OK so I caved. I gave in to the hype, the stories, the videos and the general ‘feel’ of the experience surrounding it, and I bought into an Alpha: I bought Day-Z. This is also smashing one of my golden rules; never ever, ever, pre-order anything and if you think about it, an alpha purchase is pre-ordering a pre-order. You’re not even buying a complete game…. just a promise of one. What the hell was I thinking?
Well, for one, I was thinking I really want to run around a forest with an axe. More constructively, I was also thinking it would be interesting to see if the stories coming out of the game were representative of the community as a whole, or just the ‘reported highlights’. Well I’ve just spent two hours and one and a half lives in the game and I thought I’d share my initial thoughts.
I spawn on a beach. There’s a road to my left and an explosion. Wait, what? An explosion? I’d like to say I immediately hit the ground and crawled to a vantage point near the scene to assess the area, but I can’t. In reality I spent three minutes figuring out the controls, two of which were spent waving at my shadow….
After i’d learnt the ropes I sneaked my way to a bush near the scene to see a petrol station; that would explain the explosion then. A person, in their underpants I feel compelled to add, is standing to the left of the petrol station staring at, well gods knows what, but they’re not moving. Figuring ‘what have I got to lose’ I walk to the petrol station to find a pile of bodies. I barely have time to register the thought ‘trap’ when the petrol station explodes. Again.
Given life 1 took less than four minutes to play-out, I was determined to be more cautious this time around. I spawn near what I presume to be a concrete factory and after tentatively exploring the area I find a pond to sate my thirst, and shortly after an axe, though I didn’t try to drink that. The axe find is fortunate as I then see a Zombie who immediately rushes me.
This being my first foray into combat though I completely misjudge the timing and although I kill the Zed, it takes three swings and I end up wounded and bleeding. Which is just bloody marvellous. I think I’ll blame the lag. It wasn’t the lag mind, but I’m still blaming it.
I explore the local area and eventually find some shirts I can turn into rags. I can then use to bandage myself, this stops the bleeding but, due to what I assume is blood loss, i’m now playing the game with all the colour bled out.
It’s around now that I spot movement. There’s a group of people, six I think, running down the road. I make it into the bushes just as they pass. It takes just a second to realise that it’s actually only one person and five zombies. I back off, laughing to myself and head into the woods.
After about a 15 minute romp, I stumble across a small town. I immediately find a fresh Kiwi; perfect timing as I’m now apparently hungry. I eat it only to be informed that I’m now poisoned. No matter, as I’ve heard that this is a bug where good food mistakenly gives a poison message. I ransack half the town, finding all sorts of goodies before the first sickness message arrives. Sigh. So fresh food is a no-go. Tinned all the way it is then. Unfortunately, from what I’ve read the only thing that can save me is charcoal, and it’s rare as hens teeth.
I finish ransacking the town to an impressive haul: backpack, two medkits, a defib, three tins of food, three tins of soda, a hoodie, rags, and a spare axe. Unfortunately I’m now in the later stages of poisoning. Aggrieved, I find a safe area and log off.
I log back into the game a few days later and not remembering (or favouriting) the server I was previously on, I have to start a new life. This seems me spawn right next to a large coastal village. I find out that every single building had already been looted. 43 buildings, all empty (save for a pistol light attachment). Marvelous. It’s while I’m running that I attract a Zed, but reading somewhere that you just have to break line of sight, I just run into the forest.
Eventually, and I do mean eventually, I stumble across another hamlet. I’m about to enter the first building when a scream alerts me to a potential Zed attack. I try in vain to out flank and evade the Zed, but he seems remarkably prescient when it comes to ‘guessing’ where I am. So, as I have no weapons I decide to find out if you can beat a Zed to death with your bare hands. The ‘You’re unconscious’ screen tells me you can’t.
I spawn next to a massive town, maybe even a small city. There’s a small wharf to my left, a number of industrial buildings bracketed by a rail track, and then some tenements and other buildings after that.
Remembering that tooled-up players tend to come here to hunt fresh spawns I move carefully from house to house, looking for things to salvage. It’s in one of the larger houses when I hear a conversation outside- the localised vocal chat really is something else. I peer out a window (cheating though by using 3rd person to make sure I don’t expose myself) and see one person kneeling down in front of another player; bandaging I assume. I wait to see which way they go when it dawns on me, the person standing is not another player, but a Zed. Neither the player, or the Zed are attacking each other but I can tell the player is active as he keeps moving slightly; but never away from the zed. I decide to leave ‘them’ to it.
I’m just crossing the tracks into the residential area when I spot another player. This time wearing a crash helmet. I’m just waving and saying hello when he buries an axe into my head. Charming. I think that’s enough play for now.
Am I glad I glad I bought it? Yes, I can see myself dipping in and out of this over the next few months, but prolonged play sessions are difficult given its current state. Should you buy it? Absolutely not. Wait at least until the Beta, ideally full release. I should have a rifle by then…