I’m A Survivor: DayZ Standalone Thoughts

Plenty of people who were veterans of the original DayZ mod had been wondering whether the magic of the original experience had survived the making of a standalone game. I’m pleased to report that not only has it survived, but there’s new magic, too. Rocket and his team know what they are doing, and the changes they’ve made have created some tense and terrible moments in this new game. The realism it strives for is simultaneously unreal and dark, and creates some of the most awkward and sinister roleplay situations I’ve experienced in any game.

Surviving is back. And it is horribly compelling.

Initially there’s a concern that survival aspect of the game forces you into “vole person” territory: eating and drinking continually, just to stay alive. This can be hard to get past at first, but the truth is that once you’ve done a bit of scavenging, and become used to collecting water, the actual eating and drinking becomes a rhythm. Learning to eat and drink as soon as you are hungry gives that aspect a back seat, at least once you’ve managed to get some supplies together. It’s the heartbeat of the game, a heartbeat that drums pretty fast when you don’t find what you are looking for.

This aspect of course provides additional reasons for the players to encounter each other in tense, unpredictable situations. The most common of these is probably the encounter at the water pumps. We all need fresh water, and so more often than not you’ll meet at these places, getting a drink or filling up a container. I’ve encounter numerous players this way, and most have moved on, not wanting conflict. Will someone kill me for this plastic bottle? (Not if my buddy is standing behind me with an M4.) There have been people laying in wait at these locations, too: hyper-patient bandits simply hoping for some loot. It’s already fascinating to see people experimenting with approaches: from full bandit to the cautious, fleeting survivor who keeps to himself.

Patience, of course, is something that DayZ demands. It is one of the most slow-paced action games imaginable. It’s possible to spend hours without seeing another human being, as Chernarus’ hills and forests spill away into endless rolling vistas that you find yourself hiking across, just to explore that next town. It’s all too easy to find yourself miles from anywhere, and in bad shape. Perhaps ending up back on the coast with a blank slate would be the best option, but the truth is that this is a game that is all about the journey. While that journey grips you, this is one of the most rewardingly threatening games available.

Once again Arma’s in-game voice comms make for some weird experiences when you do run into other humans, as you get the actual reactions of the players you encounter. The panicked deference of the European guy we cornered in a barracks made us stand down. How can we actually do anything to this terrified loner? Meanwhile the cold “where you going?” calls of the guy with the axe I just gunned down in Elektrozavodsk, moments before sitting down before writing this piece (hi, if you’re reading), are still giving me goosebumps. I’d just watched him murder another player, presumably persuaded that the axe man wanted to trade peacefully.

Oof. This game.

These tools are just a small part of what Rocket and Bohemia are doing here. They want survival, interaction, and team work to take us to some strange places, and already it means that much of the interaction between players is moving away from instant gun violence and towards a bleak sort of co-operation. You’ll want a friend, because chances are you’ll want a blood transfusion. Let alone the other sort of situations you’ll get into. When surviving is all that matters, will you risk your life against the armed bandits? Or simply give them what they want?

Bohemia have facilitated this idea of the need for negotiation with the introduction of two systems. The most important is that any item can be damaged. If you gun down that well-equipped survivor, there’s a chance his pristine goods are going to be ruined, and not be all that much use to you. Better to corner him at gunpoint, or simply offer peaceful trade. The second system is slightly more sinister: handcuffs and ropes make it possible to actually capture someone, and then keep them a prisoner. This aspect of the game isn’t particularly well developed, but I’ll be interested to see where it goes.

Seeing where it goes is part of the appeal of DayZ in its current state. It might have been delayed, but there’s a long way to go yet. That there were 250,000 people buying in on the first couple of days (and that the game has sat sternly atop Steam’s top sellers list throughout the Christmas sales) suggests that there are a lot of people interested in following that patch note saga wherever it might go. Right now I am beginning to believe that Bohemia have the resources and the popularity to take it as far as Rocket had been suggesting they would in his many hyperbolic talks and interviews about the game over the past year. With the patches now arriving daily, I would expect to see a huge amount of territory covered in the next six months.

