Yesterday, I bought DayZ, the famous zombie multiplayer stand-alone sandbox game. DayZ is very much a work-in-progress: buggy as hell, mostly devoid of zombies, yet full of useless animations like wiggling. Still, roaming the brown virtual countryside of DayZ with a group of utterly crazy people makes for one of my most amazing gaming experience. Open-world video games are more than the sum of their players. Each playthrough weaves its own narrative; I decided to put that experience into words. Hope you enjoy it, because more should come.
When I open my eyes, I feel the sea washing my feet. I briefly wonder why in hell would I stand in the water while wearing my pants and shoes, before scuttling quickly to the shore. I am alone on a quiet beach. Trees line the horizon, topping a gentle hill. I hear birds singing. I check my pockets: nothing but a flashlight. It could be of use when night falls. In the meantime, I need to find food; my stomach is grumbling.
I have no idea why I am here, or where I come from. It does not matter. Time is passing me by and I do not want to die alone on that beach.
I run away from the sea, hoping to find some remnants of civilization. Quickly enough, I stumble upon a road, but I do not know where it leads. I mentally flip the coin and choose to go on the right. After running for a few hundreds meters, I spot what can only be called a sorry excuse for a village: three abandoned houses at a crossroads. I carefully approach them, but no one is in sight. There are roadsigns nearby, written in a foreign language I do not understand. I search the houses for a while, but there is nothing useful left. That place feels eerily empty and silent, like nobody ever lived here.
It spooks me a little.
Deep down, the part of me who still gives a fuck knows – somehow – that there are friends in this dreadful world. I would not mind the company – truth be told, I feel a lot like a baby bird having lost their nest forever. I pick another random road and start running again. Soon, I hear voices calling me. I am quickly surrounded by several dangerous-looking men. They wear clown masks and sharp guns. On their back, I spot other weapons: there an axe, here a hoe, tucked under the backpack.
All I have is the clothes on my back and a flashlight.
The omniscient part of me – that some people would call intuition – is delighted because she found her friends. They do not take their frightening masks away, but one of them gives me his backpack stuffed with precious cans of food, as well as a gun. I do not have any bullet though – I am told bullets are a luxury but holding a gun can be enough to scare people away.
My new friends take me to a nearby water pump to appease my thirst. They advise me not to drink too much, because I could get sick and die horribly. I hold the gun close to my chest and wonder how long I will manage to survive this place.
These people who shelter me are not afraid. They laugh and joke as they run. They call themselves according to the Seven Deadly Sins: there is Pride, Greed, Wrath and Sloth. They give me a new name: I am to become Lust.
It suits me.
I quickly understand that their main goal is to find other people. My friends are like the multiple faces of the devil incarnate; they do not follow the rules of men. They can choose to grant you a can of beans or a rag to bandage your wounds, or they can decide it is funnier to shoot you on sight.
As it is, we encounter a lone wanderer while we were out exploring and looting in some town. Unarmed, the stranger does not try to flee. One of us – I think it is Sloth – engage him in light conversation. Relaxed by that friendly behavior, the stranger timidly asks for a can opener. Without the appropriate tool, it is impossible to open cans of food, and obviously fresh food is more than a rare treat in these lands. Rotten food is more common and should be avoided no matter what, unless you want to die in atrocious suffering. Or so I have been told.
Here I stand, looking fierce with my empty gun and a clown mask I found earlier. This poor guy is clearly starving and does not represent a threat. Except to a can of beans, I guess.
Pride shoots him in the head without a word of warning.
We loot him, and move on.
I feel awkward, most of the time. I learn quickly which tools can be used to open a can or where guns can be found, but I struggle with the basics of combat. I cannot hold my gun properly for the life of me, and almost get killed by the first undead I encounter because I cannot seem to ram its creepy undead head with my fancy hoe. Pride downs the smelly bastard in one quick motion, but I am hurt already. Thankfully, I have a couple of rags in my backpack that help stop the bleeding.
We run again, spotting tiny fuzzy human figures in the distance from time to time. We reach another town that looks empty of people. Bored, the Sins start messing around with each other, running around wildly and shooting for no reason. The chaos does not fail to attract another group of people who try to flank us. We run after them, and it is Greed, I think, who acts as the executioner this time.
However, the merriment that comes with looting the corpses is suddenly interrupted when Pride is shot dead on the spot. We scatter and attempt to find the perpetrators, in vain. In our search, we meet another lone man. Lucky for him, Pride is not here to shoot him on a whim. We give him a couple of useful items before running away from that cursed town.
We run accross fields and forests for quite some time. This world feels so desolated and bleak, thanks to the broken houses, the rotten food and the aggressive undeads, yet here in the wild, one can almost forget the irony of life and enjoy some good ol’ hiking. When we emerge from the tree line, we look upon a large patch of open land leading to an abandoned airfield. My remaining partners crouch behind a fence; they seem hesitant to move on. No wonder – this place is a playground for a trained sniper. I clutch the gun – it is a symbolic gesture, since I never found bullets.
We argue back and forth as to who shall be the first one to lead the charge, before throwing caution to the wind and starting to run down the hill together. We spot a zombie ahead, but it is not an immediate threat. There does not seem to be anoth-
– Everything goes black.
I wake up again. My memories are fuzzy. The waves are gently rocking against the sand. I face some sort of cliff, and glimpse a small town nearby, on my right.
There is a flashlight in my pocket.
Next in the Tales of DayZ: