I can’t say I have always been excited to try out The WarZ, an upcoming zombie survival sandbox MMO that puts players in the shoes of a survivor – exploring the world, scavenging for supplies and fighting the infected. It wasn’t until the Alpha crept up that I actually started to get a little excited, even a little optimistic about a game which has had a very questionable development background.
Now it’s the end of the first day of Alpha (at the time of writing), and I am ready to begin sharing my experience in daily instalments – a survivor’s diary if you will. Keep in mind that the things I discuss in this article are part of the Alpha build and could change at any moment, or potentially already have by the time of reading.
The first day of Alpha was usual routine, I had a pre-organized group of players who were keen to play together and we all jumped on TeamSpeak to await the release of the client download. The first mistake of most Alphas and Betas is trying to get in at the first minute. Most of us went to bed empty handed and resumed later – because the lesson is never learnt.
After only 2 hours of sleep, one of my group members and I finally managed to log on and create our first survivors. With very limited customization options, everyone practically looked the same to begin with, so we spawned in to a crowd of clones in about 4 different variants, making communication crucial from the beginning.
Everyone spawns with some basic supplies and a flashlight that not only lights up the area but can also be used as a melee weapon. There only seems to be two spawning points for fresh characters so far, which has led to the starting zone becoming a flashlight gladiator’s arena.
Fresh spawns begin in a valley on the south of the map, currently there is only 30% of the map available so spawns are tight. There are two towns you can randomly spawn near; neither is too far from the other. Every fresh character gets a map, so it wasn’t long before we were able to find each other.
As we moved down the hill towards the town, it was chaos – survivors fighting zombies that were littered all over the street, bandits beating down other survivors with flashlights, and several others scurrying in and out of the local stores and houses trying to find whatever scraps of loot they could.
Deaths were frequent, loot was only to be found if you managed to bring down another player and it wasn’t long before we came to the conclusion that if we were going to survive we needed to properly prepare and just head straight north towards the only available city.
Logging out we discovered that you have a global inventory, sort of like a bank that you can store items in for safe keeping. With access to each characters loadout, you can easily swap out gear or dump loot. Alpha testers also received a small sum of free gold coins; the cash shop currency for WarZ.
Using these coins, we bought basic food, medical supplies, bats, backpacks, and of course some masks. The cash shop was surprisingly balanced, while there are a few things on there I probably wouldn’t sell – anything of real value is only sold for the in-game currency.
Decking our survivors out in starter gear, we logged back in and began heading north to where we figured the city would be. It wasn’t long before we saw a gap in a ridge and beyond it skyscrapers – we were there. It turns out it was the same city from the video, so we were extremely excited to check it out.
The first thing you notice when entering a town is that the zombies aren’t like DayZ; you can’t just sprint in to town, outrun the zombies and then lose them through a building. In WarZ the zombies can kill you in just a few hits, and in order to kill them you must bash or shoot their head only. One or two zombies is easy to deal with, they are generally slow and very stupid – get a large group though, and you’re screwed.
Taking an extremely stealthy approach, we began entering the city – looking through the various buildings we could find for loot. There was plenty around, and barely a player in sight – our plan was working so far and we were finally finding some supplies. However supplies are scarce even when untouched, there aren’t grocery stores filled with cans and backpacks.
You’re lucky to find a bottle of painkillers and a bag of chips in most locations; it has a real atmosphere of desperation because of this. With loot being so rare, you really have to ration your supplies and ensure you are only ever using what you absolutely must. If you don’t, you’ll end up gearless and struggling to survive 5 minutes.
Leaving some of the first buildings, we had already adopted a very Solid Snake approach to maneuvering – sticking to the ground and moving silently. As we moved across the street, I was watching our backs with a clear view down the road to a t-intersection when all of a sudden a player runs by the end of the road.
He’s quick out of view before a massive hoard of zombies come piling down the street – filling it from gutter to gutter and looking like something out of The Walking Dead. We’re glad this sprint-happy noob has attracted all the infected in the area away from the direction we’re heading and we move on.
