We’ve seen it all before: a plagued world overrun by the undead, survivors scavenging and hunting for resources, groups of strangers joining forces or fighting. H1Z1, Sony Online Entertainment’s upcoming free-to-play massively multiplayer online game, is yet another project to fall into the zombie trend. This is in no way a bad thing, but after receiving a brief hands-off demonstration of the game recently, we weren't exactly satisfied with how the game distinguishes itself from the growing list of titles taking this approach.
The concept of the game is simple: survive. How a player goes about doing falls entirely upon them. Some may want to find or build a camp and work with others, gathering resources to stay alive, while more hostile players might opt for late-night raids. Players can also trade with one another to obtain materials suitable to their needs as well as store items in hidden chests to retrieve at a later time when they require it most.
Unfortunately, our presentation consisted of just one person, so we weren’t able to witness how other players interact in the world. Instead, we were shown different features offered in the game, such as the crafting system and combat. H1Z1’s crafting system is extremely simple, though you’ll need a bit of luck on your side if you want to make the best of it. This is because of the game's discovery system.
Most items in the game need to be discovered through experimentation with crafting materials, according to Adam Clegg, designer on H1Z1. “[To start with], you can craft a bandage, a campfire, basic things that if a player really never tried to discover new recipes they could still survive, but how you really want to play the game is through the discovery system."
He also mentions that there are over 100 recipes currently available, allowing players to craft anything from shelter and tools to weapons and explosives, and that number is expected to be “much bigger” by the time the game is ready for Early Access -- which is expected to be soon.
Following the explanation of the crafting system, we were on the move. A nearby truck was waiting to take us on a tour around the small town American wasteland. Deer, wolves and of course zombies crossed our path as we raced across the empty suburban street. As you would expect, vehicles won’t be too easy to come by, and that makes them dangerous.
"Having a vehicle is really great, right? But it also attracts a lot of attention. So, as awesome as it is to have a vehicle, sometimes it’s a death wish,” said Clegg.
Further down the road awaited a campsite where a conveniently placed assault rifle was waiting for us. By default, H1Z1 is in the standard MMO third-person view, but the game can also be switched to first-person, which is exceptionally useful when wielding a gun, since it essentially adds a first-person shooter element. Our presentation ended after the campsite was cleared. Within the 20 minutes or so of seeing the game in action, we’re still not impressed.