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Video Game: DayZ

DayZ is originally a mod for the video game ARMA II, converting the realistic military sim into a post-apocalyptic zombie-survival simulation.

The game takes place in a fictional 225 square kilometer post-Soviet state called Chernarus (carried over from ARMA II) after an outbreak of an unknown infection that has wiped out most of the world's population. Players can stay out of the way and fend for themselves, team up with other survivors, or be a bandit and murder everybody they come across, or anywhere in between. Whichever they choose, they will also have to contend with what's left of the indigenous population, turned into shambling infected.

At the moment, the game is still in alpha, so bugs are to be expected. Regardless, DayZ has given ARMA II a huge boost in popularity, shooting it up to one of the top ten games on Steam. On August 7th 2012, the official DayZ blog announced that DayZ would become a standalone game to be released sometime in 2012.

On December 16th, 2013 the Standalone game was released in alpha on Steam Early Access. You can get it here.

Note: For your own sake, do not confuse DayZ with its Mockbuster, The War Z (Now known as Infestation: Survivor Stories).


Provides Examples Of:

  • After the End: Just you, a few other people who may or may not be out to kill you, and the zombies.
  • An Axe to Grind: The hatchet can be used to harvest firewood, but can also be equipped as a primary weapon. Considering how easy it is to find in common areas like barns, and that it is completely silent, kills in one or two hits, and has virtually unlimited uses, it can be a freshly-spawned character's best friend.
    • Amusingly, since ARMA doesn't have melee weapons the sound and impact effect are the same as if you were firing a gun. Once DayZ went standalone, they managed to fix this issue.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Zombies don't just run straight at you, instead zig-zagging in an unpredictable pattern making it very difficult to get a headshot.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Zombie pathing still has some issues. Zombies will occasionally get stuck on the smallest of obstacles.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Military grade weapons. Sure, they are powerful, but good luck finding ammo for them, and even if you do, that will eat a bunch of inventory space. They are loud, overkill for dealing with zombies, and greedy players might even kill you to nab them.
    • At the same time you can find sufficient rounds for it, or stock up over time, which can take a long time depending on your luck. But it can also result in a heavily geared player with enough ammo for more than enough encounters to keep them going and even raid for resupplies, given the few specific locations such Military level gear and ammo drop, and in the process nudging this trope more into the one directly below.
      • They also have a lot more bullets to a magazine than any other weapon type, meaning it is possible to carry more rounds on your person and rarely will have to either drop another item or leave the ammo where it is.
  • Bag of Holding: Certain container types can be fit into other containers, while carrying more slots of internal space than they actually occupy in a Grid Inventory. The caveat is that they can only be used to hold specific item types. Examples include things like first-aid kits which can only hold medical items, and ammo boxes which can only hold ammunition.
  • BFG: The anti-material rifles and light machine guns are extremely powerful, but the tradeoff is that they are extremely loud, giving away your position immediately.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Actually has an effect on gameplay. All road signs are in Russian and, naturally, being able to read them is a big help when trying to get your bearings.
  • Boom, Headshot: The most efficient way to kill zombies. Even the extremely weak Makarov PM can achieve a One-Hit Kill this way.
  • Boring, but Practical: You have very many small items like matches, a compass, a watch, a map, and others that are utterly vital to your survival for anywhere that isn't the coast.
    • Weapon-wise, the humble Sporter .22 in the standalone is an extremely effective weapon for clearing out zombies. It is very accurate, very quiet, its ammo takes up almost no space in the inventory, and it can accept a 30 round magazine, effectively turning it into a poor man's assault rifle. One can easily clear out an entire zombie-infested town with it without alerting the rest of the horde. The only real downside is its low power in PVP situations, and even that can usually be negated with careful headshots.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Your health is measured in "Blood." See Critical Existence Failure below.
  • Common Place Rare: Antibiotics, justified in that during a zombie outbreak demand will be high. So, if you get an infection then you better get used to the symptoms.
    • You can find a lot of Coke and Pepsi but Mountain Dew, forget about it. (The differences are only cosmetic in their item icon.)
      • Somewhat justified by the Ruritania setting: Mountain Dew is apparently much harder to find in Europe than in the US while Coke and Pepsi are common.
  • Continuing Is Painful: You will lose everything you looted and respawn at the starting location, probably far away from any friends you may have been with. However, you can store equipment in a tent to resupply yourself; but you better pray no one came across it or that the server doesn't delete it.
    • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Tents are persistent across server resets and an infinite number can be placed on an infinite number of servers. At this point in the game they are so common that a new player can fully arm themselves in a matter of minutes on a high-population server and veteran players are more worried about their tents being found than they are about being killed — in a game where permadeath is the cost for failure.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer / Competitive Multiplayer: The game walks a balance between the two. On the one hand, pretty much everyone is liable to kill you, if only because they're afraid you'll kill them. On the other hand, teaming up with others makes things much easier, especially in terms of having someone to watch your back. Fixing vehicles also basically requires teammates, in that the vehicles tend to spawn in high traffic areas, often because of the vehicle, and the items needed to repair and fuel them take up large amounts of space.
  • Crapsack World: The Zombie Apocalypse has happened, society has collapsed and people will kill you over a tin of beans if they're desperate enough.
  • Crazy-Prepared: You if you happen to be even a halfway decent survivor. Ammo counted to the bullet for your weapons, morphine for broken bones, painkillers for trauma and, well pain, bandages for bleeding, all balanced out with food and water along with munitions and other misc. supplies in a very limited inventory space (12 slots primary, 8 secondary weapon bandolier, and 24 tops in a backpack. Oh, and it's a damn grid style inventory. A small bottle of painkillers taking up the same space as a STANAG magazine for an AR platform rifle.)
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted. Health is measured by the amount of blood in your body. As it gets lower, your vision deteriorates, your character begins breathing harder, and at the lowest levels may begin to randomly fall unconscious and eventually die. Blood can be raised by eating or having another player give you a blood transfusion.
    • Partially played straight, however, with regard to most anything with a scope. Sniper rifles usually kill in two hits anywhere and the AS50 and M107 will kill you from 3 to 15 times over ... if they hit you in the toe. But then, those weapons are designed for "one shot, one kill".
  • Daylight Horror: The game during the daytime, which is when most players are likely to be playing. Especially so with high dynamic range lighting. Going out of a building or treeline into direct sunlight will briefly light-blind the player, particularly if they face a sun low in the sky. Likewise, going from outside indoors will briefly plunge the player into darkness. Trying to stick one's face out of cover to see if the coast is clear when one hears zombies about can be a tense experience.
    • On the other hand, without a flashlight or night vision goggles, playing at night is all kinds of terrifying since the default vision level at night is slightly further than your own nose, but you can still hear the zombies, and you know there are players out there that can see you.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Colors dull as your Blood (health) drops. Lose enough blood and all color is lost.
  • Diegetic Interface: The mod has gauges on the screen to indicate hunger, thirst, etc, but in the standalone the player must rely on their Player Character telling them they feel hungry/thirst, etc. In both versions, the inventory has its own pop up window though.
  • Drone of Dread: Pure, unadulterated horror. On a more literal level, the drone of an approaching helicopter is usually a sign of impending death. It means that an organised group of survivors have spotted you. Expect the chopper pilot to be directing friends on the ground towards your location.
  • Easter Egg: Down that chimney is... ZOMBIE SANTA!
  • Early Game Hell: Surviving the initial portion of the game (without well-provisioned friends to help you get on your feet) can be absolutely brutal. In addition to starting with almost no storage space, no protection, no equipment, no medical supplies, no food, and no weapons, the spawn rate for basic items is low and the coastal areas are often well picked-over by other newly spawned survivors. This results in the initial portion of the game being a Drought Level of Doom. Early survivors will be living a hand-to-mouth existence just to get enough food and water, often contracting food poisoning or infection by eating gone-bad or contaminated sources when the alternative is starvation.
  • Earn Your Fun: Since the game is designed around the realistic scenario of a zombie outbreak, new players may be overwhelmed with the concept of trying to gather supplies to stay alive and trying to avoid other players due to high paranoia amongst everyone else. Unless you're friends with other players, the only way to acquire better loot is to keep playing and wandering around until you can find better gear. Assuming that the zombies and other players don't kill you first.
  • Everyone Chasing You: One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to use a loud weapon in a zombie-infested town. This is one of the most common mistakes made by newer players.
    • The Lee-Enfield rifle was dubbed the "Dinner Bell" due to its loud report.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: The Game. Zombies will kill you and hunt you down, no matter the distance. Human players might be a bit more merciful, unless they blow your brains out the next time they spot you. And you probably won't even know what killed you, if you haven't already succumbed to starvation, thirst or worse.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Of course.
  • Fallen Hero: Not every 'shoot-on-sight bandit' started off that way, some players start off intending to kill only in self defense or even hoping to team up with others and form a co-op group. After getting gunned down one too many times (or worse, getting killed by someone pretending to be a friendly), some just decided that the only way to survive in this game is to be equally ruthless.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: An unusual and meta variant: "DayZ" is pronounced like "daisy", which is grossly inappropriate for a game like this.
