Tag Archives: dayz

Not Quite An ARMA 2 Mod: Wasteland

As a current member of the Blufor army, this soldier's face must remain hidden

As a current member of the Blufor army, this soldier’s face must remain hidden

I’ve been getting back into some DayZ recently, and while that’s been pretty great fun (although I haven’t played any of the latest patch), something new has captured my interest.

Wasteland. It’s not actually a mod of ARMA 2, but it kind of is: Wasteland is better described as a team-based set of custom missions in Chernarus. There are two teams: Blufor and Opfor, both opposing factions. In the middle are the Independents, for the lone-wolves, the ones that want to kill everyone without discriminating. There’s a few other bits to Wasteland, so I’ll try and explain them in a bit more detail.

Far and away, the biggest difference to DayZ players in Wasteland will be the zombies. Or rather, lack thereof: in Wasteland, there are no zombies. it’s just you, the opposing faction (if you’re on Opfor or Blufor) and the independents (commonly referred to as “indies”). Occasionally you’ll get objectives which have armed NPCs at them (who can and will shoot at you), but those aren’t super common.

You might think the lack of zombies is a little strange, but really, it’s not all that different to what you might have seen in DayZ. DayZ is a little flawed in that zombies only spawn around buildings and the like, which means you don’t see any zombies if you’re just running around in the woods. If it helps, you can think of Wasteland as the post-post-apocalypse: the zombies have all died out, and now it’s just you and other players fighting each other over dwindling resources.

Whilst it may be true that zombies do add an extra level to the tension when you’re engaged with another player, not having to worry about them when you’re tracking another player is good, too — any kind of movement you spot in a town is likely a player. No zombies also means you don’t have to deal with bandaging in the heat of battle and other nonsense. It’s kind of nice, actually.

Unlike DayZ, you don’t have you find your weapons in deer stands, abandoned firestations, or military barracks. Instead, you’ll find your weapons in crates that you find at objectives, or more commonly, inside pretty much every car. And what’s nice about these weapons is that they’re all high-end gear, stuff that isn’t included in DayZ; all the way from top-tier military weapons, Soviet-era weapons (AKs and variants), all the way down to the lowly Lee Enfield and the Makarov PM (easily the worst thing about playing Opfor — Blufor players spawn with the much harder-hitting M1911, and I believe Indies spawn with the G17).

The Mk17 Sniper is a piece of art, and while you don’t necessarily need a silenced weapon in Wasteland as there aren’t any zombies to give your location away to, suppressed weapons can still be useful for silently taking out other players without them getting an immediate fix on your location. Anything with an ACOG scope is great for short to mid-range engagements, too. There’s basically no restriction on the weapons you’ll find in Wasteland — you’ll find specific variants at weapons crates and inside cars (US Special weapons inside a US Special Weapons Crate, for example), but finding a gun in Wasteland usually isn’t an issue. Plus, heavy guns actually work: various shoulder-fired rockets (RPGs, SMAWs, Stingers, Javelins) are necessary for killing armoured targets such as SUVs and Hummers, and make very big bangs.

We made a nice bonfire out of our excess cars.

We made a nice bonfire out of our excess cars.

One of the other big change from DayZ is vehicles: cars are plentiful in Wasteland. There’s over 700 vehicles in Wasteland servers, which means transportation isn’t usually a problem. You can spawn in, jump in a car nearby, and drive away — all without having to repair it or fuel it. It’s a beautiful thing to not have to waste an hour scouring industrial spawns to find a bloody toolbox, let me tell you. Like the weapons, there’s every variety of vehicle in Wasteland: armoured SUVs with mounted miniguns, giant trucks with anti-air machine guns on the back, Humvees, Humvees with .50 cal machine guns, armoured Vodniks, jeeps, off-roads, ambulances, plus the usual assortment of push bikes, motorbikes, sedans, vans, hatchbacks, utes, and so on. There’s also Ospreys, Blackhawks, Little Birds, C130s, and Hueys, but they’re much rarer — only a few per server, plus whatever comes up in the objectives (more on this later). Oh, and did I mention the tanks? There’s tanks, too.

The greatly increased number of vehicles evens the playing field a little: it means the map is smaller, to be sure, but it also means everyone has reasonable access to fast transport to anywhere on the map. What’s more, you can even drive through towns without having to take detours due to debris on the road: evidently, someone was sick of random wrecks on the roads, so they went through and swept it all up, making the roads actually drivable.

