Sony’s H1Z1 Working to Make Sure Early Access Isn’t Too Early
Sony Online Entertainment’s plan to help its zombie survival title H1Z1 compete with other survival titles is simple: make sure Early Access isn’t too early.
At SOE Live 2014, H1Z1 Producer Steve George answered questions during a panel about the upcoming title and discussed Sony’s plans to release it in Early Access. The developers want to get H1Z1 in front of players in order to find out what they want out of the game; hence an Early Access release.
At the same time, though, SOE is trying not to rush H1Z1’s release. The developers have a huge head start on development, using tech from PlanetSide 2 to build H1Z1, but they’re also facing a genre that has big, established titles, such as Rust and DayZ. So when players finally do jump in to H1Z1, George said, they really want them to notice the polish. To release with the same technical issues that plagued the DayZ standalone release on Steam would be detrimental to H1Z1’s survival, he said.
When players finally get to set foot in H1Z1 they will be given a “vertical slice” of game play. You can expect one vehicle, a couple of zombies, and several weapons. Steve said they are approaching H1Z1 as if it were an indie project and the company as a whole is trying to become more of an open developer, hence the early iteration seeking player feedback.
Right now, Sony isn’t quite sure how large H1Z1 servers will be. As developers bring players into the game, one of the first things they are going to look at is population density. The devs claim to have the ability to put thousands of players on the server, but aren’t sure if the game will be more fun with 20 players, 100 players, or even more. Once Sony has players populate the servers, they plan on answering that question early on.
While this early iteration of the game will start with only one or two zombie types, Sony Online Entertainment does plan on adding more to the mix as well. There are no plans to add zombies with supernatural powers — instead, they’ll be zombies with more “realistic” abilities. One mentioned was a zombie shrieker who has the ability, as you might have guessed, to scream. These screams are not going to be blinding the player or shaking the world with its voice, but instead it will act more like a zombie magnet. The sound of this shrieker will attract nearby zombies, creating something of a horde for the player to deal with.
When Early Access opens to the public, H1Z1 will a 64-square-kilometer world. The plan is for this map to be ever-expanding to become truly massive. In its current state, the map is a non-specific Middle America area with forests, farms, factories, and neighborhoods. As it it expands, they do plan on having more urban settings, but players shouldn’t expect high-rises or skyscrapers. The servers have trouble handling these large structures and at this time they have no solid solutions to the challenges they pose.