Have You Played… DayZ

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every weekday of the year, perhaps for all time.

DayZ [official site] takes the pernickety simulation of Arma and applies it to a grim survivalist tale. One in which the already dreach weather and desolate towns of Chernarus have become infested with zombies and in which the survivors are driven to do terrible things in order to keep on living – or to entertain themselves. It is also, just as importantly, often boring.

Boring isn’t the right word, but I used it to lure you in. Playing DayZ means experiencing long periods in which nothing happens, and far more often than any game with delusions of popularity would dare to include. You walk worn paths and see no one. You dart across empty fields and see no one. You search through collapsing churches and see no one.

Then, when you finally spot another person on the trail, from a distance, through the trees, it’s a moment of incredible excitement and fear. Have they seen you too? Are they friendly? Do they mean you harm? Do you mean them harm? You are in need of some food, actually.

All the moments where you traverse the haunting landscape, doing nothing but existing in a state of low tension, are important so that the moments in which you encounter another player are all the more thrilling. This is made better by a community of players who aren’t just content to put a bullet to you should they want your backpack, but will make you sing them a song before they chain you to a radiator and drain your blood, too.

Of course, it’s difficult to talk about the game now without the discussion turning rapidly to the achingly slow development of the standalone version, which seems even now to be a backward step from the initial free mod release. Hopefully one day it’ll feature more than three zombies in its world, and those zombies won’t forever clip through walls and floors, because there’s a great game still waiting to be realised and no other survival game has quite captured it.

39 Comments

  1. Crusoe says:

    I shall buy it for 75% off, in the Steam summer sale, 2020.

    • Jane Doe says:

      That’s still gonna be early access so be careful!

      • derbefrier says:

        that still might beat Star Citizen. ;)

      • Crusoe says:

        Yeah but I’ve heard the glitching zombies will be fixed by 2024!

        On a serious note, the devs are so fucking lucky steam refunds were not live when Day Z came out.

  2. gunny1993 says:

    My favorite thing about the standalone version is that people expected it to be better optimized, oh how I laugh at their naivety.

    But yeah, loved me some DayZ; some people seemed to think that it was about surviving zombies, this is a mistake, it’s about surviving other people.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      Which, ironically, is one of the big themes of The Walking Dead. Funny how that works out.

    • Ethaor says:

      Yeah… I hoped it would eventually be about survival and zombies. Not just gear rush, social experiments and ffa pvp arena.

      Dean Hall shall not receive any more penny from me until whatever he is working on is done, optimized and reviewed. In other words, I doubt that person will ever get another penny from me.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Cynicism isn’t the same thing as skepticism. Will you be brave enough to go, “I was wrong,” if the game IS optimized eventually, or will you tell shift the goal posts?

      One thing is for sure, this game attracts assholes like flies to shit, in the game and outside of it.

  3. Bashmet says:

    Was a very fun experience in the first couple of months until it just became a too large death match game. I think the map will always set it apart from the imitations though.

  4. StudiousDewsh says:

    Boring is a pretty apt description of DayZ, both in the mod and the standalone, but man can it get intense sometimes. This is an actual story that I share because it was by far one of my most epic moments in gaming. After hours of collecting gear and wandering through the massive expanses of nothing from end to end of the map, I wander into the wrong town in the north and get shot at by a rifle, they hit my leg but it doesn’t break so i run into a nearby shed. I sit crouched, listening closely to everything around me. I’m bleeding, my heart is racing and then I hear foot steps to my right. I pull out my SKS and I see someone through a crack between the door frame of the open shed door and without hesitation I empty a full mag through the wall into his body.

    I hear him die and go to check his body, then another round whizzed over my head into a nearby wall. SHIT! i exclaim as i run into a nearby house to get cover and gain my composure. I shut the door behind me as i hear zombies making their way towards the sounds of our fire fight.

    Feeling safe I bandage myself and check my ammo and peer out the window to see a small group of zombies making their way to the house across the street as well as the house that I took cover in.

    Then I see the person who shot at me. He darts passed a window as zombies growl outside his door.

    “I Killed your friend! I’ll kill you too!” I shout at him from across the road. I know he hears me, but he doesn’t respond. “You can leave now and i’ll let you go!” i didn’t have a lot of ammo left, i really would have let him leave. Then i see him peek out and take a shot at me.

