A true beginner’s guide to the DayZ mod for ArmA II #dayz
I have noticed an influx of traffic over the last couple of days for people looking for help with DayZ, the super-popular (in the underground, indie video game world) mod for ArmA II. This guide is not about installation, although I used this guide and it served me well. While I have previously regaled you with stories of my own harrowing adventures (and will do so again tomorrow), I did not really provide a lot of guidance for those that might not be sure how to start. I won’t cover everything here, but I hope to give you enough that you can find your sea (zombie?) legs and explore the game for yourself without fear of embarassment (as I know I felt as I tried to figure things out).
When you are selecting a server, please note the game difficulty. If the game is on “Veteran” you will not have crosshairs, basically requiring you to aim down the scope of your gun. Also, the game follows a real time day/night cycle based on the location of the server, so choose your server accordingly. Your character is persistent across servers, so you can play on any server and you will start in the same place and with the same equipment as the last time you played. Finally, stay away from zombies. I mean it, unless you want to quickly run out of bullets or get swarmed (they will react to the sound) leave them alone unless you are trying to see how many you can take down before you die or you are attacked first and have no choice. As of 1.7.1 you no longer start with a weapon. This makes it all the more imperative that you try to find buildings to get a weapon and avoid zombies at all costs. You are a sitting duck until you have a weapon and some ammo. If you get attacked by a zombie run straight for a hill. Zombies suck at climbing hills.
Let’s get your commands out of the way so you can confidently move about the world doing stuff:
W S A D – These make you walk and the mouse makes you look around. If you didn’t already guess this we likely have bigger problems than this tutorial.
Mouse wheel – Bring up your command menu if you scroll or perform the default command if you click it. You used to be able to eat and bandage from this menu, but you now have to hit ‘g’ and go into your inventory. You can, however, still open doors from this menu.
z – Go prone. This is important because the zombies are much less likely to see you if you are laying down.
x – Crouch. This is usually my default stance because you aren’t sprinting like a fool, which makes you look like a really tempting target.
c – Standing. Necessary for making getaways or moving between towns at the highest speed possible.
g – Gear (or inventory). This lets you see everything you are carrying and will also show you if there are nearby items you can pick up that you can move over by clicking the arrows in your inventory. You have a very limited inventory in DayZ, although you can get larger backpacks, so your management of how much food/water/light you are carrying is important. You can also eat, apply a bandage to yourself, and drink from this menu by right clicking on the item and then clicking the action.
r – Reload your current weapon.
f – Select your next weapon.
k – Compass. If you find a compass you can bring it up with this button. Since I have no idea where things are, this does very little to help me. You do have to find the compass as an item separately before you can use it.
m – Map. If you find a map you can look at it with this. If you don’t want to mess with an in game map you can find an interactive map (among other places) here. I don’t like using this myself, because the feeling of disorientation is part of the game to me, but if it isn’t for you, that’s great as well. The in game map has to be found like any other item, so it will just be a blank space until you actually find the map.
Left mouse button – Fires your current weapon.
Right mouse button – Click to raise your gun (Letting you aim more accurately), hold to zoom and look around.
b – This lets your use binoculars, which you have to find separately. Mostly great for bandits looking for targets while hanging out in higher building.
. (period) – Changes the channel you are talking on. If you use “Direct”, only the people immediately around you will hear, which is more realistic, but it was also broken in the last build, but looks like it might be fixed in the current one.
/ – Brings up the chat interface so you can talk to the other players.
Some notes on play from my own experiences (which I’m sure people will disagree with):
If you want to live longer, you can go inland, but I prefer to stay near the coast. There are more people there and the game is more exciting with people. If you want to play as some sort of weird hermit that rarely comes across people and tries to live by scavenging, then by all means go inland, but the map is huge and there are (usually) only about 50 of you on it.
If you come across a town, be cautious. Other players might not be friendly. There are two types of players Survivors and Bandits (who look like bad people, so you’ll know when you see them). Do not negotiate with bandits. Do not make friends with them. Or do, but don’t be surprised when they turn on you. Heck, don’t be surprised when a previously friendly survivor turns on you, either, if food is getting short. If you see a bandit attack. Do not take the risk that they might be friendly. They have good stuff and their skin changed to a Bandit skin because they are bad people. Bad people. I am pretty generous towards Survivors, but if you want to play a bandit then attack them to. That’s up to you, but don’t be surprised when the whole server is told what you are and you are attacked on site. That’s just part of the game.
Be careful when you go into town. Buildings in cities and villages are where you find stuff (like food, water, weapons, ammo, and other important gear), so make sure the coast is clear and then move as fast as you can while avoiding zombies between buildings to avoid being shot by a Bandit that may be lurking nearby. It is often advised that you avoid the largest towns (Elektro and Chern, short for their Russian names) until you at least have some equipment, because they are often vicious places to try to survive. There is often an ongoing dialogue in the chat interface regarding what towns are safe, which can vary by server and by who is playing.
If you are attacked by a zombie, do not be afraid to run. The zombies in this game are lightening fast and you will have better odds if you run into the woods and find a steep hill. Zombies suck at hills and will make much easier targets this way.
Remember to bandage yourself once you are safe. You will bleed to death if you do not. I know this.
Conserve your ammo. You never know when you will get more of the type you need.
Do not eat or drink until your indicators (on the right side of your screen) are very red. You need to conserve your food and water and this is the best way to do that. Water can be refilled by swimming in water, but you might lose your backpack. It can also be refilled at water pumps, which is safer, but less common.
Play how you want. That’s the beauty of the game. See how high you can get your zombie count. Go into the big towns and see how many bandits you can take down (watch out, though, they are often armed to the teeth). Wander the wilderness and see how long you can survive avoiding human contact and scavenging in small towns.
Okay, that’s it for this guide. I hope it is enough to get you started on DayZ and at least feel confident you know how to play the game. There’s a lot I didn’t cover in this guide, so have fun learning about the game as you play it. Exploring the game is a big part of the fun. If you have a question, go to the official forums, ask in games, or ask me and I’ll try to help (although I am new to the game as well) and I’m sure you’ll get an answer to your question.