Recently I sat down and played through one of the hottest PC games out there right now. It’s called DayZ , a Mod of Arma 2 from Bohemia Interactive , and it totally blew my mind.
It’s been called a “ social experiment ” in how people interact with one another in extreme circumstances.
You are given ONE LIFE to survive in a post-apocalyptic world infested with zombies. If you die you have to start all over again with the original supply base that all players have at the beginning of each new game; i.e., if you don’t die and close out the game, you start with all of the supplies that you ended with during your last game.
You can catch a fever and even break your arms and legs. And to top it all off, you only start the game with a flashlight, backpack, pain killers and a bandage, respectively. You don’t have ANY weapons or food. Hence, you have to scavenge for EVERYTHING that you need to survive; not to mention, you have to worry about both zombies AND other players who might kill you just to take your supplies.
Due to the experience that I had (and continue to have since I keep playing the game every now and then), I wanted to share with my readers just what happened. Therefore, the following is my experience put to narrative. I hope you enjoy.
I awoke on a beach in the earlier morning. To this day, I still don’t know how I got there. My pants and boots were still wet from waking up on the beach. As I got up, I looked all around me. Something felt very wrong.
Getting to my feet I noticed a small village to my south, as well as, to the north. Each had a few run down houses and various other buildings that hadn’t seen any maintenance for some time. Neither village gave off a “welcome” vibe, so I quickly decided to head for the forest directly ahead of me (west).
Running as quickly as I could from the shore over a paved road and railroad tracks to the first patch of trees, I made sure to keep my eyes and ears open for anything.
For some reason, no thanks to the state of the two villages that were now behind me, all I could think of was to avoid any signs of civilization...for now. I needed to hide, and get to a position where I could survey the landscape in relative safety.
Heading up the hill through the trees, I periodically stopped, crouched down and checked the area. Thankfully, I never saw anyone.
Once I got to the top of the hill, there was a break in the forest that gave me a glimpse of what lay ahead. A lush, green valley bordered by additional forest and hills surrounded a small farm that sat at the intersection of two gravel roads. A row of utility poles ran down through the valley parallel to the road just ahead of me which meandered past the farm and onto the shore. There was still no sign of life anywhere. No animals. Nothing .
The other road, which crossed parallel to me and intersected perpendicular to the road that ran parallel to the utility poles, was only 50 yards ahead. Before I could make it across the valley, I needed to cross this road.
Before I decided what to do next, I noticed at the top of ridge opposite of my current position there was a Communications Tower. Still working with the plan to avoid any people for now and survey the landscape in relative safety, I figured that the Tower was a great place to start. But getting there was another ordeal altogether.
Leaving the forest and heading down towards the road, I used the Communications Tower as my guide for which way to travel. With no map or compass to tell me where I was and no watch to tell me what time it was (it felt like 8 or 9 AM), my only clear thought for getting around was to navigate by landmarks. And the Tower fit the bill.
40 yards into my trek down towards the road, it started to rain. My clothes had just finished drying, but still smelled like sea water. Now, I was slowly getting wet again. This would have bothered me if weren’t for my next discovery.
Pausing for a moment in some bushes near the road, I saw that my luck had run out.
A pale-faced man with torn closes and blood splashed all around his hands and mouth was slowly lumbering towards me.
Was this real, I asked myself? This couldn’t be real.
As I stared in amazement and saw the large, open wound on his arm that had already started to rot, as well as, looked briefly into his blood red eyes, I knew that I was looking at reality. I was looking at an actual Zombie.
Some part of my brain registered the whole “Zombie” thing, while the rest of it didn’t. Thankfully, the part that did, sparked my survival instincts and told me to get out of there before the Zombie had a chance to chase me.
Not giving him a chance to get a true fix on my position, I turned and sprinted up the next, small hill and dove into some brush just inside of a patch of trees. Fresh mud splashed up on me, but I didn’t want to move a muscle to brush it off because it might give away my position. Thinking back now to the distance that I had traveled, I can’t remember ever running that fast in my life.
As I settled into the patch of forest and waited for the Zombie to approach, I realized after a few moments that I was once again alone and had some cover from the storm. For the moment.
Zombies ? Really ? For all of the excursions that I had been on I still couldn’t believe that I was now laying in a forest watching Zombies wander here and there.
Getting my nerve up and still not fully believing what I was dealing with, I made my way out of the forest and into the meadow beyond.
I found a large tree half way down the valley and used it for shelter.
Looking down at the foot of the hill I got a closer look at the small farmhouse. I took a few moments to survey its population: three people hunched over and another three aimlessly walking about in the immediate field behind the house.
