“This is Day Z. This is your story…”
The last few weeks for me have all been about ArmA 2 and the Day Z modification. In fact, I have forcefully put aside all other games and Day Z has been the only PC game I’ve been playing lately. Even Diablo III, released just three weeks ago, has had to find a place for itself under some mossy rock. The authenticity of ArmA 2 relocated to a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies is what draws me to my PC’s screen every day. And almost every day, along with several friends, I experience a new adventure in a world with an atmosphere so dense that you will not find its like in any other shooter or survival-horror game released to date.
The phenomenon of Day Z and its popularity is quite interesting. The multiplayer mod created by a Kiwi programmer (being one of the fathers of the original ArmA 2 has its benefits) has quickly become much more popular than its creator could have ever dreamt. Suffice to say, the Combined Operations edition of ArmA 2 is currently the best-selling game on Steam! Its huge popularity has also affected the mod’s main server used for storing gamer profiles, save points and stats. Huge hype amongst ArmA 2 fans, dragging new players to the game, has also resulted in frequent lags and long map loading times. Oh yes, getting into the game can often take as long as 10 minutes of your precious life.
But once you’re in… Oh boy, you immediately nod with approval and you well understand why the mod has received such a warm reception from ArmA 2 fans and newbies alike. The mod’s STALKER-like ambience is superbly well backed up by innovative gameplay mechanics (which remind me a lot of an old Robinson’s Requiem game). The mod transforms the well-known woodland Chernarus map into a world you could swear had been pulled straight from the Walking Dead.
Yes, the mod adds zombies (aka zeds) to the game and your task is to… simply survive! Day Z – apart the zombies themselves – introduces a number of mechanisms created for greater immersion in the virtual world you explore. To stay alive, you need to start acquiring food, drinks, weapons and all sorts of additional equipment that raises your chances of surviving in the hostile Day Z environment. You will also have to eat and drink on a regular basis and monitor your body temperature. The mod mechanics are still evolving and new features are being added on an almost weekly basis: altering the fates of players into an even more complicated – yet more enjoyable – struggle to survive. The latest immersion boost – body temperature factor – has brought in another bunch of reasons to worry and plan your moves carefully.
When your body temperature lowers significantly, it can – eventually – lead to bleeding out and death. And blood level in Day Z is the equivalent of health points in other games. When it begins to fall, your character gets the chills, has problems with normal vision (colours fade, camera shaking occurs and vision fades or becomes temporarily blurred). And, of course, all those zombies wandering around residential and industrial buildings are not there to help you stay alive…
So let’s get one thing straight – Day Z is certainly not Left 4 Dead, where the zeds keep falling (dead forever) at your feet. Here, the situation is much different: You are at the very bottom of the food chain in Day Z. If you shoot near zeds, a pack of them will begin chasing you and – make no mistake – they are most fearless and don’t know what exhaustion is. In the end, you will be killed or at least wounded and start bleeding out. There are no health packs (this is no Quake) and you will need a blood bag and… another player to help you perform a blood transfusion.
Mod servers, being able to accommodate up to 60 players, add much flavour to the game. After all, throughout the game world (the Chernarus map covers an area of 225 square kilometers), an ongoing battle for survival is being fought. You never know whether the building you are entering holds a M4A1-equipped and life-ending surprise for your character…
See you in Chernarus. Be sure to bring your gun!