Combat involves violent engagement between two or more survivors, infected, wildlife, etc. Entering into combat requires you to hold up a weapon, which can be done by holding Right mouse button, and will bring up whatever weapon you have equipped (or fists if you have no weapon in your hands). For a list of all combat related controls, see Game Controls.
Melee vs. Ranged
Melee refers to close combat, either armed or unarmed. While melee is outclassed by just about any firearm, it does not waste precious ammunition and is a silent killer. This allows you to maintain the element of surprise and avoid alerting other Survivors to your position. Melee combat is all about timing -- a well placed melee attack to the head can be all you need to knock out your opponent, allowing you to disarm them if needed.
This type of weapon is commonly found all around, ranging from household appliances and tools to law enforcement weapons and fire axes. Fists can always be used as last resort weapon. Generally speaking, blunt weapons deal more shock damage and bladed weapons will cause bleeding. Electroshock weapons will knock you unconscious (although they are not currently implemented in 1.0.
Ranged refers to, well, just about everything that is not melee (with the exclusion of explosives). Rifles, pistols, shotguns, you name it -- all guns are ranged weapons. They will almost universally deal more damage than melee weapons, but come with the huge downsides of creating noise and requiring ammunition to operate.
Fighting with a ranged weapon is much more forgiving than melee combat because: distance allows for greater reaction time, follow-up attacks are typically much quicker, and you can inflict damage far more rapidly. You also have a larger variety to work with, in order to better suit your own personal tastes and find something that you are comfortable with.
Primary, Secondary, Melee
Though Survivors can make their own decisions about how to load out their character and what to bring with them into combat, most Survivors carry three weapons with them at a time that fall into the following distinct roles. Primary weapons are typically anything that can be fit into the designated weapon slot on a character's back (such as a rifle). Secondary weapons are carried as a back-up or compliment to a primary weapon, and though they are typically smaller (such as a pistol), the role of secondary can be occupied by a weapon that would normally go on a character's back (such as a submachine gun) that is instead carried in a backpack or vest. Melee weapons are of course non-ranged, and can also be placed in the designated slot on the back that cannot be occupied by any other type of item, granted they are of a certain size (i.e. knives cannot be placed on the back).
Some Survivors choose to carry two primary weapons, one on their back and one in their hands, in order to avoid having to choose just one -- this will slow you down when moving however. A popular alternative to that technique is to carry a long-range weapon on your back, such as a Mosin, and then supplement that with a backpack-carried short-range weapon such as an SG5-K.
As of the 1.0 update, most primaries can fit into high tier backpacks.
Accuracy determines the amount of bloom a weapon has when firing; higher accuracy leads to a much tighter hit pattern, increasing the weapon's effective range. A weapon's base accuracy is affected by its equipped attachments. Each weapon and attachment has a 'dispersion' value/modifier that is stacked together to calculate the total dispersion.
The amount of damage dealt in a single attack. Each attack can deal Health, and Shock damage, as well as cause bleeding. The base amount of damaged is determined by the equipped weapon or ammunition and modified by the target's protective gear.
- Weapon Handling
Weapon handling determines how quickly the Survivor can turn with the weapon sighted on a target. Each weapon & attachment has a 'dexterity' value/modifier, that are stacked together to calculate its total dexterity.
Ballistics & Handling
DayZ uses a realistic ballistic model that affects all projectiles, bullets, arrows, and thrown objects. It has to be taken into account when dealing with enemies at any range, but particularly at longer ranges.
As a bullet travels through the air, it is affected by air resistance (drag), and gravity. It will keep travelling until it hits something, even if that "something" is just the ground. The longer it travels, the slower it becomes due to air resistance, and will drop gradually due to gravity. Higher velocity bullets -- such as those used in rifles -- are able travel further before gravity and air resistance cause them to fall below the initial line of sight due to the increased amount of force behind the shot.
