Just finding other human players in DayZ can be a struggle. And when you do, they’re more likely to rob and murder you than help you stay alive.

Just seconds into the current build of DayZ it’s clear we’re playing an alpha. When you launch the game a message flashes up warning you of its incomplete state and the ‘I understand’ button is buggy, obscuring the line explaining that the game is unfinished. But comical corruptions aside – and there are a lot of them – the brutal essence of the DayZ experience is untouched, and in many ways this is already better than the popular Arma mod.When you start a new game you’re dumped randomly on the coast of Chernarus, a colossal 230 square kilometre expanse of bleak Eastern European countryside that’s filled with zombies and up to 39 other players. What you do next is up to you. There are no objectives or goals other than those you make yourself. Staying alive is a priority, and scavenging for food, water, weapons, ammo, and other supplies is key to surviving those first few grueling hours.In the mod very few buildings were accessible, but in this new version of Chernarus almost every structure has an interior. This makes the environment feel much richer, and loot is no longer just lying conspicuously on the floor – you have to look under beds and on top of dressers. It makes the pace notably slower, especially since the loot tables are so sparse. You’ll search every house in one of the many towns dotted around the countryside, with only a can of beans and a pair of sunglasses to show for it.The shadow of permadeath hangs over everything you do. You might get lucky and stumble on a cache of weapons and food, or a fallen player’s backpack, but that sniper on the hillside doesn’t care. They’ll kill you without thinking, and you’ll be back to square one: on the beach in a t-shirt with a flashlight and a single battery. The HUD has been minimised dramatically, replacing the Sims-style meters of the mod (hunger, thirst, bleeding, etc.) with text-based messages that express your character’s needs: “I’m hungry”, “I need something to drink”, “I can feel blood seeping through my clothes”, and so on.