Although Sony Online Entertainment hasn’t had too much success in recent years with subscription-based MMOs, their games have found new life with the free-to-play model. As a result, they have decided to skip right to free-to-play with their latest game, a new zombie survival title called H1Z1.
While most MMOs prefer the slow calculated promotional push, H1Z1 is apparently going a different route. The title was only just revealed late Wednesday afternoon by SOE President John Smedley, and already Smedley is talking about getting the game into the hands of players “soon.”
So what exactly is H1Z1? Well, it’s an MMO that treads the familiar territory of the zombie apocalypse, but hopes to offer enough in the way of unique gameplay opportunities to help it stand out. For starters, this is a game supported by what Smedley says is a “world” not a “little tiny server” — a world that can apparently hold “thousands of players.”
“It’s a massively multiplayer game in which players fight for survival in a world where death is the only sure thing. The H1Z1 virus devastated mankind and left nothing but death and destruction in its wake and a world nearly empty of human life where the remnants of humanity are in a fight against extinction against those infected with the virus.”
Fire apparently also plays a big role in H1Z1, allowing players to do everything from create light sources to smoke out enemy players. Like with most post-apocalyptic survival titles (i.e. The Walking Dead, Rust) are not the only element to worry about and in a lot of cases they are the least of players’ worries.
Other features that Smedley touts as making H1Z1 unique include crafting, a trading system, and a unique approach to the typical day/night cycle. As Smedley puts it, the day/night cycle in H1Z1 matters a lot more than in other games, which puts a lot of focus on the game’s vehicles. Yes, there are vehicles too.
“In this game it matters a lot more than in others because it gets really dark at night and you need to have a torch and you will be ganked by other players, zombies. So we [have] vehicles in here. We can actually have aircraft if we want. Our goal is to build out this entire massive massive world that is this apocalypse of the United States.”
One element that seems to stand out in our minds as a big selling point for H1Z1 is the game’s player creation tools. According to Smedley, players will eventually be able to create their own in-game items for a variety of uses. He wouldn’t say much beyond that, but we’re certainly intrigued by the idea.
While SOE might feel like H1Z1 offers something unique it’s hard to overlook the fact that they are entering a very crowded sub-genre. The zombie survival title has been practically dominated by DayZ, first by the Arma II mod and then the standalone game. Sure, H1Z1 has some unique features, but SOE is going to have to do a lot of legwork in order to show players why their game matters. A large-scale world where players work with and against each other sounds intriguing, but that will only get you so far.
What do you think of H1Z1? Does it sound like an MMO you would be interested in playing?
H1Z1 currently has no release date, but Smedley says the game will be fully playable soon.