Every Tuesday, DayZ Diaries recounts Andy's adventures in post-apocalyptic survival sim DayZ, where beans and friends are frequently in short supply.
Since the most recent update, a dark cloud of gloom has descended upon Chernarus. Most servers I join are now lashed with rain, and it's completely transformed the atmosphere of the game. The ominous grey skies, pounding rain, and booming thunder are much more post-apocalyptic than those cloudless, sunny days. Everything is just so damn cinematic now, whether I'm in a standoff at an airfield or looting a deserted town.
“Are you French?” I'm a few miles north of Kamyshovo, and two players in military gear and clown masks have approached me. I'm wearing basic civilian clothes, but the hunting backpack and modded M4 rifle on my back betray the fact that I'm geared up. “No.” I respond, putting my hands up. By now I've accepted the fact that I'm going to die, because only two types of people wear the Payday masks these days: new players who don't know any better, and jerks.
These guys, as it turns out, are the latter. “Where are you from?” they ask. “UK.” I respond, wondering briefly whether I should have lied and put on a French accent. But before I can channel 'Allo 'Allo! , they shoot me in the head. It's the worst kind of DayZ death: cruel, pointless, and at the hands of dickish bandits with no imaginations. At least handcuff me and force-feed me disinfectant or something . Jesus. As thunder rumbles in the distance, I hear them picking through my meticulously organised inventory.
The next time I play, it's a much more pleasant experience. A friend and I, wearing matching cowboy hats, go on a loot run through the midsection of the map, hitting Green Mountain, Stary Sobor, a few small towns, and a military base on the way. I have an SKS with a decent amount of ammo, and Tobias has a pistol with a single round chambered in it, so we decide we might as well head to the north-west airfield: a famously dangerous PVP hotspot where quality military-grade loot spawns – if the server hoppers haven't gotten to it first.
We skirt around the edge of the airfield's huge concrete runways, sticking to the trees, scouting for other players who might have had the same idea as us. Then I spot what looks like a player on the opposite side of the runway, lying prone on a grassy verge. “It's a sniper!” I call out to Tobias. We move carefully through the treeline, keeping our eyes on the player, until we manage to flank him and discover that… it's a tree stump. The tension and paranoia I experience while playing DayZ regularly plays tricks on my mind like this. One time I thought a bush in the distance was a player aiming a rifle at me and put my hands up.
We make our way up to the hangars. The airfield looks clear, so we head towards the fire station, when suddenly I see another player. A real one this time. We watch him for a while, but he seems to disappear. So, foolishly, we push on, looting the station, barracks, and AT tower. I'm at the top of the tower, when I hear the telltale crack of a Mosin round. “Someone's shooting at me!” says Tobias, who I see running along the runway with an armed player behind him.
I panic and empty all six rounds from my Magnum in his general direction, but none of them hit. I fumble for my SKS, aim through the iron sights, only to see him aiming his rifle at me. I manage to get off the first shot and he falls to the ground. My heart is racing. Tobias and I express our relief over voice chat, amazed we survived. When you go somewhere like the north-west airfield you accept the fact that someone is going to shoot at you, and you're probably going to die, so it's always a pleasant surprise when it doesn't happen.
As we loot the body – hey, he fired at us first, so it's allowed – we see another player lying prone, rolling towards us. We pull our guns and aim them at him. “Woah, what are you doing, buddy?” Tobias asks. The man responds in Russian, but knows enough English to tell us he's broken his legs and that he wants us to kill him. I oblige and unload an SKS round into his head. A dark moment, but one made even darker by the rain and thunder echoing around us.