This is the post I intended to make two weeks ago, as a follow-up to an introductory post on DayZ. It details a rich, full day in the game two Sundays ago. It helps to reference this map when understanding the locations in the game. Mind you, until this point, I could have counted the number of times I had been in a vehicle on my hands, but in this exciting day, I was in five.

I logged in to a server and spawned by Cap Golova as a fresh survivor. I hadn’t played on the main hive in a week or so (hives store your player’s state and equipment), so I didn’t remember why I had died previously. There is a lighthouse at Cap Golova, and next to the lighthouse is the best chance to find a fully working bicycle, so I checked. Sure enough, there was one. Since I had no equipment, nothing to lose, and a bike, a fun thought entered my mind: I was going to ride up to the Northwest Airfield and ride around the runways. Northwest Airfield is a hotspot for combat action, since it spawns the most military weapons, and my plan was essentially a (fun) suicide mission.

I got to the airfield, rode around for awhile, and was disappointed by the lack of action. No zombies were spawning, which is an indication nobody was around. (Zombies will not spawn if you are in a vehicle, only approaching an area on foot.) However, there was a helicopter crash site on the airfield (crash sites are rare and spawn the rarest weapons in the game, but are guarded by lots of zombies), so I got off the bike on a nearby road and walked over to the crash site. I picked up a rifle and binoculars, but got knocked out by a powerful zombie hit. I regained consciousness and managed to make it back to my bicycle, but was near death. I rode out of the range of the heli crash site zombies, got off the bicycle, and bandaged myself up, but I couldn’t see straight. Just then, I heard a zombie approaching. I got back on the bicycle, and noticed zombies coming from a second heli crash site near by!

In the escape, I crashed the bike on some rubble, effectively destroying it. I walked, still in a bad state, to Vybor, where I proceeded to eat my way back to relative health. Blood bags can restore you to full health, but must be administered by another person. When alone, the only way to restore health is to eat. The fastest way is to kill, gut, cook and eat a cow, but that requires a hunting knife and matches, which I didn’t have. By eating a dozen or so cans of food, I was able to at least see straight.

On a bridge south of Vybor, I saw an ATV. As I mentioned in my last post, ATVs are very buggy, and will often flip over, and will always flip when driving over bridges. You could tell someone tried to drive over the bridge, flipped the ATV, and abandoned it. Sometime after that, the server restarted, which will right flipped vehicles. With some work I was able to get the ATV off the bridge (ATVs on bridges will still often be “boxed in” between invisible walls, but can be escaped with enough work), and I drove it south to my “base”, a tent hidden north of Balota.

West of Balota, in Komarovo, I found a bus on the side of the road. Buses are fun to have; you can give people rides and go around the map with a very large target painted on you, until something inevitably happens and you’re killed. It’s fun, trust me. The bus was in good shape and had some mid-level supplies, but was missing two wheels. Someone probably crashed it here and abandoned it. I dropped the ATV and all of my supplies off at the base and went to the Komarovo industrial area to search for wheels. In a large factory building, I found a wheel, plus the body of a survivor who was carrying another wheel (probably doing the same thing I was doing, possibly even the person who crashed the bus). I fixed up the bus and drove east along the coast.

Despite having a dozen or so people on the server, I didn’t find anyone in Cherno or Elektro, so I drove north along the coast, looking for freshly-spawned players. Still, nobody. I made it up to Berezino (the northeast corner of the map), turned around, and went back south, but didn’t make it far. At Nizhnoye, I crashed into a Jersey barrier, breaking two wheels on the bus (again, sigh).

I spent the next half hour walking between Nizhnoye and Factory, looking for wheels. I didn’t find any, but found a bunch of other vehicle parts: engines, fuel tanks, a main rotor assembly for a helicopter, etc; I put those in the bus as I found them. Unfortunately I’m knocked out and killed by a zombie at one point. (Usually zombie hits are nothing more than small annoyances to experienced players, but they can sometimes be powerful enough to knock you out and kill you.) I re-spawned by Kamyshovo, a bit of a walk from Nizhnoye, but doable.

