Google Website Translator Gadget

Friday, 25 May 2012

DayZ - how to stay alive for more than five minutes

This is the last of the DayZ articles (for now). Regular blog posts resume next week. Today we're going to look at tips and strategies for staying alive.

Once you've read this article, there's also:
How to install DayZ (with ArmA 2 Free, Operation Arrowhead or Combined Ops)
DayZ - How to get on a server
How to play
DayZ offline single player / practice / training / (not really) cheating

This is displayed on the homepage of the DayZ mod. It's not kidding either. It was running a bit higher until the recent influx of new players. And people like me who've survived for much longer periods through out that average quite a bit. You really are going to die soon. So what can you do to improve your chances? Read on after the jump...

Don't shoot zombies unless you have to

It took three of us to kill this many zombies and we ran out of ammo and two of us died
This might seem a bit odd as you run around with a gun and it's a first/third person shooter after all, so why not shoot zombies? There are several reasons:

Guns make noise. A lot of noise. There are silent weapons, but good luck finding them - they're usually only found in military buildings and those are a magnet for other players who won't hesitate to kill you thanks to the shiny loot. So you're mostly going to be shooting at zombies with noisy boomsticks. The noise will attract any other zombies in the area. It's rare that you'll fire and only have to kill one zombie. Plus the noises can be heard by other players. And if they hear you firing a lot, they'll maybe just reason that you're low on ammo and decide to kill you for your stuff.

Rare ammo is rare. If you've just got a Makarov pistol or a shotgun then it's not so very hard to find ammo. But if you've got anything better, then it's likely that you'll have a hard time finding more ammunition. Killing zombies doesn't really get you anything so is it worth emptying your hard-to-find MP5 at a bunch of zombies?

Zombies don't carry good loot. Most zombies don't have any loot on them at all and those that do tend to only have one thing and it tends to be rubbish like empty tin cans. So when you shoot a zombie all you do is lose ammunition.

Thanks for killing all those zombies and... ooh is that a Lee Enfield rifle? Thanks for that too
One hit can kill you. Although zombies will usually only do a limited amount of damage to you if they get close enough, sometimes one hit will knock you unconscious and then him and his mates will kick you to death like Chinese police at a student protest. Even if you don't fall over and die, zombie hits stand a good chance of getting you bleeding and you won't be able to pause the firefight to bandage your wounds so you'll have to kill all the zeds before pulling out the elastoplast. And when you're busy with bandages, that's when I'll walk through the door and shoot you in the head like a Chinese policeman at a student protest.

Shots tell everyone where you are. There are groups of bandits that go around just looking for players to kill so they can take their stuff. And nothing tells them where you are better than gunshots. If they only need to expend a single bullet to your head to get a tin of beans, they'll do it... like a Chinese policeman in a decreasingly funny simile.

Gunshots tell experienced players what gun you have and what kit you're carrying. I can tell from the sound of most shots what you're carrying. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop - that's a Makarov. You've just started the game, have five clips containing six shots each, two bandages, two morphine phials, a box of painkillers, two tins of beans and a water bottle. You've only got four clips now and I'll be counting the shots until I walk in and slot you like a Chinese policeman at a.... no, uh an American soldier on... uh... sod the similes, I'm still going to kill you and rob your corpse. Why should I spend a tense half hour crawling through a hospital looking for morphine when I can just rob you like a Thai hooker with knockout drops on her nipples? Go simile!

I might just have to shoot these two
So what should you do? Try to sneak past every zombie you can. It's amazing how close you can get to zombies if they're looking in the wrong direction and you're lying flat in good cover. Look how close that zombie is in the picture above. I probably can't get much closer than that, but I felt safe enough to take the time to snap a screenshot. Because I managed to crawl past those two, I made it inside the building behind the and found a ton of great gear. If I'd shot them, I may well have had to run off instead.

Don't stay on the coast

You'll initially spawn on the coastline, probably on the south coast. Lots of bandits will hide out near the coast just waiting for new players to appear so they can kill and rob them. Equally so, newly-spawned players tend to hang around on the coast, so you've a good chance of bumping into them. And they're probably trigger happy loons.

The two largest towns are on the coast (Cherno and Elektro as people call them). When you spawn, you're likely to be very near these places. They have several buildings in them that contain decent loot so they're a magnet for other players.

Head inland and you'll find smaller towns that are spread out a bit more. You've got a much better chance of being alone and there will be less zombies around.

