Announced by Sony Online Entertainment earlier this year, H1Z1 is a first person zombie MMO set to join games like DayZ and Dying Light in the already crowded undead genre. However, unlike its competitors, H1Z1 will be free to play at launch. But being free to play comes with its own risks and challenges, with the H1Z1 team having already addressed concerns about microtransactions. In addition to microtransactions for cosmetic items and loot drops, SOE will also be utilizing Steam Early Access to recoup funds and get early feedback on the game in progress.
John Smedley, the President of Sony Online Entertainment has now taken to the H1Z1 reddit to announce that the game will be launching on Steam Early Access on January 15th, 2015. While he didn't outline plans for the early access build of the game on PS4 (Sony is looking into PS4 early access but it's unlikely that things will be finalized before January) Smedley did reveal that there will be two tiers of H1Z1 available.
The first is a basic early access package that will set players back by $19.99. For this price, players will get access to the game - and that's about it. The more expensive version (the price has yet to be officially announced) will offer "things like access to some of [H1Z1's] different game mode servers" and "other specifics."
It should also be noted that access to these game mode servers can be earned through normal play so players won't have to miss out if they can't afford the higher tier.
Furthermore, Smedley states that those who play H1Z1 in Early Access shouldn't expect the game to play like the final version (or like DayZ) at launch.
"Is it going to be a finished game? Absolutely not. If that's what you're expecting, DO NOT BUY EARLY ACCESS. The goal here is to let you in early and help us mold it into a game you want to be a part of for quite a long time.
"Is H1Z1 going to be better than DayZ day 1? No it won't. We'll get asked that question a lot and I wanted to be up front about it. We're not as feature rich and they have a lot of really cool stuff we just don't have yet. That being said, we're also a different game. We're an MMO and our goals are to create a large scale world that gives you the incredible feeling of being a survivor in a zombie apocalypse."
The H1Z1 team has already spoken about similarities with DayZ so the fact that SOE is staying mindful of these can be seen as good news. If SOE is aware of what DayZ is doing then there's hope that they'll either do something different (and avoid being 'just another zombie multiplayer game') or will manage to do it better.
One thing that will definitely separate H1Z1 from DayZ is its size. Smedley added that the game's beginning size will be close to 64,000 square kilometres, with growth - and even a recreation of the United States - down the road. Is a final size of over 9 million square kilometers likely by the time H1Z1 launches in full? We'll just have to wait and see.