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Survival Tactics

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This page covers the Standalone version of DayZ. For information on the Mod see Mod:Survival Tactics

Survival Tactics are incredibly important in DayZ Standalone.

Perhaps the best feature of DayZ is the ability to choose any strategy for survival—players are free to do anything they wish. Newly spawned players are immediately faced with a number of challenges:

  • Finding food and drink. You will become hungry and thirsty fairly quickly, so having a canteen and a few cans of beans and soda is critical for long-term survival.
  • Finding a weapon and ammunition.
  • Finding a backpack.

This page describes a few common strategies for solving these problems.


Hiding in the Forest[edit]

The forest strategy involves avoiding cities and towns, and heading directly into the interior of the map. The most immediate benefit of this is avoiding the kill-zones that are the major coastal cities. However, even the smaller towns can be very treacherous to lone players due to their large number of zombies. Avoidance can be a successful strategy for new players, allowing them a little breathing room to become comfortable with the quirky Arma III engine.

  • As soon as you spawn, look for a way to enter the forest. Skirt far around buildings if possible. If you spawn in a city, stick to the beach until you have a clear path to the forest.
  • Once you have reached relative safety, locate yourself on a map and look for the nearest barn. Barns are ideal places to find 7.62mm boxes, entry-level weapons, clothing and the occasional can of food or soda. And unlike towns, they are usually patrolled by only two or three zombies. Be aware that zombies are commonly inside the barn as well—you can usually hear them when you get close. If you are spotted (and have some kind of weapon), you can sprint to the highest floor of the barn, which should give you ample time to target them as they approach.
  • Although beans, soda, and larger packs can be found in the barns and small settlement scattered around the map, it may occasionally be necessary to stock up on supplies at a supermarket. Remember, eat and drink everything you find until your character is labeled "energized", "Hydrated", and "Healthy". Do not stock up on supplies until you have reached these characters conditions. Choose a place where the market is on the edge of town, and be sure to carefully plan your approach. Then get in, get your loot, and get out (see Sneak and Search).
  • Once you have collected a canteen or a Waterbottle, it is possible to obtain water without having to enter a town, but this water is dangerous unless purified, (As of 0.49 Water Purification tablets have no use, and water from lakes and other sources do not cause any illnesses or infections, so it is safe.. for now.) so regular runs to a hospital will be required, you will probably be better off visiting small towns to use their well. You can also stand in the rain with a canteen or Waterbottle and use the action menu to fill small portions with water. You may have to attempt this multiple times to fill a container fully.

Sneak and Search[edit]

This is probably the most common survival strategy, involving carefully approaching, searching, and retreating from towns and cities. It requires skill and experience in route planning, avoiding zombies, and locating loot. Familiarity with the target city or town is a big advantage.

  • Careful route planning and situational awareness are critical. Try to always know where the nearby zombies are and which direction they are moving. Adapt your route to take advantage of the zombie movements and be sure to check your back every once in awhile.
  • You may need to pause while nearby zombies pass, but in general it is a good idea to keep moving as much as possible.
  • Know what you are looking for and which buildings are likely to have it. This will let you spend as little time as possible in the danger zone.
  • After some practice you will develop a sense for how zombies move and react, when you should crawl or crouch, and how to circle away from them.
  • You are less visible to zombies when you are in bushes, tall grass, or beside a building's wall. You are also less visible in the dark and are less likely to be heard during a storm.
  • Always be aware of possible sniper locations, such as high places, overlooking hills and open windows. While there is not yet a true "sniper" weapon in game, a Mosin with a Scope can be used at far greater ranges than any other weapon currently available.

Sprint and Grab[edit]

The Sprint and Grab tactic completely dispenses with stealth, and takes advantage of the fact that it is relatively easy to lose zombies in the city. It involves sprinting to a known loot location, quickly grabbing items, and sprinting away. Even with a pack of zombies at your heels you may have time to quickly stop and pick up a few items. Keep in mind the following points:

  • Sprint and Grab tends to work best in the big cities due to the abundance of large buildings with multiple exits
  • If you are being chased, avoid running into buildings that have only one exit
  • Exposure to sniper fire will be high. Keep moving, stay close to the sides of buildings, and if you hear nearby gunfire then zig-zag away around corners
  • This is a high-risk strategy at the best of times, and probably only worthwhile for newly-spawned players who need to gear up quickly.
  • When you have successfully retrieved your loot, you may need to lose any zombies that are chasing you. See Losing Zombies.


Direct Assault[edit]

This is an aggressive strategy best done by large groups of well-armed players. It involves directly approaching a town or city, working as a team to defend against attackers, and systematically looting buildings.

  • The odds of success increase the more you are able to work together as a team. Assign a role to each player, such as point man, looter, sentry, etc.
  • Try to remain organized and disciplined even after the fighting starts
  • Military tactics may be worth learning and implementing


Banditry[edit]

Although some frown upon it, banditry is a common survival strategy in DayZ. In many cases, taking what someone has already collected is quicker and safer than collecting it yourself.