    • Some players pronounce it "Day Zed" to avert this.
    • Some go as far to say "Days-Zees", trying to sound like they are sound Disease.
  • For Want of a Nail: One of the most frustrating ways to die is to have a can of good food, and starve because you have no tool to open it with...
  • Game Mod: One that managed to singlehandedly make ARMA II extremely popular. To the point that Steam's store pages for both ARMA II and Operation Arrowhead specifically point out that DayZ requires both of them to run. This may also count as an example of an Ascended Game Mod, since the development team licensed the engine from Bohemia Interactive to publish it as a standalone product.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: The only melee attack all characters always have access to is to punch stuff. That said, it does very little damage at all, to the point that it is only ever used in desperation or as a means of Cherry Tapping. However, a hit to the head has a decent chance of knocking a player or zombie briefly unconscious, giving the attacker time to get away or snatch a weapon from the victim to finish the job.
  • Gradual Grinder: The zombies themselves. They do very little damage with their clumsy attempts to claw at the player. However, they are very good at getting the player to start bleeding with every strike they make. Their lethality does not come from hitting the player hard, but from causing them to slowly bleed out over time. If the player has bandages or rags they can bind themselves to stop the bleeding, but that requires being safely out of combat (by which time they may have lost a lot of blood already) and having enough bandages on hand (which is not always the case, especially early.) Even if the player does stop the bleeding, blood is slow to regenerate and requires them to stay satiated with food and water, which they may not have access to. Death by zombie often comes at the end of a long test of endurance rather than a sudden attack.
  • Grid Inventory: Your vest pouch in the mod, meant for easy access to things like ammo and bandages. The Standalone release gives a separate one for each piece of worn equipment, similar to ARMA III. Of course, players spawn in the standalone with no inventory slots other than the pockets in their pants...
  • Griefer: The nature of the game encourages this, really. Why else kill newly spawned players, especially when you're specced out in high-grade military gear?
  • Hammerspace: Ruthlessly averted, especially in the stand-alone where every square of the Grid Inventory can be accounted for somewhere on the Player Character's person. Finding good cloths is more than just a cosmetic thing: having more pockets on you allows you to carry more. A backpack is indispensable for this.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted. Nighttime is extremely difficult to navigate, requiring the use of flares, glowsticks, flashlights, or night vision to see where you're going. The first three give away your position to zombies and other players alike, so night vision goggles are some of the most sought after items in the game.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Mostly averted. The silenced M9, the Bizon and the MP5SD are extremely quiet, but the M4A1 CCO SD can still easily give away your position; all of them however do follow the trope in that zombies do NOT "hear" suppressed weapon shots at all.
  • Humans Are Bastards: One of the original purposes of the mod was as an informal scientific experiment to determine whether or not this was true. Your Mileage May Vary on what the results say (spoilers: Yes. Yes they are).
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Largely averted. The measure of "health", if you can call it that, is how much blood is in the player's body. To the extend that this is played straight, eating food does restore a small amount of blood, but not enough to use it as a quick healing method, and food is rare enough that a player will not want to chomp it down unless they are also hungry. This practically insures that healing is done slowly over time.
    • However, this is played much straighter with cooked meat taken from animals one might come across and slaughter. The large source of fresh protein is much better for restoring lost blood, regaining back four times as much as canned food. A player with low blood and the equipment to do so (a weapon to make the kill, a hunting knife, wood and/or hatchet, and a matchbox) may find themselves gorging after finding a large animal and regaining a substantial blood in a short amount of time by doing so.
  • I Ate What?: It is possible to consume items that are not, strictly speaking, meant to be eaten. For example, chugging down disinfecting alcohol which (while useful for sanitizing bandages among other things) will make you sick.
  • Improvised Weapon: There are a few melee weapons in the game that are not, strictly speaking, weapons, like a fire extinguisher. Some examples with tropes of their own:
    • An Axe to Grind: Both a log-splitting axe and a more powerful fire axe are available, and some of the better melee weapons.
    • Batter Up: Wooden baseball bats are uncommon (though still more common than would be expected for a former Soviet-bloc country) and are useful in a pinch, but not especially powerful compared to other weapons.
    • Drop the Hammer: A mason's hammer is handy for cracking zombie skulls.
    • Wrench Whack: A smaller spanner is better than nothing, and a larger pipe wrench is substantially better than your own fists.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted in most cases. Headshots with most weapons, as well as most hits from the most powerful weapons can still down you instantly. However, players hit with less powerful weapons may still take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to bleed out. Certain mid-range weapons may also knock you unconscious without immediately killing you. However, in the latter case, you're dead anyway without a friend nearby to give you a bandage and a blood bag.
