A Beginners Guide
Some information on this page might be outdated!
DayZ is a free third-party mod for the Military Simulator Arma 2 that simulates survival in a zombie apocalypse. If you're like us, you'll try any game with "zombie" in the description, and this one definitely does not disappoint. In this guide, we'll get you started in the game and teach you what you need to know to survive.
After Installation of DayZ MOD (see above)
When the Game have loaded
- If everything is installed correctly you should see "@dayz" line under "ArmA 2" on the right side of the menu screen.
- When the game loads, feel free to fiddle with settings. You may consider creating a new player profile with your desired handle.
- When you're ready to play, press Multiplayer on the main menu to bring up the server browser. You can filter the names of the servers by "DayZ". We also recommend filtering out full and passworded servers and servers with a ping over 150.
- Select a server out of the results. Lower-population servers are easier for beginners because they tend to have fewer griefers. 1
- Once you connect to the server, you should see a screen that looks something like this. Press "OK". You don't need to select anything else.
- Be patient, but if you're stuck at any step for more than a few minutes, try another server. It's annoying, but remember that this is an alpha-phase mod!
Quiet oblivion should soon yield to the lull of birdsong and waves breaking upon a pebbly beach. This moment, with a pistol cool in your hand and the ocean lapping at your back, is your birth into a yet-untold story of opportunity. This is the Chernarusian dream, and you're about to live it. Or die to it. Why do your brains and tears have to be so damn tasty?
The straightforward interface belies relatively complicated keybindings. You don't have a weapon at start, but if you manage to get one, you'll see it's status on the top-right of the screen. The first number indicates the number of rounds in your current magazine and the second number (if any) indicates the number of magazines in your main inventory. You'll also see a debug screen. Don't worry about it for now.
Five indicators line the right edge. Green is good and red is bad.
The NRA Says...
Guns are dangerous! Friendly fire is always on. Be careful!
When you die, you must start from scratch. Play carefully.
DayZ uses a numeric hit point system (blood pressure) with a scale from 0 (dead) to 12,000 (max). BP is directly lost through damage and can also be lost by bleeding. Your BP determines a number of things, including how susceptible you are to becoming incapacitated and how well you can aim. 2 3 You can regain 200 BP by eating food, 800 BP by eating cooked meat (see below), and full BP by receiving a blood transfusion. Another player must administer the transfusion and must have a blood bag in his inventory.
In other news, you can fall under the following status effects:
- Bleeding: If there's a plus sign in your BP indicator (or you're spurting blood like an extra in Kill Bill), you should bandage yourself.
- Unconsciousness: A timer appears in the middle of your screen and you cannot act until it finishes.
- Shock: Caused by taking significant damage or gunshot wounds. Lasts 5 minutes and is incurable.
- Broken bones: This really, really hurts. You can't stand or walk. Take a morphine injection.
- Pain: Shaky aim in 1st-person. Take the painkillers.
Hunger and Thirst
You need to eat and drink, but only enough to keep those icons from blinking. Running causes you to become hungry and thirsty more rapidly. Panicking from being attacked also increases your hunger. You can eat and drink the following things:
- Canned foods: You find these in many buildings and potentially on dead survivors.
- Canned drinks: Ditto.
- Canteen water: Refill this at a well, water pump, or pond. 4
- "Hunted" meat: You can saunter up to Lambchop and pop a cap. If you have a Hunting Knife, wood (or a Hatchet if you're in the woods), and matches, you can then have a blood orgy and eat the meat. 5
To eat and drink, right-click the relevant items in your Inventory and select the appropriate option.
Temperature and Sickness
If your temperature drops too low or you encounter infected players, you can catch an illness that will gradually reduce your BP to a minimum of 6000 unless you find Antibiotics. When sick, you will hear coughing in-game. If your temperature drops too low, your vision will begin to shake. To avoid catching a sickness from temperature, seek cover during rainstorms or warm yourself up with a Heat Pack or a Fireplace. You need a Matchbox and a Wood Pile to start a fireplace, and the fire requires wood to continue burning for an extended period of time. You can find wood piles in and around buildings, especially barns or you can chop wood piles from trees if you have found a Hatchet.
When you're under attack, you will hear the sound of hyperventilation. During this adrenaline rush, you become hungry much faster.
DayZ uses a persistent character system. When you switch servers, you keep the same health conditions, inventory, and location. 9
We'll assume that you know your way around first-person shooters in general. The following are the default keybindings, which can be changed in the game options menu.
- Escape: Open game menu.
- W/A/S/D: Standard strafing movement.
- Z/X/C: Prone/crouch/stand.
- V: Slide over obstruction. 10
- Shift (Hold): Walk or move slower.
- MW Scroll: Select from available actions.
- MW Click: Select action. Performs a default action if none are selected.
- G: Open inventory.
