Last week DayZ players on Reddit proposed a Christmas ceasefire to promote harmony and good will in this cheerful season of giving and eating until you explode. How's that going, then? I dipped into DayZ for an hour to see if the festive spirit has softened the relentlessly brutal survivalist nightmare of DayZ. Will I have a super happy rainbow fun time with a mob of new friends, or get horribly axe murdered by a stranger? I think we all probably already know the answer to that one.
I seem to have spawned into a Windows desktop background, but I have a spade. A spade that I refuse to raise against my fellow man on this, the day of DayZ Christmas ceasefire.
There's a whole lot of grass and zombies inland, so I plan to stick to the coastline and investigate some settlements. If I'm lucky, I'll find an airport or a military base that's populated by players not shooting each other.
There's no military base, but a petrol station will do nicely. It'll have an attached convenience store that might have a few bandages, or some food. There's also blatantly a zombie standing right outside - a great opportunity to find out what the undead population thinks about the Christmas ceasefire.
Things deteriorate rapidly when the zombie starts clawing at my torso instead of answering my questions. Don't they know it's Christmas? I resort to interviewing my subject repeatedly with my spade instead. He keels over and stops moving, but I'm set upon by two more walkers attracted by the commotion. I give them both the gift of Christmas spade and limp towards the petrol station, badly wounded.
I move into the back room of the petrol station and freeze. A human! We both do the DayZ stand-off, when strangers stand completely still for a moment, examining the others' equipment to see what level of threat they pose. He has an axe; I have a spade. We'd be evenly matched were it not for the gouts of blood spewing continuously from my chest. We both know I'm at his mercy. Will the Christmas spirit prevail?
The stranger kneels down in front of me. This is awkward and a little weird until I realise that he's bandaging me up. Yes! The Christmas spirit is strong with this one. I'm so grateful I mash the keys looking for a chat button and go prone instead. Embarrassed, I stand up again slowly and back out of the building. He watches quietly, and doesn't follow.
Wounded but inspired, I set off towards the next settlement, hoping to find supplies and more friendly humans. The town seems empty, so I duck into the nearest building, only to hear the tell-tale squawk of the undead nearby. Are they outside? Have they heard me?
My second life starts near a build-up zone. I miss my spade, but find a wrench in a shed and continue toward town. I never make it. I'm shocked out of the exploration of a residence on the outskirts by the sound of a voice calling me.
"Hey. Come out!" says the voice. "You! At the window! I won't hurt you. I have no weapon. Come down." It's a human player talking using DayZ's local voice chat. There's something chilling about the slow delivery of his requests that makes me instantly distrust him. My instincts tell me to find a back door and run, but what cause do I have to run on this, the day of DayZ Christmas Ceasefire?
I leave the house and walk out to meet him. I notice that his chest holster is empty before I see the hideous clown mask. I mentally dub him Clownface, and only then notice the axe on his back. Not so unarmed after all. "I'm sick. I need charcoal," Clownface says. "Do you have any charcoal?" I don't. I shake my avatar's head with a waggle of the mouse. "I need to go and find some. Will you help me on my mission?"
Still worried, I nod my head with the mouse and he sets off down the road. As I follow I start to wonder why we're running away from the town, where we're more likely to find supplies.
After a few moments, Clownface stops. "One thing I will say. Don't take my stuff. That would be a bad idea, to take my stuff." I freeze for a moment, and then nod, wishing my mic was plugged in. I want to explain. I want to tell him about the man in the petrol station, and how he helped me, and how I was going to write an article about DayZ and the Christmas spirit and how people can form truces in the most fragile situations, even when there's no rule of law to enforce the peace. We stand completely still, staring at each other across the road. Suddenly, he draws his axe and charges.
I take a moment to react, startled by the attack. I draw the wrench under repeated blows from his weapon. Blood starts flying out of me, but I get in a few good shots. He goes down, unconscious. He mentioned that he was ill. He must have been weak. Why did he start the fight?
Panicked, I keep hitting his corpse, over and over again. 'What did I do?' I wonder. Perhaps he thought I planned to murder him. Perhaps it was always his plan to kill me. He may get his wish. I'm bleeding profusely, my vision is blurred. I try to loot his corpse for bandages, but his body is slowly sliding away. Eerily, it won't stop moving, which means I can't snatch any bandages he might possess. Clownface's corpse glides into the sea, and I feel a pang of despair. DayZ is still very much in alpha. This particular bug has doomed me.
I wander down the beach, knowing I'll never have time to find supplies and staunch my wounds. I'm done for. All I can do is walk and admire the waves for a few moments before my character keels over and the screen goes dark.