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'DayZ' impresses even in alpha, early access is worth buying

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From mod, to early access retail ip, Dean Hall’s apocalyptic survivor is already making a strong case for a $29.99 investment.

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DayZ, the online zombie survival game from Arma II developer, Bohemia Interactive, has finally released to the public. Originally, DZ was aiming for release sometime last December. However, the development team, led by creator Dean “Rocket” Hall, decided to put the title through a major overhaul with a new game engine, which led to new server architecture (among other things) and delays. One year later, the game is available via Steam and performing well above expectations.

The game’s current performance level is the biggest noticeable change. This is especially telling for those who've played the Arma II derivative, that’s evolved into a half dozen different versions. DayZ may be in an alpha phase, that is, an early stage of game development; but the difference is like night and day, which is why DZ is already impressing.

Loading and exiting a server takes seconds at best. Same can be said when respawning. Looting features a seamless drag and drop mechanic or you can double click items to acquire them. Additionally, you can drag items over one another to craft or customize. It’s that easy.

Shooting is also spot on, which came as a surprise. What you see down your sights is what you’ll hit or visa versa. Melee doesn't seem as precise, but this is something that’ll undoubtedly improve as time goes on.

Environments, character models, lights and shadows all exhibit greater detail and textures; this was evident in the development update blogs, but seeing and exploring the open world for yourself reaffirms DayZ’s cosmetic upgrades.

It’s important to note that the aforementioned positives are running without the inclusion of pivotal game elements such as, base making, vehicles (which can be crafted), weather and various other survival items; all slated for implementation in the foreseeable future. One can only imagine how this will alter the combat and scavenging, in addition to the social interaction and psychological strategy.

Presently, over 250,000 players are trying to survive Chernarus in DayZ. According to Bohemia Interactive CEO Maruk Spanel, 172,500 copies have been sold, totaling $5.1 million in one day. Impressive for a game that was never intended to see life past a mod. This is indicative of one thing: Despite the game’s young age, and ambitious road ahead, thus far, it’s well worth the $29.99 price tag.

Normally we wouldn't recommend a title still in an early phase of development, however, there are exceptions and DayZ happens to be just that.

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