Don't assume you can't be seen

Just because you've taken every precaution and the noise and vision meters are showing nothing that no one is watching you. In the pictures above, I was sitting on a cliff-top, quite far away watching a group of buildings for zombies and other players before I decided to go in. They were being very careful and looking around the whole time, but I could easily have shot one of them in the head with my sniper rifle and the other would have no idea from where the shot came. Even if they'd spotted me, I could see they had a shotgun and a Lee Enfield rifle, so I was way outside their effective range.

Look around before entering a town or building

So there's one zombie in the road and another in the distance, so I reckon I'm good to do some shopping
Every building has zombies spawn near it. Take a good look around before going near one, just to make sure you know where the zombies are. You don't want to et stuck inside a building because there's a ton of zombies outside. Usually there are anything between 2 and 4 zombies outside a building.

Some buildings (like fire stations, hospitals, military bases) have particularly good loot and they attract a lot of players looking to improve their inventories. So when you're going near those, it's really important to check around and make sure you're alone before sneaking in to loot.

I lied - you can outrun zombies

Come back! They just want a hug
It's not easy to outrun zombies, but in the right circumstances you can. Going through doorways forces zombies to temporarily slow to walking pace. You can take advantage of this in buildings that you know have more than one door by simply running through them. The zombies will soon catch up with you again though, so it's best if use this as a bit of breathing space and a chance to turn and shoot them in the head like William Tell's less successful brother (eeh, I'm ashamed of that one). It's also worth running inside a building and popping the zombies as they shamble through the doorway.

The best way to outrun zombies is to run up a steep hill. It has to be steep enough to slow you to walking pace too, but you can then tack back and forth in a zigzag pattern to keep you running up the slope whilst the zombies shamble after you nice and slowly. You can use this time to turn and give them a lead overdose with comfort.

Only shambling zombies will run after you quickly, but monkeys (the crouched, hopping ones) and the crawlers will head in your direction too, so when you think you've resolved your zombie problem, it's worth taking the time to have another look. Those monkeys might be on their way still.

If you spot another survivor, it's maybe worth running towards them as you might just foist your zombie pursuers onto them. If they look friendly (or you know they are), then run in a wide circle around them (not too close) and they'll be able to shoot enough zombies that you can probably take care of the rest.

Trust no one

The best way to get dead fast is to trust other people. It's amazing how devious people can be in DayZ. Often as you approach another player, they will type "Friendly" in the chat thing. You can do the same. Just because they say they're friendly doesn't mean they are.

You know, now that we're alone and I'm behind you, I'm thinking that I quite like that gun you've got...
I've heard tales from many people of the dastardly lengths people will go to. Here's one story I heard.
A group of three players encountered another survivor. He called out "Friendly" and they all lowered their guns. After a brief chat, they decided to take this new guy along with them - safety in numbers, right? Well it all went swimmingly and they headed off to raid an airfield together. There was some excellent loot to be had and with four in their party, they killed all the zombies and ran around helping themselves to some of the best gear they'd seen.
When they emerged from a particularly large building, there was a group of bandits waiting for them and they shot all the survivors dead and looted their corpses. Shot them all dead apart from one. Yeah, that friend they'd picked up along the way was part of the group of bandits. He'd been talking to his bandit chums on Skype the whole time telling them where they were. Having had the base cleared of zombies and all the loot gathered in one place, the bandits stepped in and did what bandits do. The "friend" didn't do any of the shooting, allowing him to keep his non-bandit survivor skin and dupe some more innocents. Ooh, nasty.
I can also tell you a story that happened to me:
I was on the outskirts of a town when a bit of shooting went on near me. Suddenly there were zombies everywhere, running towards the sound of the gunfire. Unfortunately I happened to be between the zeds and the shooting so they found me an easier target. I took to my heels and ran out into the empty fields surrounding the town. There were no steep hills nearby and a glance over my shoulder showed about thirty zombies in pursuit. Suddenly in the middle of a field, a guy stood up and started shooting at the zombies behind me. I ran in a wide circle around him as he took out zombie after zombie. Three other unseen people started firing at the zombies too. Pretty soon there were only a couple of zeds after me, so I turned and dealt with them.
As soon as the shooting was over and the zombies went back to being dead, I turned to thank my saviour and his friends only to find them all pointing guns at me. "Place all your gear on the ground and step away." they said. Ouch. I turned and ran, zigzagging across the field. Shots hit the ground all around me and one hit me causing a fountain of blood to burst from my neck, but I made it to the treeline and kept running until my blood loss was becoming serious. A quick bandage and I was on my way, a little wiser than before.
It may seem unfair or even unjust, but other players can spell the end of you much more easily than any zombie. To many, you're just a walking loot pile. There are a great many friendly players out there, but you're better off teaming up with people you already know. You'll probably be able to trust them a little more.

