This is one of the most interesting stories going on in gaming. A Mod of a relatively unknown Military simulator, DayZ takes the tools provided by Bohemia Interactive Studios and creates a gigantic Soviet landscaped torn apart by a infectious zombie outbreak. Arma II was meant to depict realistic combat scenarios between large groups of players, but with some creative changes the maker known as “Rocket” created a sandbox where there is no ultimate objective and the players decide how to play the game. Similar to Minecraft you simply wash up on shore in a strange world with no directions and are left to fend for yourself. You have 1 pack with a bandage, a flashlight, and some painkillers.
I said there is no ultimate objective but there is an immediate challenge… survive. The towns are full of zombie hordes that will rip you to pieces. You can avoid the towns but eventually you will need food and water and must risk the threat of the living dead to scavenge for supplies. The real danger is not zombies or hunger/thirst it’s the other players. Everywhere there are other survivors around you competing for the scarce supplies. Do you try to work with them to help fight off the zombies? You could form a rewarding friendship, or you could end up with a bullet in the back of your head when they decide they want that nice backpack you found. You never know who you can trust and who will slit your throat for a can of beans. You would think it would be in everyone’s best interest to work together, but in the back of your mind you know that if you put your trust in this stranger they could kill you when your guard is down. The entire game really fits the theory of the Prisoner’s Dilemma quite well.
I could write an entire book describing the world of DayZ, but it really is something you have to experience for yourself. The player interactions that it has created are very unique and I have not witnessed anything quite like it in other games. When your character dies you start over at the coast and all of your hard earned gear stays on your corpse free to be looted by your killer or anyone else that wonders by. Because of this you develop a healthy fear of death and everything becomes a calculation of risk/reward. You may need to go to the hospital to get medical supplies, but there are only a few hospitals meaning many other players will also be there. I started this game playing mostly alone, but found it very difficult and began urging people to get the game and back me up. The game itself is fun just trying to stay alive out on your own crawling in the pitch black of night terrified of the sounds of zombies all around you. As with most games though, once you get a squad of your buddies together is when this game really starts to shine. Tied The Leader has never had a big PC following but this game was really unique so a few of us tried it out and then immediately started sharing our stories and encouraging others to give it a shot.
We started out just trying to survive and gather gear, but soon we had ourselves a respectable arsenal and began to get bored of killing the zombies inland and avoiding the coast where the majority of the other players were. We found a truck fully loaded with tons of gear and thought we would take it north and hide it in the woods. On the way there we hit a bump and the truck exploded killing all of us. It was a tragedy but still had us all laughing. Now that we had lost all of our gear we felt more free to interact with other players in the major cities and this is where the adventures got even more crazy.
The shear chaos that transpires during the game is astounding. The only thing you can control about the way your player looks is their face, unless you find some other clothes in the game which is very rare. This creates tension as it’s hard to keep track of who is friendly. Because of this I watched a guy walk through the woods right at me thinking it was another Gunslinger and he promptly shot me in the head. He was instantly killed by TTL Cute, but I had a long 8 km run to get back to where they were to pick up my stuff. Friendly fire doesn’t just occur when you are confused about who is who. It’s often easy to accidentally shoot a friend when trying to pick off the zombies chasing him. TTL Pony found this out when he tried to help out Sunburned Goose, promptly killing him with a poorly placed Lee Enfield shot.
The 3 major cities are where the real action is. As I said earlier they hold the only hospitals as well as a ton of other supplies. We found ourselves in Elecktro and TTL Pony and I were heading to the fire station. For some reason military loot like guns and ammo spawn there so it’s a hot spot and very dangerous. TTL Cute sets up an overwatch position up on the hill in the woods with his sniper and we go inside the fire station. I am going up in the tower when I hear Cute say “There is someone on the roof!”. This immediately elevates my heartbeat and I freeze. He takes two shots and then I see blood pouring down from the roof and he confirms the kill.
Pony goes up to loot the body and I move down the street to a church. I find a few dead bodies laying around and then Pony spots another guy going into the fire station while he is stuck on the roof. I move silently back down that way and post up looking at the back door. Pony hears him digging around inside and finally he runs out the back door and I open fire with my M16A2. He runs back and forward a few times having no idea where the shots are coming from and darts back inside. He then runs out the other door and Pony takes some shots and he falls over dead. At this point Pony spots another player running in from the other direction and starts shooting at him. At this point Cute and I hear an engine approaching and a lot of honking. I have no idea what is going on and am trying to worry about the other player as well as the mystery machine behind me. Cute spots a tractor driving into the city which runs straight into a wall and explodes.
At this point Pony has shot and killed the last player approaching us and I have moved further into the city. I am up in a residential apartment when a player runs up the stairs right at me. I instinctively fire but he yells friendly and does not have a weapon. I tell him to hold still and bandage him up and give him a blood bag which basically allows you to bring another player to full health. I decide he does not seem like a threat and tell him to follow me and I will show him where he can get a lot of tools and supplies off some guys we had killed. As we are leaving I spot the tractor wreckage and we go over to check the body. My new comrade tells me he is still alive. I am shocked because the crash happened about 15 minutes ago, but I bandage him up and then drag his unconscious body all the way back to the fire station where Pony is.
After I got him back to the fire station it took another 10 minutes for him to finally wake up. “Thank you, you are my savior!” was the first thing he said through direct chat when he came to. I showed him and the other guy where the gear was and they decided to stick together and our groups went our separate ways. As you can see all player interactions are not violent. Sometimes you can help people if you choose. All the guys we killed were armed with machine guns so it would have been very risky to not take them out before they had a chance to do the same. Even the guy I healed had a rifle so I kept a close eye on him. Just because you save someone does not mean they won’t kill you as soon as giving an opportunity. I have a video of us all sniping a guy that had moved into a military camp up north we had just finished looting. He saw our chemlights on the ground but ignored them and went in anyway. a mistake that cost him his life.
He had the biggest backpack as well as an AS50 the rarest sniper rifle in the game. Sometimes you feel bad for killing other players, but up north at places like Stary Sober in the video it’s kill or be killed. On the coast you can sometimes find new players and help them out, but if someone is looting military bases or airfields inland than they won’t hesitate to kill you.
If anyone is interested in trying this out and wants to play with us you are welcome. You need a pretty decent computer with a good video card to run it. We can help you tweak your settings for the best performance. The mod is free but you will have to buy Arma II as well as Arma II Operation Arrowhead to run the mod. There is a package deal on steam called Combined Operations. If you do get the game let us know and we will help you out. There is a pretty steep learning curve and if you start out on your own you will die a lot until you get the hang of it. We can provide food, we can provide shelter, we can provide security.
If you have any comments feel free to post them here.