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DayZ – Why not just play an action FPS?

February 8, 2014

The more that I read the PCGamer DayZ Diary, the more I wonder if I’d actually enjoy the game.

The most recent DayZ Diary entry has me wondering why not just play a conventional action FPS, if the majority of player interactions simply involve killing other players? In particular I’m referring to the comments posted on that entry… It seems like there are far more murderers and robbers than decent people. Don’t get me wrong, I already have a very low opinion of my fellow gamer – however it seems like DayZ just reinforces the stigma of gamers being assholes, and encourages players not to trust each other, and basically to shit on each other en masse. That’s really unfortunate.

Before I go any further – I will state that I firmly believe DayZ is a fantastic social experiment, and unarguably one of the most novel gaming ideas in many years. However I am still disappointed to see that the heart of the game is hunting other players, in particular in a story setting where cooperation would be required, instead of predation.

Not only does the story indicate a poor state of affairs in the DayZ world, the response comments in particular demonstrate that DayZ players will all eventually move towards a “shoot anything that moves” approach to playing the game. In fact, the basic statistics posted on the DayZ website indicate that the “Heroes” are outnumbered by “Bandits” three to one. This clearly indicates a heavy emphasis on simply shooting other players just as readily as shooting zombies – making the game almost entirely a PvP experience. At that point, why suffer through the sloppy RPG system, the poor UI, the sketchy netcode, and bad controls of the ArmA engine? Why not just play an action FPS like Planetside, Battlefield, or Call of Duty?

Really – the reason I don’t invest myself into DayZ isn’t the aforementioned poor FPS mechanics of the game, but the time required to actually get to interesting gameplay. Unlike Planetside 2, where you can zip to action instantly (quite literally they have an “instant action” button on the map UI), or CoD where I can join a match in seconds, or Battlefield where I can (arguably) be in the middle of combat in short order – DayZ requires players to slog quite a bit to get to the exciting part of the game. From what I have read, the truly best experience is to play with real life friends as a group – again requiring even more uninterrupted time dedicated to the game. It sounds like DayZ is best enjoyed in the WoW Raider style – marathon gaming sessions with no interruptions.

Now that I mention it, the dedicated time necessary to get anything out of DayZ would restrict the core audience to a narrow demographic – one which would certainly create a /hostile/ gaming environment. Single, childless, jobless(?), fairly young, mostly male players compose the vast majority of “hardcore” gamers, especially in the PC gaming scene. For instance, they made up the bulk of Vanilla WoW raiders (when the game required dedicated, uninterrupted hours and hours of gameplay) as well as “pro gamers“. Perhaps the mentality brewing in DayZ is the product of many, young, socially awkward males gathering in an environment where a “can of beans” has more value than companionship of an random stranger? <shrug> I’m not trying to stereotype – but them’s the facts. The game requires the dedication and time that the average parent or working adult can’t afford to be anything but a bambi.

While DayZ can offer a unique experience to gamers that can afford the time, I don’t think that DayZ offers anything to the middle aged dad. I guess I’ll stick to my regular action FPSes.

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