Why You Should Turn Shadows Off When Playing DayZ

Follow up here: The Eternal Debate Over Graphics Settings

As we all know DayZ at times becomes pretty much a sniper simulator. For better or worse, most engagements are at long ranges. However even the closer encounters can be shaped by the lighting on the battlefield. Yes I called it a battlefield. If I have a gun and you have a gun, it’s a battlefield. In the hills, in the woods, in the cities, and even inside buildings shadows play a huge role.


Phryxx Providing Overwatch



Seeing and Being Seen

Success in DayZ, ArmA, other FPS games, and even real life combat has distinct stages.  Sometimes both partys are moving,  hopefully they are using ALT to turn their heads, scanning and sweeping. We call this “keeping your head on a swivel”. Checking ridgelines, fields, treelines, and other potential ambush positions. Other times one party is stationary and the other one is moving. In this case the stationary party has a huge advantage as I point out in this blog post about movement in DayZ. As long as the ambushing group stays still and stays hidden they should “get the drop” and be able to shoot first. When the bullets start flying people tend to freak out and forget all their tactics. Also, it is usually very hard to tell where the shots are coming from. This leads to a huge mess and often ends up with a lot of flies in the air.

Your skin and also what gear you are carrying play a large part in how you are seen in this game. The Czech backpack is not very large, but it is fully cammo making it a great pack for the sniper that has not found a ghillie suit yet . The ghillie suit basically removes the skin and model of your pack so it does not matter how the pack looks. The ALICE pack is a great pack. Large, easy to find. The problem is that it sticks out like a sore thumb, especially at the lower LOD levels. LOD or Level of Detail just means that as you are farther away from an object the skin changes and gets less detailed to save processing power. The ALICE pack currently has an almost white skin at longer ranges (chick pants anyone?).


Click the link below to see the shadow comparisons and read the rest of this post.


Below is a comparison of different shadow settings for DayZ. The first shot shows you the 3 example ghillie suited survivors. Click on the thumbnails at the top to go to the next images. The second one is without the highlight, and with the relevant settings turned all the way up. The next one shows objects on low, not a lot of change here. The 4th shows objects at very low and shadows off. It is really easy to see the ghillies now. Not only will shadows turned off make the figures easier to see, but it will also give you a nice performance boost. We could be talking like more than 20% better here. My computer is really old so in all multi player games I turn  shadows off right away.


Shadow Comparison by Doctor Dentist


mocmocmoc81 sent me another nice graphic that shows how loot on the ground will disappear at a very short range if object detail is set to very high. I am not sure if the game is not rendering it, or if the game is “hiding” the object in the grass. There is apparently a function where a player or object is “blended” into the grass if they are still and past a certain distance. More research on that is incoming.

Object detail comparison by Doctor Dentist

Leave the pretty HDR, flash, and gloss for Skyrim. Keep your PvP games lean and mean. It is going to help you two fold: better performance and an easier time spotting that SOB sniper in the grass. Go try a few of these different settings and report back in the comments below.Z

Follow up here: The Eternal Debate Over Graphics Settings

22 thoughts on “Why You Should Turn Shadows Off When Playing DayZ

  1. Lame tips and obvious tips. I personally never got the point of lowering GFX to gain an advantage in FPS games. It would make me feel “dirty”. And Arma looks so nice with all GFX up…I intend to enjoy them…yes even at the cost of being killed by “soft cheaters”.

  2. These tips arent obvious to everyone and glad you are so elitist with your graphics- I’m sure you are a blast at parties. Despite your ignorance towards “soft cheaters” (lmao you’re an idiot), the majority of professional SC2 players play with the lowest settings to minimize even the slightest lag.

    DayZ is a harsh world and it’s meant to be that way. Any way to gain even the slightest edge within the realm of legal tweaking is fair game in my opinion.

    • nah dude, they dont. you’ve obviously never watched pro sc2 players. the pcs they use for those events are stupid. but please continue to justify gamey tactics in an online world meant to be a simulation of fear and isolation and zombies.

      • Hi there, I’ve actually been to major tournaments and know professional players. They do play at the lowest possible graphics (or, like this article, with graphcis settings altered to see cloaked units as easily as possible)

        The computers they have are often top of the line 4000 dollar rigs, but they play at the optimum graphics settings, not the prettiest.

    • Why am I an idiot? No need to get personal now.
      You talk about graphics settings at parties?..ahem..ok.

      I’m still attempting to find the relevance between pro gamers playing start craft in competition and a Survival game/mod that’s played for fun. Also, lower your settings to stop lag is fine…that’s what they are there for. This article is about lowering your settings to gain a tactical advantage….but maybe people with a name like “DickFart” read the comments then the article….yes that’s probably it.

      • Has everyone here heard of Pinball? Why do you think they had to build the tilt alarm in the machine? If it is possible, people will try it. The guy didn’t “hack” the pinball machine by breaking it open and re-wiring it. He simply picked up one end of the machine, that’s these video and graphic settings and tweaks. If DayZ eventually gets a tilt alarm that prevents it, then fine.

        Until then, tilt away…

  3. Tilting is very clearly cheating, and it seems like a poor comparison. I’m not pleased that I have to sacrifice visual settings in order to succeed in Dayz. That said, my shadows will be turned off the next time I play. Thanks for the tip.

    • Not the best comparison, you are right. Might not be pleasant to have to sacrifice your bells and whistles, it’s just the nature of the beast.

      You are welcome for the tip, please keep reading.

  4. Thank you for the comparison shots. I will definitely tweak settings accordingly when im looking at the known hotspots, but otherwise I can’t play with AA/shadows off at all times, the game world looks too damn good.

  5. I leave object detail on very high until i’m looking for an object in the grass. the reason is that the lower you have it the less detail you see at range (with v.low on you can’t see through windows at range).

    • That’s a good tip, I can’t stand when the windows go solid. For example looking at the firestation doors at the NWAF they will appear to open and close as your LOD (level of detail) goes in and out. It is annoying because you can see through the open doors, but the standard LOD texture has them all closed. So you have the pop in and out effect.

      Gonna play with that setting, thanks.

  6. Thanks alot for the effort, highly appreciated! That’s the reason I visit this site!

    A dream would be a complete tweak guide with all options, their performance affect and if they can improve visibility (for example, AA can cost performance, but lower shadows and sharp edges so you can spot player better). In the end there should be a recommendation for optimal performance AND visibility for players / objects.

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