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DayZ Beginner Tips To Get Started
BY RUSS BOSWELL
UPDATED APR 26, 2022
If you’d like to survive the world of DayZ, you’ll want to move slow, perhaps even find yourself a partner or group.
1-Have A Guide Open
There will be purists that tell you asking for help or having a resource like a DayZ guide or Community-driven Wiki open is cheating, or not playing the game right. But they’re wrong, and probably Bandit Mains anyway.
DayZ has a lot of really important things worth knowing that it’s just not going to tell you, and you’ll need to figure them out fairly quickly if you want to survive. With how rough the realism mechanics can be, the sheer density of items and ammunition types, and the ever-present feeling that you’re never more than one decision away from a cock-up cascade, having a DayZ tips and tricks page open in an alternate tab can be pretty handy.
2-Avoid The Military Bases
There are a lot of locations to explore in DayZ and plenty of loot to pick up. When you’re just starting out your first instinct will be to sprint right towards a city or a Military Base, unfortunately, unless the servers are fairly empty, this will get you shot pretty quickly.
Military Bases in particular are Snipers' playgrounds. There are a lot of wide-open spaces to cross with very little cover and the weaponry (if not looted already) is high grade and totally capable of blasting apart newbies. The best gear in the game is usually located here, and since Veteran players know this, they’ll often camp out nearby and pick off anyone that shows up. So avoid these areas if you can, or do a quick smash-n-grab of its items if you can’t.
3-Play With Mods When Possible
Vanilla DayZ is great, but it’s a little buggy at times and there are still a few things missing to make it more interesting. Luckily the Modding Community has been pretty active for years and there are tons of great mods that are easy to install and often add a lot of genuinely helpful quality of life improvements.
For example, swap Chernarus for Tamriel with the TES: Tales of Emerald mod by Romzet that inserts Skyrim assets. Or use NoSprintingZombies by Staiff to slow down those marathon running Undead. More mods are made regularly plus a lot of player-created servers use them to create some pretty unique environments to run around in. Which, once you experience, you’ll never want to go back to Vanilla DayZ again.
4-Beginners Should Avoid Busy Servers
Unlike other games where the busier the server, the more anarchy there will be, with DayZ beginners should aim for quieter games. Getting to grips with the game on an empty server without having to worry about being clipped by a bandit from the bushes is a great way to ease you into the fundamentals.
Characters are locked to servers, so if your current Survivor is two steps from death by dehydration or dragging themselves around on broken legs, you can just dump them and try again without any major progress loss. Once you feel comfortable enough with the game and know where the best spots to loot are, you can then start joining busier rooms. So it shouldn’t be as jarring as diving right into a near-capacity battlefield filled with merciless Veterans.
5-Melee Weapons Are Not Worth It
Another of our many DayZ beginner tips worth noting is that melee weapons are not worth it. Whilst they’re ok for taking down a Zombie or two as you back peddle up an incline to slow them down, when it comes to PvP a Fireaxe isn’t going to cut it.
Melee weapons have always been a little funky, with hit detection often feeling like a dart throw in the dark. Guns are more reliable, if loud, but a couple of rounds in the mid-section are much quicker at putting someone down than a few wild swings or sucker punches. Use them as a last resort, Zombie bashing, or for crafting requirements.
6-Take Baby Steps
Upon spawning into the world of Chernarus, players may find themselves a little overwhelmed. There is a massive open-world standing before and everyone starts equipped with a few odd items that are basically unusable at this point in the game. The first goal is to locate food, whether it’s a can of beans or a chicken wandering across the road.
No matter the type of food, survivors need a sharp object to either cut the can open or slice the chicken in quarters. Many probably won’t have access to a knife or axe this early, so the best option is an improvised knife made out of a rock. The beach is the perfect location to search for a small stone. Once players have found their quarry, they can equip the stone and then select the option to craft an improvised knife. This rock can be used as a weapon in a pinch, but is better at food-related tasks first.
7-Learn Loot Locations
Anyone who is playing DayZ correctly will spend much of their time looting the game world. Only a small bit of time will be spent actually fighting anyone. That’s right; the game isn’t all PvP. To prepare for a fight, though, survivors will need better-tier gear.
