With the recent explosion in popularity of the mod DayZ for Arma 2: Combined Ops, Seb and I decided to dive in and see what all the fuss was about. Note that I have played approximately 15 minutes in total of Arma 2 before installing and playing this mod. So without further ado, to our deaths!
Oh and there was many a death for me. But what is DayZ? Well I want you to picture this dear reader, 200km of ex-soviet land built to scale, hordes of zombies populating this land mass and finally 50 other players who have the power of life and death as much as you do. The key to DayZ is its persistence. Your character that you create is saved on to a master server and his location along with all your items is transferred across the servers. But note, if you die that character is wiped and you start again. As you start out you are given a small pack of supplies, a makarov pistol, some flares and rations to keep you well fed and watered for around a day and some bandages. Yet once you have built up a nice stash of items, a new pack perhaps, an Ak-47 and 200 bullets for it and perhaps a couple of grenades you don't want to lose it.
This gives you the absolute fear, spurred on not only by zombies but by the other players populating the server. What if that shooting over there is bandits firing upon an innocent traveler like you used to be? What if it is a hit squad of friends who mow down every survivor in their path just to steal your beans? You'll be sulking back into your hiding place and waiting. Too afraid to lose your items but you know your supplies are dwindling, not only are you running out of food but you hear the town being populated with zombies. Then you have to make a choice. Try wait until these players pass or make a break for it. So you stare out your hiding place into the distance, it is getting dark so visibility is reduced yet you see a couple of figures down the road. You aim your Ak-47 and wait. The two survivors are firing yet you cannot see on what, are they shooting at you? Should you return fire? You decide against it, best not to alert the zombies if you aren't sure. Suddenly one of the survivors falls to the ground dead, the other turns to attempt to make a last stand before being gunned down like his friend. You start crawling backwards, scared that whoever killed those survivors is after you next. You stand up and slowly ascend the stairs of the house you have been hiding in, turning to see the glimpse of someone entering the house. Literally shitting it now, you open fire and spray 30 bullets down the stairwell before sprinting to the back of the room and aiming your sites at the door. You are trapped, there are no other options but to last stand here. A grenade rolls into the room. The screen fills with smoke, you fire wildly and see mussel flashes by the door but the screen goes black. YOU ARE DEAD.
You wake up on the beach, back with your makarov and beans. Yet it doesn't matter because that whole experience gives you a thrill that I have hardly ever had in games before. The whole realistic survival built in Arma 2 works so well that even when you die and lose all your great items, you just want to keep playing and find yourself in more story telling situations. Its these story telling situations that make the game so personalized and intimate. I want to show you an example, which was a comment written on Rock Paper Shotgun, where magicpanda described his experience.
"When you’ve spent 10+hours gathering equipment and beans that someone can take away with the pull of a trigger from 500 yards away you get very protective and very paranoid.
I’m currently holed up in some woods at what feels like 30km – 40km north of the spawn points. I have a very nice backpack full of goods and spend my time raiding small towns for food and water. You cant run in towns, you have to crawl and creep your way into them avoiding the zeds. Alert one and you alert many and they are fast. Last night i spent ten minutes just watching a moonlit town from a hill for signs of other people and I ended watching some poor sod get ripped to bits by a Church.
His first mistake was running on concrete. This alerted 20+ zeds and they bore down on him in a pack from the front gate. At first he was running from them fine and I weighed up helping him but then a sniper shot rung out (which made me shit myself) The guy hit the deck bleeding from the legs unable to use them and the zeds caught up with and just ripped him to bits.
Some utter fucking sociopath had shot him in the legs just for the pleasure of watching him get ripped to bits
I melted into the woods onto the next town."
It is fantastic to read these stories, yet it is even better to live them and tell them yourself. It is important for you to realize before diving in to buying Arma: Combined Ops that DayZ is only in Alpha stage and as a result can be unstable and buggy. Yet since 25% of the total sales of Arma 2 have been within the last few weeks (the game was released around 3 years ago) even the official developers of the game has endorsed the mod and will be applying the mod files in the official patches from now on.