H1Z1 started off with coded messages (and images) left by Sony Online Entertainment President, John Smedley. Smedley revealed in a Reddit thread that him and his team at Sony Online Entertainment (SoE) were working on something for fans of “Star Wars Galaxies”, and that the game would be an open world sandbox. Well, here we are in April having just heard of H1Z1, a horror, survival game which has players banding together to live in a destroyed world filled with zombies. Whether or not H1Z1 was something that players were expecting, it’s hard to not be impressed by H1Z1, a game that started development a mere few months ago.
Running on the gorgeous Planetside 2 engine, H1Z1 looks to be the MMO version of DayZ which (some) people have been begging for. DayZ, for those not in the know, is a mod for ARMA 2, a military-sim PC game which has players managing water and food resources as they try to survive the brain-munching zombies as well as other players. Many a player is killed by another player in DayZ, with zombies being but one of the threats in the game’s world. Since the mod’s release a standalone version of the game has been launcher, however not without issues. Some early adaptors are complaining about a lack of features, and an abundance of game bugs, with these few being very unimpressed.
H1Z1 wants to capitalise on this new multiplayer, survival zombie genre, and is attempting to quickly fill in the gap left by DayZ’s slow development. It’s refreshing that SoE accept that H1Z1 is a clone, and a reaction, to DayZ’s new market (the standalone version of DayZ sold one million units in four weeks). Fans of DayZ can expect many of their favorite features and gameplay elements in H1Z1, as well as a lot of extras that come from the benefit of such a large studio as SoE.
But enough with the cloning and copying, what does H1Z1 do to make itself standout from its competitors?
First off is the setting, H1Z1 takes place in “middle America”, which is a rather vague term but means the vast excesses of farmland that are typically fill up the middle of the United States. This means there is loads of free space, with small towns and villages filling up most of the game world. Unlike DayZ though, H1Z1 is looking to expand on its environment. The developers intend to expand the world, giving players access to large cities and worlds which they can explore and inhabit. Of course, how far away these large cities are from being in player’s hands remains to be seen, but don’t expect to be exploring large cities at the game’s launch.
There’s a reason players are given such a large piece of land to play with, and that’s due to H1Z1’s crafting and customisation system, allowing players to build things such as sheds, campfires, as well as player constructed buildings such as houses. Very little is known about what players will have to do in order to build such structures, however the developers seem to be implying that they want construction to not be such as hassle as it is in other open-world games.
Of course with added structures one would might think that we’re getting a crafting focused game like EverQuest Next Landmark. This isn’t the case. The world is very much like PlanetSide 2 in its solidness, however it also has destructible elements to the environment such as explosive barrels and fences. Along with this comes a night and day cycle, much like the one seen in PlanetSide 2, however what time of day it is in the game world will have a larger impact on the gameplay.
With a night system in place, some sort of lighting system is also required. SoE has you covered, with players having access to torches and flashlights, as well as campfires producing light as well. This light, as with DayZ, will alert you to nearby zombies and of course other players, so it must be used sparingly. Unlike DayZ fire can also be used to set objects on fire. How far this will go exactly is unknown, but it sounds like there will be lots of use for fire, with the developers really highlighting it in their development videos. Finally there will also be weather effects, such as rain, snow and fog, although what effect these will have on the gameplay is currently unknown. Maybe the rain will get rid of any fires unless the fire is covered by something?
Vehicles can be driven, with some vehicles being able to destroy more of the environment then one single player can. Most of these vehicles are ground based, with players being shown Jeeps, and no air vehicles are in the works currently, however they shouldn’t be too hard to add given that Planetside 2 has access to these machines.
Weaponary is the standard, with H1Z1 being set in a modern error, and it’s unknown how easily players will be able to come across weaponary. With a crafting system that allows players to build sleeping bags and the like, I wouldn’t be surprised if players could also build axes, among other things.
H1Z1 requires players to scavenge around the world, finding food, drink and medicine, the game is also free-to-play, meaning that a good balance for a cash shop is required. All clothes in the game’s world will have a durability associated with them, however clothes brought from the cash shop will not. Players can also loot cash shop brought clothes off other players corpse’s, although I expect these looted items will have a durability stat with them.
Lastly, grouping is expected and encouraged, with the developers currently looking into ways of players being able to play with their friends easily. Currently there is talk about players being able to spawn near friends, and that this feature will go on a cooldown once used, so that players can’t abuse it.
There are a few other features planned, such as servers which run according to player-voted rules, as well as hunting animals, pets and movement emotes. A paid-for-access Alpha and Beta will be available very soon, with H1Z1 launching later this year (if all goes as planned). As always, visist MMOGAMES.com for all the latest news and features about the game.
Check out their gameplay trailer down here:
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