In the meantime, well, I’ve got a rifle and a big backpack. And I mean to survive.


  1. fingerboxes says:

    Who wears a motorcycle helmet in a zombie survival scenario? I cannot imagine that being a good idea… even the best ones restrict your field of vision, are incredibly hot and bulky, and wouldn’t really protect you from very much at all…

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      It protects you from being punched in the head by zombies (or other players). Which is useful, because if you get punched in the head, there’s a high chance you’ll black out for a few seconds.

    • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

      last time I checked “Zombies” in modern media are:
      * loud
      * cumbersome
      * not really perceptive
      and they tend to bite and hit…
      so a motorcycle helmet in a zombie survival game actually makes a lot of sense to me.

      • jonahcutter says:

        There’s any number of zombie manifestations in media that are fast, agile and notice every little twig snapping. In fact, DayZ zeds are themselves of the fast, perceptive variety (although easily gamed by the limited systems of the mod, dunno how well they hold up in the the standalone).

        • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

          ok, but I guess they still try to bite and hit you.

        • Discopanda says:

          If you have a melee weapon you can sidestep the zombies in circles, and they won’t be able to hit you. This is somewhat balanced by their tendency to run through and floors to attack you.

      • LordMidas says:

        There was no mention of zombies in this article, or any pictures of them. Are Zeds actually in the game, or just other people? (it’s true, I’ve not played it).

    • Dunbine says:

      Maybe the same guy who carries an assault rifle without a magazine in it?

      • herschel says:

        There could be (and probably is) a round chambered, as it is actually possible in DayZ to do so when you haven´t found a mag yet but a small box of ammunition.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Not to mention it playing hell with being able to properly sight down a rifle.

    • quietone says:


      • Gap Gen says:

        We have a code blue, repeat, we have a code blue, the hen is out of the henhouse, I repeat, the hen is out of the henhouse.

    • Geebs says:

      Who would have thought that in 2014, there would come a game which made PC gamers wish for a richer, wider variety of hats?

  2. RIDEBIRD says:

    Please note that the mouse in the current version of the game is plagued by massive negative acceleration and is a nuisance in general. If you are used to playing lots of FPS and generally reacting on the fly the game is not playable. There is currently no option to disable or fix this and Rocket said today that other issues are prioritized over this. If you, like me, are sensitive to poor mouse control, wait a while.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I don’t think it’ll be fixed the way you seem to want. The mouse damping is there to approximate a realistic rate of turn. For example, you can turn your head in game much, much faster than your gun.

      • RIDEBIRD says:

        Rocket responded to me on Reddit that it will be fixed. It’s not dampening, it’s a bug. It’s not aiming deadzone.

        • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          Right, going from your description further down the thread, I was misunderstanding what you were referring to. I’ve never had the problem you describe though.

      • wazups2x says:

        Uh, no. The negative mouse acceleration is completely fixed in ArmA 3 but it’s always been big problem with ArmA 2. And it’s absolutely terrible in the DayZ Standalone.

        Bad mouse/player movement does not make a game realistic. Even Bohemia agrees or else they wouldn’t have fixed the problem in ArmA 3.

    • SillyWizard says:

      This is, if anything, a positive-sounding mechanic to me.

    • Kilometrik says:

      Sounds like SOMEONE hasn’t played ARMA first.

      • RIDEBIRD says:

        100 or so hours of Dayz Arma 2. Campaign in OFP, Arma 1, 2, 3. 70 odd hours of Arma 3 online. No issues.

        It is not the aiming deadzone which can be disabled, but I guess SOMEONE never looked in the options.

    • Lanfranc says:

      No! Not unplayable! Only unplayable in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.

      • RIDEBIRD says:

        See above post. It is not Armas deadzone. I have used that before and it is great for those games. No issue.

        The issue is that moving the mouse somewhat faster makes it grind to a full stop. Move it very carefully and it is decent. Make a twitch move in freelook over your shoulder and it will not move at all. It is a confirmed bug with a fix on the way. Rocket said so himself.

        Deadzone doesn’t make it better not worse, neither does applying the recommended fixes.

