There isn't much incentive for anyone to play DayZ as a hero, or even a survivor these days. What's the point of spending a couple of hours gearing up, only to have it stolen by a hacker, something that seems to happen more and more? In fact, about three out of every five of our deaths in public servers come from people running scripts, something that FRANKIEonPCin1080p isn't sure will ever get fixed.
Unfortunately players aren't willing to venture inland to find good gear. They'd rather stick to Cherno and Elektro, gearing up from dead bodies laying in the street. They've also managed to turn that part of DayZ into a predominantly PvP area, meaning it's open season on just about any gamer who happens to hang out in that area.
But what about those brave souls who still play the game the way it was intended, heading to areas like Severograd and Novo? They still hunt and fish to get their meals, and genuinely want to bump into other players they can interact with. How can these DayZ purists tell if a fellow traveler is a bandit, hero or survivor?
Avoid Large Groups
The thing about bandits is that most people don't view themselves that way, even if they walk the walk. We humans are extremely good at justifying questionable actions in order to look at ourselves in the mirror each day. In DayZ, this means someone who acts like a survivor or hero will shoot you dead, then justify it in whatever way helps them sleep at night.
For this reason, never get caught up by a large group of people, and by large group we mean any that outnumber you. In a one on one encounter, people in DayZ will normally exchange awkward post-apocalyptic pleasantries, then go their separate ways. This is because they're looking at a likely trade off, which is a situation where they have as much chance of losing all their gear as you do. The moment they have backup or strength in numbers, the idea of killing you for your gun, helmet, pants (you get the idea) is too tempting to pass up. That, friend, is how survivors turn into a bandits.
Listen for TeamSpeak
If we're being completely honest, we have walked a mile in bandit shoes. Well, maybe more like 20 miles, but that's not important. During those travels and encounters, we can't recall how many times our friends were face to face with someone while we were a few blocks away. "Buy some time," we'd tell our pals over TeamSpeak. Time so we could get there and kill the unsuspecting player while their attention was squarely focused on our friend and their guard is down.
What we don't understand, and what seems to happen more than is reasonably explainable, is how other people manage to activate their in-game microphone while they're making devious plans with their bandit buddies. The result of this is that you (the survivor) know you're being set up, at which point you have every right to kill the other player, loot their body and run.
It's not just about hearing them in TeamSpeak, however. You can also tell if they're up to something by how distracted they seem. If you're speaking to them in-game and they’re constantly pausing for a few seconds before answering or asking you to repeat yourself, it's probably because they are busy listening to instructions from someone else. That someone else probably wants you dead. It's here that you have two options - accept that you're not above committing DayZ murder because of a hunch, or run far away in a big hurry.
Observe from a Distance
There really isn't one sign that is going to tell you if another player is a bandit and you should keep going the other way, or if you might want to make contact and risk losing it all. They key is to always be the one who decides when and if to make contact in the first place. Often the player who is surprised is the one who ends up dead.
Mr. Blackout might be the best when it comes to observing players from a distance, often stating that he will watch fellow residents of Chernarus for more than a half an hour. The man loves to stalk people, and quite frankly it's a skill that anyone who plays DayZ would benefit from developing.
By observing other players as they go about their business while they think nobody is watching, you get to see them being honest, regardless of whether that happens to be positive or negative. You can evaluate how much gear they have, whether they're wearing a bandit mask and even if they have a friend or two in the area. In other words, you are the person armed with information and options, while they are the ones at the mercy of the bandit... or did you say you were a hero? It's a blurry line these days.