Give Me All of the Z’s: Day Z vs War Z
There’s been a lot of yapping about War Z and Day Z and all those Z-games. Words like “elitist”, “fan boy” and “hipster” have been thrown around. Now I am all about these kinds of arguments! Good articles are born from fights. So here are my 2 cents, so people can attack me for being on camp X.
I’ve played Day Z and I love it. I’ve seen War Z and I am skeptical of it. I came into writing this article with one single argument that I might get to soon, but until then, I am just left here to sit and try to come up with something to say before the true argument presents itself. The thing with me and the Z’s is that no matter what I do or say, I’ll end up sounding like the biggest elitist-hipster-fanboy a-hole who ever lived. Then again, I think that happens the instant you start drawing differences between War Z and Day Z and defending the undeniable technical… well, crappiness behind Day Z. You are going to be judged and pushed into that group I mentioned before. See, I am one of those people who complained when Oblivion removed the ability to enchant my underwear, jeans, greaves and ballet-dress with different enchantments and wear all of them at the same time. So the majority of people reading this must already be shaking their fists at that “elitist douche bag”. Well, prepare your anus, because there is a lot more where that came from.
All Your Zombies Are Belong To Us
So War Z, eh? Before I continue into bashing the ever-loving crap out of the game, I feel the need to say that I think the game looks interesting and I will probably get it if it ends up being well received. It has potential for sure and I am all over for every single zombie-survival-simulation that gets released. Now, on to the bashing.
War Z won’t probably be able to emulate the feeling behind Day Z, because the feeling behind Day Z is deep. Surprisingly deep. The common arguments all apply; it’s desperate, lonely, and difficult. Now the thing that I’ll probably catch the most crap for is that I actually think some of the “bad” parts of the game might add to it. Not all, of course. I simply cannot justify clipping into walls or teleporting into the sky. I can also completely understand people finding the game bad or unplayable because of this, but in some ways, a lot of the screwy controls or extensive options rub me the right way. Maybe I am just a freak, but I think the tension of opening your backpack in a hurry to get your painkillers and spare shotgun while zombies scratch at your front door would not be nearly as exciting if you could just press the tab-key and have the inventory appear on your screen, or if you were given hot keys to select your painkiller or equip your shotgun.
See, Day Z, and Arma2 for that matter, are all about immersion and realism. These games revolved around instilling in you the feeling that you actually there, in the worst way possible. You need to be terrified. You can’t open your backpack and get the right pills and guns within 2 seconds. When I open my backpack during a camping trip, it’s not in alphabetical order, or in there by type. My stuff just is in there somewhere. And if what I need is in the bottom of the bag, I need to dig for it. I think it’s fun that I need to find the right equipment from my backpack, and that instead of just activating your mcguffin, you need to take it out of your pack and put it on your tool belt. To me, that stuff is fun, especially when you have hordes of zombies and bloodthirsty bandits hot on your tail.
I agree, it should be a bit clearer how to activate your backup pistol from your backpack, but it shouldn’t be easy or quick. If the game becomes too sleek and easy to use, it risks looking and feeling more like a movie, where everything is convenient and fun. To create true tension and immersion, one sometimes needs to press g, click “open bag”, click on an arrow next to pistol, click “close bag”, drag a pistol to your hand, press g and reload. Some people don’t want to do that, and I understand that completely. But for someone like me, that’s awesome and creates some amazing moments of tension and satisfaction.
War Z has a chance to do that and to prove the community they are not afraid to be Not-Call-Of-Duty and actually respect the brainpower of the community, but the footage they have shown us has been very “keep these 2 bars up with food and enjoy yourself with your machine gun”. If they have the balls to provide gamers with 2 hours of gun-free gaming where you spend your time running away from anything that moves, they have earned my respect. How they end up treating newcomers will show exactly what they think about their user base. Do the players need a weapon with 100 rounds of ammo at start? 20 rounds ammo? No ammo? No gun? Those kinds of ballsy moves that respect the skills and patience of the gamer make Day Z such a pleasure to play, and death actually a thing worth fearing.
The charm of Day Z comes from the stories created through playing the game. I have run into some crazy situations and spent days searching YouTube for even crazier ones. Depending on the freedom War Z provides, it may or may not give players the same sense of wonder that Day Z does. Things like the salute and sit motions or not having a map at the start may sound like small things, but it all helps create the overall feel of the game. If you weren’t forced to use street signs and a compass to navigate Day Z would most definitely lose some its appeal and be a lesser game because of it. If I won’t be able to slowly build cars and helicopters, or ride around on a tractor, War Z simply won’t be as good. They may not seem like much, but these little things count. They help the game and the players within create some truly amazing stories.
This video where a couple guys found an abandoned jeep full of stuff, proceeded to steal it, ride it around the town and then hide it speaks volumes to what I think and feel about Day Z. Although nothing majorly exciting in terms of action happened, the pure glee of these people is something rarely found in video gaming. Games are fun, but rarely the kind of fun where I, a totally passive contributor, was laughing and jumping for joy as these devious thieves stole 80+ hours of gameplay from some poor chump. I have even seen simulated rape in Day Z. Take that as good or bad, but I find that amazing, from a psychological standpoint.
People have gotten so into the characters they play, that while robbing people, they are willing to let these people leave alive if they humiliate themselves for the robber. In any other game, the robber would just shoot this poor man and proceed to steal his equipment. I cannot explain why Day Z seems to be the only game where complete immersion and the peak of human-psychology used while in-game seem to be so apparent. I don’t even have a clue how this game turned out to be one of the most emotional rollercoasters around without even having a story, but it’s something that War Z has to emulate, or beat if it wants to even come close to being as good.
I have my doubts that that will happen, but I will most certainly keep my eyes open for the future of this battle. There is still hope that the standalone version of Day Z will fix all the problems with the game while keeping the complicated fashion. I don’t know if War Z will be able to do that. We will see. We will see.