DayZ: A Day in the Life of a Zombie Hunter
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the world was caught in a zombie apocalypse and you were one of the remaining survivors? The last few years we have seen a lot of singleplayer games and tv shows for this genre, and it really became a big hit all over the world. Because of this everyone has been talking about what would happen in the apocalyptic world, and most importantly, what would happen with you. Luckily, since a few days ago, you can experience this for your own with a modification for ArmA 2 : Operation Arrowhead.
Normally we don’t review modifications for games at all but personally this modification really caught my attention. Recently a developer for Bohemia Interactive named Dean ‘Rocket’ Hall decided to open the doors to his own mod called DayZ. In this mod the player will spawn as a survivor and is free to go in any direction and create his own story. In this apocalyptic open-world there are a lot of things a player can do, and he has to try to survive while there are many zombies lurking around the world. Not only does the player have to worry about the zombies but watch their back as other players can be just as dangerous, and far more devious. When you see another player you have to ask yourself if he is friend or foe. Is he out to take my supplies or does he look like a player that I can work together with.
In the last few weeks since DayZ opened its doors for everyone, ArmA 2 rapidly became one of the bestselling games in the steam top 10 list and at one point the game was even at the number one spot. Around 50,000 unique players have swarmed the servers already and are out to gather all sorts of items to survive with. Dean Hall personally never expected that this game would suddenly explode into an online phenomenon so suddenly. Because DayZ is made for the game military simulator ArmA 2, the game had plenty of weapons and features to build off of for this mod. It also helps that it takes place on the world map Chernarus, a 225 km2 open world map with more than enough space to keep you feeling like one of the few survivors left alive. However you need to keep your wits about you if you want to explore the entire thing in one go, as there are plenty of zombies lurking around every corner and PKers more than happy to put an end to your tale.
Each player starts with a simple pistol called the Makarov with enough clips to survive with for at least a few hours. There are many spawning points all along the coast of Chernarus, and I spawned near a town called Kamenka. The main goal of this game is to survive, but with such a horrific sandbox to play with I’m sure there are many personal achievements that players will gun for to feel like they accomplished something more.
When I checked my inventory I was relieved to find some canned beans and Pepsi. With these rations I knew I was safe for the moment. The first thing I wanted to do is head into the little town of Kamenka. Because the map DayZ is played on is actually Russian, all the names are Cyrillic and it is quite hard for a player like me that doesn’t speak this language to find my way around the map. In the global chat you will see many people talking with each other and sharing their position on the map. I chose not to reveal my position as I had limited ammo and no real base to defend myself, so I wasn’t about to let me location be known by bandits. Bandits stay alive by killing players and taking their supplies. This doesn’t mean that they’re bad people but simply that they have different objectives for survival.
I knew my paranoia would leave me vulnerable and alone so I started scavenging through town in search of a better weapon and more plentiful food supply. After scavenging around for a while and having found a lot of canned food and water I was ready to move on. I decided to stay on the road since I was still fairly new and had no what horrors lurked just out of sight. After walking for a few minutes I spotted another survivor. I hid in the bushes near the side of the road and watched to see if I could learn anything about them before making contact. He seemed to me like a friendly new player so I decided to walk up to him and ask him if he was friendly. I took my chances and luckily the guy talked back and told me he was new as well.
We decided to group up and watch each others' backs while figuring out our bearings on the map. Luck was on my side yet again as my new friend was Russian and showed me a map he had come across. I learned a good deal about the local geography as a result. DayZ leans on the side of realism and doesn’t offer you automatic minimaps or a compass, so we had to use our knowledge of a nearby town combined with the ocean and sun to navigate our way. We believed an ammo depot was just ahead so we agreed to team up until we had found some better weapons.
Meanwhile on chat someone was asking for people to help him since he had lost a lot of blood. He claimed to be in a hospital in a nearby big city called Chernogorsk also known as Cherno. Since we were close to his position we told him that we were heading to his direction but it could take a while before we were there. Now we both saw that this could easily be a bandit trap and decided to play it safe. Instead of going straight to his location we first visited Balota, a small town close to the city of Cherno.