It’s not unusual to come across a convoy of vehicles driving along the road in Wasteland. Get a few players, get a few cars, and there you go.

More after the HALO jump.

What’s your DayZ flavour?

I’ve been getting back into DayZ after giving it a long break, and there’s now so many different “versions” of DayZ that it’s insane. They’re not all mods of a mod, mind you – most of the ones you can play easily are just the stock game on a different map. What follows is a quick run-down of the few I’ve tried, and the one that’s hooked me the most.

Bliss

I think the first DayZ mod of a mod we played was Bliss, a Chernarus-based map that’s like the original DayZ, except with a few additions. There’s more weapons of different varieties and more weapons altogether. There’s even additional buildings in various places, such as the additional hospital in Stary Sobor — meaning that you don’t have to go to the coast for medical supplies such as blood bags or epi pens. Playing on a Bliss server doesn’t require any additional files, and the Bliss server that we played on was pretty geared towards PvP — whether that was due to the plentiful high-powered weaponry or not is another question, though.

As far as mods go, Bliss isn’t bad. The additional weapons and buildings add an extra element to the game that stock-standard DayZ doesn’t provide.

Fallujah

Fallujah was actually the third DayZ map I’ve played, the second being Lingor and the first being Chernarus. I’m not sure what the main point of Fallujah actually was, but a few of us joined the server mostly to have fun with vehicles: the name of the server was something along the lines of “have fun with vehicles DayZ Fallujah”. You spawned in fully geared with an AS 50 and everything else you could want. Vehicles of every type littered the landscape: there were Chinooks, Ospreys, C130s, biplanes, Hueys, Black Hawks, and pretty much every vehicle in between. We didn’t really play this one for too long, but a few friends did practice their flying techniques. I, being the more experienced pilot, mostly just flew around and laughed at their antics.

From what I saw from the map whilst I was in the air, Fallujah was a much more urban environment. I wouldn’t really like to be engaged in gun-battles there.

DayZ+

DayZ+ was the first true DayZ alternative we played. It’s a true mod of a mod, requiring a different set of files than the normal DayZ. DayZ+ is pretty easy to describe: it’s the DayZ that’s geared towards PvE rather than pure PvP, because in DayZ+, zombies hurt; a few hits and you’re black and white, a few more and you can pretty much expect to be dead. It’s a harsh world, and in DayZ, you know exactly how harsh. Zombies will aggro from incredible ranges, king-hit you in one go so you’re unconscious on the ground, and will start feasting on you with no mercy. Zombies will glitch through walls. Zombies will teleport around (making headshots all but impossible). Those hours I spent in DayZ+ were perhaps the most challenging of all, because you really re-considered wether you actually needed to go into a town, or whether you just wanted to play it safe and play the virtual farming simulator (meat is one of the best sources of blood-restoration in DayZ, outside of blood bags which can only be found in hospitals).

DayZ+ had a few things that stock DayZ didn’t, namely construction. You could build things with basic gear in DayZ, allowing you to build fortifications away from the zombies (or away from other players). The weapons in DayZ+ were also balanced so that the one-hit, super-powerful sniper rifles such as the AS 50 and M107 were removed from the game, and so were little things such as the rangefinder. To compensate, they added a few new varieties of Russian weapons, such as the Sa-51 machine pistol and variants.

I wouldn’t want to play DayZ+ alone, all because it’s already hard enough when you’re in a group. It might have been easier alone because you only have to watch your own back, but then again, if you got into a stick situation, there were few ways out. Apart from dying, of course.

But that’s just what happens in DayZ.

