So much to do, so little life expectancy

Chenarus: The Deadliest Place on Earth (cntd)

Other players are your biggest threat. PvP is always on, and a surreal reflection of how fragile society is, if pushed to the absolute limits. You are never safe anywhere. Survivors are generally friendly players, but they might kill you if they feel threatened. Bandits will kill you on sight, regardless of how well or under-geared you are. There is absolutely no way to tell a bandit from a survivor in the distance (unless the server has nametags). (Pro Tip: If you can hear your heart beating, you are right next to a bandit.) The bottom-line is that it is a dog-eat-dog world. You can be killed anywhere, for any reason. A single shot can kill you, and you won't even know who your assailant was.

And here is the best part. Death is permanent. If you die, you respawn at the shore, empty-handed. This paranoia, the uneasy feeling that someone has eyes on you, that death could be one little mistake away is what makes DayZ the pulse-pounding, full-of-adrenaline experience that it has morphed into.

So Much To Do, So Little Life Expectancy

The world is filled with loot for you to find. Barns will have lower tiers of firearms and supplies. Hospitals will have medical goods. Residential areas will have backpacks, food, drinks, lower quality firearms, and common tools. Military areas have military grade equipment, with helicopter crash sites being the most sought-after location in the mod in terms of loot. There are sidearms, shotguns and light machine guns. There are rifles that such as the extremely loud Lee Enfield (jokingly referred to as the Dinner Bell) and the incredibly weak MP5. There are also sniper rifles that range from the antique and inaccurate to the monstrously overpowered AS50. It is completely random, so you can luck out or you can look for hours and still never find that one item you really wanted.

Your tools are critical to your success and survival. You need to find a map, a watch and a compass as a minimum. You will need a hatchet to chop up wood, and use a box of matches to make a fireplace. Eventually you will find a toolbox, an entrenching tool, GPS and a host of other doodads. You can find clothing to camouflage yourself better. You can find binoculars, rangefinders or night vision goggles. You can use flares or chemlights to see at night. You can find, repair, drive and store equipment in a wide variety of vehicles. You can hunt animals for meat as a food source in the wilderness. All of this seamlessly plays into the larger themes at work here. The more you acquire, the more paranoid you get, and every distant gunshot, every shuffle, every zombie cluster gives you pause.

Explicit Exploitation

This is not to say the game is not without problems. Hackers have turned servers into virtual wastelands. Up until patch, one could Alt+F4 if under direct threat of death, thereby denying their predator the satisfaction of the kill. Ghosting is a game-breaking exploit, where an opponent will disconnect from your server, join another server and get into a flanking position that compromises you, and then reconnect to your server and try to kill you. If you die near the coast, you can hit the respawn button until you get a favorable spawn point closer to your body. This is sometimes called spawn farming, and can be quite detrimental to the victor who is distracted by the spoils of his latest kill. Patch will allegedly fix some of these issues, but that still remains to be seen. There have also been rumors of canine companions for players and underground bunkers for storing loot if you are part of a larger, organized group or clan.

Categorically, DayZ is an amazing experience and, given its alpha state, it can only get better. It is a terrifying world, crammed with opportunity, fraught with danger, infested with zombies and patrolled by bandits. This is not a game for civilized folks. But, then again, civilization is frakking boring.