The effects of the environment don't have a large influence on shorter distances (less than 200m), however, it's very noticeable when using a sniper rifle or any scoped weapon. To compensate for these forces you need to aim above your target, or adjust your weapon to do this for you by zeroing it to a certain range.
Shooting through an object, otherwise known as bullet penetration, is also possible for some surfaces in DayZ. Surfaces which are obviously thinner and would be easily shot through in real life tend to be similar inside of the game: things like tents, and the doors & windows of a building can typically be fired through, though this is of course at the expense of some of the projectile's damage when it finally makes contact with the target.
Zeroing the Sights
Zeroing is setting your weapon's sights to hit targets at a certain range. More accurately, you are adjusting the aim of the optics so that you do not need to manually aim the weapon up or down as much in order to account for distance. Most rifles in DayZ are capable of this and the sights can be adjusted (by default: Pageup or + and Pagedown or -) according to the distance between you and your target. Adjustments will vary from weapon to weapon, but most can be set at 100m increments, up to the maximum range of a given weapon. Missed shots hitting the ground can be useful to show if you are above or below the intended range.
The most accurate method of determining the distance to your target is using the rangefinder.
Weapon sway represents the inherent movement of a weapon in your hands both as you stay still and while you are moving. If not managed properly it makes it harder for you to aim and shoot accurately. It is most noticeable when aiming down the sights of a weapon at distance.
Some factors that influence it:
- Stance- Your stance affects how you handle a weapon. In general, you are more precise when crouched down than standing, and the most precise when prone.
- Breath Control- Holding your breath L ctrl temporarily helps to stabilize your aim for precision shooting. But holding your breath drains your stamina, so use this just before you are ready to take your shot.
- Fatigue- Has a detrimental effect upon your sway, by producing both inherent sway of your gun and your breath, simulating the difficulty of handling a weapon when exhausted. Fatigue is accumulated while running; before taking a shot, slow down or stop for a few seconds and wait for your breathing to steady.
- Health- Suffering from limb injuries will make it harder to handle a weapon, negatively affecting your sway. In general, sustaining damage will make it harder to aim; it will cause your health & blood to drop making your vision blurry and less colorful.
- Brain Prion Disease- If a player has consumed human meat, they will contain the non-curable Brain Prion Disease. This will cause the player to giggle and have bursts of uncontrollable shakes, making aiming difficult.
Leading the Shot
This is something that will come naturally to those who have spent a lot of time playing shooter games, but in DayZ it is necessary to lead your shots on a moving target. Bullets do not instantaneously teleport to where you are aiming when the trigger is pulled, so you must aim slightly ahead of the direction in which your target is moving. By doing this, you account for the time it takes the bullet to travel the distance between you and your target.
While acquiring ammunition is an activity all on its own, managing your available supply of it while in combat is another practice. Survivors must be careful not to waste all of their rounds early in a conflict, and diversifying your pool of weapons through different kinds of ammunition is highly suggested.
Reloading is some what unique to each weapon, but the general activities involved don't vary greatly:
- Weapons which are breech-loaded or have an internal magazine can be fully loaded or reloaded from the inventory screen by dragging and dropping ammunition onto the weapon. Pressing R will cycle one round through the chamber (and deposit anything that was previously there into your inventory). Reloading can also be accomplished by assigning a stack of ammunition to one of your hotbar slots, then using the corresponding key to initiate that action when you are ready.
- Weapons that have an external magazine or drum must be reloaded by attaching a new magazine when ammo is depleted. Magazines themselves can be reloaded by putting the magazine in your hands and dropping ammo onto them. This category of weapons is also able to be "chambered," meaning there is one round in the chamber of the gun in addition to whatever is added via the external magazine; if a gun is totally empty when a magazine is attached, a round will be fed into the chamber immediately and the magazine's count reduced by one, but if the gun is already chambered; by either combining weapon and ammo in your inventory or by holding 'R' while the weapon is drawn, then it has the capacity of the magazine AND the extra round as well. You can also use this mechanic to chamber a single round into the weapon. Magazines can be swapped by assigning a magazine to a hotbar slot and holding the number associated. If you want to completely empty a weapon, you first have to remove the magazine by holding the hotbar number the magazine is assigned to, then pressing the reload key (default R) twice to unchamber the bullet. The bullet that falls out from the chamber will go into your inventory. You can also hold the reload key (default R) to automatically reload a magazine from your inventory / to automatically reload the internal magazine from the ammo of your inventory.
