While everyone knows I have an irrational fear of zombies, I bought my 40% off copy of DayZ during the Steam sale anyway. My boyfriend did too, and because Jun promised he’d help us through, I agreed to play that very night.
I was already warned of DayZ’s notorious difficulty and punishing nature numerous times before my purchase. Man. Difficult doesn’t even begin to describe it.
I’m sorry for lack of pictures – I forgot that I had to take some screens for a better recount. SORRY!
Day 1 – Getting Used To Dying (An Adventurous Note)
I spawned on the coast of Komarova, or so the blink-and-you-miss-it location intro stated.
Our first self-imposed mission was to find each other. On Skype, I described to Jun and Ray my surroundings in detail; I am on a beach; buildings are off in the distance to my left with a mini-jetty; an endless expanse of coast is on my right; a hill crowned with a forest is just up ahead. Jun instantly knew where that was so he said he’d make his way over.
For the moment, I was completely isolated. I took the opportunity to get used to the control scheme, which Jun advised me that prone was X (it’s actually Z), what icon was an indicator of what depleting physiological need, and what I should do when I met my first zombie (run like hell). “Keep heading right to the coast,” he said, “tell me where you are again when you reach a landmark.”
Zombies were pretty easy to spot. Off in the distance they staggered, five or six of them in their civilian clothes, boneless arms and lolling heads. It was nerve-wrecking to watch them even with 2 miles between us. Too close for comfort for a weaponless, resource-starved person like me. Little did I know that my movement was making a lot of noise and I was being completely visible. I underestimated the “safe distance” too. Edging closer toward the undead in a crouch, I hoped I could sneak around it and escape unscathed.
It burst into a run towards me instead.
These undead are 28 Days Later adrenaline pumped monkeys. Their speed is so crazy-fast I jumped and couldn’t even turn the other way fast enough. Soon I heard its hungry growl fill my ears and scratching at my back. In my panic, I sprinted towards my target direction where I saw at least eight zombies strewn along the coastline. Ray said he was swimming away from them and it seemed to be working, but I couldn’t swim because my other irrational, real life fear of large water bodies gripped me. So I did the stupid movie cliche and chose to run past the string of undead lining the beach into danger.
Only one other zombie gave chase, but I couldn’t outrun them even after what felt like forever. I stopped and let go of my keyboard and mouse and accepted death fully and completely as my screen began to lose colour. “Shit! This is so intense!” Again, Jun reminded me of the cruel and real nature of the game. “The average death rate is 3 per second.” (The official word from the developers is 50 minutes a player, but that’s bull, especially for noobs like me.)
Ok I got this, I’m not gonna be the global average. Second try. I restarted and spawned again on the same coast at nearly the same spot, heading towards the right. No zombies around. This time I made the choice to move closer inland towards the forest, where it seemed difficult to survive in because of the lack of any sustaining resources I had. But I would rather die of thirst than have my insides pulled out by an unsanitized hand.
I ended up at the Komarov train station where I was supposed to follow the tracks. A cluster of scrap metal was on the platform so I investigated, hoping to pick up my first useful item. Unfortunately, my crouch-instead-of-prone drew attention again, and a single undead person in a hoodie hopped their way towards me. After sustaining a few damage-heavy claws to my back, I managed to accidentally hit the correct prone button and crawl away to safety. There was no need to look behind – just move ahead and survive.
In another play of misfortune, I was bleeding pretty badly, but there was no time for bandages. I had been following the outer treeline of the forest and crept up towards a small log, where I thought would make a great place to patch myself up. Then I heard the wet sloppy zombie noises. Immediately, still proned, I made a 180 and continued down the hill, deeper to the centre of the forest. I was dying and woozy from blood loss; my vision was already a miserable blur. After bandages and painkillers, I was still passing out every 3 minutes or so.
“Guys, I don’t think I can make it. My pressure is low and I keep fainting.” It was so bleak to say it out loud. I was signing my death warrant a second time. That was really depressing. Jun suggested that I abort and restart because I was far away from any part of civilization and in my slow, injured state, I’d be lunch sooner or later. I agreed. Sadness.
