Bored of Chernarus? We've rounded up some of the best alternative maps for you to get your survival fix.
By Jamie Dalzell on November 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm
In DayZ’s case, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt so much as rob the world of its lustre, providing an easier pathway lined with the bones of your previous incarnations. Familiarity in DayZ, then, turns the weak into the strong, sending them map-wide in search of challenges that recaptures a slumbering mind. From raiding the North West Airfield to becoming self-proclaimed leaders of the sniper capital elect, Stary Sobor, Chernarus’ challenges are many, but they are never infinite. Chernarus’ challenge, like its world, decays over time.
Lucky, then, that a mod begets mods in this PC ecosystem, ensuring those looking for it can recapture DayZ’s uncertainty, plummeting onto new islands where survival and player-driven horror are renewed. From the cold of Namalsk to the palm trees of Lingor Island, we’ve ventured forth with Makarov in hand to bring back postcards from these uncharted regions across Chernarus’ ocean.
Far from the mechanical hum of Chernarus that haunts its survivors, Lingor is, in stark contrast, a sun-baked getaway. Billboards invite the visitor to kick back, relax, and soak in the sun, but Lingor is different now: the zombies have moved in. Still, it’s refreshing even while they chase, a less imposing place where forests are sparser and the sound of tropical birds tease you with memories of a better day that has long since passed.
Smaller than Chernarus yet bigger than Namalsk, visits to any of its cities are a much more reasonable goal for a new survivor, making Lingor a perfect location for those looking to gear up quickly, whether with a squad or alone, and get down to the business of player vs player firefights.
Trouble is, Lingor’s blessing is as much its curse, a largely front-loaded affair: its spawn locations centre around its southern beaches, close to its capital Calamar, which plays host to supermarkets, numerous hospitals, and an airfield rivalling Chernarus’ North West both in size and willingness to cough up high-powered military gear.
The result is a clear gradient in play time and activity stretching south to north, the cities caught amongst its larger inland hills and valleys seeing less action than Calamar, as does its western offshoot island of Benio, but anything further north is usually reserved for those who have something to hide, or bandits preying on unsuspecting survivors who wandered a few GPS coordinates too far north.
What action there is to be had will be seen down south, playing out in a predictable manner that can come as a welcome reprieve for anyone wanting to enact plans with some certainty to their resolution. Still, predictability is always going to be DayZ’s least attractive quality, but as a bite-sized chunk between other excursions it’s a worthy getaway, especially for those rolling with a geared group, planning on running Calamar with an iron fist.
Recommended for: A palate cleanser between “planned for three days” excursions; Groups or friends looking to find each other and gear up quickly; those who enjoy a wealth of well-protected firepower and a target to shoot them at.
Points of interest:
Calamar Airfield: Calamar’s Airfield is its most successful piece of Chernarus-inspired geography, with the added intensity of being minutes from newly-spawned survivors. The airfield sits slightly east of Calamar itself, so close you can turn 180 in either direction and have clear overwatch of either.
What makes this deadlier than NW is its constant threat of watching eyes, with forest and pyramid-esque bunkers hugging its eastern edge while the city’s radio tower and accompanying hill on the west cast it in the constant shadow of a sniper lying in wait. The airfield’s best approach is from its southern edge, keeping close to bushes and concrete walls, and those who are able to get in and out with speed or silence will profit the most.
If you were left disappointed by the majesty of Skyrim’s snow-capped mountains, devoid of jittering NPCs caught in a snowstorm or cloaks held close in the night’s chill, Namalsk may well be a videogame environment junky’s dream come true. If Skyrim were considered cold, Namalsk would be hypothermic.
Namalsk trades in Chernarus’ temperamental dispute with rain and sun, and Lingor’s sun-tan colour scheme, instead a desaturated island ravaged by dry days and colder nights, in what may be the most captivating representation of the majesty of winter’s hold over a videogame landscape.
And what a land it is. Patchy northern forests give way to plains and a southern region of snow-capped mountains, with a wind that brings whispers of children’s voices crying out for help: Namalsk benefits greatly from its previous life as a single player campaign focused on deconstructing a survivor’s resolve.
The result is a map that alters DayZ’s play style like no other, featuring Chernarus’ ebb and flow of progress with a smaller map that means a threat is constant, bubbling up to the surface at will, and the subtlety of Namalsk’s layout ensures it’s a challenge that remains. Through geographical asymmetry it achieves a perfect harmony of DayZ’s three characteristics: of zombie, player and landscape working against a survivor.
Rather than altering inventory slots or character attributes, Namalsk toys with the perceived notion of DayZ play, sending survivors in search of warm clothing and heat packs if they want to keep a steady aim. And its hate for a comfortable survivor is no clearer than when you realize it features just two supermarkets and a solitary hospital, located on an offshoot eastern island, accessed by a land bridge that may as well be a pre-dug grave.
Recommended for: Those wanting to recapture Chernarus’ fleeting survival against the elements; for anyone who enjoys making plans but loves reacting to their sudden demise even more; those obsessed with videogame landscapes.
