H1Z1 Leans on MMO Ideas to Improve the Zombie Apocalypse
There’s a reason I’ve never spent much time playing Day Z: I find other people infuriating.
That’s not to say it’s not an interesting game on an intellectual level, though. Dropping players into an apocalyptic, zombie-filled world and allowing them to make friends and enemies at their leisure as they hunt for the supplies to survive has a lot of potential for gameplay scenarios. And Day Z has yielded many a story of craziness, from fight clubs to marauding bands of jerks who hilariously mess with new players.
And yet, getting shot in the face within seconds of entering Day Z’s world holds little intrigue for me, and neither does getting good enough that I can shoot other people in the face within seconds of their entering the game. The wilds of Day Z, recreated in similar form by any number of Early Access imitators, were always too unstructured and grief-ridden to be much fun for me.
That standpoint is what makes Sony Online Entertainment’s H1Z1 sound like fascinating, albeit derivative, alternative to other survival games and their hordes of seemingly mad players. H1Z1 will be a game aimed at the “hardcore,” and it’ll require players to work together merely to survive at all.
And if that doesn’t work, SOE can always spin off a new server in which players can’t harm each other.
That’s the power of what SOE brings to H1Z1, Game Designer Adam Clegg told me at E3 2014, as he showed me a hands-off demo of the game. With experience in MMOs like DC Universe Online (not to mention monetary resources in general) comes the ability for SOE to offer its own servers for H1Z1, rather than the player-controlled variety. The company can then alter those servers in response to what players want out of the game or to deal with issues in-game — or it can add servers so players have choices about what they want H1Z1 to play like.
Like Day Z, H1Z1 is a brutal, zombie-filled world in which players must work constantly to survive. Monitoring food and water levels for players is key, as are constantly scavenging for tools and equipment. And, like Day Z and its ilk, players are free to fight and kill one another if they so choose in a 100-percent player-vs.-player world — in some ways, the idea simulates what might happen in a post-apocalyptic struggle to stay alive.
H1Z1 might take from the concept of Day Z and other survival games, but to hear Clegg explain it, H1Z1 also looks to improve upon them. The ability to create and adjust servers on SOE’s part is one way in which the developer will add to the formula; another is in the ability to create structures, houses, and even communities.
Players can gather structures over time, Clegg said, and place them in the game world pretty simply, not unlike similar systems in, say, Everquest: Landmark. Once you drop a building in a location, you can use it as a base of operations, store things in it, and use it to protect yourself. But it’ll still be vulnerable to raids by other players while you’re not in the game (and even when you are), unless you do more to protect it.