As the holiday gaming season approaches, there are two things you and I can count on. First, Activision and EA will be beating each other with giant rubber guns, and
Half Life 3 will be confirmed more players will be dying in DayZ than ever before. Maybe we’ll even hear the Standalone release date from Rocket Hall himself. Even if we don’t, the mod is still going strong, maybe even catching a second wind.
In this two part series, I’ll be covering the two main in-game boosts to DayZ’s longevity. Today are two major mods to the base map: DayZero and DayZ Overwatch.
Overwatch, for survivors who like murder
One of my major complaints about the stock DayZ experience was the rarity and power of the guns on offer. Then, when you did manage to gear up, it was just a silent sniper away from being left with nothing. Hours, or even days of work, made into nothing. The early metagame became building tent cities filled with so much gear it couldn’t be emptied by any but the most determined looters. Runs to the northwest airfield were suicide missions for any and all involved, but at the highest levels of play they were necessary. There were few other ways of obtaining valuable military loot and high powered guns. Doing so in the south of the map was an even riskier venture, as the two main cities, Chernogorsk and Elektrosagorsk, had perfect hills for sniping. And they still are popular spawn points for the game, making it easy for the equipped to build up a kill count.
DayZ Overwatch makes every effort to rectify that issue. A plethora of new military buildings, and general loot drops, makes getting equipped for combat far easier. The modders also gave fresh spawns a taser and two bandages, making finding people and neutralizing them less an issue of luck and patience. Where once a Makarov pistol was a godsend for the empty handed in the south, now not getting an AK is a bad military spawn. Anyone with a fair shot and the sense to be stealthy can taze a bro and take his shit.
If you play DayZ Overwatch with friends (which you should always do), grouping up and destroying entire towns is more than possible. Even solo Overwatch can be a rush, and might be a better learning experience. The ease of finding viable weapons makes going manhuntin’ a much quicker venture. Be aware, everyone else has the same chances of gearing up as you do, and they’ll have equally twitchy trigger fingers.
Thankfully, if you’ve spent any time in vanilla DayZ and only vanilla, you’ll be more than familiar with the map for most Overwatch servers. Chernarus retains the same layout, just a lot of added buildings. Some of the towns have been overhauled or built from scratch with tons of military loot, but Cherno is still a spawn killer’s paradise, and northwest is still a sniper’s dream.
The most important of Overwatch’s changes is the addition of new skins and a metric shit-ton of new weapons. The classics like the M14 Aim and DMR and M4A1 are still on offer, but there are a bunch of new additions, including the M17 semi-auto sniper, the ACR platform, and a few new AK variants. As with the rest of overwatch, finding these guns is sometimes a breeze. The most powerful stuff is still a chore to find and you’ll be ecstatic when you find it, just don’t waste it. Players in Overwatch want only the best, and they’ll have no remorse putting a bullet through your brain.
DayZero, for the survivors who want to survive
While I disliked the dearth of weapons in vanilla DayZ, I understood the reasoning. The rest of the game I really enjoyed. The tension when you’ve got a nice setup. The heart-rate increasing combat. The need to balance shooting against drawing zombies, and the sometimes frightening lack of food. I even liked running from place to place, especially when I had buddies to do so with.
The problem I and many other DayZ players faced was the bugginess, poor frame rate, and sometimes baffling lack of buildings to go in. DayZero aims to fix each of these problems, and while the sheer level of equipment isn’t available, the level of overhaul is the same. For DayZero, it’s in the backend rather than in-game. Performance is optimized like crazy, bugs are fixed, guns got tweaks and most importantly, there are a ton of new buildings to go into. The hospitals in big cities are now open on the inside, as are a bunch of houses that were otherwise closed off before.
These changes, much like the changes DayZero itself made, have subtle effects. You might not be able to take the fight to Cherno quite as fast, but the opportunities for stealth and tactics are numerous. Where once a safe sniper-hide gave you omniscience without the possibility of reprisal, suddenly there are three new directions to die from. Where once a Kamenka spawn meant you needed to find some zombies to kill you….Kamenka still sucks, to be honest. Fuck Kamenka.
Beyond the major back end changes mentioned, modders made a lot little tweaks to make the experience more immersive and enjoyable. These include adding furniture to otherwise empty houses, refining standard building layouts, and tweaking textures on those buildings that need it. Granted, most of these changes are just gravy on the optimization turkey, but when the turkey looks and feels as smooth as DayZero does, I’ll take all the gravy they can give me.
Be aware, you have to be whitelisted on many DayZero servers to keep those hackers still around at bay, but the process is painless enough, and more than worth the price of admission.