Shenanigans and Tomfoolery in DayZ

A few cliff notes:

0:00: “I’m gonna hatchet his ass”
0:47: I cannot throw grenades
2:58: “Can I shoot the four to the front or no?” “Negative” *starts shooting immediately*
3:45: M107 vs AS50 noise comparison
5:07: what kind of a person lets off a DMR at the NW Airfield? Not that it really mattered anyway…
5:48: “You’re not dead, you’re not dead, you’re just unconscious”
7:21: “Glad I brought plenty of ammo”
9:28: “Damn boy that’s a lotta shooting”
9:34: “That was an M203! Oh, no, wait, it’s blowing up now.”
10:07: We try and flip an flipped ATV with the ute
12:20: “Just smash into it”
12:30: “It disappeared.”
13:20: Long-range sniping at the NW airfield
14:07: “The answer is always bandits.” (lulz in chat)
14:39: “I couldn’t even see it, there’s so much lag man”
15:09: “Well, I think we just got rid of this server’s airfield population”
16:34: “Now we’ve killed everyone at the airfield.”
16:52: M203 flare brightness testing
17:23: Low-FPS infinite zombie killing
18:00: “Hey, I didn’t use a Lee Enfield, that was somebody else”
19:23: Whose blood is that? I’m not bleeding…
20:16: Last-gasp abort attempt

More Fun in DayZ: Lingor Island

Just when you though Chernarus was getting stale, getting a little boring (as you might do, if you’ve put over 300 hours into it so far), along comes Lingor Island, a different map for the DayZ mod that I’ve sung praises about before.

One of the things I never liked about DayZ when playing the Chernarus map was that more than half of the buildings weren’t enterable. Only a select few kinds of buildings were enterable and contained loot, and once you identified those buildings (barns, factories, shopping centers and so on), that was half the battle. No more sneaking around small towns in order to find a can of beans, no more scoping out a town before approaching. Knowing the map and being familiar with the buildings and the loot contained within is a huge advantage, especially in DayZ — and Chernarus didn’t have enough of that.

Enter Lingor Island. Pretty much every building is enterable and spawns loot, and there’s many more building types. It’s exactly the same game, built on exactly the same ARMA 2 engine. It’s a mod of a mod, if you will — simply a different environment in which to fight zombies, gear up, and survive encounters with other players. And I’ve had the most enjoyable DayZ experiences thus far in it — not in Chernarus, the original and only “sanctioned” map — but in Lingor Island, the unofficial Russian map.

Lingor Island is laid out in roughly the same way as Chernarus, only a little smaller. There are three main cities — Maruko in the north east, San Arulco in the middle, and Calamar in the south — and many, many smaller towns dotted all around the map. Instead of the dense forests and wide open plains of Chernarus, Lingor Island features dense, thick jungle areas that separate the various military bases, the multiple airports (three or four, at least), and even the various islands.

Of course, being an island, Lingor also has much more water than Chernarus. Hope you packed your swimming trunks, because depending on where you want to go and sometimes even where you spawn, you might have to swim a little to get to land. It’s not uncommon to swim across a rive to get to the other side, because the only road across isn’t for a few kilometers in either direction.

But the best part about Lingor Island isn’t the multitude of enterable buildings, more vehicles, or even the lush jungle environment. Unlike Chernarus, Lingor Island isn’t about the survival aspects of DayZ. No, no — in my mind, Lingor is all about the player vs player mechanics. Ask anyone that’s played DayZ for any period of time about what their most intense, most adrenaline-fuelled experiences in Chernarus will be, and most of the time, their answer will be the times they came across other players. Forget asking if people are friendly, because in Lingor, the goal isn’t to survive, the goal is to gear up and hunt down other players with extreme prejudice.

Lingor Island is DayZ, deathmatch-style. You see people, and you make it your mission to hunt them down. It’s crazy good fun, super intense, and means you’ll die, a lot.

Because the towns in Lingor are all pretty closely spaced, right from the get go you’re thrown into the most brutal PvP arena. Going solo probably isn’t recommended, but you might be able to get the jump on people easier. If you’re in a group, you can hunt people down via comms — the only downside being you might have to share the loot afterwards.

Sometimes you’ll spend a few hours gearing up, maybe kill a few people, and be feeling pretty good about yourself, when suddenly, without warning, you’re dead. No shot that you heard, no idea where the shot came from, and now faced with the dreaded words: YOU ARE DEAD.

Forget setting up a camp and hoarding gear — the map isn’t big enough to hide things that well, and vehicles make it even smaller. Besides, there are enough military-grade loot spawns for that to not be necessary anyway — if you can’t find a good primary weapon and sidearm and enough food/water to last you for a few days within an hour or so, you don’t know the map well enough.

