A few years ago, H1N1 frightened the world.
Some thought H1N1 would destroy the world and wreak havoc across human populations. Also called swine flu, H1N1 was officially declared a pandemic by the WHO in 2009.
Fortunately, the most recent strain of H1N1 “only” killed 17,000 people and never reached the global catastrophic status that many had predicted.
Why am I telling you this? Because Sony Online Entertainment is releasing a new zombie apocalypse survival game called H1Z1, and in that game, an influenza A virus wiped out much of the human population and turned them into zombies.
Here are 6 important things to know about H1Z1:
A few years ago, a small survival mod for ArmA 2 changed the world of PC gaming. That mod was called Day-Z. Today, Day-Z is a standalone game.
Over the past few years, DayZ has spawned countless other survival-type games. It’s a full-blown gaming craze at the moment. And from Rust to The Forest, there are lots of survival games that are genuinely worth your time.
H1Z1 is extremely similar to DayZ. In fact, it basically is DayZ. Fortunately, the developers aren’t ignoring that comparison and have dropped the “DayZ” name multiple times during interviews.
Yes, H1Z1 is diving on top of a crowded pile of survival horror-type games. However, H1Z1 is one of the few survival games made by a professional development studio (many other survival games are independently developed by small teams).
One of the problems with building a game based on the ArmA engine is that it’s a hyper-realistic combat simulator. That’s great for people who like simulators, but not so great for people who don’t like reading lengthy instructional guides about how to open their backpack or run.
H1Z1 aims to make everything about zombie apocalypse survival more newbie-friendly. It’s easier to kill wolves, chop down trees, and build shelter.
That may turn some challenge-loving sim fans away, but it will likely open the genre up to a wide range of players – including console players who are using gamepads (H1Z1 will be released for PS4 and Windows).
H1Z1 will be a massively multiplayer online game. Players will be able to choose which servers they join, although Sony is still trying to decide how many players should play in each server.
SOE has said, for example, that they have the ability to put thousands of players on a single server, but that may not create the best gameplay experience. What’s the right number? We may not know until release. But it’s also possible that we could see a range of servers with slots for between 10 and 1,000 players.
H1Z1 is a work in progress but there is a playable version currently available. You can watch that playable version in action at http://www.twitch.tv/h1z1
That stream is filled with developer diary-type videos and streams but is regularly updated with new gameplay footage. If you want to get an early look at H1Z1 in action, then Twitch has everything you need.
Just don’t be surprised when you see the game looks a lot like DayZ – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Like most survival games available today, crafting will play a key role. Crafting is required in order to build shelters, tools, weapons, and food.
You can craft items from dead animals, fallen trees, and from various items you find in cities.
H1Z1 will be free-to-play. SOE plans to make money through micro-transactions. However, the company hasn’t specifically said which type of micro-transactions will be available to players.
Gamers have generally shied away from “pay to win” type games, where players can get an advantage of their competition simply because they have more money.
Since SOE hasn’t talked about which micro-transactions will be available, gamers are “cautiously optimistic” about H1Z1. On the one hand, developers have to make money somehow. On the other hand, gamers might avoid H1Z1 if it features too much pay-to-win downloadables.
Can H1Z1 walk the fine line between zombie survival horror and a professionally-developed MMO? We’ll have to wait and see when H1Z1 gets released later this year.
A specific release date for H1Z1 hasn’t been announced. However, Steam users will receive early access to the game before its release. Expect early access to be available sometime in September/October 2014.