H1Z1 by Daybreak Game Company

H1Z1 is a zombie survival MMO sandbox video game in development by Daybreak Game Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment). H1Z1 is currently being developed in Early Access release for Microsoft Windows and eventually PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The game is set during a zombie apocalypse in rural United States, in which players will have to survive against the natural elements, hordes of undead, and thousands of potentially hostile survivors through interaction, scavenging for resources, building shelters, and crafting.

Gameplay emphasizes multiplayer cooperation, trading, and team-building. In an interview with Adam Clegg from SOE it was made clear that unlike other zombie MMO games, the main focus will be about surviving against the zombies through teamwork with other players, rather than having a player versus player (PVP) environment with zombies as a backdrop. Crafting items has also been implemented.

I can play another survival game with more in-depth crafting or one with a stronger aspect toward PvP, but if things keep up the way they are now with H1Z1, there may not be the need.

Gamespot

The developers have noted that during the games production they researched the real life island of Poveglia in the Venetian lagoon extensively which was used as a plague colony in the 18 th century and have stated that this factors into the lore of the game. It is rumoured that the island shown in the northern lake on the map is the developers version of Poveglia and will be the site of the initial H1Z1 outbreak.

Sony Online Entertainment plans to have a large map area and will be adding large expanses of area as time passes (whilst in development it has been noted by Matt Broome Sony Online Entertainment on a podcast that the current development map is increasing by approximately 10% each week). New areas can be added very quickly, and as the map increase so will the amount of players that the map can hold. While they have not stated a final size they hope to have on release, it has been said there will not be loading screens as you travel to different areas, this also includes player housing and compounds which the developers have decided not to individually instance meaning they are open to anyone who can find a way in. Eventually, the map is hoped to become between the size of a state, or all of America.

Crafting is a major feature in H1Z1, and, though you can create structures, don’t expect to find the towering eyesores commonly seen in Rust. Many buildings are humble shacks or walls cobbled together from wood planks harvested from crates or chopped down trees. Metal for nails and brackets can be taken from deserted vehicles, as long as you have the right tool for the job. H1Z1’s discover menu allows you to place materials to learn new recipes, encouraging experimentation. The majority of items that can be crafted require a few uncomplicated components. For example, with enough cloth you can stitch together a humble satchel pack, while a stick and a metal sheet create a deadly combat knife. Tools and weapons wear with use until you’re left with nothing more than wood remnants or metal fragments. The life of these items can be extended with repair kits, but I managed to come across only two, and sadly both were forcefully taken from me before I could test their effectiveness.

Besides the normal player-versus-player servers (PvP), in which you go up against zombies, nature, and other players, there are player-versus-environment (PvE) servers if you’re not the bloodthirsty type, or if you seek the freedom to explore and build without the constant peril of being stabbed in the back. Battle royale, a special event accessible by finding hidden event tickets or by purchasing them, is the sole alternative game mode. Here, you and a group of others are dropped into the world with a smattering of weapons and vehicles, and the only goal is to be the last one standing.The mode bears resemblance to the popular Arma mod of the same name, where you parachute into towns and quickly scavenge for backpacks, medkits, and enough weapons to lay waste to an entire army. And not so ironically, that is indeed what lies ahead: dozens of other players all armed to the teeth and ready to take you out at a moment’s notice. As you continue to survive, planes drop poisonous gas onto the map, leaving only a circle of safe, breathable air that slowly shrinks as the match continues, forcing players closer together. Performing well in battle royale awards you containers of loot such as exclusive clothing options.

H1Z1
H1Z1

As far as character customization goes, don’t expect a wealth of options at the moment; models don’t diversify beyond an indifferent-looking white man with a scruffy beard. Clothing options ranging from shirts to caps and motorcycle helmets add some variety, but it doesn’t exactly help immersion when surrounded by clones. According to the developer, different models, including a female option, are being worked on. Unique accessories, which include exclusive shirt designs and multi-colored helmets, are locked away in crates that are unlocked with keys purchased with real-world cash -- another taste of what’s to come when H1Z1 eventually breaks out of alpha and finally goes free-to-play.

H1Z1 is clearly an alpha game, made clear by its bumpy launch week. Server woes have cropped up since day one, leading Sony to offer refunds. A recent patch resulted in server downtime that lasted for hours, only to create more issues once everything went back online. Some issues have been fixed, but other problems remain: clipping through solid objects, occasional crashes and freezing, getting stuck in shack entrances and doors, and many other rough spots need attention. And, though not a bug per se, having to click twice to eat a single blackberry quickly increases the wear on your already frayed nerves.

IF NOTHING ELSE, THE GAME MAKES GOOD ON THE PROMISE TO LET PLAYERS MAKE THE WORLD THEIR OWN

But the developer has been quick to respond to concerns brought forth by the H1Z1 community. Within days, patches and hotfixes began removing many of the worst issues. A pesky item-duping glitch was caught and squelched with satisfying haste, and also recently addressed was the hilariously bad issue of floating arrows being able to stop players and vehicles from passing.

Despite the issues that typically come with early access, after more than 30 hours clocked in, H1Z1 has quickly become one of my favorite open-world survival games. Even though the road ahead is bumpy, the hard work by the developers to fix glitches, and the already entertaining foundation available, makes H1Z1 a promising venture.

 

H1Z1 News

March 7, 2016

As to Just Survive, Daybreak says it had planned to push out its zombie update on Friday, but things didn’t go to plan.

“This update failed internally and as we started to unravel it, we determined that it would be easier to cease that effort and begin getting ready for a full update to our test servers which had not happened in some time. We are in the final stages of testing that update right now.”

Source: IGN, Gamespot and Polygon

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