So if you’re getting bored of Chernarus, there’s good news on two fronts. For one, you can play Lingor Island as a sort of holiday; I haven’t played vanilla DayZ in weeks because Lingor Island is simply too much fun in terms of player-vs-player combat. And two, Rocket has said the current Chernarus map won’t be the one included as part of the standalone game released later this year — it will be kind of the same, but modified with a few other features and more buildings. Chernarus 2.0, if you will.

But until then, there’s Lingor Island, players to kill, and that sort of thing. Now, if you’ll excuse me…

DayZ: Emergent Gameplay, The Catharsis of Death, and Just Plain Fun

Emergent gameplay

There’s a lot being said on the internet about the so-called “emergent gameplay” being offered by what seems like one of the most popular zombie apocalypse mods since zombie apocalypse games were even a thing. What everyone is saying is that DayZ provides a gameplay experience like no other; because there are no clear goals per se, it’s up to players to figure out what to do with their time in Chernarus.

Players start on what has been affectionately named “the bean coast” (however inaccurate that name might be, seeing as the current version of DayZ sees you spawning with nothing but a bandage, a flashlight, and a box of painkillers to your name) by more experienced players, and from there, it’s totally up to the player as to what they do. Do players try and seek their survival in one of the larger coastal towns, fully aware that other players will also be lurking there? Or do more experienced players head north from the moment they spawn, knowing full well that their chances of survival are much greater when every other player isn’t about to kill them for the next meal its this sort of survivalism that means what players do in DayZ isn’t necessairily goverened by any laws.

It’s this emergent gameplay that means you can lone wolf your entire survival experience by living the lonely life in the wilderness. You’ll stop only to collect fresh water from a dam, or to kill and gut wild animals for food. The lonely life is exactly that: your survival is pretty much guaranteed if you stay away from towns (at least once you have all the gear you need), or unless you do something stupid like fall out of a deer stand, break your legs, and bleed out. That would be terribly unfortunate, but one of the harsh realities of living away from readily available hospitals and their much-valued medical supplies.

If you prefer to play with friends, then that’s another experience entirely: because there’s more of you, it doesn’t really matter if you come across a few zombies here and there, because chances are, you’ll shoot all the zombies in a town before anyone can even stop to reload. Playing with friends means you’re not totally dependant on yourself for survival — if you get hurt, there’s usually someone close by to patch you up before you bleed out and die.

I remember this one time where I was driving along by myself in an off-road ute, following the lead car along a dirt road. The lead car cuts the corner of a bend up ahead, and I attempt to do the same. There’s a momentary second of lag, which I mistake for desync (packet loss), but the next thing I know, I’m out of the car and on the ground, bleeding out. I shout into comms that something bad has happened, and the lead car turns around, everyone jumps out, and tries to find me — made much easier by the billowing cloud of smoke rising into the air, originating from where the off-road was. As it turns out, I had hit a small bush or some other immovable object, been thrown out of the car, and was unconscious and quickly bleeding out. Luckily the rest of the group was nearby, otherwise I would have died there and then.

Whether you’re playing with friends or doing it lone wolf, there’s a lot to do in DayZ, even without any clear goals other than your continued survival. Perhaps it’s because there are no clear goals that means players have to make their own fun, and in that way, DayZ approaches the sandbox simulator we’ve always wanted.

The catharsis of death in DayZ

There’s one aspect of DayZ that makes it such a compelling game to play, and it’s the fact that no matter what you do, you will die. Perhaps not all that strange when you think that DayZ is all about survival, but the fact is, you will die. Many, many times, and often through no fault of your own; you might step into the flight path of a stray bullet, for example, killing you in one shot (been there, done that), or you might come across hostile players who shoot first, and ask questions later. The fact is, you will die, and you will die a lot.

But that’s just the thing: death is perhaps one of the best aspects of DayZ. More accurately, death is simultaneously the best and worst thing that can happen to you as a player.

Worst because it means you’ll lose all your hard-earned gear, your zombie kill stats, your backpack, all of it. All that time you spent scavaging for the essentials to survive in the wilderness — hatchet, matches, map, compass, watch, and so on — all gone. You’re instantly back to square one, and you’ve lost all your gear in the process. If you’re the type of person who gets attached to their gear — don’t, because in DayZ, that only leads to tears.