Dead zombies = other people nearby

My friends and I did this, but if you find a pile of bodies like this and you didn't do it, watch out!
If you find a group of dead zombies on the ground, it means that someone else killed them quite recently. They're probably not far away. Equally so, if you're approaching a town or building and there are no zombies around, it's because someone else shot them in the not too distant past. Are you that desperate to find a can of beans?

Discretion is the better part of valour

I'm sure I'll be fine
If you're not sure about a situation, run away. Better you leave alone than with a group of zombies on your tail. There are always other places to try.

Dying isn't the end of the world

Meeting yourself is always an awkward experience
This is a tough game and there is no player alive now that is going to live forever. We are all going to die many, many times before this is over.

If you know where you died and you know where you've respawned, it might be worth paying a visit to your corpse and robbing it. If a player killed you, there's a good chance they stripped your body of everything worthwhile, but if it was a zombie and there weren't any players around to witness your demise, your prostate form may lie unsullied.

As I was halfway through this article, I managed to get myself killed when a zombie glitched through a doorway and his first hit knocked me unconscious. I bled out and died. I respawned about three kilometres from where I ate the zombie sandwich and I realised that the journey there would be quite easy. So I ran and ran and ran and found my body. That's me in the picture above. I got all my kit back. Phew.

Teamwork helps

Go team!
Much as I loathe the constant refrain of second-rate educators and shitty middle managers concerning the importance of teamwork, in DayZ working together is very helpful. You can play out the game on your own, but it's easier to play with other people.

Two pairs of eyes are always better than one. When raiding buildings, I remain outside to provide covering fire for my chum. He goes in and grabs as much useful stuff as possible and I keep an eye out for zombies and other players. If he needs to run out the door whilst being chased, I'll be able to take out most of his pursuers before he catches up with my position, greatly increasing our odds of survival.

If you're using blood packs (obtainable from hospitals), you need another player to administer them to you. Better to have a friend along than have to approach a stranger for help.

But to zombies, team is just an anagram of meat so don't go thinking you're invincible just because there's a couple of you.

Live off the land

If it's good enough for Asterix...
Whilst you can find cans of food in buildings, you're taking a risk every time you go into one. Find yourself a hunting knife, matches and wood and you can start hunting animals like the wild boar in the picture above.

Stalk an animal and shoot it to take it down.

Once you've killed the animal, stand over it and use your hunting knife to gut it. Once you've done that, you'll be able to loot the corpse. Depending on the size of the animal, you'll have anywhere between one and eight units of raw meat to collect.

Build a fireplace (right click on matches in your inventory) and then light it (right click on matches again) and you'll see a small fire on the ground. Not everywhere is suitable for building fires, but relatively flat ground will pretty much always work. You can light fires inside buildings, but this sometimes cause glitches. When looking at the fire, there will be a choice in the context / square brackets / mousewheel menu to cook the meat. This transforms the raw meat into cooked meat which you can then eat in the normal manner.

Note: Cooked meat recovers 800 blood versus the 200 you get from canned food.

Water bottles can be re-filled by standing on the edge of ponds (new feature, may be a bit buggy) or beside water pumps and wells. They can no longer be filled in the sea.

Don't write blog articles telling other people how to play better

You don't want to be telling potential opponents how to... oh, bugger.


  1. You are awesome!

  2. Really cool article, thanks. Im about to buy the game right now. :P

  3. thanks for the article - i died so many times so far and am now on my way to the hinterland.

  4. A good way to escape a horde of zombies in the spawning area is simply to swim.

    1. But as you swim items fall into the ocean...
      One time I was left food less and drink less and with barely 3 makarov mags because I took the ocean to get rid of some hostile zombies...

    2. Zombies wont follow you onto docks. EVER...

    3. That's a very good point. Zombies will not walk onto a dock. They will stand at the edge of it and wait for you, so if the dock is small you won't be able to just run out the other side and lose them - but you will be able to shoot them in the head at your leisure.

