DayZ is one of the most unique games out there. Yes, it’s a zombie survival game (nothing too special about that), but thanks to its huge map, addictive gameplay, and endless PvP and social interactions, it transcends its genre. Sure, DayZ is a glitchy mess that spent an eternity in early access, but it’s still popular for a reason. No other game replicates that “anything can happen” spirit like DayZ does.
However, that’s not to say other games don’t offer similar experiences. Whether you’re a long-time DayZ fan looking for a new game or simply searching for something with a similar vibe, there are many games like DayZ worth checking out. In this article, we’ll take a look at five of those games.
But first, let’s examine what we mean by “like DayZ“.
What Makes a Game Like DayZ?
When you boil down DayZ to its core, it’s just a zombie survival game with a vast map. The zombies are often trivial, contributing more to the game’s ambiance than the actual gameplay itself (though that’s not to say the zombies can’t pose a threat…)
Instead, zombies function as the civilians of this world. Much like people in real life, they tend to fade into the background when they’re not actively engaged with you. To truly immerse yourself in DayZ, you need to look away from the zombies.
The true focus of DayZ is on survival and social interactions rather than fighting zombies. Just as it would likely be in a real apocalypse, finding food and shelter are often the most challenging tasks. Maintaining the condition of your clothes, locating spare ammo, and desperately hoping for a can of spaghetti truly encapsulate what DayZ is all about. Oh, and occasionally dealing with the greatest threat of all – other humans.
Best Games like DayZ
Here are five games that embody the spirit of DayZ in one way or another!
- Platforms: PC
- Release Year: 2018 (early access), 2022 (official)
- How is it like DayZ: You have to fend for your life in the elements while defending against dangerous monsters.
Of all the games on this list, Raft might just embody the PVE spirit of DayZ better than any other (although Raft is PVE only). Anyone who has played DayZ knows that one of the game’s most notable features is the vastness of its map. It feels almost endless, particularly when you venture away from the coast – a feeling that’s recaptured in Raft thanks to the near endless ocean that you have to navigate. If any game replicates the wasteland vibe of DayZ, it’s Raft.
Raft also features a similar style of main enemy. While DayZ has fast, relentless zombies to keep you on your toes, Raft features sharks. You must remain vigilant for the presence of those toothy predators, or they’ll gradually destroy your raft and any chance at survival.
On the islands and other areas you can explore in-game, there are also other enemies that provide a more substantial challenge, akin to the large towns in DayZ. You can choose to stay out in the ocean where you only have to contend with the occasional shark, or you can venture into more perilous areas for better loot.
If you appreciate the danger and survival aspects of DayZ but are not particularly interested in PvP or zombies, Raft is an excellent game to explore.
- Platforms: PC
- Release Year: 2013
- How is it like DayZ: It’s a zombie survival game, but with unique, interesting visuals!
Project Zomboid is a simple game at its core, but its unique graphics and addictive gameplay make it stand out. Most of your time in Project Zomboid will be spent collecting items and scavenging, dying to random stuff that seemed completely harmless, and running from zombies.
It’s about as similar to DayZ as a game can get, but it does more than enough to still feel different. From driving around town to base building, a lot of Project Zomboid’s most important gameplay elements are actually more well-developed than the ones in DayZ.
In many ways, you could also compare this game to State of Decay (another game quite similar to DayZ). The importance of the smaller towns around you feels more akin to that game than the massive, sprawling world of DayZ. Project Zomboid also has a less hardcore survival system than DayZ, so surviving is more streamlined. For example, it won’t take as long in Project Zomboid to find a bite of food as it often does in DayZ.
Project Zomboid is memorable due to its quirky visuals that look like an early Sims game and its fleshed out building/crafting system. It’s a different vibe, but it has endless potential and it’s a great alternative if you’re just tired of DayZ.
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Release Year: 2021 (PC early access), 2023 (Xbox early access)
- How is it like DayZ: The massive environment allows for a similar exploration experience to DayZ.
Valheim might seem like a strange choice for this list, but we’ll make a case for it anyway. While it doesn’t have zombies (although it does have a lot of mythical creatures to fill the gap), the experience of exploring the biomes of Valheim is strikingly similar to exploring DayZ’s maps. Both games force you to survive and explore massive, wild worlds filled with dangerous (often mythical) creatures.
In Valheim, you’ll be more focused on mining, base building, and eventually fighting bosses than anything else. When you start the game, there’s a general direction you’re expected to head in, but you’re free to explore as you wish. Discovering the secrets and wildlife of each biome is a thrilling experience, and the bosses add to the fun.
It’s not a game you just rush in, though. Just like in DayZ, you’ll have to be careful as you explore. Dying at the wrong time can be brutal and can often result in losing great amounts of loot and progress.
For fans of fantasy games who want a DayZ-like experience, Valheim is one good game to try. It fits nicely into this genre of exploration-based games, so it’s certainly worth checking out.
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
- Release Year: 2018 (early access), 2019 (official)
- How is it like DayZ: The combination of PVP and PVE feels very similar to DayZ.
Hunt: Showdown is a more fast-paced, PVP-oriented survival horror game. Where in DayZ it often takes hours of work and looting to be able to get into the more high-paced action, Hunt: Showdown lets you hop straight in.
It’s closer to a battle royale style, where you go in, get your loot, and try to be the last man standing. However, there’s also plenty of variation from the generic battle royales. Not only are other players a danger, but you’ll also have to master the PVE environment to even have a chance at defeating the best players.
There’s less of the fun social stuff from DayZ in Hunt: Showdown, which is admittedly both good and bad. Not spending as much time roaming around in the open world means less funny interactions with other players, but that’s fine in this game. Hunt doesn’t give you as much time to goof around, which gives it a different feel than DayZ. You have to stay focused at all times to stay alive, especially if you’re hoping to come out on top.
For DayZ players that love the PVP and want more of it, Hunt: Showdown is fantastic. It’s nonstop action with improved gun mechanics when compared to DayZ, so it might even be better for the hardcore PVP players out there.
- Platforms: PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One
- Release Year: 2013 (early access), 2018 (official)
- How is it like DayZ: Rust is the most popular counterpart to DayZ in their genre.
If you’re a DayZ fan, it’s likely you’ve at least heard of Rust. The two share many similarities, most notably the open world, loot-based gameplay. According the Rust wiki, it was inspired by wilderness survival games. This gives it a distinct feel just like DayZ, where the world itself is just as likely to kill you as any other players or enemies.
Rust is all about conquering the environment and establishing your presence in the world. It has a similar “wild” social atmosphere to DayZ, where you can never tell what the people you meet will do. You have to learn to interact with other players to truly come out on top in either game.
If you can make friends, you unlock all sorts of new opportunities. In both DayZ and Rust, you can join powerful player alliances to dominate the map, or you can trick other players and take their loot for yourself. Anything’s fair in games like this, which is why so many people love them.
Rust is a great game for any DayZ player to own. They’re similar, obviously, but there’s no reason you can’t play both. Rust has better base building and clan aspects, but DayZ is arguably more fun to play solo or with a small group.
Join the High Ground!
DayZ is the kind of game that will always be popular, no matter how weird and messy it can be at times. Hopefully this list has helped point you in the direction of some similar games to try out, regardless of how much DayZ you’ve already played.
Let us know if there are any other games you would suggest in the comments below. And make sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more gaming news!
Watch out for the zombies (or sharks), and as always, make sure to keep the high ground!