When I first got into gaming, it was a very different time. One could say, a simpler time. Before always on DRM solutions, encrypted files, and various other (ineffective) piracy measures, there were these things called mods. For those of you who have only gotten into gaming recently, mod is the common name for game modifications. This was where game players, who had some kind of computer programming knowledge, could take a game and change the way it works. Games like Counterstrike, Team Fortress and Dota, all started from very humble beginnings as fan developed games.

Counterstrike, now a multi-million dollar franchise, started off as a mod for Half Life 1.

But unfortunately, times have changed. As game engines get more and more complicated, and as game development teams have grown from a few people to literally dozens, the amount of time and effort to make a mod is far greater than it used to be.

Thankfully, that isn’t stopping some people.

A recently released mod for Arma II called DayZ has been popping up on gaming forums everywhere. It’s a mod that’s getting a lot of press because it’s so good that it’s pushing sales of the game through the roof. That’s right. People are buying the game just for the mod.

Now for everyone who doesn’t know about Arma II, it’s basically a war simulator. I.E. It’s nothing like Call of Duty or Battlefield. Arma’s main draw card has always been how it strives for realism, which means it’s pretty unforgiving, but incredibly satisfying if you get good at it. The basic premise of DayZ is that you are on of the last survivors on an island that is roughly 225 KM squared, and everyone else is now a zombie. So now you have a game which is realistic, but has zombies.

The actual gameplay itself revolves around scavenging for food, guns, and ammo, while trying not to draw too much attention from zombies. And if you thought you had enough problems worrying about some undead bastard trying to eat your brains, you need to worry about the other players. You can never tell if another player is friendly or hostile, and that’s one of the brilliant aspects of the game. You may team up with someone who you think is on your side, but the moment you turn your back they put a bullet in it, just so they can have that tin of beef that you’ve been hoarding for later. Some players have also been gathering together to form bandit teams, and then go about the game robbing or murdering other players.

Yes, it’s The Walking Dead game that everyone has been waiting for.

Finally, a decent zombie apocalypse simulator.

The game servers, which can host up to fifty players, all connect to a central server where characters are stored. So if you play on a server in the UK one night, then play on a server in France, you play using the same character. The thing about this is that if that character dies, that’s it. They’re done. You then have to start from scratch.

Despite the fact that I am sitting on quite a stack of games at the moment, I have the feeling this is one I’m going to be adding to that stack. Take a look at the gameplay video below to see why I am quite excited:

The graphics aren’t great, and it looks a bit buggy, which is entirely forgivable considering it’s been developed by one guy. But I’d be damned if that doesn’t look as exciting as hell to play.