There are a huge amount of games that have drawn inspiration from Bohemia Interactives DayZ, but are they any good?
There is no denying that DayZ brought about an almost revolutionary surge of survival zombie craft games, each claiming to do certain aspects better than their siblings. After the clash of WarZ (now renamed Infestation: Survival Stories) and the fans who found that it was a clone, and a bad one at that, it is fair that many may be sceptical about any other games attempting to follow in DayZ’s footsteps. Yet there is a certain amount of need for a follow up game for the DayZ defined genre.
At this stage, that genre has yet to find a name that isn’t a triple barrelled monstrosity. Whether it is referred to as a multiplayer sandbox crafting zombie survival game, or just survival is up to the individual at this point, as DayZ has certainly created a new type of game. However the fact is that this new brand of game is, more than likely, here to stay. The popularity and incredible sales of DayZ Standalone, a game that isn’t even complete, is true indication of the love of this genre.
So why do we need more and more of these types of games? Why can’t DayZ be enough? I’m sure the same sorts of questions were asked about Dooms successors. Games need refinement, and that is apparent when you look at the evolution of games in general. The best example I can think of is Halo. Halo didn’t really have many new ideas in terms of innovative gameplay. What they did do, was do everything right. When you break it down, Halo had nothing that hadn’t been done before in some form, they just managed to utilise aspects from games, and pull them all in to one phenomenally well refined product. To say that Bungie, the developers of Halo, came up with the concept without any inspiration from their own favourite games, would be stupid and wrong. There is a famous quote by Audre Lorde, that “there are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” This saying could be applied to pretty much all aspects of life. Films, shops, clothes, food. You name it, chances are there are multiple iterations and versions of it.
When it comes to DayZ, who can say that they wouldn’t change at least one thing. I’m sure everyone who has played, will have at some point been shot on sight, without so much as a chance to offer beans in return for your life. It’s a huge aspect of the game that quickly makes players quit, and often never want to play again. Even the Standalone, which tried to tackle this issue, was disappointingly ineffective. The concept was that shooting people in their gear, would damage and most likely destroy any gear that was hit, however this just encouraged people to aim for the head so that the backpack and all it’s wonderful goodies would remain unharmed. Though I’m sure this has slowed down player killing, it hasn’t quite reduced it to a tolerable level as many of the people out for blood, aren’t that bothered about looting. They likely have the better gear any way. Another plan was to make you have to raise your weapon to fire, which would give you indication of harm that may be coming your way, however, again this does not deter the sniper on the hill who is content shooting the hopes and dreams of the newer players.
The trick is finding the balance. We don’t want to not be able to kill players at all, but there should be a reason not to kill everyone at first sight. Leave the killing to the nihilistic. One such idea that has surfaced with a new game, is a mentality meter. Survive The Nights is a new zombie-craft (that’s what I am going to call this unnameable hybrid genre from now on) game in development by a2z(Interactive); and it innovates in many ways. One of the most prominent being the deterrent for killing other players. When your mental state lowers, you will be subjected to the shakes, blurred vision and even voices in your head. If any player can kill me through all that, then I probably
deserved to die.
It isn’t just player killing that can be tinkered with, as many of the contenders for the king of the zombie-craft genre, have brought their own particular flair to the concept. Along with the mental state, Survive The Nights also has a lot of traps that look like a satisfying new way to deal with the threat of the dead. STN also has a very promising aspect to loot collection, in the form of trailers that you can load up with supplies and attach to the back of your vehicle. Sandswept Studios’ Dead Linger has incredible free form building, akin to the welding of Gmod, allowing for not only fully barricaded windows, but also entire structures built from scratch. H1Z1, the zombie-craft game from SOE, promises to make the zombies so scary that you will probably be relieved to see another player. 7 Days To Die, currently being developed by The Fun Pimps brings two “clones” together, to create something else unique. The Minecraft style of block placement, and the survival of DayZ mixed into one package, which makes for a surprisingly effective game.
There has been thousands of games that draw inspiration from others, and whether they are clones or not, it’s fair to say that we are constantly getting more impressive games as a result. As long as each copy cat tweaks their version to be at least partially unique, then games will continue to evolve.