Surviving In Day Z: Part Three (& Musings)

By Jim Rossignol on May 19th, 2012 at 9:51 am.


I think I’ll annoy some Arma fans when I say that Day Z is a better showcase for that tech than the original game’s campaign or multiplayer missions. But I have my reasons, and I’ll explain some of them below. I’ll also continue the story which we began the other day, which will serve to illustrate a bit more about why both Arma 2 and this modification are something singular and brilliant in the landscape of gaming.


James, whose adventures you followed in the last part of this series, ended up dying a horrible death. Not his own fault, as such, but in exploring a castle on one of Chernarus’ forested hilltops, he was unlucky enough to have an ally who let off a round within earshot of a few dozen zombies. The undead came screaming in. I was listening on voice comms, and heard the chaotic yelling as they died. That character had almost managed five days, and have been fully kitted out for wilderness survival. He could make fires for cooking, butcher animals we’d killed, and was armed with an M4. A rounded inventory that it would take a while to scrape together.

James was appalled, and dismayed. The loss was a punch in the gut. But he’d be back.

Meanwhile, my character was still alive, way back down the valley, miles from the horror at the castle. I was going to spend the next couple of days playing solo, and it was my mission to collect all the sort of kit that would allow me to survive without mere scavenging. I looked out across the landscape, checked the map, and began to plan my trek. The capacity to do that is what I mean about this being such a good showcase for the Arma 2 engine.

There’s over 200km2 out there for characters to roam around in, and it has some of the most realistic forests you’ll ever encounter in a game. They’re actually based on real terrain in the Czech Republic. That means nothing is really the whim of a designer (although buildings and so on repeat) because things are where actual forests, villages, and roads are placed in the real world. As virtual tourism goes, there nothing more accurate in gaming. The idea for Arma 2 was to create a huge, open world for military operations, backed with the kind of AI that would allow for a living world. This has made for an extraordinarily ambitious game, but I felt that the dry experience of being a soldier lacked the vital spark to make the experience compelling. With Day Z the context changes. This time it’s not about fighting a war as part of a larger event, it’s just about you, and about surviving in a vast landscape. That far simpler setting makes you think more about the world around you. It makes you notice things.

And, to be fair, every time I play Arma 2 I notice what an extraordinary accomplishment it is, but perhaps the constant threat of death that Day Z imposes on my heightens the experience. This time I am thankful for every tree and bush I can hide in, every shack or shed that might have a can of food in.


Anyway, back to our story. I headed south to a small town. I needed supplies, but also I wanted to find a hunting knife, and matches, so that I could survive in the wild. Every town is now patrolled by zombies, and since firing weapons brings them in, the best way is stealth. I crawled into the town on my belly, searching its shacks and barns for things I would need. It was a grim experience, with the moaning horrors lurching past me just a few feet away. At one point I was crawling through long grass only – nightmarishly – to see a zombie crawling through the grass toward me. My heart complained, and I crawled back out to nearby woodland. It began to rain. I hadn’t gathered much. Just some ammo and canned food. I set out to the next town.

This next town was much bigger, and was a good trek away. I spent a long time creeping around the abandoned settlement, dodging zombies and searching through crap to find what I needed. No point in taking that old rifle, or this jerry can, or that crossbow. None of it was going to help me survive solo. The weather got worse. Thunder rolled overhead. Then, as I squatted beside a fence – just planning how to get to the next barn – something worse that weather came in. A bullet thwacked into the scenery. It was a moment of pure chance: a miss. That first shot should have killed me, but the sniper fluffed it. I went prone and crawled blindly into the town. More shots. They were firing at where I had been. A quick glance: at least four bandits. Human players. More firing as they took out the wave of zombies. And then they came for me.

In global chat: “Don’t worry. We will find you.”

I crawled on. Then up on my feet and running for the woodland. I ran and ran. Stopping, I pulled out binoculars that I’d found in a hunting shack. I watched the town for a while. The bandits were moving methodically through the buildings, searching for me. I fled into the mountains.

After the initial fright had passed I realised I needed to be bolder. I might never find what I needed in these sheds and factories. What I needed to do was take it from someone who had already collected it. I would need to kill.

But I didn’t want to kill another peaceful survivor, I wanted to take it from a bandit. And I knew the bandits killed along the coast, where the highest number of newbies could be found. So I headed down through the valleys. I had a map, but no compass or GPS, so I was orienteering from landmarks. I got turned around a few times, but eventually I found myself on the outskirts of Elektrozavodsk. I watched the place from the woods for a while with my binoculars. I saw survivors come into the town, try to shoot zombies, and get swarmed by the horde. I watched a well-armed chap exploring the powerstation, and then then he too slipped up. I saw zombies racing inside the building. The survivor did not come out.

I glimpsed bandits skirting along the edge of the town. Perhaps the same guys who had hunted for me. I could not kill them with my ancient Winchester rifle. It was looking grim. And each moment I was here I risked being found and killed.

I headed back up toward the hills. And by this time I was beginning to feel a little defeated. Perhaps a solo quest was foolish. I’d need to log off and wait until chums were online to play alongside me again. I’d search a few buildings first, and then log out. My character would be saved to play on any server in the future. I checked a barn for the stuff I needed, but there were more crossbows, more bits of vehicle-fixing material I would not use. And then I turned around to see a bandit on the stairs behind me. In my surprise I let off a shot. He dropped down, and returned fire. He missed, and my second shot ended him.


I waited. Did he have friends? They would surely not come into the barn and risk an ambush. I frantically searched his backpack. A compass. Matches. A knife. A GPS. Painkillers. Food. A sniper rifle. Ammo. He’d been carrying everything a Day Z player could need.

Without thinking, I ran outside, and then realised my mistake. If others were waiting for me, I’d be dead. But there was no one. I ran for the woods. I was all set. I logged off in the dark.

It was this character’s seventh day. I joined James, ending my solo mission. He was fresh off the beach, and had nothing. We killed a goat and cooked the meat, so that he had some supplies, and then we headed north. There was more luck coming our way: tents! The first one was empty, but the second was packed with supplies, including another sniper rifle. We were set up within minutes. And we set off along the coast.

But Day Z’s dice roll fast, and favour no one. “Guys by the powerlines friendly?” Someone was talking to us in global chat. How quickly it could have been over had this survivor been hostile. It took us several minutes to spot him. He came running up and saluted. He could so easily have put us down and taken all this precious kit. I indicated that we should continue along the coast, keeping to the woods. Our friend, however, seemed intent on raiding buildings and fighting zombies. We watched as he met up with two other survivors in the next village, and holed up inside a barn, killing the waves of zombies that charged in. After watching this slaughter for some time, James and I decided to head north, and away from so much danger.

We explored ruins and villages. We kept off familiar highways. Fog came in as we headed into the highlands. The game’s weather delivers some bleak moments. And then, from the gloom, a car engine!

We hit the deck, and crawled further into the woods. There was a car on the road, stopped 300 metres from us. At least one bandit. And…. the server disconnected us. It had rebooted.

We logged back in immediately, hoping to steal the car from under the noses of its previous owners. But when we got back the car was gone. The bandits, however, were not. They had not seen us. We fired on them with our sniper rifles. We missed. They fled down into the valley. Panicking, we retreated into the woods.

They’d head back to the town they’d come from, I reasoned. The car they’d fixed up might still be there. We decided to skirt along the woods and come in from the other direction. That way we might be able to ambush them as they came back up the valley.


Except they never did come up that valley. As I watched the road and the town, James turned around. “A bandit,” he said. “Fifty metres from me.” They’d followed the exact same arc of trees as us, coming in on the other side of the town, just as we had. I should have realised they’d make the same move. I should have realised we could have made the counter-counter-intuitive move and ambush them. But I hadn’t. I was an idiot. James fired. And then the woodland buzzed with returned fire. I could hear bullets smacking into trees around me. Then I saw a bandit standing up. I took a shot, and missed again. Fuck! I saw him kill James with a single shot. “I got one of them,” said James. “Please don’t die.”

Then I heard the screaming. Perhaps twenty zombies were hurtling out of the town towards the woods. I hoped they go for the bandits, but they did not. I tried to run, and a sniper shot came from the woods. I died under a pile of the undead.

And it was all over.

We woke up back on the beach.

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120 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge DarkLiberator says:

    I agree this is a good showcase for the ArmA 2 engine. Probably one of the few games out there that can handle something this size.

    “I think I’ll annoy some Arma fans when I say that Day Z is a better showcase for that game than the original game’s campaign or multiplayer missions.” True, and I have seen some long rants on the DayZ forums of people complaining of newcomers, but the appeal of DayZ is undeniable, something that exceeds the vanilla game. All anybody has to do is look at the top sellers of steam to see how far the game was skyrocketed by DayZ.

    I do hope people who get ArmA 2 for the mod also take a glance at the base game too.

    • Kasabian says:

      I bought Arma2 with all the trimmings the other day for this mod. Before I even touched DayZ though I went through the main tutorials and a couple of the campaign missions. It really helps to get a feel for the engine and it’s quirks. Especially the inventory screen, it can be quite confusing at first.

      • BockoPower says:

        I hope this is going on the steps of Counter-Strike and ends up as an independent game.

        • Lemming says:

          That’s what I’m counting on. I’d love to play this but I can’t quite bare to buy a game + expansions that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It seems disingenuous somehow.

          • Quarex says:

            It should not seem disingenuous since this mod was made by one of the people who worked for the company–everyone wins if you buy it! (I could no longer resist once the combined pack went down to $15 on Amazon today)

          • Premium User Badge The Sombrero Kid says:

            Most importantly, BI deserve to be rewarded for making their game so modable, just as much as the mod maker deserves to be rewarded for making the mod.

          • xsntbkoabv says:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqHf6XgweFgThat’s exactly what Jim’s experiences made me think of.

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    • Neurotic says:

      I’ve been playing Arma II Free for a long time, and it’s been enough for me. But reading about Day Z here has now made the full OA game pack an essential purchase. Now if only I would find a stuffed zombie wallet in the next town…

      • DickSocrates says:

        If we take the Day Z analogy further, you could kill anyone you see to get the money.

    • roryok says:

      It’s great to see a mod do so well. Imagine what these guys could do with a budget!

  2. royaltyinexile says:

    Just wondering, did you play the official Arma 2 Campaign, “Eagle Wing”? It’s one of my personal favourites, and it generates some of the same stories and gameplay (albeit in only singleplayer form) that DayZ has been able to.

    http://www.arma2.com/EW

    I’m guessing you didn’t (it was part of a free update and not particularly well promoted), but (note: get past the helicopter intro!) perhaps you might consider spending an hour or so with it? ;)

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah, I played all the Arma campaigns.

    • Mattressi says:

      I loved that campaign. Even though it was linear in nature (open world, but with a reasonably linear path), it was still so great.

      • royaltyinexile says:

        Yeah, it was relatively linear, but the part when you [SPOLIER] first start beside your chopper with only a couple of mags and no idea what to do [/SPOILER] it’s can be a heart-pumping affair!

      • FadedCamo says:

        I never got much into Arma’s campaign but I did play Operation Flashpoint back in the day, and this mod reminds of one particular mission in it that stuck out in my mind as one of the best experiences I ever had in gaming. You were basically stuck behind enemy lines and had some ammo and told to hike it a direction, through enemy patrols, tanks, etc. It was a harrowing experience and much more free form than the rest of the campaign. Made for some great personal stories that made it really feel like a unique experience that games I feel really have lost that wonder and magic. Sounds like this Arma mission may have been similar.

    • jonfitt says:

      I didn’t see that new mission, I’ll have to give that a go. Thanks.
      .
      Although, imho the existing Arma campaigns where they try to implement a story have been less than stellar. They broke rather easily. I feel the missions work best when the story is allowed to occur organically. Let’s not even mention the dialog lest it induce some Arma PTSD.

  3. povu says:

    For the Americans over here, a digital copy of ARMA 2 Combined Operations is currently discounted at amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003UV8RRE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=vershorev-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B003UV8RRE

    I assume you don’t need to have the Steam version specifically for this mod?

