Okay, so you've got the mod installed, you've managed to connect to a server. So just how do you play DayZ?
DayZ is a mod for ArmA 2 which is a complex military simulator with a horrible control system because it's trying to cater to every eventuality. There is a PDF manual in the Operation Arrowhead folder, but that'll only take you so far. Read on to find out a bit more.
Article updated 7th July 2012.
|First person view, looking down the iron sights|
|Third person view|
|Crouching - the difference is more obvious when you're moving|
|Another player crouching|
|Prone / crawling|
|Two players crouch running|
Note that other players will be able to see and hear you much more easily than will zombies.
Press G (gear) to open your inventory and it'll look something like on the screen above. I've got much different kit to what you'll start with, so don't expect yours to look exactly the same.
You're wearing a combat vest which has a number of pockets, but the pockets are specialised, which is to say that you only have a certain number of ammo pouches, general pockets, etc. You cannot alter this.
This is the pistol section of the inventory. That's a G17 pistol. Only a pistol can go in the pistol slot and you can only have one. Note the eight slots to the right of it. These slots hold your pistol ammo (you'll have several mags to begin with), but they can also hold other things too. In the example above, I've got four clips of G17 ammo and two bandages, so I can only pick up another two bandages or two pistol clips before I'll have to drop something. And when you try to pick up stuff when you don't have a free slot, the game will drop existing things on the ground. And if that happens, they'll disappear and you won't be able to pick them up again so don't get it wrong.
The twelve slots below the pistol inventory section are for general camping equipment. Yours will all be empty to begin with. As you can see, I've got a map (not very useful), some matches (for lighting campfires), a hunting knife (for gutting animals for meat) and a watch. If I find a compass, it'll appear in one of those slots. Those twelve slots are pretty generous and I've never come close to filling them all.
This is the rifle inventory. My assault rifle has a slot of its own and there are twelve slots next to it. Two of mine are blanked out because that green tube (a tent) takes up three slots so the to next to it are unavailable. Those twelve slots hold your rifle ammo, food, medical supplies, grenades (rare) and pretty much everything that the pistol inventory doesn't hold. To begin with, almost everything you find will go here. You might also notice that below my gun is a rucksack. You also have a rucksack to begin with - more on that later.
Looking down my inventory list, you can see various items and a number next to them on the right. I've got a can of pasta selected and you'll notice that there are little arrows on either end of the highlight bar. Clicking the arrow on the left will drop the item on the ground.
Now that I've clicked on the left arrow, notice that the 1 figure on the right has disappeared and there's now a 1 on the right. You'll also notice that the pasta icon from my rifle inventory has disappeared. The can of pasta is now on the ground. I can pick it up again by clicking on the right arrow (a 1 will appear on the right and I'll see the icon in my rifle inventory).
The horrors of the inventory aren't over yet. Remember rucksacks / backpacks?
I've pressed G to open my inventory again and I've scrolled down to the bottom of the list. I've click on my ALICE pack. You'll have a different backpack to begin with, but they all work the same way. You might notice that there's an extra button down on the bottom now marked Open bag. Click on it and your backpack will open.
Okay so that's the backpack open. In the top left corner you'll see that it says ALICE pack (9/20) - that means I have nine spaces available out of twenty. You'll also see that there's a column of numbers to the left of my kit - these are the items in my backpack. I click the left and right arrows to move things in and out of my pack just as we did earlier to pick up and drop things.
I've highlighted cans of Pepsi. I've got four in my rucksack.
I clicked the right arrow and one of the cans moved to my combat vest and I can see the can in my rifle inventory. Once again, you must make sure you have space to put stuff in as the game will discard things to make room and you won't be able to pick them up again. Once you're finished mucking around with your rucksack contents, you can click the Close bag button.
I find that there are sometimes problems if you try to play with your rucksack when standing beside stuff on the ground. It's always best to move a couple of steps away before opening your bag. I think it's possible to pick things up and directly place them in your rucksack, but I don't recommend trying as the game's buggy enough that this could be a problem.
Note that some items take more than one slot, some considerably more. For instance, a pistol takes up four rucksack slots and, when you attempt to put one in there, the game will also try to put all the ammo for it in there too - anything that doesn't fit will vanish forever. A rifle or shotgun will take up a whopping ten slots of a backpack which is bigger than the rucksack you start with.
When you find another backpack, there's an option to pick it up. This will automatically drop the one you're carrying and won't transfer your stuff across. So you'll have to go through the tedium of crouching over it and picking everything up one at a time. Not a good thing to do when zombies are close or shots are going off.
I recommend dropping the backpack you're carrying before picking up another. There shouldn't be any problem with swapping them over, but sometimes a bug in the game can cause your current backpack to disappear when you swap over.