  5. im not sure how it happened, but i watched 4 guys kill a dude and go to take his stuff. when they had all huddled around him an explosion triggered and all of them died lol. im no sure how

  6. This was a nice read, 2nd day my friend and I have had the game and still no gun. Other than that, this was niptastic.

  7. Just want to say thanks for this great article.

  8. Really appreciated it... Started playing a few days ago. This will really help!

  9. When will loot respawn? I went to a high value building and there wasnt any loot left. How long do I have to wait?? And when does wire fence despawn? tyvm

    1. Loot will respawn sooner or later. It's hard to say how long as it depends on a few things. If every single bit of loot is gone, it will respawn more quicker, perhaps an hour or so.

      Barbed wire fences never despawn as such. They may disappear on server reset, but otherwise the only way to remove them is with a toolkit. You need to aim direct at one of the posts holding them up in order for the toolkit to work - you'll see an option on the mousewheel menu.

    2. I guess I will go world hopping then... Thanks m8

  10. One way i found to get rid of zombies is to run directly into a tree's branches as the zombies shamble through them, if you go through more than one, you'll easily lose them. I've lost at least 15 trailing zeds this way.

  11. Thanks heaps for all your guides, downloading the game on steam now just for DayZ, your guide convinced me that this mod is well worth it.

  12. I thank you very much for the tutorial, I still have a question.

    How often do you really see vehicles and is it worth the effort to make them?

    1. Finding vehicles is pretty hit and miss.

      Most days when I play I don't see any. However, the other day I found two motorbikes at the same time. Then an ATV and a little while later, another ATV. And then a tractor. It was getting a bit silly. Then I found a fishing boat too. Thanks to a glitch, I died and had to run back up to my corpse (to get my stuff back) from the coast. On my way there I found another fishing boat, then a blue van and finally a rubber dinghy with an outboard motor. That's the most vehicles I've ever found in a day.

      It's a bit random. When a server is reset, usually all the vehicle revert back to their spawn locations, so a recently reset server will offer the best chance of finding vehicles. You'll often find that clans or groups of players like to hoard vehicles and this will lessen your chances of finding any on that server.

      Note that some vehicles will spawn without defects. That day that I found all those vehicles, all of them were in working condition. It tends to be the bigger ones that have problems. Vehicles that carry only one or two players tend to spawn in without needing repairs.

  13. good thing i read this! otherwise i would just have gone on zombie killing spree first thing. guess thats not such a good idea :/

    1. It's not such a good idea, but it is pretty good fun. Every now and then I die and it's sometimes fun to just go on a rampage doing all the things I don't normally do. So do it if you fancy a laugh, but don't bet on surviving for a long time.

  14. um i was playing and i black screened for like 2 sec and thr was like 40 ppl and i worldhoped cane back in like 2mins and i got lots of stuff :P

  15. I love it, this is funny as heck and some good advice, I myself trust no-one not even my Clan, They still my goodies and dont replace anyhting) I like to be lone-wolf and stay in the Forest and in small towns (Camps galore NorthEast in the Forest - Shhhh) - I hit the Tree Stands and Heli Crash sites, and when my Server is low count I hit the Airfields at night with the NV's very cautiously - I have survived a very long time now with very little Zed Kills and no Player Kills - Thanks for more advice

  16. This was amazing! I've just started out a blog about multiple things, I'd be much appreciated if you guys could visit it!

    1. Nice blog. I'd suggest adding a translation tool like the one I've got on here - us English-speakers are very lazy.

      I enjoyed reading your DayZ article. Keep up the good work!

  17. hey man I love the last one haha. good article man

  18. Some guy came up to me with an axe to try to rob me of my dmr... I shot him in the face!

  19. Fuck u bro U just see lazy americans doesnt mean all americans are lazy ur just a little ass fairy arent u
    Good advice though

    1. As I said to him, "us English speakers" as in "we" not US/USA. I was including British (like me) and Americans in that comment. We're used to the internet being in English as indeed is most of our media. How many of us are willing to watch foreign films with subtitles? Very few. Whereas non-English speakers are very used to watching films and TV with subtitles and having to read things on the internet that are not in their language. So I was just suggesting that he put a translation tool on there to make it easier for English speakers to read his page.

      Goodness me.

  20. I once was in a group, and we had a noob with a enfield, He fired at a zombie in the electro power plant firestation, we killed about 100 zombies, half the boddies had already dissapeared by now haha!

    1. Blimey, that's a whole ton of zombies. You did well to survive that lot!

  21. liking your strategies, keep it up!