Not wanting them to see me, and because I didn't want to go into any buildings for shelter as there may be people ( or Zombies ) waiting to ambush me, I plotted my new course to head towards the Communications Tower.
Before moving on, I watched the six “farm hands” moving about behind the farmhouse. I noticed that the rain did not faze them at all. Some simply wandered around aimlessly, while others continually moved around while hunched over.
Upon closer inspection (which I did as best I could from underneath the tree), I noticed that their clothes were badly torn up and stained like the man I saw wandering the road earlier. The stains were once again unmistakable. None of these people were alive. The entire farm was overrun with these creatures.
I watched the two types of Zombies move around for another few moments. Hardly wanting to believe the horrific thoughts that were going through my head, I knew that I had to accept what was in front of me if I was to effectively move on towards the Communications Tower. I was dealing with none other than the undead. Zombies. And the two kinds that I noticed I nicknamed “walkers” and “hoppers”.
With what shelter and cover the large tree provided, I took off my hat and wiped my face - the rain helping to rinse the mud that had splashed onto my face earlier when I dove into the brush.
What had happened here? How did these people become Zombies? More to the point, why did these people become Zombies and was I the only one left that was still alive?
Knowing that I couldn’t remain under the tree forever, especially if the rain storm turned to a lightning storm, I smacked myself in the face to sober myself back up. I then put my hat back on, remained crouched over (because I wanted to be able to move, but still stay close to the ground in case I had to quickly hide while moving from cover to cover) and moved on down the valley towards the road keeping the farm to my right.
Keeping my head on a swivel, I constantly checked the path ahead and the Zombies at the farm. Continuing forward seeing the Communications Tower in the distance above this small valley, I thought to myself, so far, so good.
Only armed with my nerve (which was getting colder every second from the rain), I finally decided to avoid the farmhouse entirely. No matter how much confidence I could muster at the moment, I knew that it wouldn’t be enough to take on six Zombies who could probably smell me within a few meters.
Regardless of my decision to avoid the farmhouse, all I could think of was that I really would have liked to have checked that house for supplies.
Stopping to rest in between two bushes near the gravel road that was due west of the farm (or so I guessed), I noticed another house just beyond the farm up the road.
I sighted that it was probably another three hundred yards away. Once again squinting as best I could to survey the property from a distance, I noticed only one hopper. Maybe they don’t travel in herds, I thought.
This was a tempting opportunity for a supply run which I still wished I had tried for with the farmhouse earlier.
Moving out of the bushes and following a ditch that was next to the road, I was caught off guard by a hopper who was “patrolling” the outer perimeter.
Not wasting anytime, I ran up the hill towards the Communications Tower and then hid in some bushes half way up the hill; no mud this time, just slippery, wet grass.
Noticing that one of the hoppers was slowly making his way to me, I got up again and while crouched over I made my way to the top of the hill just beneath of where the Tower stood. From this point I could see the ocean again.
At any other time the peaceful flow of the ocean would have calmed me down. But all I could think was how glad I was to have it in the distance.
Pausing half way up the hill to the Tower because I thought I had a visitor in the distance, I saw that it was only the branches of the trees and bushes blowing in the wind.
Not wanting to take any chances, I lowered down and crawled up the rest of the way to the Tower so that I couldn't be heard or seen.
But again, two hoppers and one walker started to come towards me. I quickly crawled away from them.
The rain stopped and I was only 100 yards from the com tower when I spotted another walker 100 yards to my right. Staying prone, I told myself, "I've come this far. I'm going to make it to the tower."
Giving the walker a wide berth, I continued up the hill.
Finally reaching the Tower, which was bordered by a broken-down generated and a small, locked shed (which I had nothing on me to break the lock, and I didn’t want to try because of how close the Zombies were), I checked it.
Feeling confident that I had traversed this strange environment to make it to my first objective, I even climbed up into the Tower in order to finally survey the area. Regretfully I found exactly one thing...nothing. No supplies and the fog that rolled over the land masked my view of the landscape beyond what I had already traversed.
My hunch hadn't paid off. But then I knew which way I wanted to head - further inland, away from the coast. Maybe there was civilization further inland is all I could think at this point.
Before leaving, I noticed a sign on the broken-down generator that sat beside the Tower. The text was definitely Russian. Was I in Russia? How did I get to be in Russia?
Back on solid ground again, I crouched down and started to move away from the Tower. But before I could go 10 meters, a hopper cut off my route. On top of that, a walker had surfaced from behind a few trees and was to the other side of me.
