There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Chernarus, because it doesn’t exist. It’s a fictional post-Soviet state from the computer game ARMA 2, a place scarred by war and currently the stage for a major zombie apocalypse: In the DayZ mod, an unknown virus has turned the general population into zombies and devastated a large military force, likely called in to contain the situation. As a survivor with limited supplies, the player must scavenge the world for supplies such as food, water, weapons and medicine, while killing or avoiding both zombies and other players – in an effort to survive the zombie apocalypse.
The game tries to simulate the experience as authentically as possible: You have to eat and drink to survive, cold weather will decrease your body temperature if you don’t light a fire, you can break a leg, your character might panic and if you loose enough blood you’ll faint and die. And when you die, you actually die. Not in real life, of course, but in the game. You have to start all over again with a new character.
Your only goal in DayZ is to survive. The zombies are one threat, but the real challenge is other players. Can you trust them? In most cases, no. Unless you play with friends you trust in real life, there’s a good chance your better off avoiding other people, rather than trying to seek out and team up with them. They need your gear to survive, and the majority of the other players wouldn’t think twice before putting a bullet in your back for a can of beans and a Pepsi. And then it’s game over.
I’ve only played for a couple of hours, so it’s a bit early to completely dismiss the game as a fluke. But I don’t quite see how it can continue to by any fun over time. With a group of friends, it might be very entertaining, but as a lone player, the repeatability of DayZ is close to nill. When your only goal is to survive, I feel that it’s like a simulation of my life in a much harsher environment – and I’m not sure if that’s something I want to spend my time on.
That said, there is a lot of people playing the game – DayZ was responsible for putting the three year old ARMA 2 into the top seller charts on Steam for over seven weeks. In its first four months the mod reached one million players on 6 August 2012. So it might just be that this simply isn’t my cup of tea.