DayZ and Rust: An Alpha Review

It's survival of the fittest in two unfinished games.

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Facepunch Studios

Thank you for reading the DayZ and Rust Early Reviews! These reviews are in alpha, and will be so for some time. This means you may experience half-baked opinions, problematic buying advice and many more things that will disrupt your reading experience. We will be working with readers to fix these, so to help us please visit the comments section.

Above all, please remember these reviews are not finished, and are works in progress.

If you’re already playing DayZ, the above disclaimer should look familiar. It’s fashioned after the one that pops up every time you start the game, requiring you to click “I Understand” just to continue. The developers at Bohemia Interactive don’t want you to forget that for $30, you’re buying the journey, not the destination. The subtext: Don’t get too upset if you don’t like what you play. It’ll get probably better, eventually.

The sale of “alpha” games is a new concept for PC gaming. Developers–usually smaller, independent ones–sell their unfinished games at lower prices, while promising years of free updates and inviting players to shape the final product. Minecraft, which became a runaway success long before it was finished, is the most well-known example, but a few other noteworthy games have emerged this way, including Terraria, Wasteland 2 and Kerbal Space Program. Since last March, the PC gaming service Steam has promoted these releases through its Early Access section, giving them even greater visibility.

With the recent launches of DayZ and Rust, I finally became an alpha participant, intrigued by both games’ focus on survival. To stay alive, you must find your own food, clothing and shelter, but you also have to deal with other players who might try to kill you. Either game could make for a fascinating case study on human nature.

rust2

Facepunch Studios

So far, I’ve had much more fun with Rust, a game that drops you off naked in the wilderness with just a rock, a torch and some bandages. Rust has some Minecraftian elements, in that you can forage around for resources to build clothing, tools, weapons and shelter. You can also hunt animals and throw their carcasses on the fire for nourishment.

But as soon as you come across another Rust player–each server can have a hundred or more–it’s clear that you’re not in Minecraft anymore. The best resources in Rust, things like stone and metal, are scarce, and many players take the easy route of killing and looting innocent victims.

Murder has no consequence in Rust, and there’s no established system for figuring out who’s a criminal. This makes for some tension every time you cross paths with someone new. If you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon a village of friendly players. But that village might eventually be raided by a group of bandits. If you die, you lose everything, though you can always stash items in supply crates to use in your next life. The trick is to find a safe hiding spot that won’t get ransacked.

Rust is certainly rough around the edges. Grass effects are glitchy, and servers with lots of players are prone to lag spikes. Every animal you kill, whether it’s a pig, deer or wolf, rewards you with “raw chicken breast,” and every player looks exactly the same–a bald, white male. Most strangely, the only way to light a fire is with wood and charcoal, and the only way to get charcoal is from lit or recently lit campfires, which generate more charcoal. The game could also use more diverse weather beyond just warm and cold.

dayz1

Bohemia Interactive

Still, Rust has a solid foundation. The number of interesting interactions I’ve had with other friendly players makes up for the number of times I’ve been inexplicably bludgeoned or shot to death. I’m eager to see the game flourish, and consider my $20 well-spent.

Right now, I don’t feel the same way about DayZ. The standalone game is based on an ARMA II mod that’s been hailed as one of the best zombie games ever made. So maybe my expectations were too high, even for the alpha.

The thing to realize with DayZ is that it’s mind-numbingly boring for long stretches, perhaps by design. My friend Andrew Groen suggested that you must let yourself get into the fantasy of surviving the zombie apocalypse. That includes the dull parts, like walking down a long and dusty road, or rummaging through empty buildings for the odd can of spaghetti. You can spend an hour doing these things, and never see a soul, living or undead. If you really commit to the role-play, maybe these become moments of suspense, or reflection.

dayz2

Bohemia Interactive

But I had a hard time getting over the clunky interface and laggy controls. Items are needlessly difficult to pick up unless you’re standing right over them while aiming in just the right direction, and it’s made harder by the way players lurch forward with every step. Managing inventory can also be a chore if you’re at maximum carrying capacity. You can always take one last item into your hands, but I couldn’t figure out how to swap this item with one in my pocket without putting one of the items on the ground first. DayZ provides little guidance, and it can be hard to tell if you’ve encountered a feature or a bug, like the time my character inexplicably stopped being able to run until I restarted the game.

As the DayZ disclaimer suggests, it’d be unfair to write off the game based on its current state. I’ve read enough crazy stories to know there’s something special here. I’m just not seeing it, so either DayZ isn’t for me, or I just need to give it more time and wait for it to be more developed. Either way, the current alpha is best avoided by those who’ve heard the buzz and are just curious–something that even the game’s creator, Dean Hall, has acknowledged.

In the meantime, I’ll be going back to Rust and trying not to get murdered so often.

