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Frontline: A DayZ in the Life

The average life for a player on DayZ is 49 minutes.

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It used to be closer to 4 hours, but an update that removed much of the starting gear (including your first weapon) turned an already deadly simulation into a much more dangerous adventure. In a word, it's brutal.

DayZ is a zombie survival mod for military simulation Arma 2: Combined Operations. Dean "Rocket" Hall saw the potential for a persistent open world zombie game, and began making it a reality. It was released just a few months ago and between now and then over 1,000,000 players have signed up for the game. Bohemia Interactive took note of the growing popularity of the mod and on 8.8.12 they announced that DayZ was being developed into a standalone game.


The premise is simple. Each life starts with a character arriving on the coast of Chernarus (a 225 km2 open world post-soviet state), with nothing but the clothes on his/her back, some pain killers, a bandage and a flashlight. Beyond that there is one solitary objective: stay alive.

It's playable from both first and third person perspectives. A massive, persistent world is available on each server, joining one then places you on the periphery of a zombie survival horror experience unlike any other. There's no quests, no objectives (beyond the one mentioned above), each player has no agenda other than the one they choose for themselves. All you have is the will to survive and a vast environment in which to explore. It's a refreshing change of pace, and perhaps the purest expression of zombie survival horror in videogame form to date.

DayZ Diary Entry 1: Epic Fail

So there I was, taking my first steps on DayZ. Foliage was shimmering in the wind, and the hillside to the north was littered with trees. The tide was lapping at my ankles. It was time to move.

There was an urban environment far off to the east, and that seemed as good a place as any to start looking for the equipment that would keep me alive in the coming hours. I followed the coast, running at a steady speed, woodland to my left, the expanse of water to my right.

En route to the nearby town I came across a dilapidated warehouse. Entirely unremarkable, I decided to ignore it and carry on to the mass of buildings off in the distance. Just beyond the warehouse, a zoom revealed the trademark shuffle of a zombie in the distance. I crouched and reduced my speed. Perhaps the warehouse was worth checking out after all; at the very least it offered me a good opportunity to navigate my way past the slow moving threat up ahead.


I crept into the hollow structure. Nothing. No provisions or supplies to be found, no axe or gun to pick up for self defence. It was a barren and broken building. I was just about to leave when I saw a set of steps that led to a walkway. I went to investigate. Nothing up there either.

There were no zombies in the vicinity, certainly nothing close enough to see or hear me, so I nonchalantly vaulted the railing and hopped back down to the ground floor. I moved towards the - Bang.

I was murdered. A shotgun to the back of the head. I didn't even see it coming. Blank screen. Game over. Dead. 9 minutes into my first life on DayZ and I was done. And it wasn't even a zombie that did the deed.

Oh how I fumed. Who? What? Where? When? Why? Questions flashed through my mind. Expletives rolled from my tongue. This is not what I expected to happen, and it certainly wasn't the experience I was hoping to have. There was nothing to do but regroup and restart. Besides, my rude introduction to the brutal dog-eat-dog world of DayZ had given me a new objective: find the bastard that murdered me and kill them.