DayZ Releases on Consoles Review
Release Date: March 27, 2019
Publisher/Developer: Bohemia Interactive
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed), PlayStation 4, now officially released on PC after 5 year beta
This is my first time with DayZ, much like I’d assume most of the readers of this column will be. While DayZ (originally a mod for ARMA 2) has been out in some sort of beta format for going on five years, the final release is spreading out to home consoles. People who have played the beta likely know everything they need to know, but a new audience is coming through in PS4 and X1.
In DayZ, the game picks up right after the zombie apocalypse. Taking on the role of a random survivor immune to the plague, it’s your task to simply survive. While zombies are their own threat, this massively online game plops you into a world with other survivors who can choose to work together or fend for themselves. Each encounter with another player is a chance to find a friend to team up with to succeed or potentially be stabbed in the back, seen as nothing more than a bag full of resources.
My personal time with the game has been rough, to say the least. Starting in the afternoon with literally a random character that I held no power over designing, I had to fend off not only zombies and other survivors, but hunger, thirst, and temperature extremes as well. Soon the day turned to night. With the electricity infrastructure decimated, there are no lights to brighten the night, making it quite literally pitch black. Stranded in the middle of a field, I wandered through the darkness to finally find a house. I prepared for resources or a battle, and found...a jean skirt. Still bleak and black, I searched the barn and found nothing. So I stumbled to the road and ran until I saw a glimmer of light. Running up to it I found an active flare next to a dead body holding a pointy rock. I picked it up. Thinking I had to be getting near dawn, I stood and waited. I then met my first fellow player, who proceeded to silently walk up behind me and punch me in the head.
I had a pointy rock. They had nothing. Our combat boiled down to trading punches, realizing it’s going nowhere, going for a running punch or two to try to get out of taking damage, me realizing that punches have a larger hit box than my pointy rock, and eventually dying. I respawned, and found myself near an oil field. I found a single zombie, and the battle was very similar, though the screeching zombie was a little worse at making contact.
Watching the introductory/tutorial video, the developers show how the game is supposed to run. Actively scrounging for food and basic weapons, you aim to get a leg up over any other players where you can then choose to help or harm them. There are ballistic weapons but ammunition is sparse so you are encouraged to use it sparingly. Gamers who survive can create alliances, form basic business relationships, drive vehicles, and team up to survive.
With combat limited to a counter-intuitive melee system versus computer and human opponents, compounded by the fact that many gamers are looking for action which translates to pretty much guaranteed violence. I know I haven’t played a lot, but when I told a friend who plays the beta on PC that I was going to review DayZ, his first response was “good luck.” I’d love to have a bit more control over my game than DayZ offers, such as creating a character and having more incentive to team together, and also having half the time being nearly useless due to pitch-black darkness.
I think that most gamers will get their impression of DayZ in their first few plays. With the permadeath game style it is disappointing when you die, but also means a chance at a completely different experience every time you play. It’s likely about as authentic and brutal as a real zombie apocalypse would be: a lonely experience of scrounging for survival, occasionally meeting a bunch of frantic people dealing with paranoia as they try to survive a broken society where zombies are the least of their problems.
-Different play every time depending on who you get in your server
-Design of game creates tension: are your fellow server gamers friend or foe?
-Experienced gamers can use their real world bargaining and conversation skills to manipulate their way to the top
-No “owning” a character thanks to no customization and easily offed permadeath characters
-Clumsy melee combat and discouraged firearm use
-Pitch black at night
Special thanks to Bohemia Interactive for providing a code for review!