    • Palindrome says:

      You need Combined Ops but it doesn’t matter where you get it from..

      • varangian says:

        Combined Ops is just Arma II + Op. Arrowhead it seems. As I’ve got Arma II on Steam then if I get OA (from anywhere) will that work for DZ or is there a bit of secret sauce in CO that’s also needed?

        • Smarag says:

          No it will work. Even using the free ARMA II version + Operation Arrowhead will work (though you will get lower quality models if you use the free version).

        • Premium User Badge Durkonkell says:

          If you have the retail DVD of ArmA 2, you’ll probably need at least the first patch (the one that removes the DRM) for it to combine properly with OA. If you have retail OA, I guess you’ll need all the patches as CO effectively mounts the ArmA 2 content in OA.

          I combined retail ArmA 2 with the steam version of OA, and it works perfectly. I spent more time trying to get the stupid encrypted BAF DLC to work…

          • Treymoney says:

            I have the Steam Arma 2 and a retail Operation Arrowhead, and it worked great after I remembered to patch OA. It took me two days to figure this out. I guess Steam’s auto-patch has made me lazy.

  4. Neox says:

    Just registered to say articles like these (good expressive game journaling in narrative) is what got me hooked on RPS and keeps me checking back more than any other game-related site I follow.

    Could not be more excited about the promise of this game. I’ve been watching Youtube videos of playthroughs and it’s just wonderful to see how rich stories can be made without the game telling them to you. We can philosophize and have differing opinions on “what makes a game a game”, but for me it is at its best and most separate from the usual suspects (literature, comics, movies) when it is all about the experience of interactivity. You’re not told the story at all – you make it; the game just provides the setting and defines the borders of your experience.

    Enough of the navel gazing. I need to get to work on installing this thing.

    • Palindrome says:

      It can be difficult to install, my installation failed twice even though I followed the directions perfectly. Its worth persevering though. The other thing to be aware of is that when you connect to a server you occationally spawn in ‘debug forest’, basically a big empty wood with no gear and no sound, the only way to fix this is to disconnect from the server completely and reconnect.

    • RagingLion says:

      Ditto, in that this feels like the heart of RPS for me.

    • Damo says:

      Agree on the style of write-up, for me it sells a game much better than your typical review.

      Loved the Rise of Flight story-line article, too. You should definitely do some more of that, given how much that flight-sim has changed.

  5. Alexander Norris says:

    I think I’ll annoy some Arma fans when I say that Day Z is a better showcase for that game than the original game’s campaign or multiplayer missions.

    Nope, you won’t. Everyone plays custom missions in ArmA. The campaign and the missions provided with the game are all fucking terrible.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Sure. I was referring to all the straight up military stuff, really.

      • Alexander Norris says:

        In that case, I still don’t think you’ll annoy anyone, but I don’t think that’s strictly correct. :P

        ArmA itself is a pretty terrible game and a bad simulation – but what the military stuff does quite well is make a game out of the teamwork and manoeuvring, which is really what ArmA is normally about. That said, unless you’re rolling with all the toys and mostly air vehicles, the size of Cherna/Taki isn’t relevant to that at all, and ArmA is bad at showcasing the whole size of the environment thing..

        • Izzan says:

          I think ARMA is terrible too.
          Don`t get me wrong, i play it a lot but the actual engine is fairly poorly suited and has been from the OpFlash days (balloon tanks, anyone?).
          The armour penetration system is based on hitpoints and vehicles don`t drive very well, all things considered.
          It`s still fantastic though and when you couple it with mods like ACE and the CBAs, well, that`s when you get the game you should have had in the first place. Countless units and weapons, maps, missions, wound systems, armour systems – even an armament reconfiguration module for re-equipping your aircraft with different bits of kit. It`s not perfect either, but it definitely gives the game a much needed injection of realism and, to a lesser degree, content.

    • SlimPickins says:

      actually the steam forum has threads titled “dayz ruined the arma community”

      not that it has, its just fan boys of every community are snobs who become irate at the drop of a hat…

  6. Chris says:

    Good luck in getting to play the thing. Lots of people, myself included get a “Waiting For Server Response” screen.

    • Palindrome says:

      Everyone does, just wait. It can take 5-10 minutes to join a game but the longer you wait the more likely debug forest becomes. I would certainly wait at least 5 minutes though.

    • puck says:

      Similarly, I’ve been a bit put off by all the talk of endless server waits. I’m quite intrigued by the persistent-world aspects – never played a MP game with that feature. Odds of it eating your life as a result?

      • Palindrome says:

        The persistent elements aren’t fully functional, there can be significant gaps between character saves but this does mean that you occationally miraculously survive :)

        I don’t think that I have ever spent so long in a game simply travelling, I travelled over 10km last night through woodland, skirting villages and generally being unobtrusive. It took me hours but I don’t regret doing it, that in itself says how unique this game is.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I am sure the waits will reduce as the hype dies off. Come back to it in two weeks ;)

      • Palindrome says:

        Apparently the wait is mainly due to the master server that stores the character data, I think that this will be getting upgraded ASAP, I don’t think that Rocket was expecting 40,000 people to be playing his mod :)

        • Premium User Badge JB says:

          Nope, Rocket says it’s the individual servers, not the master. The master is apparently not even breaking a sweat (his words).

      • Premium User Badge Saul says:

        You think the hype will die down that soon? The player population is growing rapidly, as far as I can see. This could get pretty massive.

        • Unaco says:

          Combine the wearing off of hype with efforts by the Dev team to cope with the capacity (which they’ve said is their immediate priority), and it should be better as time goes by. Player numbers might be going up, but the active players seem to be going down.

    • Premium User Badge Keirley says:

      Same here. I have to spend about thirty minutes getting into a game. And on top of that whenever I do get into a game I get some pretty crippling lag, even though I’ve got a good internet connection that doesn’t struggle with any other online games. I don’t think I’ve been able to enjoy the game once, which is a shame because it seems like exactly the kind of thing I want.

  7. Choca says:

    This mod reminds me of Philip José Farmer’s Riverworld with the survivors killing each others only to pop back up on the beach, naked and vengeful.