So, learning loot locations should be a priority. First off, the Piano House, which has three doors and a piano on the first floor, usually has ammunition, guns, food, and clothing that spawn at random. Next, players should check police stations for weapons, ammunition, and clothing. Finally, exploring military tents can yield high-end weapon attachments, food, military clothing, backpacks, and the occasional firearm. Survivors may not get lucky every time, but chances are high they'll find something useful each time they visit a new spot. Alternatively, some stake out one of these locations (like the police station) and ambush other players.
8-Items Players Need
Of course, a game based around loot will have gear that is almost required of the player. First off, an improvised stone knife is always useful. Secondly, bandages and rags will save a player's life if they get into a scrap. Finally, a sawed-off IZH-43 shotgun can work wonders.
Why the shotgun? Well, besides fending off the occasional zombie and ambushing players in close-quarters, the sawed-off shotgun is useful if players have been ambushed. Most bandits will request that players drop their weapons and gear immediately. They may not check a survivor's backpack, though, which will fit a sawed-off shotgun if it’s the right size. Would be prisoners can then pull it quickly and blast away. Players wanting to utilize this trick will first need the shotgun itself and a hacksaw to saw off the barrel. Finding both can be a bit troublesome.
It’s relatively easy for a new player to pass over the morphine injections after stumbling upon one in a hospital or clinic. If they spend enough time looting Chernarus, they'll break a leg eventually. A broken leg in this game means players cannot walk, run, or even crouch, becoming stuck in the prone position. Survivors could use a wooden splint to repair the fractured limb, but a morphine injection is easier. The item takes up just a single slot in the inventory, making it even more useful and conservative.
Sure, players could spend the morphine injection on a broken arm, but it's highly recommended that everyone save it for their legs. Survivors can still escape from a fight with a broken arm, but not a broken leg.
10-Avoid The Roads
While all roads in this game lead to either a town or a city filled with loot, players will want to avoid using them at all costs. It’s nothing for a bandit to hide in the tree line and pick off unsuspecting players who are minding their own business. Alternatively, gamers may wind up in a ditch on the roadside, hands on their head while bandits ruffle through their loot. A highway robbery is a very real possibility in DayZ, albeit one players can avoid if they're smart, careful, and quiet.
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Furthermore, the roads in Chernarus were meant for vehicles, which were recently added back into the game. Cars generally indicate a well-armed player or a group who have survived the game world for an extended time.
11-Don’t Forego Reconnaissance
Before players approach any town, hamlet, or clearing in the game, they’ll want to stake out the area and perform a little reconnaissance. If survivors are lucky enough to have found a pair of binoculars, recon is a little easier to accomplish. If not, they can simply find a nice bush or tree, wait a minute or two, and scope the entire area.
By scanning the tree lines, watching the top floor windows, and noting the locations of any wandering dead before making a move, players can avoid a lot of chaos. For the most part, players grow tired of sitting in one spot for too long. There is always the possibility of a lone sniper who has the patience of a snail, though. If survivors detect any movement, they should examine it for a moment, then survey the surrounding area. If players have a weapon and can get the drop on another player, they should do so from behind or the flank – never the front!
12-Invest In A Headset
While this may seem like a given for the PC gaming world, investing in a high-quality headset can make a significant difference. Sure, players could buy something from Walmart, but that headset will last a month or two, tops, and they won’t hear nearly as much.
With a good headset, the world of DayZ comes to life. Survivors can hear footsteps, gunshots in the distance, zombies moaning down the road, etc. Furthermore, if players are close enough, they can even hear two players chatting over in-game mic. In the survival genre, being able to hear an opponent before seeing them is a matter of life or death.
13-Finding A Firearm
A melee weapon is an excellent tool, especially if players are fighting zombies. Finding a gun in Chernarus is not an easy task, though. Sure, players could head up to the Northwest Airfield in the hopes of finding an automatic weapon, but they're likely to be shot in the process.
There are a few familiar locations in the game that regularly spawn firearms. Gun houses, for example, are small, wooden cabins that usually generate rifles, shotguns, and a variety of pistols in the far corner. Police stations, on the other hand, sometimes spawn an SKS, AKs, or even the famous MP5-K. Finally, factory rooftops occasionally feature MP-133 Shotguns, SKS, Mosin 9130, or the Repeater, among others.
14-Building A Fire
Hypothermia is one of the worst killers in DayZ, but players can avoid the issue altogether with warm clothing. Or, better yet, they could build a fire in a secluded location and warm up thoroughly. Bohemia added in a fireplace kit, which allows players to cook meat and heat themselves up a little.
