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DayZ - Part Game, Part Social Experiment

The moans and groans of undead monsters are always present as I hunt down supplies in this now desolate town. I make my way to an abandoned church, and luckily enough it turns out to be my saving grace. Inside I find a can of sardines, which I quickly eat to fight off my ever increasing hunger. As I make my way back outside I see a tall office complex of some sort with a ladder on the side. I decide to make the climb to the top and scout out the area. As I scan in all direction from nine stories up, I see a silhouette of another survivor in the distance atop a parking garage. I open up voice chat and make him aware of my presence. We decide to meet. 

I crawl through a living minefield to get to him, zombies in all directions. Thankfully the tall grass gives me some much needed cover. I meet up with my fellow man and have a brief and to the point discussion. The town isn't safe he says, too many zombies and worse - too many survivors. We decide to make a break for the hills, but we needed to grab some water for the trip first. We make our way to a small pond nearby to fill up our canteen. My partner fills up the canteen, takes a swig, and passes it to me to do the same. As I prepare to drink a gunshot roars out, loud and defiant. Then another. My friend falls to the ground yelling and screaming. I panic and my mind races. It takes me only a second to realize what's happening. One second too late.

I try to run only to get hit in the chest with a bullet from our unseen attacker. I pass out momentarily. Upon waking up I try to bandage myself and stop the bleeding, hoping there is someway I can still survive this hellish experience. As I claw through my backpack to find the bandages, one final bullet rips through me. I am dead, and all the supplies I worked so hard the last two hours to acquire are now gone. Welcome to DayZ.

Part game, part social experiment, DayZ is a mod for the military simulation game ARMA II on PC that is growing more and more popular every day. After making a character and joining a server, you take part in the most realistic zombie survival simulation available. Newly spawned players are completely defenseless with no weapon and few supplies. Players quickly need to gather food and water to survive, or else die of dehydration and hunger. Zombies are a constant danger, and players must use stealth to sneak by them. Eventually while playing you will stumble upon a gun of some sort, and you will think that you now have it made. Still, you aren't safe. Ammo is scarce, and the loud gunshots often only alert nearby zombies to your presence. Combat of any kind is incredibly risky, but it's not only zombies you should be afraid of as the deadliest enemy of all is other players. Just as in real life, people aren't always the nicest or friendliest in dog eat dog situations. Finding other players and teaming up can be a blessing, but more often than not a player will simply murder you and take your valuable supplies. Then you respawn, in a new location with only your starter items, and try again.

DayZ is strangely addicting for me. Despite having died numerous times, I learn something from every death, every lesson learned allowing me to survive a little longer the next time around. I'm currently playing with a friend of mine, making our way into the hills away from other people. Sadly, we are slowly starving to death and can't seem to find any food. But if I die I'll just start over and play again. I have yet to murder another player, though I could have on multiple occasions. I have heard players literally begging for their lives at gunpoint, as I crawl through the shadows unseen in an attempt to sneak by. Begging rarely helps. Zombie fights are rare, but can happen if you are careless. Every zombie could result in your death, so it doesn't help to go out seeking some action. The majority of the game is playing crouch walking or crawling through destroyed towns scavenging for supplies, praying that a man with a gun doesn't find you and decide he wants your stuff.

The mod is currently in Alpha, and it shows. Glitches are numerous. The game UI and controls are terribly complicated and in no way easy to use. But if you can overcome these shortcomings (which will improve with time) DayZ is a game, and an experience, like no other. It does what games do best, drop players in another world, a giant what-if situation. Everything happens organically. There are no scripted moments. It's simply human beings doing what human beings would do, for better or for worse. This is why DayZ is one of the most unique and captivating multiplayer experiences out there, one that every PC gamer should check out.

 

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