    • wu wei says:

      That’s exactly what Jim’s experiences made me think of.

    • Amstrad says:

      It reminds me of a similar book: Liminal States by Zack Parsons. In which once exposed to a strange pool of white water a person effectively becomes immortal, on death being regurgitated by the pool as a young healthy version of themselves.

    • bilharzia says:

      It reminds me of Thief: The Dark Project. The way I experience the game is very similar, this is the closest Thief has to an heir.

      • olemars says:

        I’ve actually been thinking about demaking the Chernarus map by drawing on a napkin, Thief style. Maybe several napkins, for more detailed maps of cities.

        It’s refreshing to not have magic maps, waypoints, markers and whatnot, instead relying on navigating by reading roadsigns in cyrillic, landmarks and even stars. I found a compass in a cottage yesterday and was thrilled. I’ve never been thrilled by finding a compass before.

      • Contrafibularity says:

        Weird. I’d say the main similarity would be how vulnerable the player is to the environment and others, but otherwise I think they have very little in common. Sure, both have what a 2009 version of myself would call emergent gameplay (for lack of a better word, shame the term was killed off by idiot devs using it entirely inappropriately because they couldn’t recreate it but did want to use it as a buzzword) but then so does Half-Life 2 (to a lesser extent).

        Of course, we could place Day Z in a long line of fine, fine games which generally mean to treat the player not as an idiot and actually pose a challenge which doesn’t revolve around the question how many enemies you can take out with a rocket launcher; System Shock, Thief, DX, VTMB, STALKER etc. but of all those games, it’s much, much closer to STALKER than it is to Thief.

        • eightiesmullet says:

          I agree with the STALKER reference. I groaned when I heard that the next STALKER game was going
          to be MMO. This mod gives me hope. Either that or it has totally stolen its’ thunder.

    • Jim9137 says:

      This game reminds me of Stunts. I am not sure of the exact reasons, but the palm trees and the constant horrored scream as you whirlwind towards yet another date with doom certainly bake a tale.

  8. lepercake says:

    “As virtual tourism goes, there nothing more accurate in gaming.*”
    *Only, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. actually did it better.

    I’ve noticed that I get all my lost blood back after about 12h offline. Might be with the server resets (every 6 hours). Nice way to not lose your silenced M4, that.
    I’ve also taken to playing at night. Survivability goes up quite a lot when no one can see you. Using chemlights (glowsticks) instead of goram’ flares also makes you a lot harder to hit for a bandit with a scope, and zombied won’t even know you’re there within like 2 meters (48 US Thumbs)
    Zombies have manners too, and (usually) walk more slowly inside a building. If you go inside to deal death stay far away from walls and closed doors, as zombies sometimes to walk straight through them. First time you spawn keep an eye on the lower right of your screen (you’ll get a name in Latin letters spelled in Russian), alt+tab and find a map, get to a city and l2p.

    (As I log out I’m at the airstrip with 4 revolver rounds left, plenty of food, limited water – an empty shotgun and an empty AKS in my backpack. No more morphine or painkillers. My buddy has gotten Parkinsons, and I’m pretty sure there’s a sniper following us.)

    • fitzroy_doll says:

      I’m pretty sure there’s a sniper following us.

      I must try this mod.

    • felisc says:

      i love playing at night too. Plus most players are a bit more friendly when everything is dark.

      • ShadyGuy says:

        Really? First time I logged into DayZ just to try out the game it was pitch dark except for the stars and I couldn’t see anything in front of me. I figured I’d log out and try again when my visibillity was less impaired.

  9. Premium User Badge AmateurScience says:

    These diaries are so vivid that I’m going to skip the game to preserve the concept in my head. It’s the equivalent of reading sheet music. Brilliant piece.

    • Toberoth says:

      While it’s great to see the game filtered through the imagination of the RPS writers, it really does play as they describe. It’s tense, beautiful, and bleak. Give it a try!

      • oceanview says:

        These diaries are the game. Go experience it, you won’t regret it.

  10. Palindrome says:

    Rocket has just posted on the DayZ forum that the humanity system is being revamped, there will be more ‘bandit’ skins. Trust no one.

    • Premium User Badge JB says:

      You mean: no more bandit skins.

      There will be skins to be found around the map that you can choose to wear, however.

  11. Solar says:

    I’ve been enjoying these entries quite a bit! The mod certainly spins some compelling tales, told well of course. Thanks for the good reads. Ah to have the time to get lost in a game like that with friends.

  12. MordeaniisChaos says:

    Any ARMA Fan knows that Core ARMA 2 is a piece of shit. It’s buggy and janky and a lot of the “sim” is pretty off. I mean, I think it’s awesome, but it’s totally broken and the UI/AI in particular are awful.

    • Tubbins says:

      So you’ve bought Arma2 for DayZ and now you’re speaking on behalf of “any Arma fan”.

  13. Khab says:

    Stop making me want this so bad I can’t concentrate on my thesis!

  14. felisc says:

    Only thing I’d really like would be a better sound engine in arma2. Even when zombies are 100 meters away it sounds like they’re breathing right down your neck.

  15. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    Just downloaded this and had a quick go. Any good UK servers to suggest? Be nice to team up.

  16. Joseph-Sulphur says:

    “…that Day Z is a better showcase for that tech than the original game’s campaign or multiplayer missions.”

    I disagree, for the simple reason that its impossible to lump all of Arma 2′s multiplayer missions into one basket. There is such incredible variety to be found on sites like armaholic.com (and the RPS arma community’s server) that trying to boil down the Arma 2 multiplayer experience to one type of mission just doesn’t work.

    If I remember correctly you only played Domination with us, and I agree that such missions aren’t a good showcase of Arma’s potential. They can be fun, but since you have unlimited lives and equipment it becomes a different type of challenge.
    Most of our missions aren’t like that though. If you play Arma 2 with us you’re more likely to experience moving over Chernarus or Takistan on foot, hiding from superior enemies and watching your friends get gunned down than raining death from an attack chopper. And although are missions are often located on individual towns or valleys, we have so many that you’ll soon understand the scale and variety of Arma’s environments if you play a few of them.

