DayZ, a zombie survival horror mod for PC military simulator title ArmA II that has attracted rave reviews, has been given the green light by developer Bohemia Interactive to make the step up into a fully-fledged standalone title. The mod, which according to its New Zealand creator Dean Hall has attracted over one million users in the four months since its release, has propelled ArmA II back to the top of the Steam sales charts a full three years after that title's release and it's expected the standalone game will enjoy the same kind of success.
The game is played in a 225 km² (87 mi²) fictional country called Chernarus that is swarming with zombies. It's never really explained why this is so, but what's crystal clear from the outset is that you have to do whatever it takes to survive in this post apocalyptic landscape and that zombies aren't necessarily the most dangerous foes you'll encounter.
Players start without guns, and have to scavenge for food, water, tools and weapons, all the while evading both the undead and bandit players who will happily take your hard earned loot from you.
It is the player's absolute freedom to choose how they will play the game, coupled with a real-time day/night cycle and the ever present threat of permadeath that will force players to start again from scratch that adds significance to every decision you make. Giving a stranger the benefit of the doubt and letting your guard down could see you forming a team that improves your chances of survival, but it could also get you killed at the hand of the stranger who is looking for some food and ammo. Just the kind of situation one would expect to encounter in a real zombiepocalypse.
Thankfully current players won't be left in the lurch as the mod makes the move to standalone title.
"Development and updates of the mod will continue in parallel with the development of the game, so anyone who is playing the mod now will be able to continue to do so," writes Dean Hall on his Tumblog. "The project will follow the Minecraft development model; fast iterations with the community alpha available for a heavily discounted price."
Users are hoping a standalone incarnation will iron out some of the idiosyncrasies of the original ArmA II engine, in particular the overly complex and unwieldy inventory management system.