- LMB: Shoot or throw tactical items (e.g. flares).
- RMB (Click): Toggle iron sights/scope. Also allows you to hold your breath for sniping and pool parties. 11
- RMB (Hold): Zoom view in.
- R: Reload. (See Ammunition below for info.)
- F: Switch firing modes or select tactical items. 12
- Q: Lean left.
- E: Lean right.
- Alt (Hold): Look around without changing direction of travel.
- Num Enter: Toggle 1st/3rd-person.
- (,): Select last chat channel.
- (.): Select next chat channel.
- (/): Type in chat. Use "Side chat" for global communications.
- Caps Lock: Use VOIP.
- (\): Salute (when standing).
- You must loot and equip the appropriate items before you can use these:
- B: Binoculars.
- N: Night vision.
- M: Map.
- Ctrl + M: GPS minimap.
- K: Compass.
- O: Watch.
- L: Flashlight.
In some cases, double-clicking a key will perform a special action or toggle a default. Here are some important ones:
- W: Sprint.
- Shift: Toggle default movement speed (slow vs. fast).
- Alt: Toggle free-look.
- Ctrl: Lower primary weapon.
- B/N/M/K/O/L: Toggle tool/item.
Your Best Friend: The Mouse Wheel
Scrolling with the mouse wheel opens up a new world of opportunity. The menu that appears on the left is contextual, and is based on your condition, location, and what you're aiming at. Here are some examples of things you can do with the mouse wheel:
- Performing first-aid on others. Target your buddies with your crosshairs first.
- Interacting with doors and ladders. You can also just click the mouse wheel when you see the appropriate indicator on the screen.
- Looting. You should always loot by selecting "Gear" instead of just pressing G.
- Picking up backpacks. 13
- Building fires, extinguishing and picking up flares, etc.
If you can't see an action you want to perform, try moving closer to your target and keeping your crosshairs on it.
Whoops. I died already. Uh...what do I do?
Don't read this while you're sitting on the beach. While they seem placid, the beaches in Chernarus are more Omaha than Oahu.:
- Press Escape to bring up the menu.
- Press Abort and then Yes.
- Press Escape to bring you back to the main server screen.
- Press OK on that screen.
Guns, Gear and Inventory
Let's be honest. You're here for the loot. You can expect to find the following kinds of items in Chernarus:
- Weapons: primary weapons and sidearms. You can equip one of each, though you can store more. See Weapons for information about the available types.
- Ammunition: Most ammunition is gun-specific.
- Food and drinks: And the trash that comes with it.
- Tools: e.g. watches, compasses, maps, toolboxes. These are non-consumable.
- Optics: binoculars, night-vision goggles, and rangefinders.
- Backpacks: In terms of size, Coyote Backpack > ALICE Pack > Czech Pack > Coyote Patrol Pack.
- Medical supplies: antibiotics, painkillers, morphine, epi-pens, bandages, and blood bags.
- Tactical consumables: flares, chemlights, smoke grenades, and grenades.
- Consumable tools: Wood Pile.
- Fortification materials: tents, barbed wire kits, sandbags, and tank traps.
- Vehicle parts: You can fix up cars, trucks, and helicopters.
You should aim to find a primary weapon (e.g. a rifle), a powerful sidearm, and some ammo. Ideally, you should try to find a Winchester_1866 with slug cartridges as a starter weapon. 14 It's quiet, relatively accurate, and its ammunition is plentiful. 15 Barring that, you can sometimes find Lee Enfield rifles, which are longer-ranged but louder.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your weapons.
- Accuracy is indicated by the width of the two vertical parts of the crosshairs. 16
- You're more accurate when crouched and calm. Running temporarily decreases accuracy.
- Stay in 1st-person mode when you expect to have to shoot. The crosshairs are slightly off-center in 3rd-person.
- Switch in and out of ironsights or scope by clicking (not holding) RMB. This works even in 3rd-person.
- Remember to reload! Unlike some shooters, there is no auto-reload when you run dry!
- Try for headshots whenever possible.
- Each gun has an effective range. Handguns have a quite short effective range, keep that in mind.
- Bullets obey the gravity law. Also they take a time to reach their targets depending on how far are they.
- Louder guns attract more zombies than quieter guns. 17
- Each gun has a slightly different sound. Memorizing these can be very useful.
- If you have to choose between slugs and pellets, choose slugs. 18
Many FPS players are used to pool-type ammunition systems (e.g. in Left 4 Dead), which refill the current magazine directly out of an unsegregated pool of bullets. Arma 2 uses a more realistic magazine system. 19 You can only change magazines; you cannot refill them. When you reload, you place the fullest available magazine into the gun. We're not sure about which slot of inventory the magazine will occupy. If you know, tell us!
