Once upon a time, I was in love with DayZ. Back in 2012 and 2013, I played it obsessively for months on end. Every night after I got home from work, I would load up the game and explore Chernarus, fighting off bandits and searching abandoned buildings for loot. It was extremely immersive.
However, all of my “good memories” of the game seem to date back to when DayZ was still just a mod for Arma 2.
And that to me is the most telling part of all.
So how did such a great idea that was highly anticipated by millions of gamers fail so badly?
DayZ failed because the standalone version sucked.
Let’s not mince words here. The standalone version sucked. We could talk about bugs and gameplay dynamics all day long. We could focus on this and that. However, that would be skirting around the main overarching issue.
And that is that it sucked.
There is no other way to say it. It was a great idea that was poorly executed. As a result, the game was not enjoyable to play.
I was extremely excited for the release of the standalone version of DayZ. When Bohemia Interactive suddenly released the game in December of 2013, I was like a giddy child on Christmas Eve. Finally, the day had come.
Unfortunately, my happiness was short lived. Within an hour or two of playing the game, it began to sink in that this game just wasn’t as enjoyable to play as the mod version.
My character was constantly thirsty, the collision detection was off and the game just felt “janky”. In addition, the zombies were also a nightmare to deal with. However, this wasn’t because they were scary or anything. It was because they glitched around the place and it was a chore to fight them off.
All in all, it just wasn’t an enjoyable experience.
Despite all of this, I was still willing to give DayZ a chance. This was the Alpha version and bugs were to be expected. I wasn’t going to label it as a failure and give up on the game that I loved.
Returning to the game.
Every couple of weeks, I would return to DayZ to see if things had improved. For a while, I paid close attention to new releases and bug fixes.
Unfortunately, each time I returned, I felt disappointed. The game still felt unpolished. My character seemed to float across the ground. Zombies were still buggy. Loot seemed so scarce that I wasn’t even sure if there was any loot on the map at all.
I could go on.
Over time, I began to play it less and less. My weekly return turned into a monthly return. Then, it became once “every couple of months”. My emotional investment in DayZ began to drop. I no longer thought about the game as much. Furthermore, the friends that I used to play DayZ with started to move onto other games. One by one, they had all quietly admitted to themselves that the game was a failure. It would never become the game that they had envisioned.
Eventually, I also stopped playing.
Nearly four or five years after I stopped playing DayZ, I saw that the game was available on the PlayStation Store. My nostalgia kicked in and I began to wonder if they had finally fixed all of the issues that had originally driven me away from the game.
Although many of the reviews suggested that the game still sucked, I still had hope. Enough hope that I was willing to purchase the game so that I could see it with my own eyes. “Maybe it isn’t as bad anymore?”, I thought.
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
All it took was ten minutes for me to quit the game and never open it again. The same buggy issues were still there. The game was still unpolished and the zombies were still unplayable.
All in all, it felt like a chore to play.
DayZ, for all its promise, had failed.