The survival game DayZ spent a long period in the early access faze before being initially released on PC. It took many by surprise when it was announced that it would finally see a release on consoles. Was it too little too late? Perhaps for some but for those willing to take the risk on an older game will soon find out there are plenty of highs and plenty of lows with DayZ. Developer Bohemia Interactive created a third person/first person survival game with one goal, survive at all costs. When the game begins you are dropped into the Soviet Republic of Chernarus with up to 60 other players. That is precisely when the clock starts ticking on your life. The towns all around you are infested with infected people and other players that want to kill you. DO NOT forget about the other players. This is a survival game. If you die, you are dead. You do not respawn. You start over with nothing you have gained.

The Survival Game

Surviving in DayZ isn’t as simple as drinking some water from a river or eating an apple off the ground. First off if it plays in real life as far as being spoiled or tainted then it plays in this game. You have to be careful what you eat and drink otherwise a nice round of vomiting will put you in a world of hurt. It’s okay though because there are still things around to help you. For example you can purify water in a bottle or canteen using tablets or you can kill a chicken and cook it over a fire. With so many ways to die it’s important to learn quickly the easy ways to help you survive. I found the hunger and thirst system to be fair for the most part. Run a lot, get thirsty quicker. Expend a ton of energy, turn into an eating machine. You have to find a way to balance your actions out.

Finding a nice balanced diet is tricky but you also must find the right attire as well. It’s the zombie apocalypse so you have to look stylish, right? From pants, skirts, hiking boots, gloves, biker helmets, cowboy hats, bandannas to brass knuckles, DayZ offers a wide variety of clothing and accessories to fit your style. Learning to balance everything out will help keep your character healthy. If you suffer poor conditions for too long your character will start to die. Having clothes that are in good condition will help keep you warm and protected. Keep an eye on their condition though as a pristine jacket can quickly become worthless. Just as the world deteriorates around you so does everything in your hands.

Choosing clothing isn’t always about does your ass look good in that pair of jeans. Each piece is fitted with inventory slots. Some carry 20 while another might carry 30 slots. Having as many inventory slots as possible is a must. Each item you pick up in the world costs a different amount of those slots. For example bullets might cost you one slot where as a hatchet will cost you eight of them. That is a big deal when it comes to moving your inventory around. You want a melee weapon on you at all times and to keep from moving it around in your inventory constantly you can equip it to your quick bar. This is just like in any other game with the wheel being accessed by a button and then choosing a slot. There you can equip not only weapons but food and other items. It never felt like the wheel worked all that well but it is a must to utilize. Learning to manage the inventory is a pain and I am not sure if the developers wanted it to be as difficult as it is but it can be frustrating. Even after you master it there will be times where you question its existence. When moving items into the inventory be careful as items can go into containers or anything that might have a pocket. I learned that the hard way as I was carrying a pot and had no idea that a few items found their way into said pot. I dropped it to free up space and left those items behind by mistake.

Guns are also a necessity in the game but not for the reason you think. Fighting off the infected is better left to melee weapons or simply escaping into a house. Firing off a weapon will not only alert the surrounding infected to come and chew on you but the noise carries a fairly good distance. Why is that important? Remember there are other players on this game. Up to 60 at a time! That is where the gun comes into play. Yes the map is massive but running into another player is going to happen. That’s not a big deal though right? Wrong! While our group began the game playing more on the friendly side we soon found out that is not the way to play this game. One individual minding his own business is perhaps not a big deal, in most cases. Run across two or more and its fight or flight time. Just like fighting an infected one on one it’s not that big of a deal. A group though is almost certain death. If you are new to the game and you run into a group of players, the best option is to run, hide, and hope they don’t find you. You can capture players by knocking them out and tying them up but I have yet to experience that besides from my friends goofing around. In every single case of running into a group it has turned into bloodshed. Be careful with open wounds as well as you will bleed to death if not treated. You have been warned.