    • Anzcm says:

      I’ve never understood why adding further limitations to an already very limited control interface for the human body somehow would make it more realistic.

      Thanks for the warning.

      • SillyWizard says:

        Play any twitch-FPS ever.

      • Lusketrollet says:

        I’ve never understood why adding further limitations to an already very limited control interface for the human body somehow would make it more realistic.

        Thanks for the warning.

        Well said.

        Very well said.

  3. SillyWizard says:

    This game sounds exhausting.

  4. almostDead says:

    It’s weird that this is so compelling, yet after reading it, and doing a word search, zombies aren’t mentioned at all.

    Just surviving against other people in a huge deathmatch. I recognise that this is the state of the balpha.

    I’ve always wanted to play this, but after a few LP’s, really was removed from the immersion by the clunkiness of the models and their movement and their interaction with the environment.

    I am sure I would buy this later on in its development, but as a guaranteed solo player, I am sure I would get frustrated by the spawncamping and veterans who would just destroy you.

    (this is not a fucking criticism of the game nor of the article, keep your fucking hair on).

    • SillyWizard says:

      Guaranteed solo player?


      You can have frands.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      The majority of my DayZ playtime is solo, and I find it very fulfilling. I tend to play pretty cautiously, keeping an eye out, and avoiding interaction with other players when I can help it. So I tend not to get involved in gunfights, and consequently rarely die in them. There’s a calm satisfaction in simply running through a forest on the way to somewhere.

      On the other hand, when I do play with a group, that’s when I tend to play more riskily, and we seek out action. I’ve had great times both solo and with others.

      • quietone says:

        That sounds tempting for another lone wolf like myself. However, is it possible to:

        a) Find a group of people to play that would understand that you are crap and won’t try to make a better player, just have fun along with you?
        b) Understand that some people (me) have no mic, won’t buy a mic just to play a game and even if they (I) did, it would be useless as my spoken English is worse than my written one so by the time somebody could understand that I was telling you to get your knee off my chest we both would be already dead?

        • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          a) there are plenty of people who play just to have fun.

          b) I really, *really* recommend a mic. It’s saved my life on several occasions, just being able to communicate a little. Like last weekend when I encountered a couple of Russians in Berezino hospital. They spoke little English and I speak no Russian, but they understood my “Don’t shoot!” and I understood their “Give food” and “Run away”. But even moreso, if you want to play in a group at all, a mic is pretty much essential—communication is much too slow otherwise.

          • Themadcow says:

            There’s a thick line between people who choose to play without a mic because they don’t like mic’s and those who find it deeply unconfortable chatting to people in a game, especially stuff like “Blow their head off!!!” while their wife sits at the other end of the sofa trying to watch a depressing film about emotions and stuff.

            Mic dependancy alienates the married :(

          • The Random One says:

            From my understanding, if you’re that kind of player you’re more like to shout things like “Friendly friendly friendly friendly!” “Please don’t shoot!”, “Here’s your food, sir, please don’t kill me” and “TRAITOR! TRAITOR! A POX UPON YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN!”

        • vahnn says:

          1) Absolutely.

          2) 2a) I strongly recommend a microphone. Without one, you take away a HUGE part of the fun of interaction with other players. 2b) That’s fine, it makes things more interesting! Perhaps two people surviving an apocalypse of the zombie variety who run into one another may not actually speak the same language! 2c) Your written English is pretty damn good, and that’s a huge start to improving your spoken English. Saying something in-game and then typing it will prompt such behavior from others, and trust me–You’ll improve tremendously. 2d) Sometimes that happens even between two players who understand one another perfectly! It’s part of the thrill of player interaction in such a game!

          tl;dr: GET A MIC!

  5. airtekh says:

    I had some fun with the original mod; I’m looking forward to picking this up when it eventually comes out of alpha/beta.

  6. tk421242 says:

    Is it me or does there not appear to be a magazine in the magazine well in that AR-15 in the first picture?

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Correct. You typically find the M4 (as the game calls it—I can’t claim to know the difference myself) sans magazines. You have to find magazines separately, and sometimes find bullets separately too.

