The zombie apocalypse has been the subject matter of every single aspect of pop culture at one point or another. Video games, television shows, comic books, movies, novels, and all sorts of other mediums have been utilized to bring life to our undead future. People often go on to fantasize what it’d be like to live through the end-times; when zombies roam the Earth. This always struck me as odd, as a zombie apocalypse sounds in no way exciting. Terrifying and hopeless, maybe – but don’t let me spoil the fun. As if on cue, DayZ is probably the best example of what a zombie infested world would be like.
In this game, zombies roam freely around man-made, supply-housing structures in hopes of eating a human. So, of course, the player is equipped with a mighty flashlight and single bandage to start. As it turns out, the game spawns you smack in the middle of nowhere, with no map to guide you to safety. You learn your starting location as you load in and that’s it – find your own damn map. The game tracks a player’s blood count (as in liters), body temperature, thirst, and hunger. If any of these become heavily compromised, the player begins to slow down, pass out, and eventually die if their general health degrades enough. You lose all of your items and have to start from scratch when you die in DayZ, so, no pressure!
I couldn’t venture into this on my own. After enlisting a friend of mine who is notorious for zombie slaying in other games, she and I were able to finally find one another in the game world after a bit of coordination. Between the two of us, we were sharing food, weapons, bandages, beverages, and relying on each other while looking for the next area. I found myself keeping either of us safe from zombie attacks as she would scout areas and lead us to the next point of interest, around any unnecessary scuffles. To me, this was awesome: relying on another player not only for their skill in a video game, but also for their desire to explore and survive in an otherwise bloodthirsty world. At any moment she could have withheld food, or tried to attack me with a weapon she’d been hiding to gain some of my items. That said, we both kept our wits and trudged along.
One downside to the game may also be its greatest strength. Since DayZ exists to emulate a zombie apocalypse, there are no true objectives. Because I was doing most of the zombie fighting, I kept finding myself injured. While this may have seemed a touch on the annoying side for my partner, I got the sense that it gave us something more to do – our own story. We had to find a hospital for blood packets as soon as we could, as my blood levels became dangerously low and I would repeatedly lose consciousness while traversing hillsides. As we ventured closer to town, we knew other players would not be far. We also knew they’d be less friendly than preferred. Soon, it would become clear to me that in DayZ, most players view everyone else as a walking item bin waiting to be looted.
After successfully navigating our way to a hospital and my restored health, we headed around to other parts of town to find more loot. Eventually, we hit the mother-load. Guns, ammo, hatchets, food, drinks, and medicine; all in one place! I was extremely excited to finally be wielding a firearm, as I’d been slaying zombies in a melee fashion up to this point. A change of pace was upon me. My partner had found, to her elation, a set of binoculars. We were fully loaded, very stoked, and on our way to greater heights in DayZ… until a fellow survivor fired many bullets into the two of us with absolutely no warning. Hold-ups are totally acceptable, but this guy was out for a blood soaked victory. According to my partner, I managed to place a round into our enemy’s shoulder before he ultimately took us both out in the coldest of blood. All of those items: lost, my partner and I: once again separated, and three hours: down the tube. However, the general consensus between the two of us was, “That sucked… let’s do it again! But maybe tomorrow…”
DayZ clearly depicts both how the zombie apocalypse might be to experience, and that a difficult video game can be extremely good if the rewards are gratifying enough. If you get the chance, try this game at least once. While it takes time to get used to, it takes folds more time to forget about.