It’s also a necessity, in some cases. First off, players will need a single stick, then rags, bandages, or paper. Combine the two to craft a fireplace kit. If it’s raining, players can place the fire pit somewhere indoors. A factory or a warehouse would work wonders.
In the beginning, the zombies of DayZ were more of an annoyance than anything else. They posed little to no threat whatsoever. Players could even punch them in the head and then go about their day. Now, however, things have changed a little.
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With a recent update, zombies have now become a threat to the player. Survivors can still kill a zombie, of course, but it is not a good idea to go one-on-one with them. Their melee ability has received a massive damage boost and they’re even more agile. If players have a gun (the best option), they should use a suppressor to muffle the shot. Trying to remain at a distance, helps too. If possible, players should fire from above or from behind low covers, such as a stone wall or picket fence.
16-Find An M4A1
The M4A1 is currently (at the time of writing) the most coveted weapon in the game and, as such, it is also the most difficult to acquire. A few years back, finding an M4 was easy. They were literally scattered about the map in the most mundane of locations. Today, things are different. There are now two known methods to acquire an M4: kill a player wielding one or search helicopter crash sites. Obviously, the latter is the easier of the two.
The majority of helicopter crash sites are located on the west side of the island. Unfortunately, they’re considered a considerable risk and little reward loot spot. Players will either find something useful (like an M4), or discover absolute dirt. If survivors are determined enough, however, the best option is to find a truck or other vehicle, note each location of a downed helicopter using the DayZ DB map, and then stop at each one.
Speaking of DayZ DB, learning the world map is the most challenging aspect of the game. Chernarus is so massive, with winding dirt roads and city streets, that navigating the entire expanse is nearly impossible for a new player.
If players have a second monitor, even better! If not, simply alt-tabbing to check out DayZ DB is a godsend. The website features an extensive map of the entire game world, including vehicle locations, helicopter crashes, tree stands, and even road systems to help you navigate the woods. Of course, players will need to examine a few road signs in-game, preferably near their current location, to efficiently work out where they are on the map. Since all the signs in-game are in Russian, survivors will need to get as close as possible. Thankfully, the map has quasi-translations available over each Russian name.
18-Don’t Knock Fishing
As of patch 0.57, fishing has become a viable source of nutrition in Chernarus. If players can manage to fend for themselves near a lake, river, or ocean, they can survive into the late-game with ease. First off, you’ll need a fishing rod, fish trap (optional), a fireplace, and cooking implements.
To craft a fishing rod, players will need to find the following materials: a knife, rope, long wooden stick, and a fishing hook. Combining each item will craft a makeshift fishing pole. Secondly, a fishing trap can be fashioned out of a plastic bottle and a knife. This is an effortless way to catch fish passively. To cook a catch, players will need a fireplace and a knife to slice the fish. A frying pan or cooking pot will be useful here.
Bohemia decided the world of DayZ wasn’t quite challenging enough, so, as of patch 0.50, they’ve added in sickness to the game. The disease mechanic, which is rather simple, has various stages (itchy wounds, infected wounds, severely infected, and recovery). Each stage lasts for between 10 and 40 minutes, depending on the severity of the injury and the particular stage a character is at. It’s important to eat and drink during each stage, as players will be more susceptible to starvation and dehydration while their wounds are infected.
Curing sickness, on the other hand, is quite simple and straightforward. Players can use either antibiotics or alcohol tinctures to clean the wounds. Upon applying the makeshift medicine, survivors will immediately be granted Stage 4, which is the recovery phase. From there, it’s smooth sailing!
20-(Not) Making Friends
This is the ultimate survival game, so having someone nearby is a worthwhile endeavor. Really, the only tip players need to know when it comes to making friends in-game is: don’t. Sure, partnering with a buddy from outside the game is useful. But if players decide to solo DayZ, then attempt to form a quasi-coalition with another player or two in-game, they're likely going to have a bad time.
It turns out that the player community is pretty hectic at times. There is no reason not to kill an opposing player the moment you see them. Without a karma system or any penalties for killing on sight (as of writing), players are left with an environment that rewards bandits and hunters. The thrill of the kill and the potential for loot – even just for a can of peaches – is omnipresent. Players are better off going at it alone.