At the same time, death is perhaps the best thing that can happen to you as a player in DayZ. It means you’ll lose all your gear, but unless you had really rare stuff, most of what you had is replaceable. You’ll always find another set of camo clothing, or that shiny new sniper rifle you liked. And we haven’t even gotten to the bset part: with your new character, there’s untold possibilities about what you could do. Think about it: the chance to show that headshot statistic who’s boss. With a new character, you’ve got nothing to lose, so you’ll take more risks in order for a bigger payoff: you’ll get the chance to explore a city you might never have done so when you were all geared up, and you might even run around like some kind of axe murderer, freaking people out over direct chat.

I remember this one time when I died, and I was relatively upset that I started back at the bean coast without any gear. I began to make my way back up north to where my body was, and on the way, I managed to find a crashed heli (think randomly-placed ultra-rare gear spawn) and a fully functioning ATV with gear inside. I never would have found those items had I not died minutes ago, so in that case, death was one of the best things that could have possibly happened.

Death is almost refreshing, in a way. As your character survives for more and more days, you either begin to take less risks, or don’t play at all. But when you die, you’re free from the burden of surviving, and don’t have anything to worry about. Death frees you from all the pressure of survival, and means you can run like a lunatic in Cherno or Elektro. You’ve got nothing to lose, so why not just run around naked for a little while? There’s always time to play seriously later on.

Just plain fun

Taking all the above into account, there’s one thing which makes DayZ just so much fun to play. You’ll treat it seriously when you’re surviving by yourself, you’ll have a bit of fun just after you’ve died, and you’ll treat gear as if your life depended on it.

You’ll freak out when someone is around you shouting strange things into direct voice chat.

You might even descend to the point where you’ll shoot someone else just for their backpack.

But one things’s for sure: you’ll have a hell of a lot of fun playing it.

The Chronicles of Ghost, Chapter I

Ghost tells me he still remembers his first kill.

It’s very late at night. If there was a definition of pitch black, this would be it. He’s run across wide open fields to reach the outside of the south barracks of the north west airfield, a place notorious for bandits and murderers — no easy task when you’re in a gillie suit and carrying a Remington, but he manages.

He begins to make his way towards the barracks, when he sees it. Light. From inside the barracks, presumably from the flashlight of a bandit, murderer, or perhaps even both.

As he watches, there are more flashes of light. Again, and again. In this dead of night, each flashlight cuts trough the night like a spotlight; the bandits/murderers are either inexperienced or just plain dumb, Ghost tells me. At this point he’s perhaps 50m away; close enough to make out flashlights, but far away enough so that he can’t ID targets.

He calls it in, speaking into his throat-mike. This was supposed to be black-in, black-out; no one was supposed to be here, for starters, let alone two fools with flashlights lighting up the place like they own it. Naturally, Overlord tells him to eyeball the targets, and terminate if necessary. Backup is too far out to be of any use to him, because the precious cargo now has an expiry date — if these two goons with the flashlights were here, you could bet that they were also looking for the precious cargo. Why else would they be raiding a barracks in the dead of night?

Ghost inches closer. Crawling along the forest floor in his ghillie, he’s nothing by invisible. The tangos with flashlights are still doing their thing, waving their flashlights around like they’re re-enacting a scene from Star Wars.

Meanwhile Ghost inches closer. 20 meters. He’s moved away from the cover of the bush line now, and he’s out in the open. No matter, no matter, as his ghillie and the darkest of night gives him all the cover he needs. 10 meters.

Silently, sneakily, closer. 5 meters.

He’s right along the wall of the barracks right now, and if the fools with flashlights were paying any attention, they might even be able to hear him breathing. But no, they’re still acting out Episode Two.

At this point Ghost weighs his options: on one hand, they’re bound to discover the precious cargo any second now, no matter how inexperienced they are. On the other, bodies leave a trace…

He calls it.

Popping up right underneath a window — the very window with a perfect view into the room the tangos are in — he squeezes the trigger on his Remington. Two slugs later, and one of the bandits is on the floor. The shots don’t seem to have altered security, but what about the other tango?

Apparently, nowhere to be seen. Ghost starts checking the rooms one-by-one, peering into each one from the outside. Nothing in the first, nothing in the second… No, wait, there! Crawling around on the floor in the adjacent room, like his buddy had just been taken out by one of the best operatives to ever roam the rtowns of Chernarus. Another two slugs, and he’s down for the count.

The rest of the mission is uneventful. Ghost tells me he loots the barracks, finds the precious cargo (a missing arms shipment to a Ukranian druglord,  you know the story), and high-tails it out of there.