    Big mistake.

    I fire off two rounds into his window and he darts back into his own cover. Then i fire two more through the wall and i wait. The zombies are all coming to me now since i’m making all the noise.

    He peeks once more and i fire a single round through his head.

    I finish off the zombies and scavenge what little supplies i didn’t damage off of the two that tried to ambush me, then i made my way into the hills of chernarus.

  5. timthepig says:

    I played Dayz back when it was a mod. Bought the standalone and now have Arma 3. The Dayz standalone is void of gameplay currently and it’s not even worth playing in any capacity due to the sheer lack of zombies and vehicles.

    However, there is are great alternatives in the form of Arma 3 mods. Notably Breaking Point which is based around a similar ideal to Dayz except, it performs better, has more vehicles, more zombies and generally is an all round better experience.

    But I personally really enjoy Arma 3: Epoch where I feel the balance between keeping the tension and urgency of a survival game but the variety of scripts such as random AI, Bandit camps, huge amount of vehicles, Traders, base building, Zombies (But not an invasion by no means), Air drops, crafting…the list goes on. It’s a no brainer for me.

  6. Shock says:

    Enjoyed playing the mod an awful lot, after it was swarmed by the hackers I desperately switched to private hives. Gave up with my friends after 6 months full of getting banned/kicked due to admins’ moods. Out of the very few servers with players and active admins, all of them are ridden with bandits. It’s a shame, since the only adrenaline rush substitute I’ve been able to find is CS GO. I’ve managed to save myself money and nerves thanks to my no early access policy. If they: 1) add zombies to it (likely), 2) give more vehicles (less likely) and 3) optimalize it (very unlikely) I’ll be the first guy to grab it. As for now, I’ll stick to CS and occasional mod games on one of the very few decent dayz servers.

  7. trout says:

    playing this game as a pacifist has been nothing but a dismal experience

    • foxhandybread says:

      So much this. I keep telling myself that if I just play like the 99% of players that I meet do – that is, kill on sight with extreme prejudice – that it might be a bit more fun. As it is I can’t bring myself to, so invariably end up dead. And playing on servers with little to no other players as a PvE thing gets dull very quickly.

      • coldvvvave says:

        Playing as a “pacifist” can be a lot of fun as it opens some possibilities.

        Biggest plus is that you don’t need to hoard rare stuff. You can ignore everything but food and water. But then you’ll have to roleplay something. I dunno, go ask people what music do they like. Try to trade with someone. Look as unassuming as possible.

        Or find a gun and try to mug someone without killing. Or just plaine bully people. I once chained an unconsious last man standing after a huge firefight I observed. I talked to him for some time when he came to and then camped this spot from a hill. It was relatively close to Solnechny so after an hour passerbies picked the guy clean, even his ruined trousers were gone, he was there naked, trying to free himself still.

        Some of my fondest memories of DayZ are about stuff that had no firefights in it. Like that one time when I traded with a fully armed guy (I was armed too, though). Or when I ran into someone on a beach, we were both armed and both pursued by zombies. So we helped each other and just went in separate directions. There was a time when I befriended some guy by promising to lead him to a huge cache of loot (it was true by the way and I did lead him to that cache).

        Stuff like that just happens, not all the time but often enough. As long as you don’t go to usual killing grounds (Airfields, Berezino, other big cities and military camps) you have decent chances to actually play as a technical pacifist and have at least some fun. But you will have to try harder than bandits.

        And you will die of course but thats a given and if all goes well you will have some interesting things to tell.

  8. Eldritch says:

    Sorry, but it does irritate when a good, respected PC gaming site like this trots out the “achingly slow development” fallacy.

    It’s – so far – taking exactly as long as they said it would. It’s not as fast as we’d all like obviously, but for those of us who rationally and knowingly bought into being part of the development process we remain sanguine, content. It should be done in less than a year, just like they said.

    For the instant-gratification generation, of course, it’s all misinformation, unjustified umbrage and outrage, amplified deafeningly in their echo-chamber of entitlement.

    It’s on course; it remains the yardstick; there are so many riches to be had right now – but wait if you’re not sure.
    Simple enough, right?

