DayZ was the game that really got me in PC gaming. DayZ was the game to bring the survival genre to life and over the next 8-9 years, many challengers would come and go. But none have quite captured the essence of DayZ.
A new wave
The standalone version was released in 2013 and at that point, it sparked a whole new world of content creation. Sure the DayZ mod was around before that, and there were many YouTubers creating great content within it. But the standalone version really blew up those creators. I watched them constantly, wanting to take part in this world of danger and freedom.
People were creating their own stories within the game, which was something rarely seen in such a way up to that point. Whether it be on public servers with unscripted interactions with strangers. Or private ones where more scripted stories or ‘movies’ were being made. DayZ opened up a whole new world for content. There wasn’t really much else like it and I was desperate to play it.
At the time of the release I only had a laptop that was fairly underpowered – I mainly played Football Manager on it. That being said, I still picked up a copy of DayZ Standalone.
Despite only getting around 20fps on it, I was still able to enjoy moments in the game. It was very poorly optimised especially for lower-end machines like mine. However, I still remember one of my first interactions with a stranger. It was a young-sounding kid who tried to stick me up North of Elektro. I remember holding my hands up as he tried to get me to give him my gear only for a momentary lapse in concentration allowing me to pull out a gun and shoot him.
This was one of my first DayZ moments and it’s stuck with me ever since. No other game has quite captured the tension DayZ brings. The janky-ness of the game only added to that.
Early on, everything was a potential death trap. Ladders would routinely break your legs. Running too quickly over rocks would send you flying to your death. Furthermore, the performance of the game meant there were lag and framerate issues making hitting things with melee attacks a nightmare. But it didn’t matter. Nothing made firefights as intense as in DayZ. The thought of losing all your progress in the blink of an eye gave meaning to your life.
The bugs, glitches, and issues all hold a special place in people’s hearts to some extent. DayZ was a game like no other and I loved it.
Over the years I’ve dipped in and out of the game. However, for the most part, I’d left DayZ behind. The rise of Escape from Tarkov is part of the reason for that. EfT offered those intense firefights, but in a more chaotic and action-packed way. The lure of looting was there without the need to run for hours on end. Tarkov offered a more instant satisfaction that I seemed to be craving.
However, here we are in 2021 and over the last two weeks, I’ve put over 30 hours into DayZ and I’m loving it. When you’ve not played something in so long, sometimes you forget why you loved it. Sure, I remember the random meetings, the firefights in military areas. But there’s more to it.
`DayZ is a road trip, one you can go on with your friends. Camping in the woods, with a toasty fire and some food to cook. Running along roads chatting rubbish. There is a lot of ‘downtime’ in DayZ but sometimes it’s those moments where you aren’t doing anything where the game shines.
Coming back to DayZ has been so refreshing especially now with all the modded servers with so many quality of life updates. I’m well and truly hooked on it again and have been loving getting back into creating content on the game too.
It’s not just me, however, in 2021 DayZ has broken its concurrent peak players record. Additionally, daily averages have been slowly and surely creeping up. Compared to a couple of years ago the player base is booming. It’s fantastic to see a game that was, for so long, lambasted as a scam (typically by those who didn’t play) still thriving so many years later. DayZ is an excellent game to play in 2021 and still king of survival.