  17. Schaap says:

    I hate how big of a hypemachine RPS can be. You made me want to play dwarf fortress for crying out loud! Seems like i’ll have to get this one as well.

  18. Rick Lane says:

    What I really like about ArmA 2 – and the various extensions that DayZ adds, is the sense of your own body it gives you. I particularly enjoy the heaviness of your footfall as you run. It’s a fairly basic feature but it makes your character feel a lot more solid, and consequently more vulnerable.

    This is even more the case when you emerge from a forest into a wide open space. Your footsteps sound astonishingly loud at that point. It almost feels like the very landscape has deliberately turned against you. I can’t help but run in a crouching position when crossing a hayfield, even though it would probably make very little difference as to whether I was spotted if somebody was nearby.

    • Toberoth says:

      Yes indeed! The noise of your feet falling on concrete after shuffling through the brush seems shockingly, devastatingly loud. especially when you do it by accident in proximity of some zombeans.

  19. Boult Upright says:

    At this instant ARMA II: Combined Operations is the third top selling product on Steam, and it’s at full price. Bohemia are laughing (they’re about to get another sale – and good luck to them), and this may be the bolt from the blue a lot of folk have been waiting for.

    Cheers for the articles.

  20. Nimic says:

    I fear that this might be a bit like Eve. Great to read stories about, but not so fun to play as it seems. I did try to play it, but me and my buddy spent an hour just trying to get into the same servers (or any servers at all). Then I joined a server, didn’t know what I was doing, and it was in the middle of the night. I did read a short newbie guide, but I guess I didn’t read it closely enough.

    • bilharzia says:

      The ARMA fans like to claim the night-time visibility is ‘realistic’ presumably without ever having been in a wilderness at night. It reminds me of a flight sim which has been tweaked to make it harder than the real plane to fly. Playing at night requires some very gamey workarounds, or just not playing at all. If you manage to get on during daylight play it like a stealth game.

      • olemars says:

        I feel it needs to be this dark for darkness to actually be a challenge on a monitor. Could be interesting to mod in some form of night adaptation though, if that’s possible.

        • bilharzia says:

          I feel it needs to be this dark for darkness to actually be a challenge
          Maybe but even more of a problem is tying the night to the server, and making it realtime. This means for some people playing on a local server it will always be night and for a new player that’s going to get dull pretty fast.

          It would be much improved by giving a low level of vision up to a few metres away from to the player but going into darkness further away into the distance, this would make it playable and not lose the differences between night and day. It would also make it much harder for snipers and give newbies more of a chance.

          That and removing the link between realtime day/night cycles.

        • psyk says:

          “night adaptation ”

          thought arma already did this? seem to remember them showing it off ages ago.

        • Palindrome says:

          It doesn’t need to be this dark, its pitch black even on clear night. That is not only unrealistic it also makes the game unplayable without ramping up your gamma and effectively cheating. A more realistic level of light would mean that people won’t have to do that and the various ‘night’ items may actually get used then.

  21. hosndosn says:

    This mod is one of PC gaming’s brightest moments in a long time.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      You know what? It really isn’t. People’s enthusiasm over this is being blown way out of proportion, IMHO. I’ve played about 5 good ‘sessions’ (what I call it when it works somewhat as it should and you can play for a good few hours) and there are some AMAZING and extremely tense moments to be had, definitely. That does not make it GOTY, nor the greatest single PC game since System Shock, Thief, Deus Ex, STALKER or even MineCraft. Not even by a long shot.

      To hail Day Z as some sort of monumental achievement in PC gaming is simply going too far. If this weren’t a mod, but paid DLC like other Arma campaigns, I have a feeling people would be a lot more critical. As it stands, because it’s a mod people are (too) willing to gloss over its shortcomings, because we all want to see the big publishers acknowledge the error of their ways and come to see why more games should be (more easily) moddable (including myself, front row-like). I’m not even talking about the alpha bugs, the glitchiness and the fact you shouldn’t be surprised to see zombies spawn out of thin air (literally) but rather that its gameplay will wear somewhat thin probably more quickly than you’d expect (especially once you’re familiar with Arma’s quirks as well as Day Z’s mechanics) because other than survival (and the things that entails like navigation, gathering supplies, dodging zombies, being careful etc.), some tense coop and good free-play pvp, there isn’t enough to warrant the hyperbolic praise it’s getting.

      Don’t get me wrong, it’s a GREAT mod, and it uses a fantastic stage (Chernarus) but when people are calling this the greatest thing to happen to PC gaming EVER, that’s enormous, gargantuan hyperbole, plain and simple. Yes, it’s letting players “make” their own game for once, and this should be a focus of more PC game developers (in particular) but once the “this is what Left4Dead should’ve been”-sentiment wears off, I hope people will take a somewhat more sober look at Day Z. I think, most telling of all, is that a lot of players come back from this and say “more games should be like this”, the popularity of this mod hinges more on WHAT MOST PC GAMES AREN’T, rather than WHAT THIS GAME IS – if that makes any sense.

      It’s like Day Z is fast becoming the “J’accuse!” of PC gamers, aimed towards (other) developers taking note. Unique, sure, but as it stands I wouldn’t even put it on the same (figurative) shelf as for example STALKER. I have a feeling its popularity has more to do with the ‘phenomenon’ surrounding it, than it does with the quality of the mod itself or the “emergent situations” and stories it produces (which, however you look at it, sort of begin to sound more the same every day, usually ending with “and then I died” or “and then I disconnected out of sheer terror” or “and then I finally got sweet gear and a compass and hunting knife but was shot in the face by a bandit”).

      With that said, everyone who after reading these articles thinks to his or herself that it sounds like fun (or challenging, or gamey, or whatever), TRY IT, definitely, it’s great fun for a while, and I hate to be that guy that rains on parades, but as someone who’s been playing games for about two decades and avoiding most AAA-crap like the plague, I think I can safely say this is not the greatest thing in PC gaming evar, and everyone who says it is has either been deprived all these years, or is getting carried away with the hype. Seeing the size and scope of Chernarus for the first time would be enough to make me get carried away too, and one’s first encounter with ‘emergent gameplay’ would have the same effect, let alone combined, but generally speaking I expect the gaming press to be a little more professional (however given that more and more of them were seemingly raised on the equivalent gaming diet of McDonalds or KFC – some even having skipped STALKER – I value their opinion less and less every day).