      • HaVoK308 says:

        @VelvetFistIronGlove M4 is just the Military designation for the AR-15. The Military version can also come with the full-auto option. The civilian model (like the one I own) is obviously semi-auto only due to state law. I would like to say, as a former USAF and US Army veteran, I am pleased to see you guys referring to the magazines as such. Rather then calling them ‘clips’. Annoying pet peeve of mine.

        • SillyWizard says:

          As a USN veteran I know nothing about firearms and fully condone the use of “clip” to refer to magazine! Muahahahahahaha!

        • Lusketrollet says:

          Based on your comment, I’m fairly sure I don’t like you as a person, HaVoK308.

          • plugmonkey says:

            Yes, because people from different cultures are automatically bad people, even if they might appear polite and reasonable on the surface.


          • The Random One says:

            Your comment does not give me enough information to know if I’d like you, HaVoK308, but enough to imagine that if I didn’t like you I probably wouldn’t say it to your face.

          • plugmonkey says:


        • jrodman says:

          Havok: I like your clear and to the point presentation of information. Airing of pet peeves is also a timeless tradition that I can get behind. Thank you for your fine contribution!

        • SteelPriest says:

          Surely M16 is the military designation of the AR-15? The M4 is shorter than an AR-15, no? Obviously they’re all the same family, and there are a lot of variants…

          Edit: In fact, go crazy: link to en.wikipedia.org

      • DarkFenix says:

        Indeed, there are a number of magazine sizes you can find too. For the M4 (or any STANAG weapon I’d guess) I’ve seen 10, 20, 30, 40 and 60 round mags (the last being two 30’s clipped together, but rather than speeding reloading it just counts both at once). If anything high capacity mags are quite a commodity since they aren’t thrown away upon reloading.

      • tk421242 says:

        Wow. I thought for sure I was going to get some flack asking such an odd question… glad to see it went a totally different way. Also I have yet to play the stand alone and can not imagine anything worse then finding an AR-15 but not having any mags.. well… maybe having mags but no rifle! Can not imagine beating a zombie to the ground with a 30rd mag.

  7. sinbad269 says:

    I’m currently loving the Standalone. Having never got into the Mod, I didn’t realised how amazing it is until I got the Alpha. Course, I’m wondering how the standalone has more bugs/issues than the mod.

    What I feel they need to work on primarily is making sure that everyone’s clients’ are the same. Currently you can just delete object files from the DayZ folder, and according to you, those things will just… not be there. So it’ll look like someone is walking through solid objects. And when I say anything I mean anything. From fences, to walls, to furniture, to trees, and even grass. It makes the game look ridiculously bland, but gives the people doing this a major advantage over anyone else.
    I know figuring out security is usually a late dev-cycle thing, but not when you’ve an Alpha that anyone with the money can opt-into

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Standalone has been in “development” for almost a year and a half. The fact that the game is currently so susceptible to player-side hacks speaks volumes about how much of that time Rocket and his team have actually spent on it.

      I’ll give it a couple years before it’s in a truly playable state and users have modded the game to a technically competent level. Also, the inevitable discount sales will be popping up around then.

      As far as I’m concerned, anyone who has already paid into the Standalone alpha is doing nothing but encouraging bad development habits. Considering Rocket’s tortoise-paced schedule history and the fact that the game is already being produced by Bohemia, what makes people think that additional funds are going to get it finished any faster?

      • Moraven says:

        Being anti hack was the main reason I was waiting for this. And it does not even do that well. No point in paying for the same game twice, which a few adding things to require you to survive. Oh and updated inventory system.

    • plugmonkey says:

      Wow. That’s a bit of a deal breaker.

  8. HaVoK308 says:

    I have been thinking about buying this since it has been released. I even had it in my cart several times, only to remove it after reading something regarding it’s many bugs and/or glitches. Worrying about regretting my purchase due to frustration. But, this article just might have given me the push I need to pull the trigger on this purchase. I think, I might just go but this sucker now. I think…

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Well, here’s the recommendation from Dean Hall, the lead designer:

      My recommendation would be to wait for about a month. January offers us a good chance to clear up the most critical bugs and begin our server optimization, this will round out the gameplay substantially for what is currently there.