At this point, I noticed some talk in the “side chat”, a global chat medium between players, enabled on some servers. Apparently a group of “friendlies” had found a broken helicopter at Devil’s Castle, and was looking for the parts to fix it up. I had only been in a helicopter once before, so I explained my situation: I had most of the parts they needed, but first needed to get back to my bus, fix it up, and ride over to Devil’s Castle. They had the area pretty well secured, so they were happy to wait.

(This is the part I mentioned before. While the #1 rule in DayZ is “trust no one”, some of the best (or worst) experiences happen when you do decide to trust someone, team up with strangers, etc. Listening to people tends to give you a good (but not perfect) idea of whether you can trust them, but it mostly comes down to gut instinct. Besides, if you have nothing to lose, you can afford to take some risks.)

Luckily, I found two wheels in a warehouse in Kamyshovo, but upon exiting, I was hit by a zombie, started bleeding, and had no bandages. I searched around for one, didn’t find one in time, so I hid myself and bled out, hoping I could reach my body after I respawned. Conveniently, I respawned near Balota, so I retrieved the ATV I had hidden nearby. After a few random ATV flipping episodes which ate away at the time (you can self-right a flipped ATV, but it takes a lot of time and fuel), I made it to my body, retrieved the wheels, and drove to the bus. I hid the ATV in the woods nearby, fixed up the bus, and made the journey to Devil’s Castle.

It took awhile (buses don’t work well on dirt roads), but I eventually got the “party bus” (as it was called by people in side chat by that point) to Devil’s Castle. The people there were very nice, offering me food and weapons from the stash they had built up on-site. Sure enough, there was a broken helicopter in the middle of the castle yard. I had most of the needed equipment with me, but we were still missing some glass, so some people were sent out to search for it. I stayed behind with two other people to defend the castle.

Embarrassingly, I died while defending the castle from a wave of zombies. I wasn’t attacked… I fell off a ledge. I respawned as far away as possible (in Kamenka), and considered ragequitting. However, a few minutes later, everyone in the server was transported by a hacker, to an airfield. This is not uncommon in DayZ; a hacker will transport everyone somewhere, and watch as the inevitable melee happens. However, this was different. Surrounding all of us were about a dozen helicopters. To everyone’s credit (as was pointed out after the event), not a single shot was fired, and instead everyone ran for helicopters. Someone reached one, took off, and crashed it within a few seconds (helicopters in DayZ/ARMA are difficult to pilot, and you would not be able to pilot one if you hadn’t done the training in ARMA first). Unfortunately, this started a chain reaction, destroying most of the helis and people.

I was alive, a few were left (and only one or two other people), and I managed to reach one. Luckily I knew how to fly a heli (not an expert, but competent), so I flew away. In the end, apparently I was the only one to survive that incident. I flew around the map for about an hour.

Now, a word about ethics in DayZ. Because DayZ is so poorly secured and hacking/cloning/etc are so rampant, there is a strong sense of ethic among the people who don’t hack. There is a general disdain of “hacker trash”, or ill-gotten goods. Sure, I won the little contest the hacker had made, and sure, I was going to have some fun with the helicopter I was now flying. But I knew from the moment I got in that I was not going to keep this, or let anyone else have it. This heli would be destroyed by the end of the day.

So I flew around for awhile, getting better at the controls, buzzing the coastal cities. While I was doing this, apparently the hacker then turned everyone into rabbits. I wasn’t affected; this may have been because I was in a vehicle at the time. This contributed to most of the people in the server leaving.

Of the people who were left, I asked if anyone wanted a ride on side chat, and someone volunteered. He was just outside Elektro, I picked him up after some difficulty landing (cross-winds were very strong at the time), and I dropped him off at the Northwest airfield.

I flew back to Elektro, but by then it was getting dark, so I decided now was the time. I auto-hovered above the church, gained a lot of altitude, cut the engine, and bailed out. Unfortunately I was way too high up; the winds took both the helicopter and I away from the city, toward the ocean. The helicopter disappeared into the distance and I could hear it explode upon crashing into the water, but I was being taken over the water too.

My parachute landed near Draken island, so I swam to it (which contains nothing but an empty lighthouse), got to shore, and logged out. It was a good day.