      I really liked these articles though, RPS is truly one of the few remaining bastions of normality (I mean that in the most flattering sense) in a landscape dominated by brainless, self-indulging and lazy idiots with the critical faculties of a teapot and not even the slightest resistance to hype, so utterly and easily wrapped around the fingers of the Activisions, EAs and Ubisofts that every expedition into their publications becomes a lesson in surviving mediocrity and distilling truth from abject horseshit.

      • TariqOne says:

        RPS comments are a lot like high school. Liking and not liking the right things are very important. And the degree and timing of one’s right kind of likes and dislikes are no less important.

        I suspect that if you were able to like the very rightest thing the most, and first, you would become Lord of Castle Shotgun.

        • Contrafibularity says:

          While that’s very true, I didn’t just namedrop those games to add weight to my post, if that’s what you think, but to remind people that while this game/mod may have seemingly materialized out of nowhere, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

          Also, did I mention people have to play this game if it’s up their alley? Probably. I don’t want them to be disappointed in it though because imo emergent gameplay is not only one of the most promising avenues of gaming but probably a necessity if there’s to be “progress”. And I just don’t think people who shout “OMG BEST EVER” have the right perspective, most of the time. Obviously I’m in good company here on RPS so I’m preaching to the choir and should probably shut up and use the night time to cover some distance towards the Northern airfields while bandits are busy preying on new players.

          • TariqOne says:

            I was agreeing with you, actually. And just not being very clear. The tendency to seek a critical mass of agreement on a view, then slug it out for the purest adoption of that view, leads to the sort of bombast you were talking about. Somehow it’s not OK for things to just be OK.

          • Contrafibularity says:

            Ah, right, sorry about that, I read it wrong! Also I can’t help but always be contrary, lol. Yeah it really is a shame, because it means a lot of people will have the tendency to just move from one highlight to the next (and end up disappointed most of time, at least that’s how it was for me for most of the last decade). And in the end those highlights are frequently amongst the least memorable and interesting (which goes to show AAA production values can only go so far). Of course now we’re not talking about Day Z any more, and it deserves some hype, but yeah we’d all be better off if people would lay off the hyperbole some and just take things for what they are. It’s OK for a game to be OK, good, excellent, interesting, and so on, without the constant need for everything to be GOTY, lol.

      • Erithtotl says:

        I have yet to play this, despite owning ARMA II (and never getting very far in it). But I appreciate you trying to add some perspective.

        I will say I enjoy these posts on Day Z much more than. say, the almost unbearable Diablo III fanboyism that has pervaded the entire gaming press.

    • Jimbo says:

      I kinda agree. To me it feels like it could perhaps be the precursor to a Big Deal though, even if it isn’t destined to become that big a deal itself. It’s the game which proves the concept, rather than the game which nails the concept. It’s the WinBack / Kill Switch of the genre, not the Gears of War.

  22. woodsey says:

    I bought it a few days ago, haven’t been able to stop playing/thinking about it since.

    In my playthrough yesterday I was stuck in Cherno, no ammo, no painkillers (with the screen shaking), and was lucky enough to come across a couple of friendly players. We went looting, careful to avoid other distant gunshots. Eventually I’d tooled myself back up – a new rifle, pack, plenty of ammo and the painkillers I needed.

    We headed out into the woods and came into a clearing with an airfield roughly a kilometre away – we spread out in case there were any bandits ready to snipe from the ATC tower. We get about halfway there, one of our number is now approaching by the tree line to the right, I’ve met up in the centre of the runway with the second guy in our group and we’re waiting behind a burnout truck.

    Out of nowhere, a guy walks out from the right-side of the truck, marches straight up to us with his rifle in hand, and stands staring at us – we’re aiming down sights at him, telling him to identify himself in chat. After about 30 seconds of standing-off, he salutes, and runs right past us into the tree line.

    It’s difficult to convey the kind of terror you feel – as hilarious as it was when he pelted off into the distance – when you meet another player, especially the buggers who don’t say a word. Even outnumbering him 3-1, the worry that you’re about to lose everything if he gets a shot off is incredible.

    These are some very helpful install instructions: http://i.imgur.com/l7jG1.jpg

    Don’t worry if you already have ARMA 2 on Steam and have found Operation Arrowhead cheaper somewhere else, incidentally – I had the same thing, but when you install OA it’ll find the ARMA 2 registry and stick itself in there, and then you can launch it as Combined Ops.

    I tend to be wary of stuff where people claim they have incredibly stories, but in reality it feels more like a one off – but any life where I’ve lasted longer than 10 minutes in Day Z has inspired feelings of terror, amusement, instant companionship, and a winding, personal narrative.

    It’s brilliant.

  23. S Jay says:

    I tried to play DayZ and I found it very frustrating. I only die and could never find any piece of gear (this contributes to the dying too).

  24. Maldomel says:

    This is probably one of the most entertaining read I had on RPS. And considering how I respect this site, it is quite something. Please, do continue to play this mod and share those experiences with us.

  25. Eskatos says:

    I haven’t been having much fun with DayZ. Its main problem is that 90% of buildings cannot be entered, and only a few of the enterable buildings actually have loot in them. Couple that with either a total lack of respawning or a incredibly slow respawn rate(I’m not quite sure which is implemented) and if you start playing on a server more than a few days after it starts running you literally have to spend hours looking for even basic stuff like food and a map. It’s neither realistic or fun for a 50 person max server with a huge map to be completely depleted of supplies.

  26. sinister agent says:

    I think the reason it’s such a good showcase is that the whole map is relevant. In any Arma mission, you can safely ignore 95% of the map, because all that matters is the objective and escape, and perhaps a few key areas. Even if you’re a sniper, you’re going to pore obsessively over one area, yeah, but only really a few key points. But with Day Z, scavenging and general exploring become fundamental parts of the game, so it’s worth looking at everything on the map, even if it’s an hour’s trek away.