      However I think the ‘real’ fun will come when we start implementing the new items on our roadmap, such as vehicles, gardening, hunting, etc… and that comes after our work now.

      Also, the price will not increase (or decrease) within the next few months, so it’s not like you will be saving money by buying it now.

      tl;dr, I would say best idea is to wait a month.

      link to reddit.com

      But I would recommend a very careful and critical review of whether purchasing now is such a good idea. There are many problems which can ruin your gameplay experience. These are being actively fixed – but if you delayed your purchase by a month you would pay the same price but it would be a better experience. Something to consider.

      link to reddit.com

      • Edgewise says:

        Wow, pretty rare to see someone in that position advise you to wait before buying the software. It gives me hope to hear such honesty.

        • HadToLogin says:

          Seeing how the longer you wait, more money he’ll get, it’s not that surprising. Especially knowing that whole marketing is based on YOUR good or bad word to your friends.
          You tell your friends “great game about shooting zombies” and more sales appear.
          But you tell your friends “massive bug-fest, ARMA 3 Day Z mod is much better” and his money is gone.

      • Moraven says:

        What about all the other talk and promises the past year that have become untrue?

        What happened with the Minecraft type buy in ($10 at alpha release, increases over time)?

      • The Random One says:

        There’s no way to convey this information over the internet without coming across as sarcastic, but the mention of gardening perks up my interest.

    • iN5OMANiAC says:

      There really isnt that many bugs that will break the game or cause you frustration with the exception of the zombies walking through walls. The game is totally playable and Ive pumped many hours into it. Its pretty basic at the moment compared to the mod (well, very basic compared to the mod) but in another dimension it could still pass as a almost fully fledged game. You wont be disappointed and assuming you’re new, you’ll be able to get to grips with some of the mechanics and the items etc as the game grows so its actually a great starting point. BUY IT!

  9. bangalores says:

    The only time Jim writes anything anymore is when he just gets so darn EXCITED about a game he can’t help it.

  10. racccoon says:

    I loved the mod. but this game isn’t really done to a perfection that i expected from the videos on DayZ blog over the years, I see very little in development from the mod it more messed up and to easy to get around. there’s nothing new or inventive created by the DayZ team. They have stuck with the old concept from the passover of this mod, boring houses and boring landscape, no diversity at all, ok they put in a few water holes and a stream, but the scenery is same old same ole, I think DayZ needs a total revamp and a more vigorous approach to a real survival game.
    Simple things missing: jump, climb, forage, kick, invent, make, create, dig, build, use items for there natural uses, smash, all doors and windows destroy. etc etc. Simple things that go through your mind if you were out there surviving, in the game though you question “why can’t i do that” and “what the hell! I can’t”
    Just some things that do upset me about the game that Its not new inside it! its not innovated enough.
    Its as if the DayZ team slacked off!

    • HadToLogin says:

      If all will come, in a year or two. Or three.
      Kinda wonder why they released product that right now is so inferior to predecessor.

      Arma 3 turned out to be a flop, so they release Day Z in it’s current state to get money to stay alive?

      • Moraven says:

        They did so little in 16 months. How so many other voxel building and survival games are out in Early Access. And cheaper.

        Plus this is not even a Zombie game anymore from reading anything on it.

        • iN5OMANiAC says:

          It’s a survival game that happens to have zombies in it, it’s never really been a zombie game per se. That being said the SA is much much less about the zombies, they offer almost zero threat most of the time as they are few and far between and the AI is barely there. Although they walk through walls at the moment…

          As the zombies increase theyll be more of a threat as they are in the mod, in that, if you run through a city you’re going to get in serious trouble.

          Im actually enjoying the more relaxed nature of the SA at the moment and pretend to myself its the start of the outbreak, it gives you good chance to check out a lot of the areas and keep a character alive for a good amount of time. That novelty will wear off one day though so the zombies definitely need to come, but the whole premise of the game, or at least how its turned out due to human nature, is that the humans are far more of a threat than the zombies ever will be. It’s part of what makes it such a compelling an fascinating game.

