Every time we begin to feel the overabundance of zombie-themed entertainment is getting stale, something new comes along that grabs our attention, and we’re not talking The Walking Dead or Lollipop Chainsaw. Bohemia Interactive’s 2009 open-world tactical shooter ARMA 2 has seen a boost in sales recently thanks to something console gamers cannot currently experience: mods. Specifically, the DayZ mod.
Over 700,000 players have jumped online to experience DayZ and so it’s no coincidence that a similar-themed, survival-based MMO was just announced: The War Z.
The War Z has been in development by Hammerpoint Interactive since last year, designed as an open-world quest based game where new areas can be unlocked by players as they progress. It’s being published by Arktos Entertainment Group, whose Executive Producer Sergey Titov spoke with IGN about the game and comparisons to the popular DayZ.
“As we saw the popularity of DayZ grow, and how players and the community were reacting, we realized two things – first, there was validation that our idea of making a zombie MMO was actually right and that there is a market/player base for it, and second, we decided to abandon the idea of unlocking parts of the map as you progress – rather, the player will be able to freely roam the world and gather information and quests by exploring notes, diaries, etc left behind by both real players and NPCs.
So short answer – while we began developing our game before DayZ, we’ve been encouraged by fact that DayZ has become so popular. And yes, of course some of our latest design decisions were influenced by the DayZ community forums.”
The DayZ mod is currently in alpha but is downloadable for free, bringing players into a new 225 square kilometer world created just for the mod, called Chernarus, a post-Soviet Russian land. Installation of DayZ requires both ARMA 2 and the Operation Arrowhead expansion – players can acquire both with the ARMA 2: Combined Ops bundle. The mod has become so popular that creator Dean Hall told Eurogamer of his interest in creating a standalone DayZ game. What he needs is resources and a development team, and while he has the full support of Bohemia, who’ve been active in the DayZ community, where the future lies for the incomplete mod remains as big a question mark as life expectancy of players in-game (currently at 49 minutes).
Find more about DayZ along with the download files at the official site dayzmod.com.
As for The War Z, the game is based in “Colorado,” one of several words Hammerpoint is developing for the game. It’s based five years after the zombie apocalypse where there’s a special type of mutant zombie that can be harvested for stem cells that can cure the zombie virus. The world is ruined from the humans vs. zombie battles and a big part of the game is finding notes left behind by survivors and other players. Like DayZ, food, water and first aid are all important to players in The War Z if they wish to survive and maintain their stamina.
Here’s a breakdown of The War Z features from their announcement for comparison:
- Big open worlds to explore between 200 to 400 square kilometers
- Two modes of play: Normal and Hardcore
- Combination of first-person and third-person perspectives
- Meld of PvE (player versus environment) and PvP (player versus player)
- Strong Role Playing Elements
- Multiple playable characters with customizable features
- Unique social elements, including bounties, help requests, trap setting, etc.
- Safe settlements where players can purchase, sell and store items as well as post notes for other players
- Dozens of unique skills that can be learned and improved
- Up to 250 players per game server
- New weapons and items become available as players explore the game world
- Full developer support with regularly scheduled, free content updates
- Dedicated public servers as well as private servers that can be completely self-managed in game client
- Single purchase, downloadable client with ability to play full game without subscriptions or requiring in-game transactions
Have you tried (or are planning to) DayZ? Will The War Z be able to compete?
[Update: DayZ could be a standalone game by fall if creator Dean Hall gets funding.]
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.