Black-in, black out.

DayZ Review (feat. Diablo III)

The quintessential DayZ experience: three guys in a field, about to loot through a town, with a single zombie in between them and beans.

Another exam period finished, another game thoroughly played.

For a long time, I’ve always wanted a realistic zombie apocalypse game that was more military simulation than arcade first-person shooter, and in terms of realism, DayZ — the mod for ARMA 2: Combined Operations that’s perhaps the most realistic zombie apocalypse game I’ve ever seen — delivers in spades.

It would be unfair to describe Arma 2 as anything other than a military simulation, as there’s so many aspects to the game itself — radios, ranging, realistic bullet physics, real weather, and so on. DayZ builds upon that, with a few custom weapons and, of course, zombies.

The way it begins is this: you’re dropped into a post-apocalyptic world, filled with zombies. You spawn on the beach, and what you do from that point on is entirely up to you, with the overall goal being to survive as long as you possibly can. Everything is out to get you (zombies, the environment, other players), and you start with basically nothing; I remember the days when you spawned with basic gear — a small pistol, a few bandages, ammo, and enough food and water to get you started. But a few weeks ago, the developer (Rocket) changed the spawning gear to be just a flashlight, a single bandage, and painkillers. Lest you starve or die of dehydration, your first task as a new Survivor  should be to find a few rations — perhaps a water bottle that can be refilled from fresh water sources, or a can of lovely mountain dew.

What you do from that point on is up to you.

Do you lone-wolf it and try and find some kind of weapon to defend yourself from the zombies? Do you continually roam around the cities in your never-ending search for supplies? Or do you gear up and see what the wide open world of Chernarus has to offer?

It’s this combination of military simulation, zombie apocalypse, and open sandbox that means DayZ is so compelling to play. There’s so many things to do — if you’re geared up well enough, do you start setting up camp (provided you can find a tent)? Or do you start looking for a better mode of transportation? And if you run into another player, what then? Shoot on sight, or let them live? There’s so many questions that are asked of you during your time playing DayZ, and you’ll have to make all the choices. Will you explore the big bad world beyond the two or three main coastal towns?

Some choices are easier to answer than others: if you’re temperature falls below a certain amount, you better find yourself a heatpack, or stay indoors until you warm up. If you catch a cold, you better hope you can find antibiotics in a hospital, lest you attract zombies with your coughing and spluttering, along with the gradual decrease in your blood level to half what it normally is. If you’re thirsty, you should drink, and so on, and so forth.

Some of your actions even have consequences: if you’re hungry, you should eat. Consuming an easily-found can of beans only replinishes around 200 blood, but if you happen to come across an animal that can be killed, gutted, and the raw meat cooked, you’ll find that replenishes much more blood (800), but requires many more tools. You’ll need to find an animal, for one, then you’ll need a hunting knife to gut it, a hatchet to cut wood for the fire you need to cook the raw meat, matches to make a fireplace, at which point you can finally cook the meat you found on the cow’s dead body. Enjoying your steak raw, sadly, is not an option when you need the blood.

There’s so many ways to accomplish the same thing in DayZ. You can, for example, light a fire to warm up, instead of going indoors or finding a heatpack. There are many ways to replenish your blood, too: you can eat (beans or cooked meat), or you can get a blood transfusion, with the latter option requiring another player and a blood pack — an item only found in one of the four hospitals in Chernarus.

You'll do a bit of running in DayZ. Did I say a bit? I meant a lot.

It wouldn’t be a military sim without weapons, and DayZ is the perfect blend, weapons-wise, between realistic and military. Common weapons you can find include crossbows, double-barrelled shotguns, winchesters, Lee Enfield rifles, and a whole assortment of sidearms, from the humble Makarov (the previous starting sidearm), to the trusty M1911, revolver, M9, and many more. It isn’t until you start looking for higher-tier weapons that the real fun begins: you can find scoped hunting rifles like the CZ500, and then you get into the true military weapons: M16 and M4 variants, AK and variants, light machine guns like the M249, silenced sub-machine guns, and even massively overpowered sniper rifles like the M24, DMR, and 50-cal M107. All guns make a distinctive sound when fired, so you can tell whether a player is firing an M1911, or whether you should be running for your life any second now because he’s got the gun with the biggest range in the game.

