DayZ hates you. It wants you dead.
It doesn't care that you've just spent five hours creeping through the countryside to collect all those cans of beans and fizzy pop; it'll give you food poisoning or break your legs without a glimmer of remorse.
But that's what makes it such a compelling and tense game. It also makes it incredibly unforgiving to new players, but with this guide you'll be able to get yourself established quickly and begin making your mark in the post-apocalyptic wastes of Chernarus. Just don't forget your tin opener.
1. First steps
So you've spawned on the beach. All you have on you is a flashlight, a battery, and the clothes on your back. Where you spawn is randomised, but there's always a town nearby. Find it, and start doing some looting. Enter houses and search them carefully; items can appear on top of furniture or under beds. You'll want to find a backpack, food, something to drink, and an axe.
The other melee weapons (baseball bat, wrench, etc.) aren't worth bothering with, because by the time you've pummeled a zombie to death with them, you'll have taken a few hits and be bleeding, sick, or both.
2. I'm bleeding!
Don't worry. If you haven't looted any bandages, drag your t-shirt to the side of the screen to drop it on the ground, then right click and select the option to tear it into rags. You can then right click on these and click 'apply bandage' to stop your bleeding. There's a chance you'll get infected from zombie attacks and gunfire, so apply alcohol to your wounds first if you've found any.
Lose a lot of blood and the colour will drain from your screen. To restore it naturally (and slowly) you'll need to eat and drink until your character says they're full, or you can get a blood transfusion from another player.
3. What next?
Hopefully you've been able to locate an axe, a backpack, and some basic supplies. What happens next is up to you, as there are no objectives in DayZ. You make your own stories. But at this point, most players begin to head inland.
The coast, and the towns along the coast, are frequented by bandits (players who kill other players), as well as new spawns who might not think twice about punching you to death and stealing your precious beans. So head in the opposite direction of the sea. You'll be less likely to run into other players here, and towns will be more likely to have unclaimed loot. If a building's door is closed, chances are it hasn't already been raided by other players.
4. Make a plan
All towns in DayZ have signs, usually near the entrance, telling you their names. This, combined with a map of Chernarus (we like dayzdb.com) will allow you to figure out where you are on the map. You can then use this information to plan a route. If you're feeling brave and are willing to risk your life for military gear, weapons, and ammo, you can try visiting the north-west or north-east airfields, whose landing strips you can make out on the map.
These are hotspots for players with itchy trigger fingers, so don't go running in blindly. Stay hidden and scout the area carefully first. Or, alternatively, you could try big cities like Stary Sobor, Chernogorsk, Elektrozavodsk, or Berezino. These aren't very safe either, but if you want good gear you're going to have to accept that you're probably going to die.
5. Stay safe
As you're traveling across Chernarus, stick to the tree line, and stay away from wide streets in cities and open fields in rural areas. This sounds obvious, but we've seen plenty of players sprinting around in the open and getting shot by unseen snipers. Camouflage works really well in the DayZ engine, which has its roots in military simulator Arma, and a player dressed in earthy tones and crouching in foliage will be very difficult to spot, even from a medium distance.
Avoid bright yellow raincoats and other colourful clothing; stick to greens and browns to keep yourself concealed. If you hear distant gunfire, hit Z and drop to the ground. It can take a while to traverse the huge world map at a cautious pace, but it's the only way you'll make it through populated areas without drawing attention to yourself.
6. Player interaction
Sadly, a lot of players in DayZ will kill you on sight if they get the chance: either because they're bandits and they get a kick out of it, or simply out of fear. But not all will, and you'll eventually get into a situation where a player tries to communicate with you.
Playing DayZ with a headset is recommended, because a human voice will make people more trusting of you. Hold the caps lock key to talk in-game, but be careful because other players in the vicinity will be able to hear you as well. Or you could try the infamous 'wiggle' by putting your hands up (F2) and alternately tapping Q and E. Even if a player doesn't appear to be holding a weapon, they could still have one hidden in their clothes or backpack, so be wary of anyone you meet. If an armed player holds you up, do as they say and don't run.
7. Armed and dangerous
So, after a successful loot run at an airfield or military base, you've ended up with weapons, ammo, and high-capacity military gear. You have more food and water than you could ever need, medical supplies, and even a tin opener. You're now at the top of the DayZ food chain, but don't get cocky. All it takes is an accidental fall or an infected water source to make that M4 rifle redundant.
Chances are you're wearing a ballistic helmet, gas mask, and are clad entirely in green camo. You might think you look cool, but all you're doing is broadcasting to players that A) you have a lot of good stuff and B) you're probably a bandit. Mix civilian clothes with your military gear to make you look less intimidating.