    • uajii says:

      RPS hasn’t been “a good, respected PC gaming site” for a long time. What they do now is just bad reporting with little or no research and haha joke at the end.
      RPS, when will you write about achingly slow 5 years long development of GTA 5? Or 4 years long development of Alien: Isolation? Elder Scroll Online – 6 years. Horizon – 5 years. Those are just few examples we know. Most companies don’t make these informations public.
      DayZ has been in development for about 2 years and is planned to release next summer. How slow is that really?

    • theirongiant says:

      By my count we’re almost into Q4 of their 2nd roadmap and the stuff from Q1 that has actually made it into the game is still massively broken. God knows I love DayZ and played it constantly for 2-3 years but unless the new renderer turns out to be the magic bullet that people are hyping it to be then I reckon that if DayZ ever sees a v1.0 it’ll be down to them running out of money and shoving whatever they have out the door rather than the game being truly complete. Credit to Hall for creating an entirely new genre of game, eventually someone will nail it and create a monster but the chances that it’ll be DayZ look slimmer with each passing month.

  9. skyturnedred says:

    I play H1Z1. The regular game mode I found to be very, very boring. Battle Royale is a lot more fun, but even then it’s mostly about running around for 5-10 minutes before seeing anyone (assuming you survive the first minute of the match). Then the action bit starts and ten seconds later it’s over. If you win the fight, yay, keep doing the same cycle. If not, join a new queue.

    It’s one of those games/genres where you have to consider how long are you willing to be bored until something exciting happens.

  10. Cinek says:

    I played a mod. Killed some people, got killed few times, made some epic escapes from stupidly-fast zombies, still though my most memorable moment was the first time I spawned, found 9mm gun, just to be shot at few moments later, I won a duel, but was bleeding badly. My friends came to the rescue, patched me a bit, but I still needed help to regain my health, so we went on looking for food, got few crazy encounters with zombies, some guy trying to snipe us, we run up the 80 degrees slope skyrim-style to escape, and eventually got defeated by ping going crazy.

    Never had any desire to buy a stand-alone. Even more so hearing in how a bad state it is.

  11. Synesthesia says:

    It was a fantastic game for the first few months, but gamers are just terrible people to play with. Whn gamer habits entered the equation, everything went to shit. Powergaming absolutely ruined it. everybody knew the maps, expoited item spawing, and it all became just a slow, boring deathmatch. A shame, too.

    Finding a survivor was so much fun, hiding against bandits was a thrill, making hospital runs while someone scanned the horizon… The long march to the north got boring quick.

    The only version of dayz where you still get some cooperation is breaking point, but I haven’t played for a good while.

  12. Carcer says:

    I haven’t played DayZ in ages and it doesn’t sound like it’s changed much since the last time I did. I’m not inclined to attack people on sight in games of this nature, but the extreme lethality means the only defence is an immediate offence – or just not to play (whether your definition of not playing means never doing anything interesting or just avoiding the game entirely – they might as well be the same thing). It’s really quite sad as I rather like the idea of apocalyptic survival games – I’m just starting to feel the concept doesn’t actually mesh all that well with a very lethal military sim.

  13. Universal Quitter says:

    There are a fair number of criticisms that can be made about this game. Problem is, hardly anyone makes them. Instead you hear, “hurr, hurr, stop making more hats! This game has been in development for years even though it’s been less than two since initial release!”

    It’s obnoxious.

  14. Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

    DayZ is the antithesis to the standard scripted PC game. I can remember being the biggest Clive Barker fan, loving his inventiveness, wondering what works he would weave from words and fantasy.. Then one day, half way thru a book I thought ‘he’s just making this shit up’ i now read mostly non fiction. for the same reason I’m struggling to be arsed with any story led PC game after getting in to DayZ. Nothing in DayZ is scripted. It’s all real people, real tension. The time and effort it takes you to find enough stuff to survive, then maybe find a gun… Maybe some ammo makes you desperate not to lose it. I’ve played online death match games for years but I’ve never, ever felt like I do in DayZ when confronted by someone who might want to take it all away from me. On my first such confrontation my heart was pounding so hard I almost stepped away from my laptop… That’s not normal in gaming terms but it does mirror the stories from other DayZ players.. It runs like a pig.. It really does so it should be so enjoyable… I can see it runs like a pig, it’s clunky but…. I think it’s the best game I’ve ever played… Not for the game itself… It’s what it does to you.. How far you fall in to it..

