DayZ Standalone Early Access is All About the Living
In the post-apocalyptic game of DayZ, the most important question for you to answer is not how to deal with the undead hordes, it is how to deal with other players. Scavenging is a means to an end in this game -and while it will certainly be the activity taking up most of your time, the real focus is on being ready for all sorts of trouble. By trouble, we mean the sort that other live human beings tend to bring. In a sense, this makes DayZ far more terrifying; after all, with zombies you never have to guess. But a complete stranger can pretend to cooperate with you and then stab you in the back. Continue Reading
Release Date: 16th December 2013
Available on: Windows, PC Download
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Where are the Zombies?
The moment you spawn in DayZ you are in danger –from both zombies and other humans. Chances are, however, your first couple of minutes is likely going to be uneventful; which is a good thing since you will want a bit of time to get familiarized with controls. Once you get moving however, you will notice that the world seems a little empty.
With many zombie-themed games and films depicting a world flooded with the undead, it is nice to actually see a realistic depiction of a local population’s actual density. Chernanus is a small Soviet country with a pretty low overall population, and outside of the capital (which is currently inaccessible in the game), there are not that much former citizens to be turned into the undead. Fewer, mind you, is not less scary.
Zombies may be scarce, but they are also dangerous and hard to spot. Simply scavenging around a house could lead you to incredibly lethal encounters, and while they are not that hard to kill, it is also all too easy for them to suddenly sneak up on you. This is where most of the game’s zombie-themed tension can be found –when you confront them in a more straightforward manner, the encounter becomes a lot less scary and a little more about how well versed you are with the game’s melee combat mechanics.
We cannot emphasize enough the amount of unpredictability that you can get with other players. It is not uncommon to suddenly get ambushed by a small group of players whose main scavenging technique is to kill off unwary travelers (that would be you). Of course, there are also occasions where you will find yourself teaming up with others in order to successfully defeat small clusters of zombies. Meeting new players is such a hit or miss situation that it pretty much defines the excitement that eh game provides.
While your interactions will be the most exciting thing to do in the game, it is through the scavenging that you make any progress. Resources in DayZ are few and players have to be careful about what to carry on their limited inventory. Having a good combination of basic recipes is important since you have to be able to repurpose items (instead of having to carry all sorts of things). The game will also require you to keep an eye on your hunger and thirst. Since there are no HUD displays for your HP, hunger, ammunition, or even an indicator if your character is bleeding, you will need to pay attention to the messages and prompts. The constant need to monitor your character’s well being adds a greater tension to the volume of danger that surrounds you in the game.
Delivery: A Little Too Real
For an alpha-build, game-in-progress, release, DayZ standalone is a whole lot more that what most players will expect. Sure, the visuals get a little flat and basic at times, and there are tons of bugs (especially with object collisions) that makes the game a little hard to get used to. The cool part is that anyone who jumps into playing DayZ will already know that prior to actually playing it. All that said, the graphics are not that bad. They are not as polished as what you would expect to see on next gen systems, but the current character models and textures provide a decent visual experience.
The Verdict: Jump In Early
While the game has already been out for a while (and there are plenty of new content that are going to be added before the final retail release is revealed), DayZ is already quite playable. If are looking for a good scare, this is not exactly the most recommended title in that regard –you are better off with a game that is less focused on post-apocalyptic survival. On the other hand, if you find a lot of thrill in a game that simulates what it would be like to run around a desolate world while you carefully scavenge for spoiled cans of food while avoiding zombies and dealing with potentially dangerous humans, then DayZ should be on top of your must-play list.
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DayZ is developed by Bohemia Interactive.