Red eyes… irritable…rage… I have all the symptoms of zombieism! No, wait. I have all the symptoms of having played DayZ. It’s the mod that dragged Arma II back to the top of the Steam charts: turns the world of Arma II into a survivalist nightmare of players vs players vs environment. It’s also still a work in-progress, building on that basis with weekly updates, so there’s still a lot to come. Here’s what we think should be added.
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Hiding from zombies.
Right now the undead are the NPC threat: they congregate around urban areas and you need to risk aggroing them in order to get into where the good gear is. I appreciate that the world is meant to be harsh, but if you think about it, you should be able to outsmart and out run these lumpy, broken creatures of instinct. A sandbox game should give me the option of getting away rather than being overwhelmed and killed, which is what happens 99% of the time.
Survival is all about using what’s best for the job. Empty cans can be tossed to distract the zombies, but there’s not a lot else that’s not there to do a specific job. Nails, wood, whatever could be scavenged and put to use. Recipe-based rather than anything physics based: you could put together armour, guns. It would even allow the game to spawn the player without a weapon, just like in Minecraft. My own personal want would be for signposts, warning people, telling them where to go. You could even set traps with them. And they’d be a good addition for the next idea.
What would you do in an apocalypse? Would you move on, or would you like to stay a while? Tents have already been deployed in the game, but like tents in the real-world they are decidedly vulnerable and feel like you’re setting yourself up for an ambush party. The world is full of ugly, smelly, broken buildings, but they are solid walls as well: places that could be worked on and built up into a state of permanence. It has it’s uses beyond protecting the people inside: a base tied to a server means those inside will be less likely to hop between servers, a current problem among players looking to escape.
This is mostly because I’m a massive jerk, but I’d like to set traps. As a mostly solo survivor, I usually have to back away from people and observe them from afar. The solo player is vulnerable in all sorts of ways, and I’d appreciate being able to give myself a bit of help. What sort of traps? Improvised, Rambo-ish spikes in the woods; you could give up a shotgun shell to use in a small bomb. If there are teams of wandering bandits about, I want to deploy guerilla tactics on them.
The world has changed and there’s a reason behind it. I’m not advocating for much of a story in DayZ, knowledge of why it is how it is could be hinted at by showing the people an echo of the event. Stalker’s blow-outs are a good touchstone here: radiation storms that forced people to seek shelter. In DayZ, it could be that, it could be zombie swarms (running from something bigger…). It needn’t be supernatural: a giant fire, rising tides and flooding. I love it when it rains and the lightening blows out the sky, but occasionally wish it would be the harbinger of something more.