    • Sarfrin says:

      I’m fascinated by your loss of the ability to enjoy fiction after a sudden realisation that it’s, well, fictional.

      • Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

        That’s not quite what I’m saying here – anyone can write a story but good fiction requires a planned, solidly constructed backdrop. Barker ended up creating lazy fantasy shit without rules and thats how i read it after x aount of books.. – I’m not sure I’ve ever played a game that really, genuinely impressed with its story and writing. DayZ manages to create very harsh real[ish] world without a single scripted line, because people are nice, or dicks.

        • Cinek says:

          It’s really sad if you think that the way people behave in DayZ has anything to deal with the way they would in real life.

  15. Scumbag says:

    I think the title should be “Have you not played DayZ yet?”

  16. FurryLippedSquid says:

    There are no zombies in DayZ. The Z stands for zero. Alluding to the day the military accidentally released a mystery virus which infected the population of Chernarus.

    Absolutely nothing to do with reanimated corpses.

  17. Jakkar says:

    A game that has gone nowhere in so many years. Perhaps by the time better games have done the same and realised the concept’s potential DayZ will be truly worth playing, but until that day this is a sparse, broken, aged mess of an indie prototype.

    • Eldritch says:

      Sigh, it is clearly going somewhere, and is on track. You cannot claim a lack of progress when there manifestly is. Nor can you call a game broken when it is in development.

      Honestly, whoever bought the game when warned not to – by BI, by Rocket etc – and then makes inaccurate, misleading complaints, you do not have a leg to stand on.

      You were told from the start you should stay away if an unfinished game which would take 2.5 years to complete might not satisfy you. The game is what they said it would be at this stage. What do you expect?
      These cavils are pointless and damaging and simply unfair.

  18. badmothergamer says:

    The mod was fantastic if you found a reliable server with good admins. It became even better once the mod mods like Epoch were developed. I put over 1200 hours in Arma 2 playing the mod and have never had a more intense and enjoyable gaming experience.

    I bought SA to support Bohemia because I loved the mod so much even though I’d seen streams of it and knew it was terrible. Since purchasing it roughly a month after release, I’ve played it for 14 total hours, 8 of which came on the day of purchase. However, I don’t regret it because I never expected it to be good.

    If you have Arma 3 try Breaking Point or Epoch. They are vastly superior to SA. There is also a new mod that just went public called Exile that runs along the same lines.

  19. racccoon says:

    Having played a lot of DayZ long ago..so it seems..
    The problem is the total crap fest this game has gone & went through.
    Why the hell they let a guy climb a mountain and not fall off it is the whole problem, but I suppose he did let guy die on that mountain so his enactment of his creation was kind of there..but not with DayZ development.
    Arma Devs allowed an inexperienced fantasy Mod dreamer to be a head and a head of what? The games development was a total confusion because he wasn’t trained and is still a Modder not a dev. The company behind ARMA should of gone hang’on wait a minute you can’t just use our game you got make a new one and create it all fresh…
    Instead they turned a blind eye & allowed him to just go along and continue to make mistakes after mistakes, and hear we are in ends of this fiasco, its now got no lanes or direction, nothing anymore is set in a positive way.
    Players/Buyers are confused and bewilded. Unfortunately DayZ has become such a farce its lost itself in own Mod fantasy of just being a simply a MOD & not a game.

    • Eldritch says:

      You appear to be bemoaning A) Rocket’s right to take some free-time and B) bemoaning that he did not die while climbing Everest.

      This … person is the problem with DayZ. Just think about the mindset this reveals.

      Additionally, he is just plain wrong, to the point of wilful ignorance that the game has no direction. But hey, echo-chmaber and all that.

    • claym00re says:

      Wow! It’s Insubstantio Maximus. What in God’s name are you trying to say, racccoon? It reads like someone collected all the gibberish spouted about Dayz’s development, then used Google’s translation tool to warp it through several languages. Also, this: “Why the hell they let a guy climb a mountain and not fall off it is the whole problem.” Is that comment supposed to be as rancid as it reads? Dude, go to their development website and make note of the amount of data and info they take time out of their day to proffer to the public. I am, as you say, ‘bewilded’ by your position.

  20. Pulstar says:

    No.

  21. clorex says:

    “dreach weather”
    What does dreach mean?