DayZ: A Survival Guide

If you’ve been bitten by the DayZ zombie bug, you might find yourself to be a stranger in a strange land. DayZ is not your average arcade shooter. The post zombie-apocalyptic country of Chernarus is a cruel and unforgiving place. Zombies roam mindlessly through cities and villages while bandits lie in wait over cities. To survive, you’ll need every little bit of help you can get. Hopefully this strategy guide will keep you alive a few hours longer.

Rules in a nutshell.

Tip #1: Do NOT get attached to your loot.

Before you begin the game, you should know and accept this rule. Death comes easily in this game and when it does, it is permanent. It is usually swift and often you have no clue who just killed you (most deaths will probably come from other players). As I write this, the average time spent alive in the game is 49 minutes. You might get lucky and spawn near where your dead body is, but Chernarus is a huge country and you will often spawn far away from where you died. Whatever happens, just be ready to start over from scratch often.

Tip #2: Bust a move!: Become acquainted with the controls

At least it’s no Steel Battalion.

Imagine you are being chased by a horde of zombies. You accidentally trap yourself in a fenced in area. Zombies are breathing down your neck and you have just a fraction of a second to jump over the fence…*pause* “Now which key is the ju……AAHHHH”…Congratulations, you just became zombie happy meal #15,032,124.

While the controls aren’t overly complicated, there are a lot of key commands to learn. Learning the basic movements can make all the difference between life and death. If this is your first time playing Arma 2, I suggest doing two things. 1) Print off a keyboard layout for Arma 2 (Found a pretty good map here: Arma 2 Keyboard Layout) to have close by on your computer and 2) Run through Basic Training on single player. Basic training will help get you acquainted with the movement, shooting, action buttons, vehicles controls, and inventory UI (which early warning, is a major headache!). There are a lot of things you can do with the items you find in DayZ and will discuss more on that in the next tip.

Tip #3: Those Simple Bare Necessities: The Loot you’ll need to survive

DayZ attempts to be as realistic as possible.  Your character will become hungry and thirsty over time and since there are no McDonald’s in DayZ, scavenging will be an essential function. Icons on the side of the screen will indicate your hunger, blood, and thirst levels. Pro tip, you don’t have to satisfy your hunger and thirst needs until they start flashing, so save those food cans and water bottles as long as you can. Water bottles are a great item since they can be refilled at pumps, water holes, and lakes (but not the ocean). Animals and livestock in the game aren’t just for show either. You can kill these grazing animals and if you have a hunting knife, collect their meat. However, the meat will be raw and you’ll need to cook the food over a fire before you can eat it. And don’t disregard “trash” items such as empty cans or whiskey bottles. Items like these can be thrown near zombies and serve as a distraction.

In addition, all the items in the game spawn randomly, but certain logical items will have higher spawn chances in buildings where you’d be more likely to find them in real life. Residential homes and farms are more likely to spawn food, drinks, and small weapons. Industrial areas will likely spawn machine parts for vehicles and other items. Military posts/camps will most likely spawn automatic weapons, military gear, etc..etc.

It is also never a bad idea to right click on items in your inventory to see if they have any secondary functions. Right clicking certain ammo clips allows you to alter what guns it can be used for (many handguns share the same bullets but are just loaded differently). Certain items can be used for both utility and as a weapon. Axes can cut down trees, but if you “remove from your toolbar”, can be turned into your primary weapon. And not to make the item UI even more confusing, but sometimes certain actions can only be seen or selected from the middle scroll button on your mouse and often can only be accessed by looking at an item at a certain angle/distance. For instance, you can upgrade your backup when you come across a bigger one by looking at it, scrolling the middle button on your mouse so that an action tree appears on the left side of the screen, and selecting “Take Backpack”. Overall, the UI is the most challenging thing you’ll face and will take the longest to get use to and discover all the intricacies.

Tip #4: You Are –> Here: Maps

Was that a left or a right at the goat?

Skip this tip if you don’t want to spoil the feeling of true exploration or if you know how to read Bulgarian. Wondering if you can read Bulgarian? Here’s a little test: Ако можете да четете това, тогава знаете, баща ти е хамстер си и майка си, миришеше на бъз (и че сега можете да чете пътните знаци в Chernarus)!

