“Day One, after Day Z”


Made it to the coast after our ship went down. Guessing I’m somewhere in Chernarus. Maybe the mountains isolated the population.

Had to get off the ship to escape the fire. Grabbed a pack, but not mine. Can of beans. Canteen. A flare. Tiny first aid pack. Shitty little makarov and five mags.

It is, of course, raining.

Coastal highway gives me two options. I pick a third – into the hills. Coastal towns might have supplies; definitely have armed looters.

Maybe the country’s clean. Maybe the mountains really did isolate them. That would be nice. For now, I’ll go on assuming the worst.

I have a map, but it’s useless, if I don’t know where I came ashore. I need landmarks… among other things.

For instance: canteen’s empty. Need a way to collect this rainwater. And sterilize it. And shelter. And a fire. “Need” is going to be theme.

Topping the ridge above the coast brings me to roofless ruins of a cottage. On the back slope, a two-rut gravel road leading inland.

The road is good; I need supplies, and it’ll likely lead to some. Also, bad; too exposed. I keep to the trees, the road in sight.

Wet pine needles mean even I can move quietly, if I go slow. Also means I hear the walker long before it hears me. Moans travel.

The walker’s shambling down the gravel road. Where’s he going? What memory persists in a dead mind, enough to move the body?

I don’t trust the makarov’s accuracy. No way I’m going for a head shot; aim center body mass and squeeze the trigger.

Good news: the pistol’s sighted in. Bad news: it doesn’t have the stopping power to drop the walker.

The walker’s reacts instantly, even wounded. Romero’s mall-shambler is gone, replaced by a dead thing spliced with jaguar DNA.

My head’s ringing, both from the extra three shots it took to drop the walker and the skull crack it gave me before it dropped.

An hour past the walker, I stumble over a small town in the hills. Spend a half hour trying to figure out where I might be on my map.

The town crawls. I circumnavigate from south to north, keeping to the trees, and can make out barricades near the town center.

So, the south end crawls – looks like a walker county fair down there. The north end… is clear. Looks clear. We’ll see.

With so many walkers within moaning distance, I’d rather keep moving, but I need to at least try to find supplies. Especially water.

My climb into the hills left me cotton-mouthed; there’s only so much water to be had by licking raindrops off sagging leaves.

So: water. Canned food if I’m lucky. A better gun if I’m very lucky. Maybe I can spot a road sign and figure out where I am.

Supplies need to wait. Long since dark. I like my nighttime odds better in the trees than an unfamiliar town with an obvious infestation.

Signing out for now. Day 1 after Day Z.

– via Twitter, Life After Day Z

What the Hell Did I just Read?

DayZ is a alpha-stage mod for a game called ARMA 2 (a semi-buggy, two-and-a-half year old hyper-realistic multiplayer FPS), set in the zombie-infected country of Chernarus (a Czech Republic analog used as a backdrop in some of the normal ARMA 2 scenarios, and reskinned a bit for DayZ). Even though it is in its alpha stage right now, DayZ has seen such player enthusiasm that this free mod has actually pushed ARMA 2 sales back up into top ten at major online retail sites like Steam.

In the game, you play someone dropped into the zombie-overrun end of the world, your only goal to to survive. “Survival” takes many forms in what can only be called a massive sandbox environment: you might go scrounging for supplies one minute and be running for your life the next; you might team up with other survivors to defend a town, rebuild a truck, or kill the unsuspecting for their supplies. As a true sandbox, the amount of freedom is quite impressive, and the gameplay itself is very immersive.

So it’s just another Zombie mod

Sure. Except it’s not. Somehow, this game has captured more of the feel of books like Mira Grant’s Feed, World War Z, or the Walking Dead graphic novels. In short, it quickly becomes about people, and how they interact. Despite the fact that it’s built on a first person military-style shooter, the game doesn’t really focus on killing zombies (honestly, relying only on the poor starting weapon you’re given, attacking zombies a pretty good way to get killed). You’re given a basic set of supplies and dropped at some random location on the edge of a very large map with no directions or any clue about what to do next. Everything after that is up to you, though finding more supplies is essential for survival — you can die from injuries, blood loss, broken bones, starvation, and dehydration (exacerbated by major exertion like, say, running from zombies) — and you can solve many of these problems by working with other players.

Unless, of course, they decide to kill you, which is just as permanent as any other kind of death.

Yeah… death is permanent in Day Z. Once you die, that character is done, and it’s back to square one, with a tiny pack and meager supplies. In a way that reminds me a lot of another sandbox game I’m very into, failure stings, and success hinges on building relationships, working with others, and sometimes (like it or not) killing people and taking their stuff.

I’ll have more to say about this game in the future, but for now, if you’re on twitter, I’d invite you to follow @After_Day_Z, where I’ll be keeping a survival journal of life in Chernarus.


  1. I love it. The website for the mod lists the average life expectancy at 5 hrs.

    1. You can certainly get around and shoot at stuff using basic FPS knowledge, and the rest you can pick up by opening (and reopening) the Options window to look over the keybinds screen — it only took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to talk to the chat channel! 😐

      And another 3 or so to set up your voice chat to only route to people physically close you to (you will be quickly banned for using voice chat set to global broadcast).

      Still haven’t figured out how to light my damned road flare, though.

  2. I was actually having World War Z flashbacks as I read through that. I may actually have to give this a shot if it’s as realistic as you say. Only after ARMA II goes back on sale, though.

  3. “Shitty little makarov…”

    Makarovs are anything but shitty. Walter 9mm Ultra cartridge, few moving parts, very reliable. You can say all sorts of things about the Soviet Union screwing things up, but they always made great guns.

  4. That wasn’t a Makarov. I’m pretty sure Doc popped you with his enfield or something like that.

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