DayZ Standalone worth playing yet?

Lately I’ve been really missing and wanting to play DayZ Mod. It’s been nearly a year since gave up on it and closed own my servers, and really haven’t looked back til recently. DayZ Mod has always had bugs and issues, but the game was still very fun, and the positives used to outweigh the bugs, but the ultimate game killer for me was after the GameSpy network shut down, and no one was able to reliably find and connect to servers. The GameSpy network controlled the login and auth/server systems for ArmaII/DayzMod. Bohemia did to a half assed attempt as moving the system to Steam Auth, but it rarely worked. Due to this I finally gave up, and closed down my popular server.

So much ground to cover, and this is only a tiny portion.
So much ground to cover, and this is only a tiny portion.

DayZ Mod was always a very special game to me, and instantly hooked me a few years ago when I first played it. The rawness, realism, and authentic atmosphere of the game combined with the vast open world map as simply amazing, and created something special which I’ve never witnessed in any other game. I remember at the time driving a car in real life, and thinking “wow this is just like in DayZ”, ha

Traveling in DayZ Mod took a very long time, so knowing that you could die at any moment and lose all the progress really intensified the gameplay. No other game has made me so paranoid, anxious, nervous, and had my heart beating so hard when I encountered another player, or a crazy Zombie. In Battlefield, or even Minecraft, you just simply respawn, there is no real threat. So DayZ is really special.

I was very excited a few years ago when it was announced that they were creating a Standalone version of DayZ, which meant more features, more optimizations, and an over all improved game. However, the standalone was a huge buggy disappointment when it was finally released on Steam Early Access nearly two years ago. Of course Early Access titles are going to be buggy, and lack features, but the Standalone while having improved graphics, lacked most of the content and features that were even in the Mod. And for the majority of the time since it’s original release, the game has been without Zombies. Personally I don’t care too much for zombies, They were always more annoying in DayZ Mod than a threat, which I’ll get to later, but they are nice to have just for that added fear.

Also there weren’t any vehicles for the longest time in DayZ, not even a bicycle, which is annoying due to the huge size of the world map, which is much much larger than the map in the mod.

The progress has been very slow since its release, so slow that many of us had forgotten, and in most cases gave up on it ever developing into something worth playing. I did check in every now in then, only to see that not much has changed. Most of us just stayed playing the mod, which was still fun and playable up until last year.

Since last year some other similar games have been released which seemed promising, such as H1Z1, which turned out to be a huge buggy let down, and an apparent cash grab. Don’t get me wrong, H1Z1 is fun, and perhaps maybe has bit more to do and craft than DayZ. It has basebuilding and even some vehicles, but overall H1Z1 seems arcadish, and just isn’t as immersive as DayZ is. Also the devs seems to have totally abandoned the Open World Survival aspect of the game in favor of developing the “Battle Royale” mode in which all the players drop from the sky at the same time, and you have to survive and kill everyone else, and the last one alive wins. They sell special crates for this gamemode, and it really seems like its a crash grab. I’ve played it several time, and while it was fun, it wasn’t the Open World Realistic Sandbox Survival Game that it had promised to become. Also the game is infested with more Cheaters/hackers than Zombies.

There have been many other  games released, that were huge disappointments, and aren’t even worth mentioning.

There is a game currently underdevelopment that I’ve been following for a long while now, and it looks so promising. I’m a bit jaded by the other games which turned out to be flops, so i don’t want to get my hopes up. The game is called Survive The Nights, and it looks awesome. The devs don’t want another broken Early Access title out there, so they are waiting til the game is worth playing before they release it, which is really respectable. Shows that they are in it for the fun of developing the game, and not just for a quick cash grab. I think the game is going to do well.  But then again, i said the exact same thing about H1Z1.

Back to DayZ, Like i said, I’ve been really craving and wanting to play the game lately. I miss walking 5 miles only to be killed, and having to spend the next real hour running the distance again, ha.

I tried to go back and download the old DayZ mod Launchers, such as Commander, and one simply labeled DayZ Launcher, which allowed you to find servers better than the built in server browser did, but due to the already mentioned gamespy closing, they barely work. It seems the dev of DayZ Commander gave up, it doesn’t work at all. I couldn’t get the other Launcher to work either. I then tried joining a game from within the built in server browser, which only gave me error, and constantly kicked me from the server. I didn’t want to spend the next day trying to get DayZ Mod to work, so i gave up and deleted it. which is too bad. The game once was amazing, but now its hard to even get working.

I then decided to give the Standalone version another go. I heard that a new engine was being worked on, new features, etc and a big recent patch that readded Zombies. One thing i hated about The Standalone were the lacking of vehicles, which are kinda needed in a game with such a map as big as whats in DayZ. They actually improved the map and made it much larger than was previously in the mod.. but, they finally added a few vehicles, and soon they’ll add even a LittleBird, which is going to be awesome. So Standalone seemed like it was going to get better, but to be honest, i didn’t expect much. I thought it was going to be like all the other times when I attempted to play DayZ Standalone, only to be disappointed, and almost immediately closing it.