  • Banditry is by nature a high-risk endeavor, not recommended for beginners. This is especially true if your potential victim is better armed. The better armed they are, the more experienced they probably are as well.
  • Many players will hunt bandits mercilessly. Some will remember your name, and may pass it to their friends and clans.
  • Many players have companions that you may not always see, and who will gleefully exact vengeance upon you.
  • Speed and surprise are the key. Move fast, loot fast, and leave fast.
  • Even if you are peaceful and friendly, understand that the risk and conflict of PvP adds a critical dimension to DayZ, and is an important part of what keeps the game interesting.
  • Another tactic, commonly used is to take cover in a well known sniping position and wait for a sniper to come along. This may net you a decent sniper rifle as well as other useful supplies.
  • Remember to be careful where you shoot, head shots are most desirable because they will not damage the majority of the target's inventory and a head shot will do more damage to the target.


Losing Zombies[edit]

As every new player has discovered, zombies will chase you relentlessly, never slowing down. They will stop chasing if you get far enough ahead, but that is difficult to achieve since they can sprint faster than you can. It is possible for them to chase you endlessly until you drop from hunger or thirst, or simply cannot sprint any longer. However, there are multiple ways to get rid of them:

  • Zombies operate based on hearing and line-of-sight (LOS), which means they will continue chasing you as long as they can see or hear you. As soon as LOS is broken, however, they will stop and enter search mode, where they wander for a while around the location where they lost you. Breaking LOS is most easily done in a town or city by running around corners. In the countryside it is more difficult, but not impossible, to break LOS by running zigzag between bushes or trees and going prone and crawling away as soon as the zombies lose sight, in order to avoid their attempts to rediscover you.
  • Zombies cannot run up very steep slopes. It is possible to gain distance and eventually break LOS by running diagonally up a slope at the steepest angle where you can keep running.
  • Zombies always avoid going above water, making docks and wharves ideal places to lose them. Simply run out onto a wharf and wait. The zombies will eventually enter the water and swim toward you, at which point you can sprint off the dock and escape. Note that if you wait too long on the dock, they can climb up or attack you from the water below. Also, there is risk of losing items from your inventory if you are in the water.
  • If you're working in a group or with a friend, you can save them from a chasing group of zombies by getting some distance and then throwing a smoke grenade into the the mix of running zombies and fleeing survivor, this often distracts the zombies enough for your team-mate to get some distance. This is very useful when there are no buildings or trees to break line of sight.
  • Keep in mind that Zombies are still glitchy, they may, without warning, phase through buildings and fences.

When you spot another player[edit]

Interactions with other players provide the fundamental conflict and challenge of DayZ. Human nature has rarely been so clearly displayed in a game. Assuming you aren't looking for trouble, the following ideas may be helpful:

  • If you have not yet been spotted, you have the choice of making contact or not. What you decide to do depends on your mood, risk-aversion, and style of play. Be aware that players are unpredictable and making contact can be extremely risky. However it can also be extremely rewarding, so don't be too afraid to experiment.
  • If you have been spotted, your choices are more limited. You can VOIP "FRIENDLY!" at them and hope they reciprocate, or you can retreat. Lowering your weapon (and not pointing it at them) is one way to show your good intentions. Some players also wave or lift both hands up to show surrender. Sometimes a show of force can help, assuming you are better geared than the other player, pointing your weapon at them and warning them not to make any aggressive moves may prevent unwanted bloodshed, in the worst case scenario you need only squeeze the trigger. Whatever you decide to do, be alert and prepared for possible trouble.
  • Make sure to talk. Use your voip key ("Capslock" by default) or text chat ("/" by default), and is important because even otherwise friendly players may assume you are hostile if you do not respond to them. This also helps "humanize" you and may give some potential hostiles pause.
  • If you receive no response, or are being shot at, you have even fewer options. Depending on your gear and temperament you may decide to either preemptively attack, defend, or retreat. Note that the DayZ community does not consider killing in self-defense to be murder or banditry.
  • Many players simply stick with the rule "Trust no one, except your close friends." Because often times you will be killed even after you shout friendly, mostly due to the fact that the other player knows you can easily kill them when their back is turned.
  • When working with another trusted friend or in a group, making contact with an unknown player is still risky. One trick is to send only one group member to make contact and the rest of the team to watch what happens from hiding. If things turn sour, the worst case scenario is that you loose one team member before getting revenge on the unsuspecting murderer. Simply split the loot from the two dead players between your team, and work out a meeting point for your dead team-mate as soon as they re spawn.

Deep South[edit]

This strategy involves hiding in the southern part of the map. You must collect food stocks from cities and then stockpile, make sure your character is marked as "healthy" before heading out so you don't have to stop at smaller villages along the way to restock again.

Once you have stockpiled, head for the airfields on your way South with your items. This will make self defense much easier, however, the airfield is usually crawling with players, all with itchy trigger fingers. You may also travel to the South-West where the player population is lower than on the North-East coast.