A Few Days with Dayz

There was someone in front of me. I crept through a small village devoid of life. Zombies should have been patrolling the streets and surrounding countryside. The houses were barren. The only items I came across were empty cans of food, empty water bottles, and empty magazines. The dead zombies scattered throughout the town and barren houses meant someone else had likely already passed through. I was following in his wake. I crouched out of sight behind a shed to check my map. I needed to figure out where to go next.

A large settlement lay 2 kilometers to the northeast - Zelenogorsk. Hopefully I could find some food, water, and most importantly, ammunition there.  My unseen companion had likely already been, I just hoped there would be something left over for me.

I checked one more house on the outskirts of town before heading north. Luckily this one had not been ransacked yet. I retrieved a new pistol and scoped hunting rifle. Feeling more confident I started across the field.

Not two minutes outside of town I saw some movement in the adjacent field, about half a kilometer away. It was him, the man I had been following. Had he seen me? I clumsily removed the hunting rifle from my back, peering through the scope to try and get a glimpse of him. He was moving north-east at a jog, the smock wrapped around his face told me immediately he was a bandit. I dropped to the ground and brought my rifle up, poised to fire. He had disappeared. I frantically scanned the field to try and catch sight of him, but it was too late. By the time my scope passed over him laying prone in the field, he had already lined up his shot. The last thing I saw was a puff of smoke rising from his barrel. The crack of the shot came a few seconds later.

Welcome to Dayz.

Dayz is a multiplayer mod for Bohemia Interactive's Arma 2. Set in 225 square kilometers of fictional Eastern European countryside called Chernarus, Dayz is part survival, part social experiment and likely as close as you will come to living through a zombie apocalypse.

Chernarus has suffered from an unnamed catastrophe and all of its residents have been zombified. Joining a multiplayer server you begin your adventure near the coast with a pistol, medical supplies, and a few cans of beans. Your goal is simply to survive.

The scale of the world is a challenge in itself. When you begin your journey you don't have a map or compass to guide you. The basic needs of food and water are your primary concerns. Supplies are scattered throughout the towns and villages of Chernarus. Your thirst and hunger are represented with tiny icons on the right side of your screen that slowly turn red as your needs grow. Just jogging causes dehydration and hunger.

Towns have a few provisions and weapons scattered through them. Depending on the size they may have a hospital with valuable medical supplies or a grocery store with food. Given that it is the zombie apocalypse urban areas are hotbeds of undead activity.       
It is crucial to judge the risks before entering any town as zombies can quickly overwhelm you. Broken bones, and bleeding will inhibit your movement, vision, and reflexes. Run too low on blood and you will pass out. Break a bone and you will be unable to move. Even the pain from wounds causes your weapon to shake, making aiming a challenge. The risk of bleeding to death alone in a barn is very real. According to the official site most players only last four and a half hours.
Friends can be hard to come by.

You are not alone in the world, upwards of 50 players are simultaneously exploring and looting the countryside with you. Despite being labelled as cooperative you can never be sure of other players' intentions. The absence of supplies encourages opportunistic survivors to lay in wait and take what they don't want to scavenge for themselves. You had better think twice about showing off that AK47 you just found, because everyone is always looking for an upgrade.

Your character is also persistent. When you exit the game your position, health, and items are saved. During the time you are away  your thirst and hunger continue to grow. Keeping a supply of food and water in your backpack is critical, otherwise you will be passing out from hunger shortly after logging back in.

The mod is very much in the early stages of development. Connecting is almost as much of a challenge as finding a decent weapon. Newcomers to Operation Flashpoint/Arma will find the controls to be a bit obtuse. I would heartily suggest running through the single player tutorials before getting your feet wet. Stick with it though, the experience is second to none.

I will post some more anecdotes and screenshots later. For now I'm heading back to the apocalypse.

Visit www.dayzmod.com to learn more.

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