DayZ is an open world multiplayer survival game that tosses you in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
- Scavenge and survive in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse
- Team up with fellow survivors, or kill them and strip them for supplies
- Communicate through microphone support and in-game emotes
- One of the first and still one of the best survival games around
- Regular dev supporter that reflects the needs of the community
- Not for players looking for a rich story
- Permadeath structure can be incredibly frustrating
Despite starting as a mod for the specialized military shooter ARMA, DayZ has been a huge influence in the gaming world. Along with similar games like Rust, it helped start the phenomenon of the online survival shooter, and while it may not presently have the popularity that many triple A games do, it's DNA is felt in a whole host of modern games. The notion of "survival horror" in gaming has existed since the 1990s, but until recently, that's generally translated, at least in terms of game systems, through resource management. The antagonistic zombies, dinosaurs, or other breed of monstrosities that dominate the environments are the window dressing for games that ask you how well you conserve your valuable ammunition, tools, and healing items. It's a well worn formula that gets a much needed dose of life in DayZ. That's because DayZ flips the script with the addition of other players. Just like any survival horror game, you're exploring an environment for the tools you need to survive while contending with hordes of unstoppable enemies, but this human element fundamentally flips the script on things. The multiplayer component turns what would essentially be a pretty standard, if incredibly bleak, survival game into something that's as much a meditation on social game theory. Players have to weigh the cost of sharing the scarce resources available with potential allies against the benefit of having an extra gun and pair of eyes. This creates an environment where a fellow human is just as likely to spell your undoing as a zombie, where an ally can turn on your in a moment's notice, and where negotiating your way out of a Mexican standoff can be just as thrilling as a protracted firefight. Part of this is because of the inclusion of permanent death. Once your character is gone in DayZ, they're gone for good, and you have to start from scratch with a fresh hero. This adds a level of stakes that few other games have, and it ensures that the veteran players who are most likely to be able to lend you the assistance you need are also the least likely to trust you. While there's no story to speak of, DayZ's setting manages to evoke a lot through environmental details. You're the survivor of a zombie apocalypse, and your survival depends on your ability to navigate the randomly generated wilderness into which you've been cast. Even the most fundamental of items are in scarce supply, but players will quickly learn the sorts of environments where they can expect to find things. Even given the randomized nature of the setting, there's an internal logic to the design that's refreshing. DayZ is technically still in pre-release, but it's fully available for player. This allows for an exciting level of exchange between the community and the developers, and regular updates and additions are frequently made with input from the player base.