Can’t read it? Want a fighting chance on getting to a place with decent items and weapons? Then read on. As mentioned, Chernarus is truly a small country and there are miles upon miles to explore. It’s very easy to get lost or end up on a road that takes you to small town after small town with little-to-no loot. While there are maps in the game, it may be a long time before you find a map. I recommend having a DayZ map handy as you explore the Russian wilderness. Best map I’ve come across is DayZ Map. It not only lists all cities and roads, but you can select and highlight best areas to look for certain things.

And keep a sharp eye out for a compass. It’s honestly one of my favorite and most used item I have (aside from trusty “Winona”). It is very easy to veer off course when traveling through the country side with no landmarks and become lost.

Tip #5: Fast Food (If you are being chased by Zombies):

Rule #1 – Cardio

In the event that you walk too close to draw the unwanted attention of a walking corpse, that zombie will lock onto you like a heat seeking missile. If this happens, the zombie will make a dead sprint in your direction. If you’re crouched or lying prone, get your butt up and RUUUUUUNNNN, Forest (unless you can kill it of course)! Once alerted, the zombies can run as fast as you do, if not a little faster, and will continue chasing you until they catch you or their limbs fall off. But never fear! There are some things you can do to escape this pursuit.

1) Use the environment to your advantage. Zombies can run very fast, go through doors, army crawl under walls, climb ladders, but can’t navigate around a narrow opening very easily. Try running alongside fence lines looking for a small break in the fence to dart through. Jumping over small fences and walls can also help shake the zombies but can be risky since the vault animation is a slow animation and a zombie may get a few hits in before you’re over. Also, zombies will stop running and begin to walk through many buildings. Try running through buildings that have an entrance and exit or are big enough that you can draw the zombies far enough in to run back by them and out.

2) Once you’re forced to run, don’t be afraid of picking up a few more zombies along the way. The more the merrier, right? Zombies will zig-zag enough toward you that you can usually run right by them before they can take a swing at you. Combine this step with running into a building and you’ll be able to turn your zombie conga into a zombie massacre (just be sure you have enough bullets).

3) Abort…abort…abort! You can hit “Esc” and click “abort” if you find yourself in a situation you can’t escape the zombies. When you respawn, the horde will be gone and you will be left in peace. I honestly hate using this method since it feels like it breaks the spirit of the game but you are left with no other choice when you spawn and are not given anything to defend yourself with.

Tip #6: Stranger Danger:

Don’t believe them! All they have is generic hard candy.

Many times you’ll run into people who say they are friendly. You know who else says they’re friendly? Creepy old dudes in the back of windowless van! Be very wary of any other human you come across in this game.  Many will just shoot at you on site while others make a game of lulling you into a place of security and then shooting you in the back (or at their watering hole…you know who you are). Beginners should also be on the look for servers that enable Global Chat (termed “Site Chat” channel in the game). Not all the servers have this and this option will eventually be disabled once the programmers get the radios to work correctly in the game. But for now, some servers have this chat option. This chat server lets you type or voice chat with anyone on the server and is a safe way to ask questions. Just be careful not to reveal your location. And again, don’t TRUST anyone right away even if they say they’re friendly or that they have candy (they usually NEVER have any candy). These servers can be hard to find, but don’t worry, even if you play on a server that doesn’t have global chat, you can still voice chat with people on the local chat (proximity based chat).

I’m not saying kill everyone you see. There is safety in numbers. Often the best reward is taking a chance and approaching a group of people and finding out they decided not to kill you. And when traveling, stick to the trees and bushes. It is much harder to see someone, let alone take a shot at them, as they dart through the shrubs than if they were running on an open road.

Tip #7: Expecting the Unexpected:

My final tip…expect anything to happen. DayZ is a world where trivia knowledge might save your life, you might develop Stockholm syndrome, come across a murder scene and piece together what happened, be stalked by a group of bandits who are flying around in a helicopter, find a man in a tractor running over zombies, or be chased by a deranged player who can only say one word. I haven’t had too many crazy encounters (at least not to the level of the videos below), but I definitely have very interesting experiences thanks to other people, random glitches and random encounters. Now, for your entertainment, a taste of the crazy that is DayZ (warning, some of these videos do contain strong language):

1) Stockholm Syndrome: How Six Men Kidnapped Me in DayZ

2) Destiny vs. The No (language warning)

3) Harvesting Season

4) Seinfeld Trivia Might Save Your Life (language warning)

5) Attending the Last Church of Elektrozavodsk; Last Church Witness 1; Last Church Aftermath Witness 2

You may also like...