DayZ is a free survival horror sandbox mod for tactical military simulator, ArmA 2. Utilizing the popular map Chernarus, players have embarked on countless journeys through its hostile terrains – scavenging, slaying, surviving. It was inevitable that players would eventually want to see DayZ running on some of ArmA 2′s other popular maps, and so some players set out to achieve just that. Several maps now support DayZ and are running on private servers.

While not officially supported by the DayZ development team, now that the standalone has been secured – Rocket seems to be okay with these maps, and private hives in general, as long as they try to stick to the original vision. I recently sat down to try out the new maps that have begun popping up on private servers, the first map I tried was DayZ Utes - a PvP focused map, then I tried the tropical Lingor Island. Today however, it's time to battle the heat in the deserts of Takistan - a cruel and unforgiving place overrun with infection.

Situated at the borders of Chernarus, near the Green Sea - Takistan is a mountainous country spanning across 164 km2 of desert. Featuring 4 towns, 24 villages, 3 airports, a large coltan mine, and several large oil fields - Takistan provides yet another suitable location for the traditional DayZ experience we've all come to know and love with the official mod.

The initial beauty of DayZ Takistan is the new set of challenges that every survivor faces immediately upon entering the map. Life is very different in the desert, and those forest-dwelling snipers will have to completely rethink their tactics as they traverse the wide open valleys of nothing more than sand and a few shrubs. When travelling between towns, there isn't much cover and players will have to use the hills to their advantage.

Most of the towns and villages in Takistan are quite small, lining the hillsides and valleys with a lot of generic loot and civilian weapons. Players often gravitate towards the large city of Feruz Abad, before heading north to the military base and airport at Rasman. With military bases, airports and plenty of villages littered across the map, players should find the loot rather well balanced in availability, location and spawn types.

One of the key things I noticed while playing Takistan is that it's a lot harder to remain quiet, the terrain is extremely loud and makes running almost as loud as crossing a road. This provides a rather unique challenge when looting towns as players need to be much more cautious in their approach and when moving between buildings. That's not to mention the bandits that can also hear you coming, but that advantage works both ways.

Firefights are an interesting event in DayZ Takistan, a hill overlooking a town can go from the perfect sniping point to the most exposed position in a 2km radius in a split second. Battles can turn in your favour or against you rather rapidly with the wide variety of terrain and opportunities it provides. Players will find that most bandits have moved in from distant fights to camping inside builldings, and with little balconies, windows and vantage points all over the villages - players will have to keep eyes in the back of their heads when looting.

For those looking for a desert setting, or those who just want a different set of challenges to face will enjoy DayZ Takistan. The map works well for ArmA II and the same goes for the DayZ mod, with the creators adapting the gameplay to Takistan extremely well. To play DayZ Takistan, I recommend using DayZ Commander to keep the map up-to-date and to easily find servers to play on.