I launched the game, looked for a 24/7 DayTime server because I wanted to test the game, and not be stuck in the pitch black wilderness, i found a private server (which i prefer), and hopped right in.

Sunrise over Electro
Sunrise over Electro

Immediately noticed how beautiful it was. DayZ doesn’t have the greatest graphics, but its not too cartoonish either, It looks nice, realistic, and immersive. It ran so smooth as well. I don’t get like 60 FPS constantly, but I get a high playable FPS, which is much better than it was on the mod.

I spawned in over at the Coast in Solnichniy, and did want I always do when first spawning into DayZ, which is pretty much an instinct, which is to run my ass off to get away from the populated Coastal line. Don’t try looting, just run til you get far enough away. So I ran into a deep forest. I then made a plan to do what I usually do next, which is Travel up to North East Air Field to gather some quality gear and loot, such as decent weapons.

Admiring the View!
Admiring the View!

The noticed that there weren’t any Zombies anywhere, which was kind of a disappointment. In the Mod, Players would spawn like 10 local zombies each, and they would even spawn out of light poles in the middle of an open field, which was stupid, and didn’t make sense, but it happened, so its rare that you don’t see zombies. I wasn’t seeing any, so I thought maybe they removed the zombies again. So instead of zombies spawning in the middle of no where, they made zombies spawn where it makes sense, since as in what would’ve been populated areas such as towns, bases, etc.

I finally got to a small village, and there it is, my first zombie sighting. It was casually walking down the middle of the street obvious to me. This was my first zombie, so i wasn’t sure how it was going to act. They said they were really working on improving the Zombie AI in the standalone, so I just hid and watched it. It totally wasn’t aware of me at all.

I then saw another zombie in the town, I maybe saw 2 total, and they were obvious to me, mostly because I was hiding from them, which is amazing.

After playing for a bit, i realized that they GREATLY improved the Zombie AI, which weren’t so intelligent in the mod, which were more of an annoyance than a threat.  They could see and hit you through walls, they could see you a mile away, not to mention the weird way they spawned. So if you were around any thing that could spawn a zombie from, such as a light pole, they would spawn.  Doesn’t matter how much you tried to avoid them, if you were even near them they would spot you, and hit you through walls and chase you until you finally killed them. They were just horrible, and didn’t make sense.

Just killing zombies...
Just killing zombies…

However, the Zombies present in the current version of the Standalone are amazing. They don’t have a super turbo speed as they do in the mod, where the zombie would be 500 ft behind you, then some how boosts its speed to end up 5 ft behind you and then slow down to a realistic running pace. This was stupid, it didn’t make the game harder, it made it annoying and stupid. Make the zombies act in a way that makes sense, which they seemed to have done in the Standalone.

Watching and Sneaking around a Zombie.
Watching and Sneaking around a Zombie.

You can easily out run zombies now (assuming you’re in good health and are uninjured) , or even running through forests or around buildings can confuse and lose them. They aren’t easy, they just make sense.

Out Running Zombies., Lost all these quickly.
Out Running Zombies., Lost all these quickly.

But even if you don’t wish to engage with them just hide and walk slow, they will remain obvious. AWESOME! They are not easy though, don’t get me wrong. If you make a loud noise, such as a gun shot, ALL of them will come running at you. You can out run them again, but if you’re in a heavy gun battle with another person, this can cause an issue.

So the Zombie AI is amazing, and near perfect. They’re not easy, nor an annoyance; they just make sense.

Waiting....
Waiting….

There still are some bugs with the zombies. From day one of the Standalone there was an issue with Zombies spawning under ground, or some place. You could hear but not see them.. This still seems to still be an issue but i’m not sure if its an actual zombie spawning under ground, or just an audio bug. Sometimes when a zombie is chasing you, you can hear growls from all around you from all sort of directions, so maybe its just an audio issue to cause suspense, i don’t know, but its stupid.

They said they made the world Zombies more dynamic in the way that they spawn. I think they said its half player spawned, and half on the server, or something like that. Which is nice because in the mod,  you could always tell if other players were around by the presence of zombies, since they were player spawned. Now, you can’t really tell, which is a good thing.

Zombies in the far distance are static and don't move. they come to life when you get close.
Zombies in the far distance are static and don’t move. they come to life when you get close.

I have noticed a weird bug where zombies in the distance just stay still, which is weird. I thought there other players in the distance, so I got my binoculars out, and noticed that it was only frozen zombies, which came to life the closer I got. This could be to help FPS performance and other issues, but its weird, i’d rather them just not be there. Reminds me of the weird issue in H1Z1 where anything in the distance such as zombie or player would look like a weird blocky stick figure. I think this could create an issue just as the player spawning issue did in the mod, which is it could indicate if there are any players in that area due to the zombies being animated.

