We at Red Lens Reviews see a great need in the critical community for serious treatment of games while they are still in “early access” phase. This is for the gamer who wants to know what to expect before plunging into the vague world of early access, which can mean barely playable or almost finished. This is also for developers, both as a form of community feedback on a game, and to take some of the thunder from the whole idea of early access.
I have to start by saying that I hate simultaneously hate and love Early Access games. Early Access derives much of it’s success simply from the idea that by slapping that title on it we as gamers should be making infinite excuses, saying “it’s not finished yet!”. Apparently, the developer believes that it is finished enough to ask for money in it’s current state and so should be judged in that way. At the same time, the early access model is a great idea. It allows for gamers to essentially prepay for a title, casting their financial vote for a developer or game idea they find worthy. However, it’s not enough for a game to contain potential, it has to actualize that potential for the early access model to work.
With that said, let’s look at DayZ. This game has sold over one million copies to date, an astounding number for a game so deep in alpha. DayZ, for those who don’t know, is a standalone version of the popular DayZ mod for ARMA II. The game has great bones, and great potential. The basic concept is you’re a rugged and athletic survivor in post-apocalyptic Chernarus, a fictional part of Russia, where you must survive hunger, thirst and sickness along with Zombies and other players.
While there is much to say about DayZ, the issue at it’s heart is this: there is no reason to play DayZ.
DayZ has no goal, no story, no progression, nothing. You spawn, you collect food, water and supplies, you spend hours running through the vast open world, avoiding other players, you find a military base, get full armor and weapons and then… nothing. The game is just full of a lot of nothing after that. You can occupy your time by shooting new players at their spawn, or play your hand at fighting other fully armed players, but it proves just as meaningless. Oh and Zombies are completely useless. They run slower than you, so you can just outrun them if they see you, or pop a few bullets and waste them with no effort.
DayZ misses a core element of what made other survival games so great: Progression. In DayZ, you will never have enough food that you don’t need to loot every time you log in, you can’t farm your own food, you can’t build your own base, you can’t horde stores of food. In short, you can’t ever reach an equilibrium which is what drives players to continue playing survival games. On top of this, the controls are terrible, the video is glitchy at best, frame rates are awful, and severs are slow. While I acknowledge much of these issues are because it’s in alpha, this is an evaluation of the game as it currently exists.
As DayZ exists now, I suggest you do not buy it. DayZ is a loot and shoot, which amounts to a worse, more glitchy version of Battlefield. Some people enjoy this game because they have memorized where all the good loot drops, play with a preorganized group of friends and get thrills out of killing unarmed n00bs.
Play TF2 or CS:GO until this game get’s its shit together. Or just buy Rust.
– Justin L. Koop