It’s not every day that a game comes along that manages to create an online system that confirms all your deepest fears about the depravity of your fellow man. Whether you insist on maintaining a positive outlook or are willing to submit, DayZ is here to break you down and fill you with dread.
Starting out its days as a humble ARMA 2 mod, DayZ quickly skyrocketed in popularity, becoming the talk of PC gamers everywhere. It was only logical then, that the standalone release of the mod would be an equally successful beast. Despite this and his warnings that the game would be rough around the edges, not even developer Dean Hall could have prepared himself for the sales numbers of the first month following DayZ’s alpha release.
The reception of the standalone DayZ has received in its short time on the market is quite staggering. Considering there is still close to a year until the beta is released, not only is it becoming clear that Steam Early Access is a viable method of distribution for PC games, but also that the platform is clearly thriving. The state of PC gaming has always been a point of contention for many gamers as talk of its “inevitable” death crops up every few months but as Hall has illustrated, PC gaming is about the furthest thing from dead. He then went on to share his excitement for the thriving PC community by tweeting the following:
With such a large influx of players opting into the Steam Early Access alpha of DayZ in its first month, it begs the question of how the game's community is holding itself together. In the game, while there are other factors to contend with (i.e. horrible bugs and glitches), without a doubt the most pressing concern for most players is their fellow man. The feeling of walking into a town you think is abandoned and then coming face-to-face with another player whose intentions are a mystery is one of the most exhilarating moments in recent gaming, but also one of the most terrifying. Whereas AI has to be programmed to do something, humans are unpredictable and capable of absolutely anything. This makes them infinitely more terrifying than any AI.
The wanton death and hostility of DayZ, while demoralizing at times, can also reach a point where you can't help but shake your head. This comic by Dorkly illustrates just how excessive the extent of human cruelty can be in DayZ:
Whether you're a glutton for punishment or you simply haven't become a jaded Chernarus survivor yet, DayZ is one of the most interesting social simulators of recent years. Not only does it make you question how you would react in a heated situation with your own survival on the line, but it also illustrates just how much a good person can change when placed among such negative stimuli for an extended period of time. No matter how much good a person thinks they have within themselves, the combination of internet anonymity, the game's focus on personal survival and pure human cruelty can make a monster out of anyone.
For these reasons, DayZ is a game that you will love for one moment and then hate for another. It's a constantly polarizing experience and one that will be interesting to watch as it progresses, if only to see how the community reacts and how it will affect PC modding culture.
After DayZ's success, do you think Steam Early Access is here to stay? What is the most interesting thing that you have encountered in-game so far?
The DayZ Early Access alpha is currently available on PCs with a beta release expected toward the beginning of 2015.