If fighting infected, other players, the elements, hunger and thirst wasn’t enough for you then navigation should suffice. One of the biggest pains in DayZ is navigating to find your friends. The best option if you don’t have a compass is to stick to the town and move along the main roads. Stray from the main road and you can quickly get turned around. You can find foldable maps or maps on boards like the ones you find on nature trails but there is a better option. Download a map to your phone and use that to navigate. There are even apps that will help you navigate and mark locations. Seriously this is a big deal as there is no friend finder or group meet up on the game. If one of you dies then it’s back to square one. It’s funny, I find when one of us dies I am always reminded of the scene in The Last of The Mohicans movie where Daniel Day-Lewis is telling Madeleine Stowe to stay alive and that he will find her. I can’t stress this enough, learn how to navigate the map or you will be left with nothing but frustration.

There is honestly so many items to find in this game. Whether it be a box of matches or car parts (yes you can repair a car in the game and drive it) there is a crazy amount of things to find. Weapons range from pipes to assault rifles. Everything you do is meticulous. Find a box of bullets. You must put that box in your hand and open the box before you can load your weapon. Don’t have a clip for the weapon? Then you have to load the bullets one at a time. Want to build a fire? Okay but first you need sticks, chopped wood and a fuel source. Don’t forget the matches! Have all that? Awesome. Now figure out how to put it all together. That is thing with DayZ, it isn’t going to hold your hand for anything. It wants things as real as possible and it wants you to fight for survival. With all of these things added together though it still feels somewhat empty and they don’t always work to perfection as it is. I know right that sounds crazy. Massive towns, infected people, a huge map to explore, what else could one want? That is the problem. The only aspect of the game is survival. That is it. Period. The building in the game feels almost useless and it is if you don’t stay on the same server. Pitching a tent is a better option as you can move locations that way (Not servers). Simply put without friends I could see the game lean towards boring after a few hours.

This isn’t to say the game is bad. It isn’t. The graphics won’t blow you away but there are some pretty settings at times. Watching the sun go down or come up can make for some pretty beautiful moments. Of course when the sun goes down the infected come out in droves. This is a very dangerous time to be out. It gets extremely dark and light sources only attract the infected. This also brings me to another issue with the game. The night time cycle is way too long. With the difficulty ramping up there is no way night time should last over thirty minutes. It is especially difficult for new players coming into the game. Being hunkered down in a building for that long of a time is not fun. Yes it adds to the survival aspect and it is scary as hell but there is no need for it to be dark that long. Really there isn’t. It’s just overkill. It’s annoying. Okay enough about the night time. I mean its DayZ, they won’t even tell you how to craft items. Good luck.

Final Thoughts

DayZ is a difficult survival game that keeps it strictly in survival mode. If you enjoy fighting for your life constantly then you will probably have fun with it. The infected are fun to fight one on one but insanely frustrating when it’s more. The combat isn’t all that refined and you will learn that fighting isn’t always the best option. The graphics can be great at times and laughable at others. There isn’t a ton of glitches in the game but stuff like screen tearing and the environment clipping through buildings doesn’t help immerse you in the game. You will feel unease for the majority of the time you are playing and I think ultimately that is the goal of the developer. The game doesn’t add much else though and if playing alone it could get stale quick. Add that with an insane learning curve to things like navigation and inventory management the game can feel flawed at times. The night and day time cycle need to be adjusted and there should be a way to search for a server in the menu. Yet, here is the thing. DayZ is actually fun with your friends. I thoroughly enjoy survival games and this one is up there on the list of games to play. It puts you in tense moments and it refuses to take it easy on you. The world of DayZ is brutal just like the other players that might happen to be on the server with you. It wants to punch you in the face. It wants you to struggle and fight for your life. It wants you to ultimately die and start over again. I think it does what it wants and I’ve had fun playing into their game.

DayZ is available for $49.99 but I can’t recommend picking it up at that price. If you catch it on sale though I would absolutely give it go.

A copy of the game was provided for review on the PlayStation 4.

I tried to keep this review simple and as short as possible due to the fact the game has been out for a long time on PC. There are a ton of mechanics to learn in DayZ but there are plenty of helpful guides out there to keep you cozy at night.