In true DayZ fashion, the zombies are affected by pretty much everything. If you run, you’ll attract zombies. If you crouch-run, you’ll attract zombies. If you crawl, you might attract zombies. If you fire a gun that makes a sound, you can expect all the zombies within a 50-meter radius to hear it, and if you’re firing a weapon in town, you better hope that there aren’t any curious players who come to investigate. That’s kind of the beauty of DayZ: there’s always another way. If you want to kill a zombie that’s between you and an objective, you can — either use a silenced gun, or even melee using the hatchet or crowbar. Flares attract zombies. Smoke grenades attract zombies.

And the zombies in DayZ? The zombies in DayZ hurt. If you’ve got aggro, they come at you at a frantic pace, hurt when they hit you, and can cause you to start bleeding out, or even break your bones. Thankfully, you can outrun zombies if you’re standing up and running — you can lose the zombies if you break line-of-sight and they don’t see (or hear) you again, but you can usually expect your running to attract even more zombies, especially if you’re running through a town. The line-of-sight thing is pretty interesting, and makes zombies fairly easy to evade if you’re running through a town — harder to lose if you’re out in an open field, but still possible. The line-of-sight is an interesting game mechanic anyway, and means even that newer players have a chance to survive (or they’ll learn stealth, which will help them out in the long run).

Health in DayZ matters. You have a blood meter, and if you’ve been in battle and taken a hit, sometimes you’ll start shaking from the pain, making accurate gunfire impossible. Thankfully, you can take painkillers to numb the pain. If a zombie breaks your bones, or if someone opens a door on you and you break a bone (it’s still an alpha, remember), you can fix yourself up with morphine. If you start bleeding out, you can bandage yourself up.

Yes, there’s quite a lot to DayZ — and we haven’t even discussed looting, vehicles, other players, playing in a group, or even death. But the reason DayZ works so damned well — even in its current alpha state — is that it’s just fun to play.

Diablo III isn’t quite the opposite in that it’s still fun to play, but it’s just not as compelling when compared to DayZ or even its predecessor, Diablo II. Diablo II was much, much darker than its successor, and Diablo III just feels as though it’s been given an overhaul for the worse. I know they’re essentially the same game, but it doesn’t feel as foreboding. It tries to be, what with the grotesque models and overall evil themes, but it just falls short of the level set by Diablo 2, and I’m not entirely sure why.

Don’t get me wrong, for the most part the graphical upgrades are more than welcomed (gaming at 800×600 isn’t my idea of fun these days), but instead of using those fancy new animations and graphics to make a better, gritter game, all Blizzard have done is put a few new colours in here and there, made gameplay simpler along the way, instead of making it darker, like a true sequel to Diablo II should be. I enjoyed Diablo II because it was exactly the kind of game I wanted to play — a dark and gritty game, filled with unknown terrors and semi-RPG elements.

Now, Diablo III feels like it just doesn’t have that special spark, and all because they’ve added a few new colours into the palette. The core gameplay hasn’t been changed all that much — Diablo III is still a dungeon crawler at heart — but it has been made to seem more attractive to newer players. The typeface is different, more inviting, which contributes a lot to the overall look and feel of the game. It’s a beautiful game, but there’s no compelling reason to play it besides the continuation of the storyline, and I’m honestly not sure if I would have played it at all if I wasn’t such a huge fan of the second Diablo game. For those that actually want a “nicer” dungeon-crawling game with a more upbeat tempo, there’s always Torchlight. Diablo was supposed to be the go-to game for dark and gritty, and the third one in the series just doesn’t deliver.

Which is a real shame.

DayZ is different in every way. Because it’s based on a military sim, it’s so much more different than your typical zombie apocalypse shooter. There’s not much actual gameplay, to be sure, but that’s half the fun: when you’re given no strict instructions and no real goal apart from just survival, you make do with what you have. At first, you’ll loot cities for all the beans you can get your hands on. You find a weapon to defend youself with. You kill any zombies that cross your path.  You make your own decisions when it comes to killing other players, or letting them live. You team up with other players with the goal of survival, and maybe you’ll abandon them to save yourself from the horde of zombies, maybe you won’t.

But that’s just where the fun begins.

Sometimes you're killing zombies, or repairing cars — other times, you're attaching scrap metal to houses.