Next to Balota there is an airstrip with a military base so we were hoping to find some useful weapons. When we arrived at the airstrip we found a lot of dead bodies, most wearing military fatigues, which was proof enough to us that we were in the right location. After checking the hangars and all the little tents I found myself a better gun and my Russian friend found himself a sweet looking AK 47. However my new pistol had one serious problem; there were only two magazines worth of ammo left and we had a few kilometers walk ahead of us to get to Cherno. Anyone who has watched a recent zombie film probably knows how fast you go through ammo in a major city center so I didn’t like my chances.
Of course we barely got out of the military base when a swarm of zombies fell upon us. We managed to avoid any injuries but I was down to a few rounds and my partner’s AK was empty. This meant that he was down to only a secondary pistol with around 5 clips of ammo. Since the guy in trouble said he had a lot of guns and ammunition we decided to make a ballsy run for the hospital before our gunfire drew any more zombies to the airstrip.
When we finally arrived at the town we were immediately lost due to the size and complexity of the city. We were told the hospital was on the left side of town meaning we had to follow the road in the hope that we could locate the big building. While sneaking around Cherno we heard a lot of gunshots in the distance, and we were quite scared that there was a group of bandits picking off survivors seeking supplies in town. I wondered if the player we were rescuing had loss so much blood from a bandit attack or zombie attack.
Unfortunately while distracted and pondering this I walked straight into an alley to meet a group of 5 zombies face to face. I knew that our gunfire could attract bandits so we played it safe and ran into a nearby apartment complex to escape our pursuers. Once within the safety of the building we got our bearings again and realized the hospital was just across the street. The guy that required help was in the door opening of one of the complexes. We coordinated a plan and then charged across the street, renewing the interest of our zombie pursuers. For being immobile, our injured friend had no issue holding the door down while we searched the hospital for blood bags to patch him up. The guy we found was actually a player that had the bandit skin, but nonetheless he was thankful for our help and agreed to share his supplies as thanks for the rescue. Unfortunately for us though, there was another player following our conversation who had tracked us to the hospital. Out of nowhere a sudden gunshot rang out.
I fell to the floor, suffering a gunshot in the stomach. I was one room away from the others so they didn’t immediately notice me going down. Luckily the wound wasn't instantly fatal. Not so lucky was that I had lost consciousness and would soon bleed to death at this rate. The immediate shock of the wound finally subsided and I gained control of my motor skills once more, though my wound was becoming serious. I patched myself up with some bandages but I needed some time to rest and recover, time the bandits likely weren’t going to give us. My Russian friend then decided to risk his life and head down to the emergency room to grab another blood bag for me. Unfortunately the bandit sniper caught him in his scope and shot him in the head while he ran between buildings.
My new friend and I were scared and put all our focus into figuring out where the sniper was perched. In the process a second bullet smashed into my fatigued body, this time immobilizing my right leg. I was unable to get up and I could feel my life fading away from me. I could still hear my friend trying to talk to me but after a short moment everything faded away and I was unconscious again. The last thing I hear my friend saying is ‘hold on’ while I see him pass the street into the hospital. After I regained my senses once more I crawled my way to the door to see where my other friend was because he never returned. When I got to the doorstep I saw both of my friends laying dead on the street with the bandit standing next to them. I shouted asking who he was, and he turned around and fired a single bullet. The message ‘You are dead’ popped up into my screen and I knew everything was over for me.
DayZ is a genre that many of us have been waiting a long time for and it is finally here. This modification for ArmA 2: Operation Arrowhead is without a doubt a big success and the game is still gaining new players every day. Currently the game is still in the Alpha phase but there are already a lot of things to do and I never found a moment that I was bored while playing. In the last week I have played this game more than I have played any game for the past few years. With many features like fixing and flying a helicopter or hotwiring a car, you really get sucked into the life and death setting. Personally the whole apocalyptic setting that places you all alone with no sense of who is friend or foe offers a sense of suspense badly lacking in most online titles. Like the developer Dean ‘Rocket’ Hall said, “why would we follow a story from books and movies when we can generate our own that are unique to the player.”hea