26 comments
John'Genryu'
John'Genryu'

Don't promote games that make players pay to be testers. Game companies should pay testers, not the other way around.

joshua.kerr.mount
joshua.kerr.mount

You don't need charcoal to light a fire in rust, the charcoal section is for the by-product after burning wood. 

mosishere
mosishere

Dayz is just another PVP concept game with pointless Zeds, which should be removed.  Nothing new and quite boring concept anymore IMO.

arahantzz
arahantzz

Hey good review, i havn't tried Dayz yet but iv been playing Rust and i really like it, the graphics arnt as good as Dayz so i can see some people who have been playing Dayz then go and try Rust being turned off right off the bat because the graphics, but the game is really good.  And its constantly being improved, i feel like this game has so much potential, its a really good survival game but it also isnt extremely painful either. 


I never played minecraft so i never got the chance to play a game where you can craft/make your own buildings and stuff, i played some terraria but this is obviously 3D first person view. Its really cool to see some of the buildings people have made, aswell as some i'v made myself, also you are kinda forced to make ever more complicated structures just do to the mechanics of how people try and raid your home/bases works, and the resources that everyone is working with.


Also want to point out that the majority of people i talk to, and the majority of what im reading is that Rust is the better game right now, maby it just takes some time getting used to(dayz) but rust you can figure it out really quickly and there is action almost immediately, the map is big but not super big, resources are fairly common on low populated servers but it still takes time to build/craft the things you need to compete with other players. On higher population servers it takes even longer.

pclass
pclass

The problem, initially, with DayZ is that is is indeed a game meant to be "rola-played" and the majority of the players aren't there for it, but just for a shooter with a few more obstacles. I've been playing DayZ since the mod and I just spent $30 because I like the role-playing experience this game can provide. IMHO the real problem of this game is the number of players who don't care to role-play, coupled with some bugs and glitches, but those aren't major problems as this game is at Alpha. Good article, by the way, I just felt that you need to play DayZ a little more, seems like you played a lot of Rust and almost nothing of DayZ.

lrtrazer
lrtrazer

My question is, once you pay for the alpha, do you have to purchase the Beta? Or even the actual game itself whenever it comes out, 30$ is kinda steep, for an alpha release at least.

MortenJespersen
MortenJespersen

i hate this message system... made a big comment to a guy and then had to log in before posting, but when i logged in this piece of crap system deleted everything :(


but to the point.it seams like the writer did an excellent job of trying to tell people of both the good sides and bad sides of both games so that we will get an insight to what we are looking to buy.

WarrenDoge
WarrenDoge

A major issue here is it feels like you didn't play much DayZ and you really have to push through an initial noob period. When you figure out what's going on, it gets pretty intense. As a new character, not much matters, but after you've gotten your must have item (a can opener, a pistol, a backpack) suddenly it matters whether you die cause you just searched 30 houses to find this damn thing. As you develop your character further and further the cost of dying goes up and up to the point you're using cover to move at all times, carefully scanning horizon and hills for danger, bandits, and zombies, hiding your weapons when you see other players so as to appear non-threatening as you determine whether they are friend or foe. As you become more powerful, you become more vulnerable. It's a fascinating experience you can't suss out in just a couple hours of gameplay. 

theirongiant74
theirongiant74

BTW the 'unable to run' thing is probably due to you clicking the right mouse button when you don't have a gun. Normally it will bring the gun up and put you in 1st person perspective making you unable to run while you aim down sight but when you don't have a gun it does the unable to run bit with no other indication that you've entered another mode. A bug common to long term dayz players but not an obvious one for new players. It's easily solved by right clicking again.

r.alexander500
r.alexander500

Just a note that charcoal is not required in Rust to create a campfire.  Only wood.  Charcoal is made as the wood is burned, and can be used by combining it with sulphur to create gunpowder.

maxwjhewitt
maxwjhewitt

The Writer is correct in recognising that both games are in Alpha, but what irritated me was that almost every single features he describes in Rust is available in DayZ, and what's more was introduced before Rust even existed. The developers of Rust admit that the game started as a 'DayZ Clone' - (check their website). Therefore I think the review is misplaced in praising Rust for survival elements which DayZ did first.


Secondly, the writer made some valid points on the DayZ controls - they are clunky. However, character movement is deliberately awkward so as to create a challenge for players and to better represent mass and weight etc.


TLDR: The writer needs to realise that all of Rust's selling points were done in DayZ first, and that whilst the controls are clunky, DayZ's character movement is designed to challenge traditional player movement.

BrendonBehlers
BrendonBehlers

"laggy controls" "it’s made harder by the way players lurch forward with every step." in arma your body has weight and inertia so there it takes time to accelerate and slow down, giving the appearance of lag . i wonder if the writer knows you can walk. without double-tapping shift your character is constantly running. 