    • It's not uncommon to come across areas with several bodies of players strewn around and nobody has been looted. This can happen if several players get into a firefight and the survivors succumb to their wounds immediately after taking out their opponents, and thus never getting the chance to loot the spoils. Use caution when trying to claim the loot however; as areas like these can be used as bait by bandits, especially in cities and military bases.
  • Interface Screw: Happens at lower blood levels.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: According to Word of God, the game's name is properly pronounced "Day-Zee".
  • Lightning Bruiser: Some of the zombies.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Surviving your first hour of the game. There is something to be said for survival skills that you can learn, layouts you become familiar with, etc. However, just finding enough food to eat in the early portions of the game depends on being able to actually run across it in the game world, and the stand-alone in particular has very low spawn rates for any food and water that will not make your situation worse for having wolfed it down in desperation.
  • More Dakka: The light machine guns. Recoil is high however, so too much dakka will result in not being able to hit anything; this is right out of vanilla ARMA 2 though.
  • Nerf: Early-availability handguns. Players used to spawn on the beach with pistols that could kill other players in 5 or 6 hits and zombies in two. Then DayZ took their pistols away. Still, if they found a handgun while looting it would take only 1 (if you have a revolver) to 2 (if you have a Makarov) shots to kill a zombie. So, after further nerfs, it now takes an entire mag of Makarov bullets to kill a zombie (short of a headshot) and two full magazine to kill another player.
  • Nobody Poops: But they do eat, drink, and try to stay warm.
    • Mind you, someone actually suggested this on their forums...
  • No Plot? No Problem!: There is absolutely no story in the game and no explanation for why a Zombie Apocalypse is occurring.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Especially since going standalone. The number of zombies has been drastically reduced since the old mod days, but those zombie's awareness has likewise been drastically increased. This can result in players finding apparently empty urban environments with potential salvageable loot, only to become overconfident and get chased by a few zombies they never noticed were there.
  • Obvious Alpha: To be expected. The mod is still in Alpha and still immensely popular.
    • Its original incarnation was a "proof of concept" of the persistence aspect which was tried out by an ARMA 2 player community to test server implementation and capacity, only for word-of-mouth and hype to spread before he'd implemented much of anything else about the mod.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Generally Type F.
  • Player Killing: A big part of the game. Much of your time will be spent defending against bandits or being one yourself. See Paranoia Fuel on the YMMV page.
  • Poison Mushroom: Especially in the standalone, there are plenty of "beneficial" items which will potentially cause you more harm than good. Rotten fruit, for example, should only be eaten in the direst of hunger, because it is very likely to give the player an infection. Likewise, tearing up clothing to make cloth rags can also cause an infection when the rags are applied as bandages, if those cloths are soiled and not disinfected first. Even drinking water can cause infections, unless one can get it from a filtered source (like an unbroken plastic bottle) or boil it first. Eating dry cereal will satisfy hunger well, but will also drastically dehydrate the player, putting them in further danger unless they have a fresh source of water at hand to wash it down with.
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear: Some of the clothing a person can come across is done in bright, cheerful colors. Unfortunately, bright cheerful colors make for poor camouflage, and many players will avoid wearing them for that reason if they can help it. However, many will still wear them anyway, because the items might offer other crucial benefits that they may lack. For example, a bright shirt might be put on to replace one earlier torn to rags in a moment of need and get some pockets, or a colorful backpack might be put on because the player has none and could use the extra carrying capacity. Typically these will be replaced with better blending colors when the player comes across something to switch them out with.
  • Reality Ensues: You will die very unexpectedly, often just to random snipers desperate to get a can of beans off your corpse. The zombies themselves are often much less of a problem then actual people with guns.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: Well, not rats, but rotten fruit is relatively frequent, satisfy only a little hunger and are likely to give you food poisoning. Only desperate players (typically freshly spawned ones) will engage in this, but the alternative is often death.note 
  • Scavenger World: Weapons, ammo, and other supplies are scarce and often found in abandoned houses, warehouses and such. The best weapons and equipment are found in abandoned military bases which are usually overrun with bandits.
  • Schmuck Bait: Invoked by the players where they can drop their items on the ground to lure other players into a trap.
    • Also be careful of looting bodies, which either could of been a poor soul a sniper just shot and may still be looking around the corpse.
    • The game's chat feature is also this. Since anything that is said in chat can be seen by everyone, new players tend to be hunted down when they stupidly reveal their location in the chat console. Because of this, most players that quickly adapted to the game don't use the in game chat at all and use 3rd party chat clients like Skype.
