I’ve seen a lot of posts lately from a number of people talking about how talking over chat is cumbersome, or how they’re having trouble using chat, or they can’t get Direct Communication to work. Some of you probably don’t even know what Direct Communication is at all. That’s OK: I’m going to tell you what is it, why you should use it, and how to set it up.
Direct communication is one of several channels that players can communicate to others in. You are surely already familiar with the Side channel (blue text) — in a normal game of ArmA 2, you will have 2 sides facing each other, and the Side channel lets you chat to everyone on your own side. In DayZ, everyone is on the same Side, so it acts like Global chat. The group channel (green text) talks to everyone in your sub-group on your side. Again, everyone is in the same group, so this is global. The actual Global channel (White text) talks to everybody. The vehicle channel (yellow) talks to everyone in your vehicle.
Direct Communication is unique in that it talks to everyone in proximity to you. In the latest ArmA 2 beta, everyone in a 40m radius around you can hear you talk and can read your chat on the Direct channel. Furthermore, when you speak, your voice is 3D-positioned, meaning that people can not only hear your voice, but they can hear where it is coming from. Your voice gets softer as they get further away from you. And the cherry on top: when you talk in the Direct channel, your character’s mouth moves along with what you are saying.
Unfortunately, Direct chat was broken in the latest ArmA 2 stable patch, so people had to get by using Side chat. You’ve probably heard people try to use VON in Global or Side chat, which broadcasts to the whole server. It is annoying and makes the server lag, so it’s frowned upon, making the only way of talking to other arbitrary players in-game global text chat.
Newer ArmA 2 beta patches fixed the Direct comms bug, so if you upgrade to the latest beta and join a beta server, you can talk to people in Direct comms and they can hear you.
The latest DayZ patch, 1.7.1, is almost upon us, and it will require you to be updated to the latest beta of ArmA 2. And with that, all DayZ servers will be disabling all chat channels except for Direct Communication. So you better get used to it, and get it set up to be ready.
Side note: If you don’t have a mic, you are doing it wrong. Having a mic is going to become mandatory in this game if you want to survive encounters with other survivors, and mics are dirt cheap. Please do yourself a favor and get one — otherwise you’ll be relegated to text-only chat, and people will shoot you if you take too long to type “friendly” when they talk to you and ask you.
First, make sure you have the latest ArmA 2 beta installed. You can get it from here. As of this writing, the latest beta is 93825, but there have been reports of people having problems with this beta so I recommend getting 93701. Beta installation very easy.
Also, if 1.7.1 hasn’t been released yet, download 1.7.0, which is already out.
Next, go to Options > Controls and scroll down until you see the options for voice channels and Push-To-Talk. Normally, you can rotate your chat channel back and forth by pressing the , and . keys. But since the only channel you need in DayZ is Direct, I don’t bother with the rest – it’s too clumsy. What you’ll probably want to do is remove the keybind for “Push-To-Talk” (which will talk over your currently-selected chat channel) and instead bind that key to “Talk on Direct Communications”.
Next, you’ll want to make sure you join a server that is running the ArmA 2 beta. When you browse through the server screen, look at the “Required” version and make sure it is version 93030 or newer (this is the version that fixed direct chat). I recommend using servers with the same version of the beta that you have (i.e. 93701).
Finally, when you are in-game, you can press your hotkey that you set up earlier to speak in direct chat. When you talk, a microphone icon appears and it says “Direct communication” in the bottom left corner. It looks like this:
Now, you may come across some people in a beta server who don’t respond to you when you talk to them in Direct. They can hear you, I assure you — they just don’t know what’s going on, or haven’t bothered to set up Direct comms like you have.
Personally, I can’t wait to be in a server where everyone has Direct VON enabled and working. I might even ditch 3rd-party voice programs, because Direct voice is so much more fun and immersive. Here’s an example of a group of people all using Direct VON — you can see how effective it is.