DayZ is a multiplayer game that thrusts you into a harsh and unforgiving post-Soviet world where you are forced to survive against the elements, zombies and other players. There is no-end game. You simply spawn on the shore of an enormous land-mass with nothing but a flashlight and the goal to survive for as long as you possibly can. From there on out, your primary focus is to loot for food and water and other valuable items by cautiously exploring the various towns and villages throughout Chernarus.
After you’ve learned the basics of scavenging for supplies and dodging the undead, you’ll inevitably come to the realization that the biggest threat to your survival is not zombies or starvation or thirst; but the presence of other players. You see, hunting for loot and circumnavigating zombies can become predictable after a while. Fill a backpack with enough food and water and you can survive out in the wilderness for days-on-end, safe from the hoards of zombies that tend to wander aimlessly around urban areas. Because of this, the only element to the game that will always remain unpredictable is the element of player interaction.
In the DayZ community, a lot people tend to split players up into two separate groups: “Friendlies” and “Bandits”. Friendlies will help you out and team up with you, whereas bandits will murder you in cold blood and steal your hard-earned supplies. Unfortunately for those who are new to the game, this over-simplified categorization of the DayZ player base isn’t exactly helpful, simply because most of the players that they meet will actually fall somewhere in-between. On a good day, a player might help you out by giving you some much-needed medical loot. On a bad day, that same player might put a round in your back and make off with the contents of your backpack.
Everyone is different…
The one thing that you need to realize is that everyone is different. People have different personalities and they will react differently to certain situations. Thus; the categories of “Friendly” and “Bandit” aren’t of much use. You just have to accept the fact that each player interaction will be varied to a degree.
When you come face-to-face with another player, there are four basic outcomes, three of which are pretty straight-forward:
- He opens fire on you, in which case you know for sure that he is not friendly.
- You open fire on him.
- You awkwardly back away from one another before heading your separate ways.
- You initiate a conversation with each other.
The fourth outcome is where it can get pretty complicated.
Don’t bring a baseball bat to a gun fight.
Do not assume that a player is friendly just because they didn’t immediately start swinging at you with their baseball bat. If somebody with a baseball bat sees that you are carrying a fully automatic assault rifle, don’t be surprised to find out that they are interested in teaming up with you. In some cases, unscrupulous players will feign “friendliness” and bide their time until they feel as though they can safely take you out. One minute, you’re looting a supermarket with your new best friend. The next minute, you’re being bludgeoned to death as you attempt to organize your inventory. This happens a lot more than you think it does. Trust me.
Befriending unarmed players.
When your unarmed “friend” stumbles across a pistol or a Mosin–Nagant, how will the dynamic of your “friendship” change? How will you react? How will he react? These are the questions that you need to ask yourself before you team up with somebody that is unarmed or under-armed. You need to make sure that you can trust this person with a weapon before you get any notions of the two of you teaming up to become the next Bonnie and Clyde.
ALWAYS trust your instincts.
This is probably the most important piece of advice in this entire article. When things don’t seem right and you’re starting to feel a bit jittery around a person that you’ve just met, immediately trust your instincts and get the hell out of there. Every single time that I have been betrayed by a seemingly-friendly player, it was because I allowed it to happen by choosing to ignore that awful foreboding feeling that I got beforehand.
Tone of voice.
If there is something off with the tone of their voice, don’t ignore it. This is kind of related to my last point about trusting your instincts. More often than not, a player’s tone of voice will tip you off and let you know if they are being genuine or not. Take the following video for example:
As you listen to the conversation in the video above, you can’t help but feel that it was always going to end in tears. A few points:
- You can tell that the person who made the video was extremely nervous. His voice was cracking at one point so it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that his instincts were screaming at him throughout the course of the conversation. He knew that he was in deep trouble, its just that he refused to admit it to himself.
- The “bandit” that was trying to strike up a conversation is an extremely bad actor. You could hear the lack of sincerity in his voice as he stalled and fired off several fluff questions.
- There’s a lot of silence going on here. Notice how two of the players aren’t saying a thing. This suggests that they are communicating with one another over TeamSpeak. It could also suggest that they don’t want to get into a friendly conversation with somebody that they are going to kill (even a “bandit” can have a conscience).
