I found my first gun and encountered my first bandits in my third day of Day Z. When I logged back in, I respawned somewhere near an industrial harbor, in the middle of another pitch black night. I turned my flashlight on and discovered that I was standing in front of a large crane with a ladder running up its side. Some part of my brain thought there might be loot up there, so I approached it and started to climb the ladder. When I got to the first landing, I had to walk around the structure to another ladder, but because of how useless the flashlight is, I couldn't see anything and ended up walking straight off the edge of the crane. Two broken legs, massive blood loss, no idea where to go or what to do to fix my situation. Off to a great start. Time for a suicidal respawn and hopefully a little more longevity in my next life.
After going through the usual motions of scavenging nearby buildings along the coast, I made it further in-land and stumbled upon a large barn, similar to the one I got trapped in on my first day after accidentally lighting a flare inside. This time, I hit the jackpot. Guns. Lots of guns. Two double-barrel shotguns, a crossbow, a Winchester 1866, and a CZ 550 sniper rifle. All that barn needed was a sea mine to be the ultimate arsenal. But, alas, you can only carry one primary weapon, so I had to whittle down my options.
Looting a crossbow, in exchange for a double-barrel shotgun
The crossbow was appealing because of its silent-firing and reusable ammo, but I was nervous about only having two bolts -- if I had to fight more than two zombies at a time, I'd be screwed, and I might still be able to lose those bolts. While ordinarily a fan of double-barrel shotguns, its short range, loud noise, and low magazine size had me on the fence. The sniper rifle was the obvious choice for picking off bandits at a distance, but I worried about its effectiveness at close range. Plus, there was only a single magazine of ammo lying around for it. So I took the Winchester, figuring its large magazine size, ample supply of on-hand ammo, and good balance of close and long range firing would be the most balanced choice for me.
Properly armed for the first time in Day Z, I soon realized that I was not out of the woods yet, that I still had an uphill battle for survival. My thirst icon was now a burnt orange, signaling that I would soon start losing blood from dehydration. I finally had a gun, but it would do me little good if I died from dehydration. Such is life in Chernarus -- completely uncaring of your need to survive, and often prone to provide one necessity while restricting another.
With a new sense of urgency, I set out looking for something to drink. Unfortunately, being out in the countryside meant there weren't a whole lot of buildings around for me to search for canned sodas or bottled water. I started following the road, hoping it would take me to the next settlement -- I ran for 15 minutes before finding anything. As the thirst icon turned even redder, I spotted a small pond off in the distance. The answer to my prayers, hurrah! I made a beeline for the pond, and as I knelt down at its edge, I couldn't find a contextual option to drink from it. I waded out into the middle of the water, and even laid down prone completely underwater. Still no option to drink. Apparently, you need to have an empty water canteen to drink from such water sources, even though in real life you could just cup your hands and be perfectly set for the immediate moment.
I was so desperate I even checked an outhouse.
Disgruntled, I took to the road again, and before long, I arrived at a collection of residential houses with a few lingering zombies. Desperate for water, I carefully snuck past the zombies (no need to waste ammo if I don't have to) checking every building, only to find I couldn't enter most of them. The one house I could get into only had a few chemlights, bandages, and trash lying around. My next target was a small shed. As soon as I got inside of it, I heard a series of gunshots off to my right. One bullet definitely hit the side of the shed. I immediately turned to face the entrance of the shed and dropped flat on the ground.
It was the first time I'd actually heard gunfire from another survivor. And I was panicked. There were a few zombies around, so I thought maybe they were just shooting the zombies. But at least one bullet came awfully close to me, so maybe it was a bandit intentionally trying to kill me. I tensed up and waited, staring down the barrel of my Winchester, pointed straight out the door of the shed, ready to shoot anyone who came into my sights. And I waited. The gunshots had stopped, and I couldn't see or hear anything.
Cautiously, I raised myself into a crouched position and started to slink towards the edge of the shed, intending to peer around the corner to assess the situation. As I stepped forward, I saw a survivor carrying a semi-automatic shotgun run right past the shed. It didn't look like he saw me. I paused for a moment, waiting to see if he'd come back around the corner. When he didn't, I took a few steps forward and saw two more people come into view to my left. They saw me, and I pulled the trigger. Two shots at one target, both to chest, one dead survivor.
I quickly backpedaled behind cover, waited a moment, and leaned out to check the situation. The other survivor was crouched behind a picket fence with his gun pointed at the shed -- a bullet flew past me, and I pulled the trigger three more times before he fell over dead. I fell further back in the shed, aware that there was at least one more person out there, the guy who'd run past me. I sat crouched with my Winchester out, waiting. After a few tense moments, I saw some grass shift, and then witnessed as he came into view crawling on the ground, just around the corner. I lowered my Winchester and fired two rounds, then fell over dead. In the text display in the bottom corner, I saw "Nick was killed," followed by a fourth name -- perhaps meaning we'd killed each other.
Or was Your Mom's death just a coincidence elsewhere?
I was a little bummed about losing my Winchester, but seeing as I was about to die from dehydration, it was no skin off my back. At least I took three people out before I went. I clicked respawn, planning to meet with my friend somewhere along the coast. After a few minutes of running, the server timed out and we were disconnected.
In retrospect, I wonder if I should have opened fire on those other survivors. I'm normally not one to relish in random player-killing, and I don't like the prevalent mindset in Day Z of people always shooting on sight. There's no way to tell if someone is friendly or a bandit; if they are bandits, asking them to identify themselves might give away your position and ruin your chance for a surprise attack, and lowering your weapon or saluting them to signify that you're friendly may leave you defenseless if they were to shoot you. But being out-numbered and out-gunned, I panicked. Shooting them may have been the right decision.