The loot spawning in the game is awesome as well. You wont find too much in one place, for example you can find a gun, but you wont find any ammo for it at the same spot, you’ll have to look around, but eventually you can find some ammo. Many games limit loot in a way that it makes looking for loot feel like you’re wasting your time. DayZ seems to have resolved this issue because you’ll usually always find something, which provides a nice satisfying feeling. So the loot spawning is great.

My Modded Weapon
My Modded Weapon

I really love the weapon customization feature, which I thought i’d hate when I first heard about it years ago. Usually you’ll find just a single plain weapon without any sights, or addons and so on. You can find sighs, silencers, and all sorts of things by looting.
So far I’ve been able to find a broken sight, better grip, and a nice silencer for my gun. If a part breaks, simple find another part. It’s nice.

I have found several broken down vehicles in the game, which all need working parts to operate, and I haven’t been able to find all these missing parts to get one working, so i can’t really judge how well vehicles work in the game.  I am current looking for parts of a truck I found, so hopefully I can report back on that soon.

The movements and controls in the game are nice. Still a bit clunky and nice.

I have came across several bugs, which arent game killers, but are annoying.  I like having two large rifles with me, so i’ll have one attached to my back, and the other in my arm. The one is my arm always gets set on the ground when I go to eat, or drink, or interact with anything in the game. and several times now the gun has simply vanished. I had a very good rare FN Fal gun, and several other modded guns lost because of this. I now know to only keep one main weapon with me, ha. Which sucks, but it’s better than losing a great gun.

Another annoying bug that randomly happens is I lose control input in the game, meaning I can’t move my guy around, nor bring up the menu to exit the game. I have to ALT+TAB out and close the game via task manager. This has happened Several times, and so far it hasn’t caused any real issues, but I could imagine how annoying this would be if it happened during combat with another player.

My collection of Canteens. I'll never a near death thirst attack again!
My collection of Canteens. I’ll never a near death thirst attack again!

The most annoying issue I’ve ran into so far is a weird constant thirst. You can’t go 30 seconds in the game without becoming thirsty. At first this was a huge annoying issue, but once you get enough storage, you can stock up on canteens and have enough water for a while. I found that the best way to deal with the weird thirst is to stay ahead of it and keep your Hydration level in the super green. I nearly died from dehydration and lost all color in the game. Keeping the indicators in the green restored my color and health fast.

I suppose I do constant speed run around the map, but it shouldn’t cause constant near death thirst levels. I remember this being a major issue when Standalone was first released, hopefully it gets reduced to a level that makes sense. Luckily the constant illness doesn’t exist anymore.

Get used to constantly filling up several canteens in order to stay alive!
Get used to constantly filling up several canteens in order to stay alive!

The game also still has the annoying sounds as the mod had, such as random sticks breaking in the forest and bangs and booms here and there. I know this is added for suspense, but its artificial and is stupid. All sounds should be actually caused and triggered by something, not just for the sake of it.

Another thing that some might not like is how the dead bodies despawn after like 10 minutes. This probably for server performance (many dead bodies = wasted server resources), but many people like having their bodies remain longer because if they accidentally die they can attempt to run back to their bodies to gather their loot, which happened alot in the Mod due to the bugs and glitches. Also if you have more of a chance at getting all your gear back, then dying really isn’t that big of a deal. 10 minutes is enough time for killers to loot your body.

Is the game worth playing yet? ABSOLUTELY YES! finally! I’m not sure if it was the latest update .59 or whatever, (haven’t played in awhile), but its definitely worth playing now, and I can stay that its far better than the Mod. While you may not have the variety of weapons and vehicles as whats in the mod, you certainly have more quality weapons, and over all features. It’s still early access, so I assume they’ll be adding more vehicles and content.

It may have taken 2 years to get to this point, which is sad, but we’re finally there!

Not to mention how much better the game runs compared to the mod.

I have an Ultra wide Monitor, and the game renders and plays smoothly on on Ultra settings at 2560×1080 res with an older GTX 7704gb, which isn’t 4k, but its decent which most games have a hard time rendering on, and AAA games like Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare don’t even render my resolution period, I haven’t cared to check if Black Ops III does.

I thought I’d hate the standalone due to the devs not allowing custom modded servers, but in all honestly, you really don’t need them because the entire point of modding and customizing the Mod was to add features, buildings, and to correct bugs that were present in the game. Most of these features are already built into the standalone. So the need to make the Standalone playable isn’t there, since it already is.

I was really shocked by how much fun I had in the Standalone. From this point on, I can see it only getting better.

The Devs have stated that they plan on the game leaving Early Access and being a full release in 2016.

I’m happy to be finally able to recommend this game, you can pick it up on steam for about $35.