Let's say that you begin with a full Makarov PM (8 rounds) and two spare magazines. You shoot 4 rounds and reload. After the animation is complete, one full magazine is in the Makarov, while one full magazine and one half-full magazine are in your Inventory.
You can interact with items through your Inventory window. To use an item, you can right-click it and select an action from the menu that appears.
When looting (with the mouse wheel menu), lootable items show up in the left side of the inventory window. They are highlighted in white, and should include a number at left. That number indicates the amount available. Any number to the right indicates how many you have in your inventory. To pick up the item, double-click it or click it and press "Take". You can also press the arrow to the right of the item name. You can dispose of items in your inventory by clicking them and pressing "Drop".
You can stash your stuff in one of four places:
- Your Inventory.
- Your Backpack. This is independent from your inventory.
- Your Tent/Vehicles. Be careful, because other people can loot these and they do not persist across servers.
- The ground. You're back in college—leftovers are fair game! 20
The inventory system is one of the most unintuitive parts of Arma 2. Your inventory appears when you press G. It holds the items you have handy. Your bag appears in your inventory, but its storage is independent. Think realistically—you can't use items in your backpack unless you take them out.
To open up your Backpack and fuss with its contents, click on it and press "Open bag". If you're not currently looting, you'll see some numbers change in the left side of the inventory. Numbers on the right side indicate what exists in your inventory and numbers on the left indicate what exists in your bag. Exchange items in and out of the Backpack in the same manner as described above for looting from the ground.
If you are currently looting, you can store stuff into your Backpack directly by clicking your bag and pressing "Open bag". This will change the Inventory screen directly, and you will be able to see your Backpacks slots at right.
Some items take up more than one slot. Multiples of these items cannot be stored in your inventory. For instance, if you try to pick up a M1911 pistol, it will replace your Makarov PM. However, you can store these in your bag. If you store that M1911 in your Backpack, it will take up a block of five slots. You don't need to worry about shifting items around as long as there are enough slots. If not, you'll drop items starting at the bottom-right.
You have three types of enemies in this game.
Check Zombies for information on the types of zombies in the game, as they may change quickly. Consider the following:
- Zombies are more common near settlements and inside buildings.
- You can often detect zombies by their breathing. When they aggro, they start to snarl or howl.
- Zombies will detect you more easily when you're loud and easy to see. They also detect you more easily in the daytime.
- Never run when you're anywhere near a settlement. To sneak by zombies, go prone and crawl.
- Gunshots can attract tons of zombies, so be very careful, especially in towns.
- Any source of light and sound can attract a zed. Be careful with flares and chemlights.
- Zombies will investigate player deaths.
- Zombies cannot run indoors or up slopes. Use this to your advantage.
- Zeds can aggro and hit you through walls, windows, doors, and sometimes floors. Stay away from them.
- Zeds can be distracted with flares, smoke grenades, and your (former) friends' freshly crippled bodies.
- Zombies may have trouble getting over obstructions. They cannot slide over sandbags at all, and may have to crawl under or go around fences.
- Zombies can swim and climb ladders, albeit poorly.
- Zeds can respawn around you, so move expeditiously after clearing them out of an area.
The best places to fight zombies are inside buildings with escape routes and out in a flat, open field, especially when there's a fence in the way. As mentioned, zombies must walk indoors, allowing you more time to headshot them. In the open, zombies will run in predictable patterns toward you and will have to crawl under fences. You can also throw Flares and Smoke Grenades to attract zombies and then blast them all at once.
Some people are out to steal your candy and laugh at you while they eat it. These people are called Bandits in DayZ.
Here's some advice for preventing you from becoming the fodder of someone's Schadenfreude:
- Don't trust anyone you don't know. Play with friends.
- Avoid open areas, especially roads, beaches, and railroads. If you must follow one of these, stay up in any nearby woods.
- Stay low and use cover. When you hear gunshots, drop to prone immediately with Z. Remember: someone may be aiming at you at any moment.
- While cities are lucrative, avoid them whenever possible. If you need gear, you may be better off looking for a Deer Stand in the woods.
- When approaching cities, identify possible snipers' nests and keep an eye on them. Assume anyone in one is a bandit who has already targeted you.
- Be wary of anyone with a scoped rifle. These are rarely carried by legitimate zombie slayers.
- Identify yourself as a friendly (if you are). You can do this by typing/saying "friendly" in side chat, lowering your primary weapon, or saluting. 21
- Avoid people with clan tags or anyone unwilling to communicate with you.
- Avoid telling others your exact location.
One of the surest ways to make friends and avoid being backstabbed is to add new people you encounter as Steam friends and then use Steam VOIP, Ventrilo, or Teamspeak. People are much less likely to backstab you when you're not just pixels on a screen.