    It’s also a brilliant example of what you were writing about a month or two ago about temporary friends in online games – like your power line guy. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game where they meant so much, or were so plausible. I’ve sneaked around a military base while a handful of people were, I was sure, hunting for me. All I had was a pistol, but the way they were slinging flares around suggested they were out to kill (or thought I was, which means the same). I figured my best chance was to ambush one of them and take his gun, but first one of them got jumped by zombies, and I realised that this was my best chance. Instead of kiling him, I called out to them, saying I could hear one of them cornered and dying, and that I could help. So I did, and we cleared out the base together, with barely a word. Then we went our separate ways, but kept occasional contact, warning each other of hostile groups, etc. Had I tried to fight them, sure, I might have got a nice rifle, but I doubt I’d have made it out of the base alive.

    In another game, it would have just been “screw it, let’s fight”, but I didn’t want to die, and they didn’t want to lose their injured man. Or we’d have hung around together for longer, because there’d basically be only one mission, but in this we both had different ideas about where to go next.

  27. zachforrest says:

    I’m too stupid to play games on anything that doesn’t plug into tellies, but RPS is so enjoyable i read it anyway

  28. GT3000 says:

    I’ve made a life out of being a bandit and poaching the best survivors for sport. It’s so utterly amusing, entertaining, and out-right sadistic. Gunning strangers in light as they salute each other in a open field. Stumbling upon newbies huddling in the darkness only to die there as I cut them open. Tricking the more seasoned veterans to engage me in earshot of a dozen zombies only to watch them torn to ribbons and to pick over their remains. No, it’s a wonderful feelings to be bad. If you aren’t strong enough to survive you don’t deserve to and I intend to make you an evolutionary dead-end.

  29. utzel says:

    If you want something “more military” and coop, go grab a few buddies and play this mission: http://www.armaholic.com/page.php?id=16162&highlight=ESCAPE%2BCHERNARUS

    No zombies, food, PVP, etc. but you still need to work for your gear and loot what you can grab. You’ll have to find a map first to find out where you are/need to go, try not to pick fights you can’t win or run away from. With a bit of luck you can escape in less than an hour, might take a few otherwise, if you even make it.

  30. defunkt says:

    Another ArmA mission that I think needs to be mentioned for many of the same reasons as Day Z is CROOKS (http://www.armaholic.com/page.php?id=6686). One player takes the role of a serial killer and every other player is a member of the constabulary who must attempt to bring him in as he kills prostitutes the length and breadth of Chernarus. It’s a seriously creepy feeling playing the serial killer in this post-Soviet setting. I only got to play it a couple of times, I think perhaps in part because it was released back before ArmA received a lot of the optimization it has since then.

  31. Splotch says:

    This Mod has taken over my life… and that’s all i need to say

    • oceanview says:

      Same here. It’s digital crack, and I howled in frustration over 1.58′s changes to something that was near perfect for me.

  32. MrWeed says:

    I’d just like to use this opportunity and share with you one of the most tense moments I have had in Day Z so far, and I have been playing since 2 days after the mod’s launch.

    I was at the airfield in Balota (Southwest) with a buddy of mine, where we just had killed taken care of some bandits that were killing people that came close to the airstrip for loot and where we started looting the corpses for equipment and all that. We were sitting up in the control tower, me in the glass thing on top of it and my buddy down the stairs, watching the closed doors when I was so fortunate to find an M24 (sniper rifle) with 5 rounds on one of the corpses. Suddenly my buddy goes “Hey, I can see a chemlight shine through the doors!” (We were sitting in complete darkness so that we would not get spotted by any other survivors near us) and I slowly moved towards the edge of the tower to take a look.

    I saw a chemlight, lying in the grass, but no one near it. I almost was about to say “Just a chemlight someone dropped there” when I saw him. A bandit, lying prone next to the fence, only slightly visible due to the shine of the chemlight 2 meters next to him, staring at me through the iron sights of his AKM. I froze, I didn’t do anything. This is when I realised that he couldn’t see me, because I was in complete darkness. So I grabbed my M24 and fired 3 rounds at him. I did not kill him, but I must have wounded him, as I saw the blood fountain coming out of his shoulder. He ran away and disappeared into the woods.

    Now this was pretty intesne already, but merely a build up to the actual situation I experienced later. After this incident my buddy and I decided to set up tents somewhere to store our stuff, but I wanted to check the military base across the airstrip for M24 ammo first. So he went off into the wilderness while I went to the military base. I got hit by zombies two times, using up my painkillers, but I also found more M24 ammo. When I was leaving the base I got attacked again and my screen started shaking again. I was out of painkillers, however, and the screen shaking is extremely annoying (It simulates pain), so I decided to go back to the airfield control tower and get painkillers from the bandit corpses we left behind there earlier (I still knew one corpse had at least 3 packs of painkillers on it). So I went to the control tower, looted the corpse (still in complete darkness, as it wasn’t too dark and I could still navigate due to my experience with the terrain) and as soon as I stepped out of the door and started looking for the hole in the fence, I got shot. 3 rounds out of an AKM, 2 hit me. It was the bandit that survived my M24 assault earlier (By that time it was 30 minutes ago)! I was bleeding badly, my leg was broken, I needed painkillers and I had to bandage myself, but I survived! I immedietaly went prone and crawled into a nearby bush, where I bandaged myself, just in time before I passed out because of the huge blood loss.

    So now I was lying there, with the timer that indicates for how long I would be passed out slowly decreasing, hearing muffled gunshots as the bandit defended himself against zombies and ran around to find me. It was so intense and I was so scared he would find me and finish me off. That’s when the timer stopped and I woke up again, only to see the bandits feet 5 meters away from me, next to a heap of zombie corpses at the entrance to the control tower. He didn’t see me, I was too well hidden. I was wondering wether I should take the shot and try and kill him, but I decided against it, I didn’t want to pass out again in the middle of a firefight and as it turns out I did the right decision. He looted one of the bandit corpses that my buddy and I had killed earlier and must have thought that it was my corpse (I had a bandit skin at that time), because after 10 minutes of me lying in the bush and observating him (passing out for 5 seconds every now and then), he simply left!

