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'DayZ' road map revealed, beta no 'sooner than the end of 2014'

DayZ Standalone screens.
DayZ Standalone screens.

The path ahead for Dean "Rocket" Hall's zombie survivor looks promising; ensuing beta phase is about a year away.

There is no escaping paranoia in this survivor shooter...

DayZ has taken the holiday by storm, selling more than 875 thousand copies in just three weeks, according to a new dev blog post today. And in case you needed reminding, the game was released as an early access alpha title; meaning, the undead apocalypse is very much in a premature stage of development. What’s more, a rough beta timeline and road map have also been revealed, highlighting the team’s focus moving forward.

“Please keep in mind that we do not expect to reach Beta status sooner than the end of 2014,” said Maruk Spanel of Bohemia Interactive - the studio responsible for the Arma series, which gave birth to the DayZ Mod, now turned into a standalone title.

Presently, the development team is focused on addressing the most “critical” issues with the game on the way to the next big goal: Beta.

“In the short term, we’re going to focus on the most critical problems you’re experiencing [at the moment] and at the same time we’re going to work on the road to the DayZ Beta,” Spanel notes.

Naturally, the work ahead for DZ will not be met with haste, as the team has expressed an emphasis on quality performance more than once, which is one of the reasons the alpha was delayed by a year.

Initial impressions for the alpha have been primarily positive, including our own run with the game. In short, DayZ has been a nerve wracking, adventure extravaganza, with paranoia sprinkled all over. However, that’s not to say, that DayZ doesn’t have its work cut out for itself. The alpha is filled with various bugs of all kinds, from server crashes, to animations anomalies; the game very much plays like an alpha game should play: Frustrating. But if you played the mod back when it first released in Spring of 2012, than comparably, the standalone version is on better footing.

DayZ’s road map, also noted in the dev blog, re-iterates the team’s focus on performance, along with some big notable game features:

  • Server performance, stability and security
  • Animals & hunting
  • Cooking & gathering resources
  • Playable user customizable vehicles
  • Player created constructions in the environment
  • |More complex interactions with the environment and crafting options
  • Streamlined user actions and interface
  • Control and animations expanded and improved for fluidity
  • Upgraded graphics and physics engine (including ragdoll, etc.)
  • Support of user mods and more flexibility for user hosted servers and game types

While hunting animals and gathering new resources certainly offers new ways to survive, including lone wolf survival, customizable vehicles - think Mad Max - brings another dynamic vein sure to spruce up player interaction, in addition to traveling. The mod limited players to driving and riding along as passengers only; unless you we’re in the chopper, which had mounted machine guns. But if you’re able to lean out of windows for drive-by combat, or create special locks for you and your teammates, or do some other awesome thing we can't think of then transports will take on a whole new value.

As awesome as the thought of more loot and customizable vehicles sound, the last item on the list is what really got our elation going. The allowance of game modifications will yield a bevy of new content that will give DayZ greater depth and longevity. One needs to simply look at the mods of the mod to see how far things can go. Players can expect new maps, game modes, items, and more to take shape once the PC modding community gets a hold of the tools.

As the lists suggests, modding is one of the last implementations we’ll see in DayZ, but it’ll be well worth the wait, as the game will be running well on its own by then, only to see a wealth of fresh content keep it going. And considering the community's heavy involvement, DZ will have plenty of creative input from here on out.

DayZ is currently available on Steam for $29.99. Be warned though, Bohemia Interactive encourages interested players not to buy the game, "unless you clearly understand what Early Access means and are interested in participating in the ongoing development cycle."

That said, 2014 is going to be a good year for the zombie apocalypse.

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