Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DayZ Standalone Alpha First Impressions

When the DayZ Mod for Arma II hit the scene a bit over a year ago, it really took off and Arma sales went through the roof.  As soon as I hear about it, I had no choice but to give it a shot, and now the DayZ standalone alpha has been released, and it has quite a name to live up to.  I haven't played it for an extensive amount of time (a few hours), but this is simply a first impression.  I'll keep this one short.

The Good:

It's still very much DayZ - As soon as I spawned into the game I could immediately feel it.  I knew exactly where I was, but the environment around me just looked so much more beautiful, it was amazing.

Arma III Engine - The biggest difference with the DayZ mod and standalone version is that the standalone uses the Arma III engine, which is pretty fantastic.  With this comes better graphics, better animations, and, perhaps the most important thing, all houses are lootable.  I feel like this really adds a whole new layer to DayZ, I always hated entering a town and have only 1 or 2 (sometimes even none) houses to be able to go into.  The first town I entered in this version (Balota for any of you familiar with DayZ) was filled with plenty of houses that I could enter.  I once just looked through a window and saw a zombie wandering around in a house.  I don't know why this was so amazing to me, but I loved it, and it really helps paint the environment for me.

The map - The map is still Chenarus, as I stated earlier, and is the same map we all know and love.  This map is one that I can never get sick of, and even after playing for over a year, still don't know every in and out of the thing.  It is gigantic and byfar the biggest map out of any fps to date (save for Planetside 2 maybe).  If you love Chenarus, then you'll be right at home.

The difficulty - This is a tough one to pinpoint, but there are a few things that have changed.  First, there are a heck of a lot less zombies (I would imagine more will be added as development continues), and secondly loot is much tougher to come by.  It certainly feels more realistic, and out of my entire time playing I didn't find a single "pile" of things.  If I found something, it was just one thing, and that was that.  I'm assuming this is to make up for the ability to be able to enter all houses, and forcing you to get yourself into more dangerous situations (as if we didn't have enough to deal with already).  But truthfully, I liked what I played.  I would like a few more zombies, but I enjoyed finding things on desks and beds, rather than just finding a pile of things on the ground before me.

With less loot comes less guns and I didn't find even one in my time playing (mind you I never went to any military area's either), I would imagine that vehicles are few and far between (and probably broken most the time), but this is something all DayZ players should be familiar with, and to add to the difficulty further you start with a flashlight and nothing more.   This is as vanilla as it gets, people.

Direct Communications ONLY - This makes me terribly happy!  For those of you who haven't played the DayZ mod, there are 4 channels you can talk through - group, vehicle, direct, and side channels.  Direct is only talking to those around you, which is how I feel the game should be, but side channel allows you to talk to anyone on the entire server.  With a single click of a button all 50 people on the server can hear your beautiful voice.  And it sucks.  It totally ruins the immersion, and usually scares the living crap out of you because its about 100x louder than it should be.  DayZ Standalone fixes this issue and allows only direct communication.

New Loot - The loot that I have found in this game is certainly different from the mod.  They focus much more on the cosmetics of your character, finding jeans, shirts, backpacks, masks, and other such things. I've never really thought of DayZ as this sort of game, but I enjoy it.  Too many times did I confuse my teammate for another player (since they all pretty much used the same skin) in the mod.  This fixes that to a degree. There are still old pieces of loot to be found, with some added fun.  I've found a wrench, axe, screwdriver, rags, and some dirty old moldy oranges that killed me when I ate them.  Take that however you will, but it's certainly different.

The Bad:

Boring - If you've never played DayZ then I don't suggest buying this.  I personally enjoyed myself, however if you've never played before then you will probably find this game very boring in its current state.  You'll probably feel more lost than anything as well.  It is not a boring game by any means, but it certainly has its down-time moments, and ones that you have to expect and be prepared for.  This isn't a fast-paced first person shooter like Battlefield or Call of Duty and it shouldn't be treated as such.  But if you are expecting this, then yes, it will be boring to you.

The UI - I'm not really terribly thrilled about the UI.  I really enjoy the mods way of doing things, having a hunger, thirst, and blood meter on the side of the screen so that you always knew when you needed to eat. However, the new UI is pretty much just the lower right hand corner of your screen saying things like "I feel hungry", "My mouth is dry", "I feel blood dripping down my shirt".  They're really sticking to the "it's your story" campaign, which is fine.  I have some of the best stories from DayZ, so that's completely reasonable.  But I just am not thrilled with this.  I don't really see the appeal with it, and the meters worked so well.  It even takes away from the experience to a degree.

I would much rather have the text say "you feel hungry". Yes, this is me being very nitpicky, but when the game says "I feel hungry", I get the impression that I'm playing a game and controlling a character in said game.  While this is exactly what I am doing, I don't want to be reminded of this.  It feels like my character is turning to me and going "I feel hungry, feed me now!".  I don't feel like it's a choice I'm making it, but rather a choice he is making, and that takes away from the whole "it's your story" thing, and feels more like "It's the guy you're following around's story".

Bugs and Glitches - There's not much to say here.  There is a ton of bugs and other things that interfere, I've gone through walls, been hit through walls, seen floating objects, and overall had trouble picking items up off the ground, which can be very annoying a draining.  The constant night time through all servers gets kind annoying, and some servers are far too dark to the point where you cannot seen even an inch in front of you without your flashlight.

But all the being said, this was and is expected.  This is an alpha release, not even a beta release, and they tell you many, many, many times that it is such.  It is not something that they are trying to hide.  So I guess the bad would simply be all the bugs that they have yet to get around to.  Other than that, the game is pretty much a fancier looking DayZ.

Should You Buy It?

If you've played DayZ mod and you love it and want to support the developers and make the standalone release the best it can be, then yes.  I highly recommend buying it.  It is still a lot of fun, and I have no, so far, encountered any game breaking mechanics.

If you have never played DayZ, then certainly not.  This will be extremely underwhelming, annoying, and all around boring for you.  I would certainly suggest purchasing Arma II and its expansion and downloading the mod for it, as this game is a one of a kind experience, but I wouldn't buy the Alpha game if you've never once played DayZ before.

If you truly are interested in giving DayZ a try, the Steam Christmas sale is coming up next week or so, and I would highly suggest buying it when it is on sale.  It's going for pretty cheap nowadays and it is worth every penny to experience what is the best zombie game that I have personally ever played.  It is one of a kind, truly.


  1. It's still the ArmA 2 engine--it's just slightly modified.

  2. My impressions of the first alpha version of DayZ, were not very enthusiastic, but it did not affect my faith in the prospect of this game. Playing on his idea and physics just the bomb!
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