DayZ was a cultural phenomenon when it launched as a mod for ARMA 2 in mid-2012. As one of the first games to successfully implement survival elements and mechanics into its gameplay loop, it paved the way for an entirely new genre that is still just as popular today. That original experience was seven years ago though, and the world of video games has moved on and evolved since then in a rather dramatic fashion.
A whopping five years after the original announcement of a PS4 version, the title was dumped onto the PlayStation Store all of a sudden last week with absolutely no fanfare whatsoever. Although, it’s not like developer Bohemia Interactive has anything to shout about anyway. DayZ has to be one of the worst performing games we have ever played. Period.
For those that don’t know, what set the world on fire when the PlayStation 3 was still at the forefront of Sony’s hardware strategy feels severely outdated in 2019. Taking place across the gigantic land mass of Chernarus, your one and only objective is to survive. This is achieved by scavenging for supplies, food, water, clothing, and anything else a human needs to preserve life from the dilapidated towns and landmarks that make up the former Soviet Republic.
You’ll need to govern meters for hydration, calory intake, thermal comfort, blood level, and your health if you want to thrive - making the act of caring for these elements essentially the point of the entire game.
It’s a gameplay loop that’s far too simple for our liking. While other titles that make up the genre have introduced narratives, base building, extensive crafting systems, and unique mechanics that make them tick, DayZ just wants you to stay alive. This has paved the way for role-playing to take centre stage, the likes of which blew up in Grand Theft Auto V on Twitch recently, but that’s for a rather niche market. At its core, DayZ feels aimless and sort of pointless.
Testament to that is the laughably bad tutorial that introduces the game. Consisting of nothing more than a six-slide presentation that wouldn’t look out of place in Microsoft Powerpoint, it attempts to explain the game’s supposed depth. It tells us that the infected are the biggest threat you’ll encounter on your travels, while crafting new items from what you’ve looted at least gives you something else to think about.
You probably won’t want to though because it means interacting with the atrocious inventory and loot management system. It’s a clunky set of boxes, all of which don’t make a whole lot of sense. One will tell you what can be picked up within the vicinity, but then you’ve got separate tabs for storing equipment and further slots for different items of clothing.
They can all hold a range of items and none of it feels intuitive in the slightest. You’ll have to equip weapons to your hands, but then using the PS4 controller’s shoulder buttons makes navigating those menus a real chore. This might have worked on mouse and keyboard to a degree, but it feels like the game is working against you at every opportunity when mapped to a DualShock 4.
The map plays host to 60 players at any one time, but due to its size, encountering another person is a real rarity. You’ll have to join a server every time you boot up the title, with some even boasting of a high player count - but we failed to come across another living person during our weekend of play. There are differences between the various servers you can join too, with some persisting over multiple sessions and others wiping on occasion. It means that if you get a particularly good run going but you weren’t able to join a persistent server, it’s all going to be for nothing.
And then there are the technical issues. DayZ is far and away the worst performing game we’ve played on PS4 in quite some time thanks to a frame rate that defines inconsistency. Despite being capped at just 30 frames per second, the PS4 Pro version dips into singular numbers consistently, bringing the experience to a screeching halt on a regular basis.
It’s not like the title is particularly taxing in the graphical department, either. In fact, environments and textures look particularly woeful, so to see a port performing this badly is nothing short of baffling. Despite nothing especially taxing taking place on-screen, the game will dip up and down profusely, making the simple act of playing a chore. This is simply unacceptable in 2019, and we dread to think how badly the game performs on a standard PS4.
But that’s not all - numerous bugs and glitches round out the experience to create game-breaking issues that result in you having to back out of the server you’re populating. We managed to get stuck inside a door, stranded on top of a fence, the picture cut out leaving us with just the HUD, and it’s virtually impossible to see anything during night time. These sorts of flaws might have been accepted in the earliest of early access, but this is a full 1.0 release for the ridiculous price of $49.99/£39.99. You can do so, so much better than this.
DayZ is a complete and utter disaster on PS4. Not only is it profoundly outdated in 2019, it’s also technically inept. A horrendous frame rate brings the experience to a standstill on a worryingly consistent basis, while numerous bugs and glitches are a bewilderment. After taking five years to release, we can’t help but feel like this was an outright waste of everyone’s time.