UPDATE: Since 18.104.22.168 some item activation has been moved from the mousewheel menu to the inventory. To use most items you now do so in the inventory by right clicking on them. In the above screenshot you can see that I've right-clicked on a can of sardines and have the option to Eat Food. For some players this is a welcome change as they sometimes select the wrong thing in the mousewheel menu, but other find it a pest as you have to click a bit more.
Note that you can now consume items that you don't need to. For instance, you can take painkillers when you're not in pain, bandage yourself when you're not bleeding, etc. So you now need to be a bit more careful about what you click on.
The mousewheel menu
There's an extra menu system that you need to know about and it can be accessed in two ways: either through the mousewheel or by using the square brackets. I thoroughly recommend avoiding the mousewheel. It's a bit imprecise and it's easy to choose the wrong thing.
|You won't see all these options since 1.5.8|
Press one of the square brackets and various options are presented. Scroll through the options with either the mousewheel or the square brackets keys and then hit Return on the one you want to perform. Firstly, you can change to another weapon (if you have one and it's not in your backpack).
It's also this menu that you need use to use when picking up new backpacks.
UPDATE: The latest version (22.214.171.124) has changed the way that some items work. Although you still use the mousewheel or square brackets for some things, for other things like eating food, drinking, applying bandages and other stuff you now do this in the inventory menu. See the inventory section above for more details on that.
The icon strip
The icon strip gives you information about your character's status. When things are good, an icon is bright green, but it gets redder as the situation worsens, eventually flashing red when things are critical.
1.5.8 introduced the use of the temperature icon. Being outside in the rain or wind will lead to your temperature dropping and going swimming will induce a large loss of heat. You can regain heat slowly by sheltering indoors. You'll regain a large amount if you light a fire (requires matches and now also wood). You can potentially catch a cold when your temperature drops. You'll know this has happened because your character will begin coughing regularly. Your blood will also start to fall, but it won't go below 6,000. Antibiotics will cure your infection - they can only be found in hospitals and are quite rare.
The third icon is your hydration level. When it gets low you need to drink water. It appears that your movement speed is reduced when you're thirsty and long runs will deplete it quickly. I usually wait until mine is blinking red before I drink. Coke and Pepsi are relatively plentiful, but water bottles are usually found empty. You can refill water bottles by swimming in water (not recommended as there's a high chance you'll drop all your stuff) or at water pumps (I've only ever seen one). More on water management in tomorrow's article.
The next icon down shows your blood level. Effectively your blood is your health. It doesn't regenerate but you can recover some (not much) by eating food or a bit more by hunting, gutting and cooking an animal (requires a hunting knife and matches - rare items). The only other way is to use blood packs (which can be found in hospitals), but you can't apply them to yourself so you need another player to apply them for you.
|Not the best time to start fainting|
If you're in a scrap with some zombies and you start bleeding, your blood level will fall to the point where you're falling unconscious and then dying, but it takes a few seconds to apply a bandage so you need a bit of breathing room in which to safely apply it.
The last icon is food and it works in just the same way as the water. When it gets low, eat some food. Tins of food will also regain 200 blood whereas meat cooked over a fire will regenerate 800 blood.
The debug monitor
The debug monitor gives you more game information. Don't expect it to always be there - chances are it'll be removed when the mod is a bit more stable. Although it tells you how many zombies you've killed, this isn't anything to boast about. My one here shows 49 zombies wasted and that's after about fourteen hours of playing. It was at 21 just a couple of hours earlier but a friend and I got into a bit of a situation where we had lots of zombies chasing us and we had to blaze away at them. You can get through the game without killing any zombies at all and killing one often leads to others coming for you. The headshots number is self-explanatory.
The next thing is a little odd: murders. This is the number of players you've killed without being fired upon first. Every time you do this, it alters your humanity. I'll skip ahead a little and explain humanity. You start with 2,500 but every time you murder someone your humanity level drops. Kill enough people and your humanity drops to zero and you become a bandit.
|Dead bandit spurting blood out of his arse - he'll not be messing with us again. Unless he respawns and messes with us|
You can regain humanity by helping other players in certain ways. I gained 20 points (yes, just 20) for bandaging another player. I got another 50 for injecting them with morphine. So it's a long journey back to righteousness...
UPDATE: The 1.5.8 update changed some things. You will no longer see the Unsaved line in the debug monitor window. It doesn't mean much to players anyway, but it's now gone and everything gets saved when you exit a server anyway.
That's about all there is to playing. There are a few features I haven't detailed here, but they won't matter until you're much further into the game. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer.
Come back tomorrow for tips on staying alive for more than five minutes.