I’m feeling at this point that there aren’t nearly enough enterable buildings in The WarZ, but we make our way through the city for a while before running in to another player. This guy is bleeding and looks unarmed, so we offer to help him. He returns, we help him out and he joins our group for a while – we show him the ropes (aren’t we nice) before sending him on his way.
We’re having a lot of fun by this point; it feels just like DayZ but with its own differences. We begin sneaking up on zombies, timing our strikes to take down multiple zombies at once without attracting others. It’s extremely nice that zombies are actually a threat and must be treated with caution, and the fact that they sometimes drop money makes them worth hunting.
Client crashes begin kicking in as we arrive at the apartment from the first PvP video, they happen regularly as the servers begin filling up. We persist and keep playing, checking each floor for loot and survivors. It isn’t long before others start arriving, we hide in corners and doorways, hitting everyone who enters and watching their loot explodes out of them like candy from a piñata.
Due to so many players using their free cash shop money, we quickly begin stocking up on bats, masks, hats, and other gear. We work out a routine where in the situation where someone’s bags are full, that person logs out and dumps gear in to their global inventory while the other stays in-game and guards the spot where they logged out.
It isn’t long before our global inventories start filling up, and the others in our group come online to play. They all start making for the city, but in the meantime my friend is taken down by a sneaky bandit. I am quick to sneak up behind the bandit and take him out with a swift blow to the back of the head. There’s gear everywhere, and I am left alone without any way to move all the gear to my global storage.
I decide to pick up what I can and hide next to the door in one of the surrounding rooms, the servers are pretty full now and some players are beginning to find guns. Players seem to enter the apartment building one of the other, not together and definitely not friendly. It seems everyone wants to enter my room, I am quick to smack people in the face as soon as they enter, killing them instantly.
After a few quick and silent assassinations, I begin stocking up on all sorts of gear – including a shotgun and a pistol. The shotgun has 8 rounds in it, but the pistol is empty – weapons are extremely rare, but ammo is almost impossible to find. My friends eventually make it to me and we lock down the apartments before moving on. Several crashes, plenty of PvP, and a few dead friends later we manage to exit the city and make our way back south.
There’s talk of police stations holding some great loot, guns, and chances of ammo – but the city is too crowded so the police station in the southern part of the map is our target. We make our way there as night begins to creep over, meeting up with the whole group now we move silently in to the fenced off compound of the police station and begin to silently take down zombies.
It isn’t long before another player turns up, and like many annoying survivors – stirs up every zombie in the area before meeting their fate or receiving a bludgeoning from our group. Things go downhill from here and we lose a few people at the police station. We’re quick to make it back and recover our gear.
Crashes are becoming more frequent as the night goes on and it’s becoming extremely difficult to get in the servers. We are still persistent as ever, continuing to play and learn the mechanics of this new game. We move from town to city, gathering loot as we can and practicing our stealthy takedowns.
As we move through the suburbs of the city, taking down stray zombies on the street – we come across what looks like a doctor’s office. Three of us creep up to a window before we notice a guy sitting on the counter pointing a gun through the window. He’s literally right next to us, with only a wall in between us.
One of our guys makes a move for the back of the building, trying to get around the other side – the guy with the gun hears him and makes a move for a back room. Immediately the two of us still at the window make a dive through the window, I go over the counter and the other in to the hallway and in to the back room. We close in on him and quicker than he can turn around he’s dead.
Amazement and a message from the recently deceased reads “Well played sirs.” – One of many victories we would achieve throughout the night. The crashes started to get extremely frequent and the servers became impossible to enter – the devs announced that a hotfix would be released the next day to fix the crashes and other issues such as invisible zombies.
There were also promises of more servers, so we called it a day and retired for some much needed sleep. The first day was chaotic, messy, and just about every Alpha that’s every taken place. The issues were expected, but far too frequent – looking forward to tomorrow and hoping that stability issues are fixed. Overall, the game definitely needs a ton of polish but it’s extremely fun so far, let’s hope they don’t ruin it. Interested in seeing more? Check out the full screenshot gallery from the day.Related: Alpha, Shooter, Survival, The WarZ