Forget DayZ and H1Z1 – Try out Arma 3’s Epoch Mod
I admit – I’m a sucker for open world survival games. I’ve played DayZ and various variations of the original Arma 2 mod for a very long time. I’ve also dabbled with the DayZ standalone, but since that’s far from being where I want it to be (and still has serious frame-rate issues), I’ve obviously been looking for alternatives. H1Z1 didn’t quite get it right for me either. And I’m sure many fans of the genre are facing similar issues. Rust is great, but it lacks some elements that I want, so there wasn’t one game that mixed it all together. That’s until I’ve stumbled upon Epoch recently.
Epoch started out as a DayZ mod variation in Arma 2. It has now grown and evolved considerably, and can be considered a complete and powerful mod in its own right. It has also been adapted for Arma 3, which means we’re getting a much better engine that looks better and runs better, as well as a much more functional inventory space. So what’s Epoch? Basically, it’s a kind of DayZ, but with base-building. To play it, you need to own Arma 3, but considering how cheap the game is via Steam sales, it’s a no-brainer purchase for anyone that loves a good military simulator. The standard Arma 3 Epoch mod is set on the island of Altis, which is huge, to say the least. In real life terms, it’s bigger than the Washington DC area. In Epoch, you start off butt naked, as you’d expect, and you have to go through the standard steps of gearing up, finding weapons, food and various supplies.
Epoch also has zombies, but not in the amount we’re used to seeing in regular DayZ, the standalone DayZ or H1Z1. However, even though zombies aren’t rushing you in hordes, they’re far from being useless. In fact, they’re a huge threat in this mod, as instead of attacking you directly, they instead sneak up on you and…explode! Yes, explosive zombies! Sure, the concept is a bit unusual, but hey, it works, and it definitely makes you be on your guard constantly, as one moment of careless looting could send you back to the respawn area with a bang. Added to the threat of zombies is Arma 3 Epoch’s AI system. Upon looting buildings, an AI controlled drone can spawn, which, if not shot down in due time, can spawn AI controlled soldiers upon you. Anyone who has played Arma 2 or Arma 3 knows that the AI is extremely deadly and shoots accurately, sometimes more so than players. These elements, combined with the kill on sight attitude of most players in these types of games will ensure that living long enough in Epoch is quite the challenge.
The beauty of Epoch, and where it stands out from the rest, is its great crafting and building system. If you’ve ever wanted to build a cozy house or an imposing tower-base in an open-world, sandbox setting, this is as close as you’ll get. From wooden stairs to concrete walls and reinforced metal gates, you have a plethora of options on how to build your home. Bases persist, so you can tinker and improve with yours for months, working towards that highly sought-out perfection. Want a huge hangar that you can use as your personal garage? Done! Want a high tower to land your helicopter on? Done! All it takes is time, planning and a lot of resource-hunting, which gives players a lot of things to do. Wars between clans will emerge, and you can declare war on a neighboring base by blowing a hole through it and trying to get to that well protected loot. The entire system is well designed, forcing you to come up with elaborate architectural designs that are efficient against potential invaders. The only downside to base-building is the fact that it can be glitchy at times, and dying to a wall crumbling over you is a definite possibility. It can be infuriating at times, but it makes having a well-built base that much more satisfying.
There’s also plenty of vehicles and weaponry in the game, so diversity isn’t an issue. From large military trucks to impressive helicopters, from M107 sniper rifles to rusty Ruger pistols, there’s a lot of loot to be had. Hell, if you are feeling particularly sadistic, you can even chase other players wielding a chainsaw. As far as the map is concerned, if you’re not into the entire middle-Eastern setting of Arma 3’s Altis map, there are alternatives. A variation of Epoch called Overepoch allows you to play the older Chernarus map of Arma 2, but within the same mod. There are plenty of servers to choose from, with some being secure and moderated by active admins. I’ve found that MGTrolls.eu has one of the best maintained communities and servers for Arma 3 Epoch out there, with good stability, FPS and a great community. If you’re looking to start your Epoch adventure, I can’t think of a better server to do it on, and the guys at MGT also offer Chernarus and Bornholm servers along the usual Altis server.
The mod in itself is completely free and gets constant updates to it, however, as said before, you do need Arma 3 to play it. That shouldn’t be an issue though, as Arma 3 has a plethora of brilliant mods, including Breaking Point or Battle Royale. If mods aren’t your thing, you can still enjoy the game’s elaborate scenarios, multiplayer campaigns and Zeus modes, which ensure hundreds upon hundreds of hours of gameplay. All in all, Arma 3 Epoch is a great way to kill dozens of hours, building, killing, looting and dying. It’s one hell of a rollercoaster, with hilarious, satisfying and rage inducing moments combined.