Oh, zombies, cheerful and charming creatures, so many games are dedicated to them...
But when we talk about DayZ, zombies are not the main motif. Zombies in DayZ are not an end in themselves, rather they are just stage scenery. Just bloodthirsty sceneries that run and gather quickly on any noise, their main purpose is to help the player to sense the hostility of the surrounding world more acutely. However, one should not be afraid of AI controlled zombies, which have little to oppose to human mind. Live player is quite another thing... Even the greenest newbie in DayZ knows how dangerous is a man with the gun is, especially with a good gun, which seems to force its owner to shoot other players.
Today DayZ is a free mod (which is under active development) for the ARMA 2 game. Even more, it is the only reason for purchasing ARMA 2 for the most of the players. Thanks to this modification the sales of the original game on Steam rose up more than 5 times. One should note that current results are achieved despite unstable servers and large number of different bugs. To the developers credit we should mention frequent patches that fix issues rapidly (when its possible, taking in mind ARMA 2 engine bugs). But no one can blame mod developers for the bugs because DayZ is still in alpha status. Yes playable and actively tested, but it is only alpha.
Huge scope of Chernarus - 225 km² is mostly filled with forests, plains, farmlands, small villages and a coastal strip, also some towns, factories and military bases, invaded with zombies, and up to 50 live players on the server. What can the gameplay look like in this desolate and hostile world? It's very simple - 90% of the total playing time is made of quick dashing from cover to cover, crawling through rough terrain, alerted waiting crowded with the sound of fraying nerves. Shooting, killing and other traditional 'action' make up only a few percents of the game time. Which is not surprising, because the sound of the shot will attract not only hordes of zombies, but also greedy and most dangerous bandits.
So what is the DayZ main feature that attracts attention? Why players can't resist it and spend long hours with the game?
For sure – choosing of a picturesque post-soviet post-apocalyptic setting, combined with zombies was a strong move. Operable cars, buses and tractors (you can ride and haul careless ghouls) and even a fully functional helicopter "Huey" (of course you must repair the stuff first) play an important role also. But the cardinal must be the moments of looking through a sniper scope a second before headshot, or before turning the corner in a dark hangar, it is the very sound of strained nerves, the tremor, and sometimes a cold sweat of sudden death. And, of course, it is a team game, when your comrades cover your back, the loot is common, and the feeling of superiority over uncoordinated loners is intoxicating.
DayZ definitely requires patience, respect for the fine details and is pretty hardcore. But absolutely true is that it has a unique atmosphere, unique gameplay, and is worth of the attention.