Oh goodie, another massively-multiplayer online zombie game! There aren't enough of them around, but H1Z1 comes directly from Planetside developer SOE, and it will be released for the PC first and PlayStation 4 afterwards. Even its name is relevant because it sounds like the H1N1 influenza virus strands cropping up in recent years… yay!
SOE President John Smedley revealed the game during an episode of Game Talk Live, and he dived into the mechanics of the game which are trying to set it apart from the rest. You play as a survivor in a world overrun by zombies, and it is your job to survive. Not really doing it's job yet, but the best is yet to come.
"H1Z1 is an MMO that allows players to take on the role of an apocalypse survivor who is in a world that is filled with zombies," he says on the podcast. "A world! Not just a little tiny server."
"When you see a zombie coming up to you with nothing out but a highway flare. But here is something your gonna be able to do that you can't do in these other games: Light things on fire. We are in the middle of putting that in so you are gonna be able to burn down trees, burn down stuff, and that's gonna be a lot of fun. The idea is that these players [are] building these forts and all of the sudden these other guys coming in lighting it on fire and waiting till they come out of the fortress … is awesome."
So the idea of fire and being able to burn everything is the latest new revolution in the crowded zombie MMO, effectively bringing this genre into the caveman days. To further set it apart, H1Z1 is a free-to-play game, so everybody will be able to jump aboard risk free. It even has a day and night cycle.
"but 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."
You gotta love Smedley's enthusiasm for the product. Maybe I am just beyond burned out from zombies, but I think I'm missing the hook. Sandbox style gameplay, zombies, crafting system, day-and-night cycle. What is the gimmick that this game has that all of the other zombie games do not.
"The main thing that differentiates H1Z1 from the other great games in the genre is the emphasis we are putting on player ownership and building. We want you to be able to form roving gangs that are headquartered out of an abandoned warehouse that you've taken over… or a house you've built from scratch after having cut trees down and secured the resources to make it. We are giving players the tools to make their own towns, camps and defenses, and they can decide how to set up their base (which is in the world btw… not instanced)."
This kind of forced cooperation for survival and idea of an economy sound like a decent idea for a persistent world. SOE is know for the scope of their games, and no zombie games have ever been this huge before, but after State of Decay, The Last of Us, Rust, DayZ, and the thousands of other online zombie games out there, you really have to wonder if SOE is arriving a little late to the party.
H1Z1 will be playable soon on the PlayStation 4 and PC. Keep an eye out to try it risk free.