With only a moment to react, I knew that the only way to get around them was to go straight through.
My heart pounding like a jackrabbit on a date, I crawled my way through; at one point I could hear their breathing and screeching as I made my way back into the woods. Every now and then I still hear the sounds they made in my head at night. Terrible, horrible sounds. No one should ever have to hear such horror.
Finally making it into the woods, I remained still for a moment to make sure I wasn't being followed. All I could hear was the birds and crickets chirping, as well as, the calm wind blowing by; not to mention those...flies that kept buzzing by my ears. I was alone. Again. So it was time to move on.
Getting back up, but staying crouched, I made my way down the hill towards the road – the same road that ran perpendicular to the farmhouse.
Once I was about 20 yards away from the road, I looked both ways for...walkers and hoppers. I noticed one near the back of the larger house that sat just beyond the farmhouse. Since the creature was hopping down the road towards me, and because there was a town just up the road from where I was, I hid in the forest again and waited him out. Moving towards the next town just didn’t feel right at the moment.
This was a good place to check out the next town - which my initial survey from 300 yards away showed a walker near a small power station. Man, if I only had a silenced sniper rifle right now, I thought.
After 10 minutes of waiting the hopper out, I left the forest and noticed that down the road the hopper had been replaced by two walkers. Yep , it was time to head into town.
As I started to move, I noticed in the distance what looked like a large, gas station – possibly for big rigs. If I make it through this town, I thought, I will have to see what supplies are there.
200 yards away from the edge of town, I lost count of how many zombies wandering the streets of this desolate place.
Well just like the Tower, I had come this far and I had to try. I had to find some supplies because carrying only a flashlight, a small bottle of painkillers and a bandage I still (#1) wasn’t armed, (2) had absolutely no food (not even a stick of gum) and (3) I needed some real medical supplies just in case something happens that requires me to treat myself for wounds.
On I went towards town.
Crawling for another 100 yards, I stayed just inside the trees on the hill next to the road, although the walker on the road, from his louder-than-most screeching and snorting, would have liked it if I had stood up and ran towards him.
Finally within 50 yards of town, I got up, stayed hunched over and made my way to a new vantage point above town.
Hoppers, walkers...it made this small, quaint town look even more desolate.
Accepting it, I moved on. Crawling, I moved down the hill to avoid being seen or heard.
Giving the town a wide berth, I discovered a small quarry just outside of town with a one shed. Ironically, no walkers or hoppers were around.
I moved inside of the shed and quietly shut both doors. Inside there was only a few empty cans. Can’t catch a break .
Within moments I could hear a zombie outside. What had I done? I thought that I had been quiet.
I got down on the wood floor next to some empty cardboard boxes and didn't move a muscle. I listened as his footsteps shuffled from gravel to grass and back again - occasionally hitting the fence that bordered the property. But then more came.
Could they smell me, I wondered? I tried not to care if they knew I was in the shed as they moved all around me.
After a few moments I couldn't hear footsteps anymore, but those...flies we're driving me crazy.
Opening the backdoor of the shed and crawling out, I made my way further into the quarry to once again find my favorite thing... nothing .
It was inevitable. I had to get out of this dead end and make my way into town. A bird overhead called out as if to say "go". And I did, staying hunched over as I moved out of the quarry.
Just before I reached the quarry entrance, I was caught off guard by a walker. I quickly, by silently moved back against the shed and waited for him to pass.
When he did, apparently heading to where I had been earlier in the back of the quarry, I didn't waste any more time. I left the quarry as quickly as I could crawl.
Crawling towards the first building, an old train stop, I was cut off by a walker and a hopper who were on the train tracks just beyond the dilapidated brick building. I quickly hid behind the large, brick wall that was to the right of the building. Once again, I didn't move.
For a moment, my lack of food got the best of me. I briefly laughed at the fact that my existence now entailed moving from place to place, crawling and trying to find supplies so that I can hopefully make it to tomorrow. Realizing what I had done, I covered my mouth and hunkered down against the wall. Minutes passed by very slowly as I waited to hear if any hoppers or walkers had heard me.
Luckily, no one came calling, and I knew that I had to get something to eat or drink soon.
Understanding that the direct approach, crouching or otherwise, still wasn't the way to go, I crawled along the brick wall to see if I could make my way around and into town from the other side of the tracks.
Reaching the end of the brick wall, there was a 10-foot long broken corner of the wall sticking out perpendicular to the “laughing wall” obstructing my view. I paused for a moment and waited because just when I originally was going to move around it, the all-too-familiar sound of a walker took the form of a lumbering zombie with dirty khaki pants and a blood stained, brown canvas jacket.
