DayZ: Early Access Impressions

(PC)

Beware the zombies! The Xtreme Entertainment Network take a look at highly rated survival horror game DayZ…

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DayZ is best described as a survival-focused multiplayer game.  As the player, your main goal will be to simply survive. You will scavenge for supplies in houses, desperately seek out fresh, drinking water, and fight your hunger with food you find. Unlike other recent survival games like Don’t Starve and Starbound, the only way to obtain items crucial to your survival, is to find them. There is no crafting element. The reliance upon finding items can create a problem for fresh players and spawns. When you spawn in DayZ, you spawn at a random spot on the map. You may or may not be close to any structures where there is gear to be found. And even if you find a structure, there is no guarantee it has not been looted. I once wandered around for over an hour, looking for gear. But alas, every structure I found had been looted. Supplies can be looted from other players however, further adding to an already tense atmosphere.dayz2

Once you manage to find gear and become reasonably equipped, you can take on the many adversaries in DayZ. While there are zombies in DayZ, there are considerably fewer of them than your real adversaries, fellow survivors. This is where the emergent gameplay focus of DayZ really shines.

The main focus of the game is to survive, but the game does not give you other goals to accomplish. So players decide what to do. What usually happens is a player becomes a “bandit” or a “hero.” Bandits roam the land killing and looting indiscriminately. Or in some cases, torment players for the hell of it. There are numerous videos circulating the Net about the strange escapades of these brigands.

On the other hand, players may become a hero. The hero is the exact opposite of the bandit. These friendly players assist new players and people in need and hunt down bandits for the greater good. This is where DayZ shines and gives a truly unique experience. When the players are left to determine what occurs in the game, crazy things are bound to happen. Given the explicit PvP nature the game, the atmosphere is incredibly tense. Nothing is worse than facing DayZ as a fresh spawn. Not only do you need to account for zombies, but you want to attract as little attention as possible from other players. Approaching other players can be nerve-wracking. Are they friendly? If there are friendly, are they trying to lure you into an ambush further down the road? Every encounter is a psychological guessing game, and it truly is something to experience.

While the gameplay is fun, being an early access game, the presentation is severely lacking at this point in time. Not only do the devs stress how buggy the game is, upon booting the game a window pops up telling to expect all sorts of glitches and bugs and thanks you for supporting development. With many Early Access games being less than forthright with consumers, it is nice to Bohemia doing the right things. To say DayZ has bugs and glitches would be an understatement. The game has more bugs than a flea bag motel in the bad part of town. There is constant graphical clipping. There were several occasions I thought I had found some precious supplies, only to find it was just part of the landscape clipping through the floor. Just because a door is shut does not mean you are safe from zombies. Do not be surprised to turn around to what you thought was a closed door to find a zombie that has the power to walk through walls. Players can get stuck in various animations which could lead to death. You may also die for seemingly no reason. And the UI also needs some work. Equipping and using items is confusing, I was constantly dropping items from my hot bar to never find them again. Picking up items can also be problematic. These are just some of the issues you might encounter when playing, but the promise is all there and bodes very well for the future.

Samuel Lott

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