DayZ PC Review

DayZ is far less a game and more an open toolkit to make a unique but unpredictable adventure.

By Fragnarok, Posted 01 May 2022

DayZ is an always-online multiplayer survival game by Bohemia Interactive. Players create and dress up a custom avatar, then head into a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with wild animals and zombies. Characters must live off the land or find what little is left of civilization. But the worst enemy out there may be the more significant player base desperate to save themselves.

DayZ, PC, Review, Bohemia Interactive, Nitrado, Always Online, Survival

DayZ started life as a mod for ARMA 2 before becoming a complete game. Fans of that game will instantly feel right at home, as many of the controls, visuals, and concepts are similar, if not identical. But for newcomers, it may be a little shocking and strange. DayZ does look like it is decades old (ARMA 2 was released in 2009) and with dated graphics and stock sound effects. Despite looking visually old, the game isn’t super optimized and can sometimes have slowdown and long load times, even with a powerful graphics card.  

Players start DayZ on the southern beaches, supplied with just a few bandages and some emergency food. Players will need to explore the land for food, medicine, and weapons. There is some level of randomness as there could be a wealth of gear and supplies or none at all. Other parts of the map may include shelters and vehicles to get around more quickly.

DayZ, PC, Review, Bohemia Interactive, Nitrado, Always Online, Survival

DayZ has no form of tutorial or guidance. There is no overarching goal other than simply living. This freedom allows for endless possibilities but can also be extremely overwhelming at first. Players have two main options: scour for hours over wiki articles and guides or play trial by fire and slowly learn through multiple mistakes, deaths, and errors of judgment. There is never a wrong way to play and enjoy it all.

To help players survive is DayZ’s extensive and often complicated crafting systems. Players can craft armor, knives, and guns to defend themselves. One can even create healing medicine, cook meals, or make basic supplies like gasoline and lumber. With the right parts, one can even make their buildings with secure doors and living quarters.

DayZ, PC, Review, Bohemia Interactive, Nitrado, Always Online, Survival

Players need to be concerned with sustaining their hunger, warmth, thirst, and health; there is no need to sleep. It can also become highly dark as the day passes, or extreme weather may occur. This makes it a good idea to have a light source from fire, flashlights, or glow sticks and wear the correct type of clothing or log off for the night. If one does lose all of their life points, they will fully respawn back at square one with absolutely nothing.

Combat in DayZ is done with the mouse. One must hold down the right mouse button to enter combat mode, and then the left mouse attack. This will further slow down players and make the experience sluggish. The default enemy types are zombies and aggressive wildlife. However, with mods, server admins could include the likes of monsters, dinosaurs, or anything else someone is willing to make and distribute.

DayZ, PC, Review, Bohemia Interactive, Nitrado, Always Online, Survival

Base enemy AI is exceptionally aggressive - they will not stop chasing and attacking players until one of them is dead. In many cases, such foes also do not have any direct item drop, making fighting more annoying than rewarding. What can make encounters even more grating is that input registration is all server-side, which can cause enemy creatures to freeze or teleport suddenly.

What completely changes DayZ are the other players and the server admins. By the default settings, everyone can openly attack and steal from each other. This can make it hostile and extra dangerous beyond typical environmental hazards. But some servers may establish rules for only Play vs. Environment, typically by banning players who kill others. Admins may opt to install many mods available in the Steam Workshop, changing balance, adding features, or completely changing the game. It is less likely (but not impossible) that most players will be unable to find a completely vanilla non-modded PvP DayZ server.

DayZ, PC, Review, Bohemia Interactive, Nitrado, Always Online, Survival

DayZ worlds tend to reset and cleanly wipe the game state. Depending on how far one has progressed and when the reset was publicly announced, this can be a mixed bag. Many will feel the rush of restarting, being pioneers for the resource economy, and setting the lasting tone of the whole playing field. Others may feel bewildered as all of their structures and supplies instantly go, poof. Those in the latter position may return with disadvantages or lack motivation. 

DayZ servers’ heavy use of mods can result in a considerable amount of time spent downloading and installing multiple gigabytes of additional data. Because these are fanmade and do not have direct oversight from Bohemia Interactive, it is up to players to troubleshoot their features. If one does run into technical issues, it could prevent them from trying a new server or continuing their current progress if the admin makes drastic changes. In rare cases, untested or volatile mods could cause additional bugs, crashes, or a need to reinstall DayZ fully.

DayZ, PC, Review, Bohemia Interactive, Nitrado, Always Online, Survival 

Players who want more control of their game can also create their servers. Most servers are owned by the third-party Nitrado and require monthly subscriptions at various customizable price points. A renter could pay as little as USD 5.20 a month for a world that can allow four players while the price becomes exponentially higher for more features. One could wind up paying hundreds of dollars a month if they want to include all the bells and whistles for accommodating their community. Additionally, since Nitrado is outside of Steam’s ecosystem, one may not be eligible if they reside in specific regions or use unsupported currencies.

Those considering jumping into DayZ are less buying a game and are getting a vast set of tools instead. What experiences one has will be unique. Some might find an extremely intense survival adventure. Others may feel the mixed excitement, terror, and loneliness of relying on strangers. Players who join with friends might engage in a private playground, while controlling admins may feel like it is an expensive second job.

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed

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General Information



Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Bohemia Interactive
Developer(s): Bohemia Interactive, Dean Hall
Genres: Survival Horror
Themes: Open World, Third-Person Action, Zombie Apocalypse
Release Date: 2018-12-13

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