It’s a bit of a gross understatement to say that there are quite a few zombie-based games on the market right now and some might even call the genre over-saturated. And it’s not just a heightened criticism of the market either as going into any brick and mortar game store will show anyone that they can’t swing an arm without hitting something that falls under the undead umbrella. That’s likely the reason why there’s skepticism surrounding H1Z1, the upcoming zombie-survival MMO from Sony Online Entertainment. But as SOE President John Smedley explains, H1Z1 will be more than just another zombie slayer.
The two games that H1Z1 are likely to be compared to are Rust (which has actually removed zombies from the game) and DayZ as all three titles are MMOs that put a very heavy emphasis on players crafting. In H1Z1’s case, players can even put together their own weapons. Smedley explains that he built a pistol from parts, and that players can cut wood from trees and build a house or fortress out of it. The financial backing and tech resources behind H1Z1 means that the game can be free-to-play and highly polished from the get-go which allows Sony to spread the development costs out over time rather than making a mad dash to recoup the funds as soon as the game is released. Micro-transactions have yet to be detailed (presuming that H1Z1 will have them) but the only announced way that SOE plans to buffer their costs is with Steam Early Access to the game which is set to cost $20 when it goes live on the Steam Store in a few weeks.
Sony’s undeniable brand power and backend also affords H1Z1 several other possibilities too, with Smedley explaining in a Reddit AMA that although the game is set in “Middle America” — an “anywhere and everywhere town,” over time the size of the map will increase as the studio also plans to “grow the world until we have our own version of the U.S. after the death and destruction brought on during the H1Z1 epidemic” leading to the team’s own, seamlessly connected version of America. That’s certainly ambitious but it’s also something that few other developers — not a smaller team with a game originally developed as an ARMA 2 mod in DayZ’s case — will be able to match. Although the developers of ReRoll are trying using drones to map our Earth.
All of these wide expanses of space won’t be filled with nothingness either as H1Z1 is powered by SOE’s next-gen Forgelight engine, also being used for PlanetSide 2 and EverQuest Next. Everything that players do will have a lasting impression on the world, meaning that if someone digs a hole in the ground on one part of the server they’ll be able to come back to it hours later and find that hole still there. But of course no one wants to just dig holes all day (even if the premise that these holes won’t be deleted due to pesky server resets is a bonus) and so other such pastimes like trading, bartering for goods and putting together “roving gangs” of ragtag zombie hunters as Smedley calls them, will also be available. That probably doesn’t sound particularly ‘unique’, but the fact that the rules for many of these extra features (including H1Z1’s economy) will change from server to server means that the lumps of wood players could buy at a premium on one server may be sold for the dirt in that hole they dug on another.
Unlike many other zombie games which see players brave the undead horrors on foot, H1Z1 boasts vehicles and even aircraft so players won’t just be fighting to steal resources, but tactical assets as well. That is something that not even Dead Rising 2 and its golf carts could match and with few other zombie games trying their hand at vehicles (successfully, anyway), H1Z1 is effectively in a lane of its own.
Furthermore, the unconfirmed yet just as juicy ‘unique’ aspect of H1Z1 is that it could very well make its way to PS4. Smedley’s referral of the Foreglight engine as “next-gen” is telling, as PCs don’t tend to be in any ‘official generation’ (unless we count the new iterations of chipsets and graphics cards) but consoles like the PS4 do. Also, as H1Z1 is from Sony it seems unlikely that they’d avoid putting a potential system seller on their shiny, new next-gen baby. More info about the game in the coming weeks, that information could very well be revealed soon. H1Z1 was only officially revealed yesterday and it will be “fully playable soon.”
H1Z1 will be released via Steam Early Access soon.
Source: H1Z1 Reddit