Points of interest:
Old Hospital: Namalsk is an island built on smart decisions, and Old Hospital is perhaps the one most worthy of praise. Old Hospital is a cramped collection of buildings: a hospital, supermarket, and a school with a view down its corridor-like main street, drawing to mind a fitting image of a cut and dry western where guns are drawn quickly and fired often. Old Hospital’s reputation precedes it, the location of Namalsk’s only hospital and as such is the perfect spot for bandits to prey on. Its main road is masked in forest to its south, though be on the lookout for snipers camping its building tops.
Object AII: For all of Namalsk’s optional challenges, Object AII is its ace in the deck. Situated in a valley between two of the island’s largest, snow covered mountains, AII is the spot for military loot, and in turn, other players. Its solitary barracks can appear a measly target for a player to risk their life on, but AII hides its treasure underground, stashing anything from M24 sniper rifles to rocket launchers for those brave enough to face its only entrance: a ladder into the dark. For those who tempt it, it’s recommended you bring a grenade or two. And even then, be on the lookout for the telltale sound of a nervous player reloading their gun.
Sebjan Dam: While not the only way to access the northern portions of Namalsk, Sebjan Dam is the most popular, namely for its ability to attract players who see its crossing as a quick and easy escape from the southern cold. The Dam is, all told, one of Namalsk’s most active areas, surrounded on the north, south and east by towers where the silhouette of a player means you should be iron sighting or running for cover.
Landbridge: Who would have thought a stretch of land could be feared this much? The landbridge is the quickest route to Old Hospital: an open expanse visible all the way across from either end of its highway of death. It’s telling that there are no real tips to impart for its crossing, other than run run run as fast as you can, and keep eyes peeled for the sign of movement both behind and ahead. Most of all? Keep your fingers crossed.
Panthera is a baffling addition to DayZ’s growing stable of maps, though over time you come to appreciate its place in this lineup: a shy land not willing to divulge its secrets in simple introductions. Its circular shape and the roads that follow it mean it’s an easier place to navigate for newcomer and experienced player alike, and its wealth of towns offer civilian gear in droves.
This northern area is where most players will spend their time, fighting over Enfields and shotguns, but break free of the community squabbles and Panthera reveals itself as a more directed DayZ experience. Its circular nature does come back to bite it – roads soon swallow themselves as you make your way around, due to its smaller size, and its centre isn’t much more than plain, mountainous hills, but Panthera can be relaxing in that way, largely devoid of the threat of finding yourself lost.
Its military gear, then, is split between its northern airfield and southern edges, where forests give way to a desert overlooking the sea, where the true weapon riches are held. It is, also, a more light-hearted affair given few ever make it far enough to gear themselves as they’d like, so instead the attention usually turns to Panthera’s overabundance of vehicles, which makes it the perfect place for the vehicularly inclined.
Here its predictable roadway turns back in the survivor’s favour, and Panthera finally completes its reveal as the place for vehicular frivolities and convoy hold ups, situating yourself on an intersection hill or in trees near a gas station and awaiting your prey. Panthera’s challenges don’t stretch much further than that, but its island is worth at least a trip or two around: a location for the apocalypse sightseer at the very least.
Recommended for: The vehicularly inclined; those looking for a more directed, welcoming DayZ experience; did we mention all of those vehicles?; anyone interested in an extended DayZ early-game of Enfields and winchesters.
Points of interest:
Airfields: A side-effect of Panthera’s smaller, circular focus is its lack of any major locations that whet the appetite of a Stary Sobor junkie, yet its airfields – three in total – should be marked for their military equipment alone. Its eastern airfield, the one most will grow familiar with, is largely uneventful, while its northern and western variations usually hold more interesting gear.
Zappado: Zappado is the capital of Panthera’s southern desert: a strange juxtaposition given it overlooks the ocean. On scarce occasion you might find yourself spawning nearby, but otherwise it’s close to empty any other time of the day, rewarding anyone willing to make the long (ish) trip south with four barracks, a hospital and supermarkets to boot.
DayZ installation is no longer the laborious process it once was, a tale of copying files to strange folders three levels deep and hoping you’d managed to Inception’ise ARMA II into thinking it was a zombie sim. Of the launchers/installers/magical installation weapons, DayZ Commander is the most reliable, turning the process into a one-click affair.
- Download DayZ Commander from this website here, and once complete run the installer.
- Start DayZ Commander and select the “Settings” tab in the top-right corner.
- Here, DayZ Commander should have automatically detected your ARMA II and ARMA II OA directories. If not, simply click “Override” and enter it yourself. Note: For Steam users this will be within your Steamapps\common folder. For those using a GreenManGaming copy of ARMA II, this will be in Program Files(x86 for Vista/7 users)\CapsuleGames.
- If you would like to launch DayZ through DayZ Commander with the Steam Overlay – to allow easy communication with Steam friends, as well as the use of Steam’s screenshot function – tick the “Launch using Steam” checkbox.
- Finally, click on the Install/Update tab, also in the top-right, and you’ll be presented with a list of update options. From top to bottom DayZ Commander lists your current ARMA II version (Beta updates required for most servers), your DayZ version, as well as whether or not you have any maps installed, and their corresponding versions.
As DayZ Commander knows where your install directories are, all you need to do is click “Install” next to ARMA II and DayZ, and away you go. From there you’re free to install additional maps in the same way, choosing the version your server supports and clicking “Install”.