DayZ Standalone (SA) could quite easily be the most anticipated zombie themed title of our time but despite a small decline in interest towards our mindless friends, the insatiable appetite of DayZ fans could not be quenched, until Monday. Bohemia Interactive and Dean "Rocket" Hall gave many gamers an early Christmas present this festive period with the Early Access release of DayZ on Steam but does it match up to the hype?
Let me prefix this article by stating that DayZ is currently in alpha testing. This means a massive portion of the final mechanics and features are missing. Many technical problems will make an appearance and players will behave totally differently to those that play the final product. So before you throw me to the wolves please remember that these are not my final opinions of the game, just a brief run through of my first days experience.
The ugly head of the alpha client makes its appearance within seconds of booting up the client. A warning is displayed to make players aware of the nature of an alpha testing trial but the button to accept it is not aligned properly, it actually obscures the text. It's actually quite comical to see a bug in front of a window warning players of bugs during their experience. Not really a gripe I have with the game but thought it was funny enough to be worth a mention.
So what about the actual game? Well, it's DayZ, the famous walk in the wilderness simulator. Players are thrown into familiar spawn points around Chernarus with little more than a flashlight, battery and some clothing. The new inventory system takes some getting used to but it infinitely better than the one used in the Arma mod. Spawning in a pitch black world with little more than my lacking intelligence to keep my alive, I wanted to shed some light on the situation. You have to combine a battery with the flashlight in order to provide it with power before equipping it in your hand slot and using it as you would a weapon. It's unique enough to feel like the DayZ inventory system while still using familiar actions, such as inspecting and combining, to make it familiar to players.
Players are now also able to carry a lot more items than was previously possible as various clothing items, such as pants, come with additional slots in the form of pockets. Jeans for example will give you an extra 2 slots whereas cargo pants and other multi-pocket items of clothing will offer more. Obviously backpacks and the likes are still available so there's no shortage of space to store all the new loot you'll discover.
The new loot items is probably one of my personal highlights to the currently available new features. I even discovered a mask from PayDay 2. There are tons more vanity items available so if you grew tired of the survivor skin in the original mod, you'll be delighted by the already impressive array of clothing and vanity items.
The alpha isn't without it's problems, although this is to be expected. During 4-5 hours gameplay I came across just 1 zombie, that's it. I explored 8-10 different residential locations and still, no zombies. I also found that 90% of loot locations resulted in clothing and rotten food, not exactly desirable items. The survival features also appear to be broken as my character was requesting food, sleep and hydration every few seconds via comments in the lower corner. I much preferred the typical UI bars setup in the original but it's hard to judge this feature in its current state.
Despite its problems with content my experience with DayZ was technically astounding. I'm experienced with pre-release testing but despite my best efforts, I was not able to force any crashes or disconnects at all. My frame-rate was solid for the entire experience, I didn't crash once and didn't discover any serious bugs for the most part.
A rather lackluster alpha launch in regards to content but perfect foundations to build on and provide players with the MMO survival horror experience they desire. I for one cannot wait until more options and content becomes available.