game, playing like some strange hybrid of STALKER, Fallout and Left 4 Dead. There's no map until you actually find one. No prompts showing you the location of other survivors. All you hear is the wind and the birds. Because it's built on such a realistic engine, if you want to go somewhere, you have to walk. If you want to pick stuff up, you can only take what you can carry.
If that wasn't making things hard enough, the mod's developers have added extra survival elements, like the need to eat and drink water. Two things which you'll want to do, since you take the role of a persistent player; leave a game and, if you're still alive, you'll come back in the same spot with the same gear. Die, though, and that's it. The weapons and tins of beans you worked so hard to get are gone.
If that doesn't sound like fun, it's not! Fun isn't the right word to use for this. It's scary, definitely, especially if you're stupid enough to walk into a large town by yourself. It's also boring, a game full of long sequences where you're doing little but walking around an island with nothing but the wind and birds to keep you company. What I felt most though was a sense of fascination. The game wasn't in killing zombies. It was in interacting with the other survivors.
While there's no map, group chat functions are still available, meaning rudimentary directions can be given. Naturally, this usually entails survivors broadcasting their location so others can join them. Sometimes this means they'll do just that, and help each other out, sharing bandages, ammunition and food. Other times, it's a trick, and they're assholes luring you into a trap so they can take you out and steal your stuff.
In my first game, I'd managed six kills before dying. I wasn't killed by a zombie, or another human; I'd been helpfully told where a rifle was, but before the veteran could say "DON'T CLIMB THAT LADDER WITH YOUR PISTOL DRAWN OR YOU'LL DIE", I'd climbed that ladder with my pistol drawn and, thanks to a bug (the mod is still in alpha), fell and died. Regrettable, but still, he was just trying to help!
The second time? A survivor told me he was down at a dock. I rushed to join him, met up, exchanged awkward hellos and went off to find others. Two seconds later, we're both dead, another veteran having overheard our conversation, hunted us down and stolen what little equipment we had worth salvaging.
It can be very frustrating the first time it happens, but then, isn't this exactly what would happen in a real zombie apocalypse? Some people would band together, sure, but others would certainly try and tear us apart, a selfish desire to survive overriding their need for safety in numbers.
There aren't really sides in this conflict. You just assume the role through your behaviour in the game. It's so damn simple, yet it's what transforms this from being a bleak and interesting mod into something compelling. So compelling I've been playing it almost non-stop. So compelling it's sitting minimised on my taskbar right now, waiting for me to finish writing this so I can get back to it.
If you've got ArmA II and ArmA II Operation Arrowhead, head below to get the mod, bearing in mind it's still a little rough around the edges (you'll need some help installing it as well). If you don't, you should maybe look into it. This is definitely worth it.
Oh, and at bottom is a short clip I recorded. There's not a single zombie in it. There is, however, an asshole taking potshots at me and my fellow survivors. It also shows how barren, and yet tense, this thing can be.
Been playing for a couple days. Amazing game/mod. The longer you live, and the more items/gear you get, the more paranoid you get, and the tighter you hold on.
My current character is on about 6 hours staying alive. I'm fully stocked with food, water, binoculars, matches, flares, etc. I have a Pistol and a Winchester Rifle with plenty of ammo. I'm currently running solo, trying to make my way to the Airfield... but I have no map or compass, so I'm using the sun/shadows to guide me.
A must try experience IMO. It's not for the faint of heart though.
Bought ARMA 2 yesterday and have got everything working. Couldn't get it working yesterday, new update came out and was messing with quite a few people's games. Working fine now. Went on a server for about 5 minutes got so paranoid almost instantly.
Waiting for a couple of my boys to download ARMA 2 so we can group up.
Never seen anything like this before, haven't been this excited about a game for a long, long time.
Me and a couple of buddies are addicted right now. One of them actually bought a server.
Had so much fun playing this. Not many games where your destiny is completely in your own hands, as in a complete open-world PVP game. There are no objectives, or a specific path you have to play. It's entirely up to you whether you dare go and do a hospital raid at Elektro, or explore the Balota airstrip. Up to you whether you find another player and become friends with them, or blow their brains out. That is what I love about it.
You feel like such a badass when you and 4 or more other friends are with you. You feel you can take anyone down! So so good.
Of course it's quite buggy and laggy at times, but it is only in Alpha, and only a mod for another game. Can't wait till it becomes a standalone game. Crazy how huge this has become, in such a short time.
I still play a bit. I got a little burnt out, so I'm letting some more updates and content get added before I get back into it. I still have a nice setup though with 4 tents and all the guns/gear/supplies I would ever need. Waiting for choppers to get put back in and my homie and I are going to get some air strikes going on. I play on TX20 I'm actually an admin there.
One of my friends is so addicted to this game, he's bought a server.
UK206 server, if you want a fair admin group, no hackers, and just a nice vibe. If any of you frequent the DayZ forums, you can check out the UK206 server thread and read all the good stuff said by some guys who have made the server their home.
I play most days of the week, but my friend and some others are playing this game pretty much all the time, so they've set up camps, found all sorts of good stuff, know the map inside out etc. But the cool thing is, when they die, or when they sometimes lose their stuff (they had a bunch of different vehicles which were stolen from them the other day), they don't pout or boot anyone from the game, they actually encourage that sort of thing, as it's just part of the game. No fun in hacking for items, or to piss off other players. So like I said, if you want to find a nice server, UK206 is good one.
. Damn guys does it really give that much control/freedom over the world? When you die it's permanent and you have to make a new character right? Does anybody actively play that I can join forces with? First thing I'm going to do is start or find a group to roll with.
Last edited by Clippersfan86 : 08-07-2012 at 12:14 AM.