For the third time, I spawned on the coast yet again, but somewhere further down the shore. Because Ray was playing on a laptop behind me he could see what was on my screen, and we had found that we were seeing the same thing. He ran up to me, “It’s me! Can you see me?” A sprinting soldier approached and I asked him to verify. Yup, that was him. Finally, a stroke of good luck. He had been following the coast for the whole duration of time I had been getting slaughtered and whatever undead that had been after him had lost his trail by now.
We made cover by a young tree to survey our surroundings. A pier jutted from the coast nearby, and there was a wall closing off access to an abandoned industrial estate. Building! Building = Resources! We spotted a crawl space at the foot of the wall that separated us from what could potentially be our salvation.
With some careful sneaking, we slipped through and immediately entered a warehouse so we wouldn’t be at further risk of getting hurt.
Which was a terrible idea, because there was nothing in there. Just scrap metal lying about, one tiny staircase to the second level, big blue doors on either side and windows on one side of the building. It was appealing to hide out here to wait for Jun, but when the thirst started kicking in, it was a race against time. He was about three towns over – it took about an hour to reach us, and even then, the area’s zombie count suddenly spiked. We’re talking 8, 9 zombies limping/hopping/proning about at a time. It was possibly the nail to our coffin as feeble and unarmed as we were.
But wait! Through shattered panes we saw another survivor sprinting away and attracting the full strength of zombies right outside. “Now’s your chance,” Jun said, “Get out of there!”
I got up and opened the barn doors, ready to run away. Ray spotted three zombies off to the left and yelled at me to close the doors again but I wasn’t used to the controls yet and fumbled terribly. He closed it and we scrambled up the single staircase to safety, cursing to anyone our horrible luck.
We proned, watching the doors. I don’t know if it was our pings on the server but there was a single zombie that popped out of nowhere and it was immediately headed up the stairs. You can actually prone away from these situations, but the only flight of freakin’ stairs that was our entrance or exit from the second level was being blocked by a freaking walker. No jumping out of windows, no acrobatics. We were trapped.
“Jun, he’s coming up the stairs,” I panicked again, because our comrade was still in cover trying not to give himself away. “WE’RE DEAD MEAT. WE’RE GONNA DIE.” It was literally seven feet away from Ray and if not for Jun’s impeccable timing, our last few hours would’ve been in vain. In true action hero fashion, Jun leapt from the safety of cover and bust in with his hatchet to hack him some zombie. Saaaaaaved.
The single worst thing about this is that it wasn’t the zombies that did us in. Between running across fields and airport runways, there were only one or two stray zombies that wanted to eat us. It was the bandit. That lone asshole bandit that murdered Ray and I.
We found ourselves near a tiny outpost where we made our way to the top to get a proper visual on the outside. A bag was left on the floor when we first entered. Nothing that useful. I started to get suspicious because from all the TV shows and movies and graphic novels I’d consumed, there must have been a reason why the place was vacated and there was so much crap lying around. “Guys, come up, there’s so much shit here,” Jun said. And it was true. There were three backpacks strewn across the floor along with several empty tin cans of food and drink. What was in the bag? Nothing at all.
I was about to express the weirdness of the situation when we heard a bullet pierce glass. Another whizzed past. Then Ray’s brains got blown out. Instant death. I was shocked. I don’t know why I didn’t just bolt there and then. Instead, I scrambled to look through the rest of the packs to see if there was anything worth salvaging that could extend our life out in the wild.
And you know what? I got shot too. While proned. Supposedly out of sight because my head was below the outpost wall. And I still got shot.
Jun ran away in the end – I guess that was the only upside, that at least one of us survived this ordeal. I wouldn’t call it a ragequit (perplexedquit?) but after being put down, I had zero motivation to respawn. It was completely depressing to continue like that.
So I said my good nights and went to bed feeling awful about myself, heart still racing, mind still thinking. I’ll be back again. Maybe not tomorrow, but I’ll be back.
Play DayZ, everyone!