I waited for him to get 50 or so yards away, and then snaked around the obstruction - once again returning to the rusted train tracks.
Two warehouses, one larger than the other, were about 100 yards away. The larger of the two buildings was now directly ahead and I knew that this was going to be my next destination. So I crawled.
I made my way across the tracks and then into a small courtyard in front of the large warehouse. The front door was open, but something didn't feel right.
As I was now completed out in the open laying down in the middle of a concrete courtyard just outside of the warehouse, I quickly looked around to find a place to hide.
I noticed a small shed to my right and in front of the warehouse. Hopefully I could get in somehow.
Quickly crawling towards it still not knowing if I could get in, I noticed that the side door was open. And for once, my instincts had paid off.
Once inside, I quietly closed the door and found my first weapon: a hatchet. I also found a fuel can (for a car) and a Jerry can (for gathering and transporting fuel). It was about time .
But regardless of what I had found, I still wanted to get into the large warehouse.
Storing my new supplies in my backpack, I opened the shed door again. Gun. I could really use a gun and some ammo now, I thought.
Just before I exited the shed, I heard the all-too-familiar sound once again. A hopper was outside scraping and screeching every step of the way. Stopping dead in my tracks, I was thankful for this because if he hadn't made the noise, I would have had to have used my new hatchet for the first time - which I wasn't ready to do.
I waited for the noise to fade, and then I tried again to leave.
The hopper had blocked the entrance way into the warehouse. And to make matters worse, he had come back out and was heading towards me. With every nerve in my body, I focused and crawled away from him into a patch of grass around the corner.
Somehow I evaded him, but the entranceway was getting lower and lower on my priority list.
Staying still in my new hiding spot, I waited and listened to the numerous walkers and hoppers that passed by.
Knowing that the sounds of scratching, scraping and screeching weren’t going to stop anytime soon, I moved on.
Rounding the entire building, I noticed one very important fact: there was only one entrance and exit to the warehouse. Thus, if I could get inside and I wasn't noticed, then I was home free to explore the building. On the other hand, if I did get inside AND if I was spotted and pursued, I would be heading into my own death trap.
With all of the thoughts that cluttered my head, all I could think of was that I had to try.
Snaking around the rest of the building, I finally made it back to the concrete courtyard. Seeing a walker crawling on the ground in the exact same path that I had taken when I had left the shed earlier, I quickly moved inside the large warehouse and shut the door.
My adrenaline was through the roof from seeing the walker and from making it into the building. But if this didn't make me feel like I was being followed, I didn't know what did.
Surveying the inside, I noticed that I was finally alone. But supply-wise, I felt like I was in an auto store.
I found a few car wheels, another Jerry can and some scrap metal. Because of the size of my backpack, I couldn't carry any of it. I had to remember this place when I get a bigger backpack and I want to piece together a car to drive out of here, I thought.
I continued to look around the warehouse, all while hearing my brain-eating neighbors circle the building.
Then it started to rain again. Hard.
For the first time, I was glad to be indoors and out of the rain. Hopefully the rain would not only mask the noise of me moving around inside, but would also throw the walkers off of my scent.
Taking advantage of being out of the elements, I took off what wet clothes I could and hung them up to dry. I knew I didn’t have long, but I wanted to at least dry my clothes off for a few minutes.
Looking around, I found another hatchet and a "Wire Fencing Kit"; which, I could use later to form a perimeter around a hideout or something.
Since I wasn’t exactly an expert with a hatchet, I took the time and got used to swinging the hatchet. I felt its weight as I swung it with my right hand, my left and then both. I figured that since I was enclosed and away from harm (for now), I should at least get some practice in.
Hearing my stomach growl, I knew that I had to find some food. My brief time of peace and hatchet-swinging in my slightly wet underwear and t-shirt was quickly coming to a close.
With the rain coming down in buckets, I knew I had to leave so that I could hopefully find something to eat in order to get my strength back; which was fading quickly - my "hatchet practice" not helping the matter.
Shaking off my partially dry clothes, I got dressed again, laced up my hiking boots and threw on my backpack.
Armed, soaking wet and with Zombies all around, I slowly opened the door. Making my way out of the warehouse, the rain was worst than I thought.
I crouched over and quickly went prone in order to make my way to the next, smaller warehouse that was about a block away.
Thankfully, the walkers and hoppers that were around were about 100 yards away and were still uninterested in me.
Opening the back door to the smaller warehouse enough to crawl in, I made my way inside and noticed some scrap metal on the floor. There was also a metal staircase leading up to a catwalk above me.