Silence is not golden…
Be wary if the random player that you teamed up with suddenly starts to ignore you. A lull in communication can be a very bad sign. He could be planning something with his friends via TeamSpeak or he could be working up the courage to kill you. You see, most people aren’t sociopaths. Thus, they might try and cool the conversation and distance themselves so that killing you won’t weigh so heavily on their conscience. Notice the lull in communication in the following Youtube video:
Pay close attention to the other player’s movements. Are they jittery or erratic? Constantly reloading their weapon? As you are looting buildings together, do you constantly catch him looking over in your direction? Is it making you feel nervous? If so, trust your instincts and get out of there. In my experience, friendly players tend to be more focused on loot and their surroundings than me.
If you want to play it safe, don’t say your goodbyes to somebody unless you really trust them. If you tell your new “friend” that you are exiting the game, the temptation to murder you and steal your stuff could reach a breaking point. You’re leaving and they’ll probably never see you again… are you sure that they’ll agree to part ways in a peaceful manner? Are you sure that they won’t pop one in your back as you’re trying to fumble for the exit button?
Get a microphone.
Typing into chat instead of speaking through a microphone will leave you open and vulnerable to attacks. Twice, I’ve been betrayed as I tried to use the chat function. On one occasion, a “friendly” player with a crappy Makarov handgun shot me point-blank in the back of the head as I tried to inform him that I had a spare blood bag if he needed one. Clearly, he was more interested in the FAL that I was carrying. It is also worth noting that you should double-tap the CAPS LOCK key if you plan on having a conversation with a stranger. Double tapping the CAPS LOCK key will leave your microphone on, freeing up your hands so that you can focus on assessing the situation and defending yourself if necessary.
Be wary of fully-geared players on the coastline. Sometimes, people will gear up and head back to the shore so that they can mess around with fresh spawns. And by mess around, I mean capture them and force them to drink domestic cleaning products.
The problem with people in groups is that they already have somebody to team up with. So, while a lone wolf player might see the value of teaming up with you, a group of players might consider you to be nothing more than a disposable toy. I’ve also noticed that people in groups are far more aggressive with strangers, simply because having a squad mate killed forces you to pick up your friend and reorganize.
Another issue with meeting roaming gangs of players is that you are essentially meeting multiple personalities at once. Most of them could be cool with you, but all it takes is one person to pull the trigger.
You should remain vigilant when you come into contact with younger players. From my experience, a lot of them tend to view DayZ as a First Person shooter. They also tend to place a larger emphasis on getting “cool gear”, which means that shooting you in the back and stealing your sniper rifle might not mean that much to them.
The rarer your gear, the more you have to fear. If you are openly-displaying a rare weapon or a piece of sought-after clothing, the chances of somebody shooting you on sight will inevitably rise. Why would a player travel to one of the military bases when they could just cut you down instead? Would he have opened fire on you if you were carrying a shitty baseball bat?
Since DayZ Standalone was released back in December, there seems to be a growing sentiment among players that people who wear masks are untrustworthy. Whether this is actually true or not is obviously debatable. Unfortunately for you, there won’t be much time for debate if you manage to stumble across the path of somebody who perceives you to be a threat because of your military gas mask. First impressions are everything.
If you’ve formed a partnership with somebody, be sure to provide them with some breathing space. For example: If he climbs up the stairs of a fire station, try to hang back and stay on the ground floor so that you can both maintain a safe distance from one another. From my experience, being in a narrow carridor with a player that you’ve just met can make people feel extremely jumpy, ESPECIALLY if melee weapons are involved. Remember that he is analysing you just as much as you are analysing him. A lot of shoot-outs between random players happen because of this sort of “miscommunication”. Nerves get unsettled and the bullets begin to fly.
Act first, think later! When things start to get hairy, there won’t be much time for you to analyse the situation and arrive at a logical conclusion. You’ll need to react quickly or risk being killed. Just remember: DayZ does not promote the notion of fairness! It’s dog-eat-dog and there are no second chances.
Teaming up with random people is fun, but you’ve got to be able to look out for the warning signs and play it safe. After all, nobody wants to lose the loot that they’ve spent five hours scavenging for. In the end, you will have to trust the person if you intend on teaming up with them. Although the majority of the points above will probably make you feel paranoid about player interactions, I think it is fair to say that forging a successful partnership with a person that you’ve never met before is a part of what makes DayZ such a fun experience. Be willing to trust people, but don’t be stupid.