Viper0hr
Viper0hr

Wow. Just WOW.

This writer is terrible at his "reviews".

I have played DayZ since the mod had 100k players, and have played Rust for a few months now, and DayZ standalone is 100% a better game AT THE MOMENT.

That the author bases his review of Dayz FULLY off the item management system shows how little they actually know of the game or it's past.

 Yes, the inventory is a little hard to get used to, and yeah you have to make sure to look right at stuff to pick it up.   BUT IT'S JUST BEEN RELEASED, and not only that, they improved the inventory system and everything else about the game ten fold and it's not even close to being fully released yet.

The author was far too critical of Dayz, while praising Rust for ideas and mechanics THAT DAYZ HAD IN THE FIRST PLACE and are still present in the mod, in a much more polished, if still alpha, state than RUST as well.


I enjoy both games, they are different and similar in such a way where they provide a unique experience of their own, but this comparison may as well been of a sheep to a wolf.

bLiNNNd
bLiNNNd

Damn, so defensive.

But really there both in alpha and i expect a lot from both of them in time. The majority of my friends who own both seem to lean more towards rust at its current state I know DayZ will be an amazing game when its finished and i feel so will rust.

ive82h
ive82h

Yea DayZ has its faults, and its not perfect (thus it being in Alpha) but really, Rust is a better alternative? It's an inferior game with a much lower quality compared to DayZ. I guess to each their own. Also pretty bad form on reviewing a game that is in Alpha stage.

WBallsface
WBallsface

dayz is definitely not for you and rust is a much lower quality game and is a copy of minecraft with some zombies thrown in the mix. also dayz should not even be reviewable yet

painterface
painterface

I understand it as you get everything for the 30.

newmanjb
newmanjb moderator

@maxwjhewitt Oh, don't get me wrong, I like the physicality of the movement in DayZ--the way you can "feel" your steps and your head turning. But it needs to be streamlined for simple things like walking through a doorway or picking up an item. These types of movements are totally natural in real life, whereas in the game it feels like a struggle. Perhaps the devs can work on making movements "smarter" in certain contexts so you don't have to worry about pinpoint precision.

Napalm_
Napalm_

@Viper0hr How could you have played Rust for "months"? It hasn't been out that long yet.


Stop being so butthurt, please.

SimonThomas
SimonThomas

@Viper0hr He is not basing his review fully on item management, that was one point in a lot of points made. His biggest complaint was actually the lack of action, which he even acknowledged might just be because he doesn't enjoy the game. one of your biggest arguments is "its just been released" and "it't still being developed", which he actually acknowledged several times, and if he's praising something in Rust that's present in DayZ he probably thought they did it better. You're jumping so quick to judge an opinion just because you disagree with it without actually listening to what he's trying to say, a big part of which is "it might just be not for me" and "it's too early in development to make fair final judgements". Think about the actual context and not just that this guy's opinion is different than yours.

commentonitall
commentonitall

@Viper0hr 


I think he was so critical of DayZ because of how long people have been giving it praise for.  I have heard a lot of good things and expectations are something that are never met.  Rust on the other hand is something you go into with no preconceived notions because it has not been around that long.  Don't get too uptight, it's only an opinion.

newmanjb
newmanjb moderator

@bLiNNNd Exactly. I will continue to poke at DayZ in the months (and years) ahead, and it could very well become the better experience, but right now I'm craving more time with Rust.

newmanjb
newmanjb moderator

@ive82h If they're charging $30 for it, it's reviewable in my book.

Steev0
Steev0

@WBallsface I'm inclined to agree with the author on both titles being ready for a review. He clarified that this was an early-stage review so it should be taken with a grain of salt and not be considered condemnation for a game that has lots of development left. If these were free alphas then sure, hold off on reviews, but if people are paying money to be involved in them then feedback should be given to help other people decide if they should jump in and purchase them, or if they should wait until further into development before slapping down the dough. 


If someone purchases an alpha stage game and is dissatisfied with their purchase, they very well may end up not playing the game at all and may discourage others from playing it at all. This review gives people a chance to decide if they are ready to start testing the games, or if they should wait before they end up frustrated prematurely. I consider alpha reviews like this not a review of the game, but a guide to what type of gamer should invest in it. If it is pretty well fleshed out then many gamers may be happy to purchase it and follow along with the development journey, but if it's still a shell of what it will be, then people need to hear this from someone so they don't spend money expecting more than they should.


TLDR: If you spend money on something you should be able to research exactly what you are spending this money on. Buying an alpha you should expect an uncompleted game, but some alphas are opened fairly late into development so are a nearly completed game, while others are very skeletal and should be approached by an open minded and patient customer.