You Should Be Excited About Next Week's DayZ Update
You remember DayZ, right? About a decade ago, the original Arma 2 mod was at the top of the Twitch charts, and for my money created one of the best YouTube videos ever. But then, in 2013, the standalone version of it launched into Steam Early Access, and because it was a trainwreck for a whole lot of reasons, people kind of forgot about it. Well, it’s been a pretty long time since that train got wrecked, and a lot has changed since then for the better, so when the next DayZ patch comes out in a couple of weeks, you should give it a try.
For those who don’t know (and honestly nobody can blame you), DayZ is the original survival game. It was originally a mod for Arma 2; it kept the maps and guns from the hyper-realistic military simulator, but instead of fighting huge battles alongside other players, your goal was simply to survive by any means necessary. You needed (and still need, I suppose) to manage your food/water/blood levels while avoiding zombies and looting gear from either the environment, or as was often the case when loot pools ran dry, other players. These things ultimately made the mod — which was free by the way — the best water cooler game of all time, because everyone could play it and everyone would have a different story of how they survived and or died.
And while the mod was all well and good, its insane popularity led to Arma’s publisher/developer hiring the guy who made it to make a standalone version of it for them. The result was, unfortunately, not very good. The initial release of DayZ (better known as DayZ Standalone) was plagued with every type of issue imaginable. It first launched as an alpha into the then-widely unknown Steam Early Access program with problems that ranged from insane amounts of bugs to a simple lack of features. Unlike the mod, there was originally no base building in DayZ Standalone, nor were there community-made maps, mods or anything else besides the core of what made the mod popular.
So the game’s player base tanked, and it went from being one of the most-watched things on the internet to something that few people remembered for anything besides its bugs and high price tag. Almost four years after it was released into 1.0, its 249,000 Steam reviews are still “mostly positive” and its average player count has only recently started to return to its initial Steam Early Access peaks.
But the good news about all of this is that it doesn’t matter, because DayZ (the standalone that is, I haven’t played the mod in years) is every bit as good as the mod once was. While the initial alpha and beta versions of standalone were, in a word, terrible, the same can’t be said for the current version of the game. On both PC and consoles, DayZ is finally polished enough to be worth your time. In the base game alone, there’s everything that the mod had, ranging from quasi-functioning vehicles to base building and tons of character customisation options. The map is good now, there aren’t many bugs to speak of, and even if you aren’t familiar with the title’s history, it’s still a hell of an experience thanks to all of its recent updates.
On PC, though, DayZ now has Steam Workshop support, which means that it’s become one of the best games to release since…well, DayZ mod. Community members have added insanely detailed maps, new gameplay systems, tons of weapons and clothing options and even helicopters. Even in Steam Early Access, DayZ was one of the better survival games simply because of its core systems, but with mods the game becomes something that’s truly special. It’s like Arma, but instead of being forced to play in a clan to have fun, you can join one of hundreds of community servers that do everything from forcing roleplay to being quasi-deathmatch maps.
So, point being, if you gave up on DayZ a while ago, or haven’t played it at all, you should give it a try when the next patch drops on April 19. It’s not the most significant update the title has had since launch; it’s just adding a couple of the guns that got removed somewhere between its Early Access launch and now, plus some clothing options that can turn you into a mummy. But it is wiping all the servers, and it's as good of an excuse as any to play the game that I’ve somehow logged about 400 hours in over the course of a few months.
And if you have or are playing it, let us know on our social media so we can play with you (or shoot you and take your beans, whichever).
The next DayZ update, 1.17, is scheduled to release on April 19.
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