Is DayZ Worth Playing In Early Access?

When it comes to Steam Early Access games, most people know not to dive in straight away. The DayZ alpha, however, is an entirely different animal. The poster child for Steam Early Access, many are wondering if the game is worth playing in its current state.

Games developers themselves tell you not to buy their Early Access games while expecting a complete product. This obviously hasn’t worked for developer Bohemia Interactive: they announced last month that three million copies of DayZ has been sold in pre-release. The game has also sat in the top 10 best-selling titles on Steam for over a year now.

I agree with most developers that tell players to hang back until games are further along in production, but not everyone should. Those who have played the ArmA 2: Operation Arrowhead mod of DayZ would probably really enjoy the standalone game as it’s built upon a similar engine and would be familiar to the more hardcore players.

That being said, here’s the big question: is DayZ refined enough to give it a try?

The answer to that question is no. Not one bit.

Unlike most other games in an alpha state, DayZ works and is generally playable unless of course you’re running an older PC.  In that case, you’re going to be stuck sitting on low settings. I hope you like PS2 textures.

Currently, the game world is pretty barren. It’s obvious that Bohemia is trying to perfect the core aspects of the gameplay before they add more sophisticated features. Brand new assets (like vehicles) that have been added through updates are nowhere near finished, but they do what you’d expect them to do (most of the time, anyway).

DayZ is not finished and will not be for some time. There are a ton of broken animations, missing sounds, and a shambling horde of bugs. DayZ is redeemed by the fact that it’s different every time you jump into a server. Your experience will never be the same, the people you meet are strange and will, well, most likely attempt to kill you. DayZ Alpha is Fun.

DayZ takes the features that were fun in the mod and made it more hardcore. What made the mod fun was not simply the huge arsenal of weapons to use or the amount of loot that spawns– it was the struggle to find your friends before you died of natural causes or worse. It was the fight to stay alive in a very hostile, harsh world and of course the dynamic player interactions of killing or saving your fellow humans. The opposite is just as likely to happen: them saving you or killing you, or instead causing you to throw your headphones into the wall after hours spent just looking for a gun.

DayZ crosses off all of these items while adding a more hardcore, darker feel. The game makes you fight and worry more for your own life than the mod did. Supplies are a must have, if you run out of provisions, your time is up. That means no camping those hills for hours on end! The gun play is adrenaline pumping, especially since the 0.54 update when Bohemia added a sharp, supersonic crack for bullets coming your way. Find some friends and square off against a team of hostiles and you have yourself a blood pumping, exiting game.

Due to the heavy focus on communication, you’ll catch a lot of flak if you don’t have a microphone. The DayZ community has a hate for those who cannot speak and the saying used by many players “No Mic, No Life” is correct, 99% of the time. If you don’t have a microphone, consider purchasing one. Otherwise, you will not experience DayZ to its fullest.

Another almost critical need before buying the game is a friend to play with. DayZ is nothing without the players, despite the fact that there are indeed zombies in the game. Without a friend around you will not have as much fun as you would have with one of your buddies along for the ride. DayZ is possible to play solo, but be warned that core features such as blood bags for re-gaining blood (health) require another player to use.

Before we finish up, I’ll give you a friendly warning: trust no one! Although you will come across the odd individual who actually won’t shoot you in the back, most players on DayZ adopt the “bandit” playstyle. This, of course, means shooting people on sight, and capturing ill-equipped players and feeding them rotten fruit or disinfectant. It is worth always talking to people in this game as you may meet that one wing man you always wanted!

So is DayZ worth your money at $34.99? Unless you love DayZ with a passion or have friends who play with, I’d have to say no.

However, for a game in early access, it shows a huge amount of promise. In the next year or so of development as we see DayZ go into beta, I truly think we will see DayZ rise in the charts and shine out as a one of a kind game. Until then, those of you who are not ready for this game should hang back and wait to see where it goes.

For those brave few of you who are ready: I’ll see you in the wastelands!