Monday, June 25, 2012

DayZ: Survival Horror Done Right

Creepy ambient sounds, darkness, a flashlight, and zombies. The mainstays of a survival horror game but so many of the mainstream games are moving away from that creeping terror to have a more action-oriented and 'engaging' game. Enter DayZ, a mod from the combat simulator ARMA2.

I say combat simulator because ARMA emphasizes realistic combat and tactics. One or two bullets and you're dead. Groups organize realistic scenarios with actual objectives rather than a flag to capture or bomb the objective situations. I've not played it personally though, I bought the game and it's expansion (together called Combined Arms) just to play the DayZ mod. I suggest you check out DayZ Mod for more information on the alpha of this fantastic total-conversion mod.

DayZ discourages you from running because the Zed spot you easier the faster you move and the taller you're standing. And hear. See zombies only look forward in about a 60° arc, but they can hear in all directions. So this emphasizes your desire to move stealthily and not attract zombies. Gunfire attracts nearby zombies, and the bigger the gun, the louder, the farther they can hear you. Also, these aren't Romero zombies, they know how to run. In fact, they run at a full sprint, the same as if you were standing up and sprinting. Of course, they aren't worried about alerting nearby zombies, but you are. So if you alert a zombie, they come at you SCREAMING, they don't always run in a straight line (some of that may be pathing issues, but I like it) so you can't always line up an easy shot before they get to you. So you have a focus on avoiding zombies and to not just pop a cap in each one of the undead that you see. And that's if you have a gun.

See, when you start up in DayZ, you spawn on the shore of a 250 square-kilometer zone with a backpack, a bandage, painkillers, and a flashlight (We'll talk about that little bit of terror in the next post!) and anything you need or want beyond that, you'll have to scavenge. Sneak through towns and check inside sheds, some homes, even outhouses. Of course, all these places have zombies nearby. In fact, any place that spawns items also spawns zombies, the system is tied together that way. And this isn't to say every place has worthwhile loot. Often you'll find empty cans or whiskey bottles and some road flares. They have a use, but you can't eat or drink them and they sure won't let you kill any zombies or other players.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about the nighttime and flashlights!

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