I also noticed one other, important detail - the opposite door was wide open. If I was going to have the same solitude as I did in the other warehouse, I knew that I had to shut the door.
Crouched over, I quickly moved over to the door and tried to shut it. Pulling it shut, I noticed a Zombie coming right for the doorway. Slipping backwards, I quickly let the door swing and moved back into the middle of the warehouse. I remained completely still and waited to see what he was going to do.
Entering the warehouse, he lumbered on towards the middle, just opposite of where I was laying as still as possum playing dead. But then it hit me.
I was armed, the doors were (mostly) shut, it was raining outside masking any sound that I or the zombie might make and he still hadn't seen me. This was my chance to finally put my brief hatchet training to good use.
Waiting for him to pass by, I adjusted from being prone to being up on one knee ready to spring with every ounce of strength that I had.
Planting my boot heel firmly on the floor, I took aim at the back of his head and lunged with everything I had in me.
Landing a clean hit right in the back of his skull, I dropped him like I had been killing Zombies for years. What a feeling! And yet, what a totally disgusting sight.
But I had done this. I had used the hatchet to prolong my survival. And I knew that this would not be the last time I had to kill in order to survive.
For the moment, after I put my boot on his back and jerked the hatchet out of his rotten skull spilling some nasty gunk onto the warehouse floor, I marveled in what I had accomplished.
Using the business end of my hatchet, I checked him over and noticed that he didn't have anything on him that was useful; quite the opposite, actually.
Remembering the staircase that I had seen earlier when I entered the warehouse, I made my way over to the first step and headed up to the catwalk.
Making my way across it, I found three different sets of bullets, another bandage and a flare. I hadn't been this excited since I initially found my first hatchet.
My excitement quickly faded when my stomach growled again. I still have to locate some food, I thought. And my stomach continued to remind me of this fact every few seconds.
A quick survey of an adjacent room on the second floor of the warehouse only garnered two more empty cans. I had cleaned this building out and knew that it was time to leave.
The rain faded and eventually stopped. I readied myself to check the next building in line with the warehouses – a two story, brick house.
Although the constant moans, groans and screams of the walkers and hoppers (crawling or otherwise) didn't help, I moved towards the opposite door where my first kill had come in about 10 minutes earlier.
I peeked through the crack in the doorway, and then proceeded to open it just enough for me to get through. Quickly jumping back and away from the opening, I waited for the sounds of lazy footsteps and groans to dissipate. They didn't, and to top it all off, it started to rain…again.
Hungry. I was so hungry.
My hunger served as my driving force to get me out into the rain among the walkers and hoppers – heading towards the house.
I made my way along a stone wall and saw a house in the distance (about 50 yards away). The front door was open, but zombies bordered it on both sides. And again, the rain poured down on me as if I was standing under a powerful waterfall.
Pushing the rain off of my eyes with the hand that wasn't holding on to the hatchet for dear life, I continued to crawl in the mud and wet grass towards the house.
Crawling across the stone driveway and into a second patch of grass, I was 25 yards away from the entrance. The rain kept pouring, the sounds of the walkers just kept getting louder, but I was determined to make it into the house. 10 yards. 5.
I finally made it to the front steps and inside. Soaking wet, I turned to close the door. It, and all other doors around me, were jammed open. I had to hide.
Seeing an open door just inside of the main entrance, I quickly crawled in and didn't move. The snorting, screeching and dragging sounds all around the building were so clear that I could almost feel them in my chest.
But then all of the fear went away, if only for a moment, when I saw what was on the floor ahead of me: a Makarov PM semi-automatic pistol (9x18mm caliber), ammo, a heat pack and two cans of soda (one Pepsi and the other a Coke).
Needless to say and I didn't care what kind of soda it was. I cracked open the first one that I put my hands on, the Coke, and drank it down in a few gulps. It wasn’t a steak dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, but it sure tasted just as good. Although it didn’t totally revitalize me, it definitely helped.
Taking the last sip of the Coke, I put Pepsi in my pack along with the other supplies that I had found.
The sounds outside brought me back to reality and I quickly moved into the other room across the hall. Finding some addition ammo and a few Chemical Lights (which could help to draw the walkers’ attention at night, I put the latest round of supplies in my pack.
Finally, I knew that I needed to get some rest. This day had put me through enough, and I knew that harder days were ahead of me. So I found a spot to rest in the two-story, brick house and did just that.
When I wake up, please let this all be a bad dream, I thought. As I faded to sleep out of exhaustion, I knew that this was not a dream. I was now living in what I would later find out to be called DayZ .