      • iN5OMANiAC says:

        They released so people could be in at the start, people who were keen to play the game and watch it develop, and so they could see how the servers react in real world situations. The fact they’ve clearly stated all over the place that you shouldnt buy the game unless you accept these things, and they’ve still shifted 450,000 copies in a month, suggests that a hell of a lot of people are prepared to pay for what we know is an Alpha.

  11. BobbleHat says:

    Currently have 22 hours logged on this; I bought it about a week ago. That’s more time spent in a game than any I’ve played since I got bored of Skyrim over a year ago. I guess that probably says about the slow-paced nature of it and need to invest time to actually get any kind of fulfillment, but also just how damn compelling it is.

  12. Dozer says:

    Maybe you can call down for a second and tell me how to get to the vole people.

  13. Soulseek says:

    I bought it and I’m greatly disappointed. Okay, it’s an Alpha… but it will exactly the same as it was in the mod. Just adding a few new models doesn’t makes it any better then before. This engine is crap and will always be crap. I hope they bring it to a halfway good state and there comes a Mod. Currently it is just a money making honeypot.

    I would be very glad to give it back. Please excuse literal errors, my english is well rusted.

  14. Balanuir says:

    Wake me when it’s available for OS X. Sorry guys, but it’s not 2001 anymore. Support for the Mac is something I expect from my games these days.

  15. Zogtee says:

    Right now, the zombie populations are deliberately kept (very) low, which is one reason why players are more focused on each other rather than the zombies. I’m *really* interested in seeing what happens when zombie hordes are let loose on the servers and how this will change the current playstyles.

  16. almostDead says:

    Anyone else been tickled by the reviews on steam:

    You either die a hiker or you live long enough to see yourself become a serial killer murdering hikers.

    A group of males handcuffed me and took my pants off.


    Getting shot for beans: the video game

    Forced a man to eat a rotten Banana and he died 10/10

    Some guy made me eat a rotten bannana and I died

    Drank disinfectant and died


    The only game where you can handcuff a woman at gunpoint, get her to strip and give you her possessions, force feed her rotten fruit and then break her legs and leave her to die.

    This Alpha is off to a great start.

  17. bstard says:

    Talked to a few gaming zombies I know and they all told me this Dayz standalone is a piece of crap. People who really want this genre to deliver. How come this thread gives me the impression it’s a playable game? Anyway I got Arma3 and the breaking Point mod, which is so far pretty nice.

    • Agent.Brass says:

      I’ve been on the fence about DayZ standalone and to this point i’m glad i abstained from purchase. As a result i went looking for Arma 3 mods and found breaking point, which i’m enjoying and is scratching the itch sufficiently – i also like the anti ghosting/server hopping feature (you can’t join another server until after 10 minutes or so has passed).

      My only fear is the island is quite big so may miss player interaction altogether, but saying that it makes player interaction all the more rare and perhaps more intense because of it? Or possibly more friendly. Who knows.

      I also think the zombies have some potential, individually not a problem but can soon gather in numbers (similar i find to state of decay’s level of threat) – fire a shot in a town and they’ll seemingly be endless, however they are easily dodged/avoided and you can lose them very easily.

  18. P-Dazzle says:

    Still feels as clunky as the mod.

  19. Enko says:

    I am just happy there is an FPS around that gives me that same feeling I got when I first played an FPS. A sense of wonder, mystery and danger.

    I am glad they are keeping and pushing realism further with standalone. Having a map but no marker of where you are on it, having to actually use your brain to read the map and compare it to the location, having to use compass, stock supplies, not dive into every confrontation like there is nothing to lose… just awesome.

  20. daleran says:

    I have had the most interesting encounters with this game. Just today I had my first interaction with another player. Two well equipped guys appeared out of nowhere and had me put my hand above my head. They then proceeded to very politely take my blood then thank me for it. All while I was there hostage at gunpoint. They let me go with a little food and water and I continued on my way. Blood bandits. I never even though of playing like that.

  21. RegisteredUser says:

    And by ” tense, unpredictable situations” he means you meet people looking to shoot you in the head so that they can make a “how to be a prick in Day-Z” youtube series.