The position your character is currently in is referred to as their stance. The three main positions are standing (C), crouched (X), and prone (Z). They can be switched between by using the previously mentioned corresponding keys. In addition to these three stances, Survivors are also able to lean their character left or right using the Q and E keys.
It is important to use stance to your advantage in combat for a number of reasons. The position you are in can greatly affect your weapon sway and, in turn, how accurate you are -- standing, crouched, and prone are worst to best in that order. Leaning is particularly useful for exposing only a minimal amount of your body in order to see around cover and fire your weapon, but crouching and prone are helpful in minimizing your profile as well.
Managing your own health is just as important as having the right tools to engage other Survivors. You'll want to aim for being "healthy" at all times to be prepared for combat, and it is especially important that you maintain high levels of energy and hydration so that natural regeneration can occur in the event of blood and/or health loss.
In addition to keeping yourself in good shape, there are a few items to keep handy which can be a huge boost to your fighting capabilities in the event that you or a friend become wounded:
Loudness & Visibility
How much noise you make and how visible you are determines whether or not nearby Infected will notice you. The slower you move, the less noise you make. Be aware that firing guns may attract Infected as well as alert other Survivors to your position, especially at night. The closer to the ground you move, the less visible you are. Slowly crawling will make you almost invisible and allow you avoid confronting Infected. Of course, other Survivors can still see you, though it will be much harder if you're in tall grass.
Your outfit has a large influence on your effectiveness in hiding from and defending against other Survivors. The default clothing selections stand out from the environment, especially in the woods or at the edges of towns. Even when hiding in bushes, you should be easy to spot for experienced Survivors. There are several ways to remedy this: choose more natural-colored clothing or use natural camouflage such as a ghillie suit.
Taking advantage of cover can mean the difference between winning and losing a fight, though for many it is an afterthought once the bullets have already made contact. It is always a good idea to seek cover in combat, whether you are the instigator or just reacting to a barrage being flung in your direction.
Objects in front of you can cover your lower half while still allowing you to shoot, but that still leaves your entire upper body exposed. It is better to hide yourself behind a wall or building and then utilize the lean movement (Q and E by default) to peek out and take shots. Crouching or going prone can also be utilized to pop in and out of cover.
Any military strategist will tell you that a height advantage often decides the victor in a battle. Height is so important because it makes such a difference to the two parties involved: the person at the higher altitude has a much easier time staying behind cover and making easy, accurate shots; the person at the lower altitude is almost entirely at their mercy and will struggle to fight back against the superior position of their opponent.
Additional height can be achieved by using rooftops, towers, and hills to gain elevation over the area you wish to survey or fight over.
Unlike your typical shooter, DayZ has external threats besides just other Survivors. Survivors have to deal with environmental threats (such as wolves and bears) in addition to the ubiquitous Infected that roam Chernarus. These various harmful elements can be turned upon one another however, and can also be used as a tool against fellow Survivors.
Though they are hostile towards Survivors, predatory animals and Infected are also hostile towards each other. This can be used to your advantage to make it past both groups without having to fight either one if that's your goal -- or, you can use their natural hatred for one another to weaken both groups before finishing them off yourself.
Not only can the game's AI elements be used against each other, but those with enough patience and skill can turn them against other Survivors too. Throwing an object near to another Survivor's position may attract attention, and compelling another Survivor to fire their weapon (while still getting away) will make enough noise to bring the threats to them instead of you.
- ^ As of 0.61, wind has no effect on aiming in the game.