So much to do, so little life expectancy

Mandatory Introductory Paragraph

DayZ is a mod for the aging Arma II engine, created by Dean “Rocket” Hall, who is now employed by Bohemia Interactive, the developers for Arma II. The mod itself is free, but you need a valid copy of Arma II and its expansion Operation Arrowhead, jointly known as Arma II: Combined Ops. The mod is currently in alpha and it has been around for a mere three months or so, but it already boasts 837,286 players and expects to hit a million players by the end of July, 2012. This mod is smart, it is innovative, and it refuses to apologize for punishing you for the smallest misstep. This is a visceral, terrifying and paranoia-inducing cult phenomenon. This is DayZ.

Where The Hell Am I?

The idea is so elementary that you would think someone must have done it before in some earlier, perhaps shoddier, iteration. You start on the shore. You have a small backpack with eight slots, and all you have is a flashlight, a bandage and a box of painkillers. You don't know where you are along the nearly 30 kilometer stretch of coast that borders the southern and eastern edge of Chenarus, the fictional 225 square kilometers of a post Soviet state. Everywhere you go, the undead infestation punctuates the landscape. It could be day or night, since servers in DayZ follow the 24-hour time-cycle of their host servers. You are given no objectives. You have no quest givers with telltale yellow exclamation points magically floating above their heads. You have a clean slate. And it is time to write your story.

In order to survive, you need supplies, food, water and firearms as well as ammunition, tools and medical supplies. To acquire these, you must be brave enough to enter the settlements, a challenge complicated by the fact that DayZ is designed to kill you for the smallest misgiving. You will battle zombies, Mother Nature and perhaps most fatally, other players.

Chenarus: The Deadliest Place on Earth

Zombies exist in and around every settlement, be it an urban metropolis or an idyllic countryside barn. They can detect you by both sight and sound, which is a function of your movement speed, your stance, the surface you tread on and the time of the day. Once they detect you, they will charge, and if they catch up to you, they can damage your blood, give you shock, break your bones and even knock you unconscious if their attack is particularly vicious. You can seek respite in buildings, which they can enter, but slow down to a shuffle, or use line of sight and terrain to lose them. They are a persistent, deadly and relentless threat.

If it rains too hard and you don't seek shelter, your body temperature will drop and you will need to use heat-packs or campfires to recover. If your body heat gets low enough you can get sick and must consume antibiotics to survive. You need to eat and drink, and the longer you run, the thirstier you will get. You can die from dehydration and starvation. Color will drain from the world the more blood you lose. Below 3,000 blood units, you will randomly start falling unconscious. To get it back, you will need a blood transfusion, which can only be performed by another player. If you break a bone, you need a morphine shot. If you are knocked unconscious, you can wait out the timer, during which you can perform absolutely no action, including accessing the menu; or another player can hit you with an epinephrine shot. It is a constant nag, a subconscious itch, reminding you that you need to find food soon, or medical supplies, or whatever it is that you need to stay alive in this god forsaken place.