DayZ has a now infamous reputation as the game that created a whole new genre, based around gruelling survival in a wide open sandbox, but over three years since its release in an alpha build, the game seems to have progressed stunningly slowly.Selling over three million copies, the lucrative title has lost most of the spotlight in a market now deluged with games offering what seem to be far more polished experiences. Nevertheless, DayZ is a game that I have countless great memories of. It has a charm in its broken, wonky UI and game play that in a strange way gives it real character. In an attempt to find out why it sold so well and if I’m right to say little has changed, I decided to jump back in and spend an evening with it. The following events happened over the course of two hours…
Life one – Denzel Washington:
I immediately spawned into a completely barren area in what seems to be the middle of nowhere. The game isn’t dubbed a running simulator for no reason. I found a nearby road and began sprinting my character, a suave black dude in some shades, down a road in a search for civilisation. One thing had changed, I noticed. When breathing, my character now sounds like a saw grinding its way through a block of wood, except it’s grinding through my eardrums and there’s no way to turn it down without muting the entire game’s effects. Oh how I love DayZ.
By sheer luck I wandered on to what appeared to be a small military camp and was quickly distracted by the prospect of loot, so at full pelt I sprinted into the base. Bad plan. As I scoured the tents for gear, an alerted zombie crept up on me, and I made another new discovery. When a zombie hits you, it now makes a deafening gunshot sound that threw me out of my chair and almost gave me a heart attack. It’s things like these that really craft the DayZ spirit. The game is bad. You know the game is bad. But you enjoy it anyway, because it makes you laugh along with its silliness. After a few Rocky Balboa punches to the head, the zombie fell to the ground, re-dead, and I quickly crept away.
After progressing somewhat along a larger tarmac road I came towards a much more substantial city. I’d hoped to discover some other players and get up to some strange escapades. In previous playthroughs I’ve had one of my friends kidnapped and given a blood transfusion; taken on the character of a southern farmer in an attempt to recruit people to grow me a huge plot of tomatoes; and been taken hostage on a live twitch stream, but alas I wandered around the city unable to find anyone. After a gladiatorial fight with a chicken, which I cooked on a fire, I decided to try a new server.
Life two – Wait, what?
Spawning in on a busier server, I noticed a slight problem.
Every single bit of my gear had gone.
And I was in the middle of a field.
It was there I decided to call it quits and give DayZ another three years.
It can’t get any worse, right?