Friday, July 13, 2012

DayZ: One corpse run to rule them all

"Strangers in the night exchanging glances.
Wond'ring in the night what were the chances,
We'd be sharing my brains before the night was through"
Crazy, insane, ludicrous.

There are many ways to describe the events that went down in Elektro last night while playing DayZ with my squad. Unfortunately, none of the adjectives that can be used are particularly flattering.

It was me, Nate and Sam grouped up in the supermarket on the north side of the city. We had just finished raiding the office and the pub, however we were still without matches to start a fire and in need of better primary weapons.

We decided to head towards the west to the fire station to see what we could scavenge there. Yes, infected were crawling and shambling all around, but that was the least of my worries. A quick look on the western horizon showed a setting sun. In minutes, Elektro would be blanketed in darkness. The thought raced through my mind over and over again, "We don't want to get stuck in the city when night falls."

Everything in me was screaming at me to run to the tree line for safety. We could wait out the night and hit the city in the morning. But against my better judgment, we slowly and quietly made our way to the firehouse.

I took point, while Sam and Nate followed, guns drawn. I stashed my Winchester in my backpack and armed myself with a hatchet.

Order number 1: don't fire a weapon in the city right now.

Order number 2: let me quietly execute any hostiles medieval-style with my hatchet.

I was only forced to engage the enemy once in route to the firehouse. Once we got there, we picked up some new weapons and random supplies. I was able to trade my Winchester for an AKM, a high-powered assault rifle that can zero in up to 800 meters.

While Nate and I were scavenging the second and third floors, Sam misfired on the ground floor and zombies were on us. Nate was the only one to survive the encounter.

At this point, it was getting late in real life. Sam logged but I wanted to make a corpse run. For those reading this who don't know what a corpse run is, a corpse run is where after dying, you respawn and then go back to the place where you died so you can loot everything that was on your previous character. There is an unknown time limit of doing this. Eventually, a player's corpse will despawn along with all the gear that was on him or her.

There was no way I was losing all of that gear.

Nate's escape found him holed up in the north east fire station, while I respawned in the south west. We couldn't have been farther apart.

By this time, the sun had fully descended and everything was pitch black. Night in DayZ isn't like other games. In DayZ, you can't see anything. It's like real life in that way.

If you look at this map, Nate's position is the arrow at the top, while I am positioned at the thumbtack on the shoreline. In between us, noted by cross hairs, is where my corpse is. I was armed with nothing but a bandage and flashlight. There was no way to defend myself.

Pictured: Fuck you, Sinatra!

I knew my best strategy was to head north up through the fields, but that route was still dangerous since zombies shambled all throughout the fields surrounding the city. But I had no choice. The plan was to swing all around to Nate's position, where we would both head to the target area — the fire house with my corpse in it.

Nate had some supplies to help me survive in the city if I could reach him, but he was holed up in a stairwell. The groans from zombies on the ground floor kept him company in the dark. He could have engaged them, but he was already low on health from our squad's near wipe in the other fire house, and the sound of his gun fire would surely attract more hostiles. He was trapped.

It was hard navigating the fields at night. Even with my flashlight, my visibility was poor. And just when I thought things couldn't get more precarious, it began to rain. So now it's pitch black and raining. Perfect. Any visibility that I had was cut in half.

While scanning my flanks for zombies, I noticed a small blue light up in the sky. A chemlight. Nate's chemlight. A chemlight is basically a glow stick and Nate had dropped one near my corpse. It was the only waypoint I could see in the dark.

I decided to head straight over there and see if I could get to my corpse. Then, after getting geared up, I could head up to Nate's position to dismember the zombies that had trapped him.

Nate had a good vantage point over a large portion of the city from his position. While visibility was bad, his binoculars allowed him to see my flashlight moving on the other side of the city. When I got closer to the fire house, I shined my flashlight on the stairwell that housed my previously failed attempt at survival.

My flashlight, teamed with Nate's binoculars and vantage point, allowed him to recon the fire house for zombies. He surveyed the building and relayed that there were no geeks in sight. I nervously made my way into the building, waiting to hear the groans and growls from any infected still lingering, but everything was quiet.

I was able to recover my gear and hook a blue chemlight to my jacket, giving Nate visibility on my location. The first task was done, now it was time to head north east to Nate's location to deal with his zombie threat.

The rain had not let up, but I felt better about having my hatchet again. The problem was that I couldn't hold my hatchet and flashlight at the same time. This meant that I had to choose. I decided to crawl in the dark with my hatchet in hand. Nate could see my chemlight from his position and was able to relay information as to my position and any hostiles that he could see.

The only thing I could see was the horizon in front of me, a silhouette of a zombie moving would break up the darkness every now and then. Everything felt pretty good until my chemlight burned out. There I was, in the middle of a zombie-infested field, with no light nor eyes from Nate's vantage point.

We kept communication tight and Nate guided me through the darkness the best that he could. It was pretty much a guessing game, but eventually I found myself squared off with Nate's location. I could see his chemlights burning, so I knew exactly where I needed to go.

A 7-foot high concrete wall surrounds the northern power plant and fire house. There is an entrance on the west side and one on the south east side. The problem, though, was I couldn't see the entrance in the dark. I knew that there were a couple of zombie spawn points on the inside of the wall, but there was nothing I could do about that.

Nate turned on his flashlight and it shined down around me like a spotlight. He used it to guide me to the entrance and I made my way inside the wall. It felt warm and comforting to be in the light again. It had been such a long and tense mission that a little relief felt great.

Nate's light flickered in and out. This being a game still in its Alpha stage of development, it's buggy. This became apparent when Nate's light began to bug out.

And that was when I was hit. One of the infected was on me, clawing and growling. I stood up and started swinging wildly with my hatchet, hoping to hit something in the darkness. The zombie tore open a wound, but I was able to hack into him finally. I quickly bandaged myself up and headed into the fire house where Nate was holed up on the second floor.

I readied myself for an attack in the stairwell, but before Nate could get some light into the area, a zombie struck me. Once again, I began circling and swinging my hatchet. Just as Nate's light hit the area, I cut the zombie down. We took an overlook of our resources and decided that we needed to get out of Elektro fast.

With Nate lighting the way with his flashlight, I took point with my hatchet and we headed north east to the tree line. We'd be safe once we got there. It took some time and some maneuvering around a couple of zombies, but were finally able to reach the tree line.

The entire ordeal was one of the most intense things I have ever done in a video game. It took both of us working together to get through the rainy night. Nate was trapped without help from my hatchet and I was as good as dead without his reconnaissance. It was a cap stone moment and one that made me appreciate that a game like DayZ exists.

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