  • Serious Business: Occasionally happens when you kill another survivor.
    • In one case, on the mod's forums a gaming clan demanded a ransom in the form of handing over a number of in-game guns and ammo magazines, threatening their target with kill-on-sight status.
      • Which when you consider that 90% of players will kill you for even the most meagre of supplies (the so called Bean wars) it's actually a completely worthless threat.
  • Simple Yet Awesome: A humble backpack may not seem very impressive on the face of it, but it drastically improves a survivor's odds of surviving further by allowing them to carry much more than they could with only the pockets on their cloths. Useful items that got passed over before can now be hoarded and saved for when the situation calls for them if you have one of these.
  • Standard Status Effects: In addition to food and water, players may also need to scavenge for supplies to deal with these, such as heat packs for hypothermia, morphine for broken legs, antibiotics for infections, bandages to stop bleeding, and painkillers to stop the screen from shaking.
  • Stealth-Based Game: In many ways. The player can lower their profile and move slowly and on soft surfaces to avoid their chances of being seen or heard. Distracting objects like flares, or even empty soda cans, can be thrown to lure away zombies and let the player slip by. Weapon sounds are a major consideration as well, since light and noise attract zombies. Plus other players might be attracted to the sound of gunfire and be looking for an easy mark. Recent updates have removed any starting weapons from the player's inventory to encourage this.
    • On the other hand, at the beginning of the game players have so little to lose most just run for it, counting on being able to lose zombies in the cities or find something useful quickly, completely ignoring the much slower, stealthier paths.
  • Sticks to the Back: Each character in the stand-alone has a slot for one long-arm, and one melee weapon. In the case of long guns, we can at least pretend that they have a strap. The melee weapons have no such justification.
  • Survivor Needs Food Badly: Emphasizing the Central Theme of survival, players must find food and water, lest they die of hunger or thirst. Some of these values go down faster than others, and the rate at which they decrease can shift depending on how active the player is being. Running around everywhere will dehydrate the player faster than walking at a modest pace, for example. There used to be a series of gauges in the corner of the screen that would change color to indicate how desperately the survivor needs these, blinking red when really low. Since going standalone, the gauges have disappeared completely.
  • Technically Living Zombie: As good an in-universe explanation as any for headshots not being essential to kill them.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: As you start off, your chances of even surviving for an hour can be slim. You have to scavenge for food and drinkables, as well as equipment and surviving for long enough without getting murdered by another player, are just as low as when you started.
  • Undeathly Pallor: All the zombies look as though they have white paint caked to their faces, with dirt and grime elsewhere, and blood on their hands.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Helping other survivors out by bandaging them up, giving them blood bags, etc can gain you a valuable ally...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: ... or you can just murder them and steal their stuff.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Since going standalone, a feature has been added which risks damaging a person's items when they are killed. A bandit who is too trigger-happy might find themselves ruining the goods they sought to plunder. Items like handcuffs and ropes that can be forced on a person to restrain them have been added to encourage things like capturing a target alive if you want to rob them. On the other hand, this opens up entirely new avenues of Video Game Cruelty Potential...
  • Violation of Common Sense: Despite the mod's efforts at being as "realistic" as possible, morphine somehow fixes broken legs as good as new.
    • Word of God actually says the mod is aimed at being "Authentic" rather than realistic. However, crude splints were eventually added, crafted by the player out of cloth rags and wooden sticks.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: View-able on the inventory for changing the Player Character's cloths and other accessories. Some choices are just cosmetic, but most actually have a gameplay function, like more pockets or better protection from the environment, among other things.
  • With This Herring: Recent updates spawn new characters with no weapon and minimal supplies.
  • Zerg Rush: Can and will happen if you get too trigger happy with zombies nearby.
    • Especially prevalent during the 1.7.1.4 Patch, known as the "Nightmare Patch", which saw an temporary heavy buff to zombies' detecting abilities. If you fired any kind of gun near a major city or even a small town, you had to get out of there fast.
    • Firearms are more or less audible depending on the calibre. The .303 bolt-action Lee-Enfield - the most common full-power rifle in the game - is often referred to as the "dinner bell" because of its tendency to attract zombies from far and wide.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: But of course.
  • Zombie Gait: Averted most places outdoors, where zombies will run around in a serpentine pattern, but played straight indoors, where they slow down and shamble in a straight line toward the player, or when they are climbing up steep hills.
    • Strangely enough, ship cargo docks are considered "indoors" for this behavior, despite being large unobstructed flat areas open to the sky. Considering players always spawn on the beach, this detail can save a freshly spawned character's life when they are looking for their first supplies.

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alternative title(s): Day Z
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