Eat and drink when the indicators blink. Occasionally, you may want to just consume what you find on the ground even if you're not fully hungry or thirsty. You won't have trouble finding these supplies in settlements. In countryside, you'll want a hunting knife, matches, wood, and extra canteens of water. You can currently find wood piles in and around buildings, especially barns.
In terms of sickness: again, trust no one. Also, seek shelter when it rains.
Let's Play Already
The map in DayZ isn't your run-of-the-mill FPS map. You need to learn how to navigate using landmarks and a compass (if you're lucky). The in-game map is a topographic map with structural details. 22 In case you don't have an in-game map or you want a map with other details, I highly recommend checking out the Maps.
Even without an in-game compass and map, you should be able to navigate using online maps in the Steam overlay browser 23 and coastlines and road signs. The coastline stretches along the south and east of the continent. If you want to be super-hardcore, you can navigate using the sun or the stars.
You can also watch the bottom-right part of your screen closely when you first load into the game. It will tell you the name of the closest major landmark.
- Just in case it wasn't clear enough: stay low, stay quiet, and slow down!
- Be careful with doors, because they can hurt you if they close on you.
- When throwing items like flares and grenades, hold down LMB for longer to throw farther.
- Don't go for a swim. You can lose your inventory. If you want to be safe, drop you stuff on the bank.
- The two biggest cities in Chernarus are Chernogorsk ("Cherno") and Elektrozavodsk ("Elektro"). Both are located along the southern coast.
- The "Direct communication" channel connects you with people that are nearby. As of v1.5.7, it works for voice but not text.
- Use VOIP only in "Direct communication". Do not use it in other chat channels; this is bad form and can sometimes get you kicked from servers.
- There is a fixed set of building models in the game. Check this page to see them and what kind of loot they may hold.
- Buzzing fly sounds indicate that a dead survivor or bandit is nearby.
- You can enter some vehicles, but they must be repaired and refueled before they can be used.
- Your character will be saved when force-quitting (with ALT + F4) and force-disconnecting. 24
- To see better at night, you may consider raising your game's brightness and gamma (in Video settings), though this is basically cheating.
- If you are in prone position (Z), take care with nearby friends... If they go over you, this may cause serious injuries.
- You aren't safe, no matter where. Look around constantly when inside buildings with loot (barns, hospitals etc). Even if there is no survivor around, someone who logged out inside that building may be logging in soon... behind you.
- DayZ Announcements @ DayZ Forums
- Newbie Survivor Guide @ DayZ Forums
- Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead Steam forums
- Complete Beginners Guide to DayZ
Thanks to Rocket and the rest of the DayZ team for the mod, and thanks to sherlock and ZogVarnoka on the DayZ forums for their help!
- There are three kinds of servers: Regular, Veteran, and Hardcore. In Veteran servers, you can see your crosshairs but cannot see player nametags. In Hardcore servers, you also cannot see your crosshairs, though you can use your ironsights.
- At <9000: you can be knocked out easily by zombies. At <5000: your aim and vision are affected. At <3000: you begin to fall unconscious randomly.
- If the screen effects are annoying you, you can turn them mostly off by disabling "Postprocess effects" in your advanced graphics settings.
- As of 1.5.8, you cannot refill in the ocean.
- Okay, so maybe the blood orgy is optional.
- Beware: anything not on your person will not be stored across servers. This means that if you put up your tent, it will only appear on that server, and will not appear on others!
- Warning: you automatically stand after using V to climb over something.
- If you hold your breath for an extended period of time, your vision will become blurry.
- Your crosshairs change to a circle when you don't have a gun selected.
- You must transfer any items out of the backpack you drop in order to keep them.
- Yes, we know, the Winchester 1866 is a lever-action rifle, not a shotgun, but just shut up and eat your candy.
- The Winchester was nerfed in 1.5.8, but should still be an effective starter weapon.
- If they are visible. You can also tell your accuracy by how much your gun sways when sighting down the iron sights. The gun movement is not a superficial animation—the bullet will follow a trajectory out of the barrel wherever it appears when you pull the trigger.
- By virtue of attracting zombies from a larger area.
- Slugs are solid rounds for shotguns that have decent range and stopping power. Pellets are rounds of buckshot that spread out at short range (about a quarter of the range of slugs). Pellets are more situational, and are probably only superior to slugs in buildings.
- It's similar to the systems used in Rainbow 6, Operation Flashpoint, Red Orchestra, etc.
- Items left on the ground may despawn if you leave the immediate area.
- To lower your main weapon, double-click Ctrl. To salute, stand up with C and then press Backslash (\). You can also use VOIP in the Direct Communications channel.
- If you don't know how to read a topographical map, look at this primer. In case you didn't realize it, playing DayZ actually gives you real-world survival skills!
- Bring the Steam overlay up with SHIFT + TAB and then press "Browser" at the bottom. This is a Webkit browser, and you can use it and leave it up in the background.
- As of 1.5.8.