    I was so relieved, but I still didn’t dare to come out of my hiding place, so after 10 more minutes of hiding I finally got up and ran off into the woods to the north, where my buddy was already waiting for me and gave me a blood transfusion. I survived, the bandit survived, but most importantly, I had an M24 with 15 rounds and he failed to take it away from me.

    The bandit hunt was just about to start… ;)

  33. Ricemanu says:

    DayZ sounds absolutely fantastic. I bought Arma II but until not i just couldn´t play it. Even with a powerful PC the input lag is just too extreme. Or is it fixed by now? Anyone got some information on that? I needed FPS around 100 for a smooth game, sadly. It is the best military sim out there, that´s why it was so sad for me to have to put it away again.

  34. rig says:

    I just wanted to say that your excellent writeups introduced me to Day Z and convinced me to buy it. I’ve since been eaten, shot, and bled, but it’s been an excellent ride. Thanks for that.

  35. Everlast says:

    Been playing this for the last few days. At first I couldn’t understand why the articles made it seem so intense. I just didn’t have the same experience, initially. Then, last night I had what I would consider one of the most intense experiences in a game I have ever had. I had been scavenging through towns looking for loot. I just happened upon a sniper rifle (YAY!). I exited the small town and headed up the hill into the forest. As I was heading up the hill, I caught the image of a man in my peripheral view. I quickly ducked behind a tree. I thought about killing him, but decided that wasn’t how I wanted to play this game.

    Then I noticed he wasn’t alone. There were two of them. I quickly realized they had been hunting me. Being outnumbered and outgunned, I tried to straddle the tree as they slowly navigated down the hill, so as not to be seen. At one point, the both ended up two feet in front of me, unaware that I had navigated behind them. I thought about firing on them, but didn’t think I could take down both fast enough. I opted to remain silent and slowly back up the hill, praying they would see me. I made it about 3 feet before one of them turned and faced me. The other quickly turned as well. I saluted them identifying that I was friendly, but they fanned out to opposite sides of me. Then one fired. I woke up on the beach alone.

    Since that experience, I’m not making it my goal to hunt down these bandits. I don’t have a clan or any friends in this game, so it will be difficult as a lone gunman, but I’m hoping my ability to stealthily move solo will improve my chances. I mean, these guys were clearly stalking me and I still managed to sneak behind them. Next time, I won’t hesitate to fire.

    With all that said, I love how this mod has created certain factions. Bandits, Bandit-Killers, Nomads, Zombie-HUnters, Scavengers…there are just so many different ways to play this and once you actually start building up some decent equipment, the intensity grows as you try to ensure your survival and not have to respawn on the beach. It’s an experience that is, so far, unequaled in gaming, imo. The very fact that this is an alpha-stage mod is mind boggling, because it is already so deep. Buggy as all get out, but worth every moment spent playing it :)

  36. Warth0g says:

    I guess I have to be the contrarian then. I absolutely love these stories of people’s experiences .The reality of the game doesn’t live up to the promise for me though. I think, predominantly, the Arma II engine gets in the way of anything approaching immersion into a believable world. It’s so buggy, clunky and often counter-intuitive that I end up battling the controls rather than fighting my fear.

    I’ve thrown flares at zombies. I’ve spent ages trying to figure out how to loot a corpse. I’ve stumbled around in the pitch dark. I SO BADLY want to love this, but so far it’s the biggest disappointment of my gaming life. So much promise, such a hideous experience.

    What this has shown more than anything is people’s appetites for a zombie survival game. I can only presume that there are developers looking at the success of this and working out how to deliver on the promise of Day Z’s premise. For that at least, I’m grateful to Rocket.

  37. tigershuffle says:

    Love it…..but it scares the hell out of me.
    The night time is a bit too dark for my wussy sensiblities….have to up the gamma etc in settings otherwise log off and find daytime US server.
    If?! melee could be added id be v happy bunny.
    Will try again tonight…..but i need some beers to steady the nerves first.

  38. solidfake says:

    just wanted to mention, the idea is definitely not new and there were already mods who tried to create the same experience: http://proyectz.kiio.es/
    This one failed because of bad developers and a bad engine (source) sadly, but it was practically the same.

  39. Kuze says:

    Theres 4 problems with this game that make it fun in small doses and boring the rest of the time sadly. I want it to get better but at the moment its more tedious than terrifying.

    1. The zombies, arent really your enemy at all its other players. Theres no benefit to killing them and they only really act as a slowing device. Also they have an absolutely stupid running / pathfinding system, instead of running at you they sprint about randomly to get to you making it extremely difficult (thanks to clunky controls!) shooting them.

    2. When your on top its far easier to stay there. Armed to the teeth survival is trivial as long as you dont do something dumb. Low on food/water?? Just kill a noob and loot his. Theres no real incentive to play as a team and its far far easier to loot others corpses than find your own kit. So as a noob toon starting its not tense (you die so what you had nothing) and looting towns for gear I always ALWAYS get pk’ed from some survivor armed to the teeth that picks me off with a sniper from some hidden spot. I’m no angel I’ve killed fellow survivors myself, its a game, I cant add them as friends so imho other survivors are just clever armed zombies.

    3. No end game. Simple really what do you do when you have all the gear?? PK’ing maybe but PK’ing for the pleasure isnt something I’d enjoy (note I PK’ed to survive). To survive surely you could find a pond and just hunt the wildlife, sounds exciting. For me this is a big problem as once you’ve spawned for the X time trying to get gear thanks to a PK or glitch boredom sets in, as the question looms why am I doing this?

    4. The engine itself! Yes its good at drawing the massive map and what not, but theres pathing issues, the controls are clunky (and yes i turned off mouse smoothing), navigating buildings is awkward, it doesnt look that pretty, the servers dont work, its laggy the list goes on.

    Its a fun mod and i know its alpha so I accept there will be some issues but for me the game is 55% tedium 40% being pk’ed / glitch death 5% fun. I wish these 2 guys luck and hope it becomes better than its current state.

    Like someone else said reading the stories are epic but my experience is I never find my RL friends, slogging to a town only to get murdered by some super survival who wants my beans…………