After a bit of a delay, Sony Online Entertainment finally announced the launch date of the H1Z1 Steam Early Access on Monday, followed by a livestream Q&A session. The zombie apocalypse survival MMO is not far off from a PC release and we’ll get to see how it stacks up to the current reigning champ in the genre, DayZ.
H1Z1 will launch under Steam’s Early Access program on January 15, 2015. While the game is free-to-play, gaining access during this time period will start at $19.99. SOE mentioned another tier that will make some items that can be found in the game immediately available to players, but did not go into detail.
An accompanying FAQ does not set a timeframe for how long the early access for H1Z1 will last, but SOE mentioned two months and six months as possible lengths during the Twitch livestream Q&A, before heading into a wider beta.
The hour-long Q&A session revealed many new details about H1Z1, from the different types of zombies that will be in the game, to some of the crafting items, to what will be available later versus the first day the game launches. I’ve compiled my notes below and supplemented them with the notes taken by the H1Z1 sub-Reddit.
Player Count and Map Size
The starting map for H1Z1 is approximately 64 square kilometers (8 km x 8 km). To start, the game will resemble “Anytown, USA” with a northwest feel. SOE wants to expand the size of the map to 1,000 square kilometers and build it out to feature large cities and different biomes. There was mention of a desert biome as a possibility, but it will depend on what the players want next.
The starting player count is currently unknown. The game can support thousands of players on a server since the game is based on the Planetside 2 engine, but it will be a fraction of that at the start. SOE will add to the player count through early access, and the beta, to find out what it the right number to make the game fun.
Speaking of Planetside 2, H1Z1 shares the same code base, so the PC system requirements are the same — with the exception of requiring a 64-bit operating system. A PlayStation 4 version is coming after Planetside 2 launches on the console. SOE is waiting on the team to finish the code base on the console version before working on the H1Z1 port.
Weapons and Vehicles
The early access will feature 16 different weapons and three vehicles to start. The vehicles include the already seen off-roader, a pickup truck that players can sit in the back of, and a police car that will be rare. It includes sirens and lights.
There are 130 potential spawn points for vehicles in H1Z1, but SOE will only allow 15 vehicles in the world at a time to start. Like everything else, that can change based on feedback and player behavior.
Vehicles can be modified by taking different parts of other vehicles.
Bicycles, motorcycles, and boats will eventually be added. They won’t be part of the early access though.
Two different bows were mentioned as well.
There will be PVE servers available, as well as PVP servers. There was talk of a Karma system that may be implemented later during early access that provides indicators as to which players are helpful, and which are homicidal maniacs. That won’t be available on all servers though, as even members of SOE are divided on whether they’d prefer to play with it on or off.
There will be many different server types announced later. Eventually, player-run servers will be available with player-controlled rule sets. Players can only have one character per server. A Hunger game server was confirmed for the launch for early access.
The anti-cheat systems in place for Planetside 2 will also be used for H1Z1. SOE says that these have been very successful to the point where cheaters have given up making exploits for the MMOFPS.
The character creator in H1Z1 is not very deep, according to SOE. The developer doesn’t expect characters to live long so they’d rather them not have players sink a ton of time into them.
Females characters will be available, but not at the launch of the Steam Early Access.
Players will spawn with a flashlight, some flares, and bandages. They will not be able to spawn with friends in early access. It is on the roadmap, however. Clan support is coming later as well.
Characters and Armor
When characters die, they lose all of their stuff. The exception is items that players bought with real-world money. Players get to keep those for their new characters. If another player loots that character’s corpse, they’ll get a degraded copy of the purchased item.
Characters cannot lose limbs. Some of the development team is kind of sad about it, but it’s not the kind of game they want to make.
There is an RPG-like progression system for characters, however. For example, sprinting often can “level up” how long your character can sprint while characters can get faster at building fires, too.
Players can build houses with locked doors that only they can access. They can share codes with friends to grant them access as well.
Armor is very limited currently. The only real armor currently available is a motorcycle helmet that will protect from blunt weapons but not gunshots. Kevlar vests and other armor will be rare when they do become available later.
Nightvision still needs work, so it will not be available.
There will be stat tracking available for when players die. There was mention of a heatmap to show players where their character went while they lived as well as numbers on how long they lived, how many zombies they killed, and other facts. There will not be a leaderboard.
Trading will not be in early access. However, you can just drop items on the ground for others to pick up.
The zombies hunting players will be both diverse and deadly. There are several zombie types in the game already, with different speeds and different “agitation” times. There is nothing like the “jumpers” from Left 4 Dead, but the AI behind the zombies will have different brains.
However, SOE did say that the zombies in H1Z1 are smarter than the ones in DayZ and other games in the genre. They will follow you further than other games and are dangerous in groups. Zombie hordes are possible and extremely dangerous. The first instinct of players should be to run when they see one.
It is possible that zombies can break doors and destroy structures. However, SOE also said that they cannot break through walls.
Zombies will detect players by sound and sight. Players will not only need to be quiet while moving, but later on will need to be quiet talking with friends through the in-game voice chat as well. SOE also mentioned that a group of four players moving together is much more likely to be spotted than an individual.
The weather and conditions will affect the zombies ability to detect players though. Rain will impair hearing and night will impair visions.
It is possible to distract and/or lure zombies though.
Players can catch the H1Z1 virus, but will not be able to play as zombies. That’s on the developer’s wishlist though. Instead, too many close-up encounters with the game’s zombies can lead to infection. Players can also infect others by drawing blood from a zombie with a syringe and injecting it into someone they don’t like.
An infected player’s health will slowly degrade and there is no cure. Vision, and other senses, will slowly degrade and the character will eventually begin to crave flesh until they die. While there is no cure, rare medicines that can be found or crafted can suppress the effects of H1Z1.
Other Illnesses and Injuries
H1Z1 will feature various illnesses and disease. A player can get sick from an infection like the zombie-causing virus, or by not taking care of themselves. Cold weather and rain can lead to a cold and other illnesses if a player doesn’t find shelter and warmth.
How a players is injured can also affect how much they bleed. Damage from a blunt force is more likely to cause less bleeding than damage from a sharp object. The amount of bandages needed to stop the bleeding will depend on how much the player is bleeding.
Sleeping will serve as a way to heal as well.
Yes, the game has weather, but not a full seasonal cycle yet. It is currently random and can be a mix of rain, snow, and sunshine.
There’s also the day/night cycle to consider. Encounters are even deadlier at night.
Crafting and Base Building
There will over 100 different crafting recipes to start with, that will produce 90 unique items. There’s basic farming that can produce corn, wheat, moonshine, flour, and pies. There’s also traps such as pungi sticks, landmines, bear traps, and rabbit traps.
Base building has been a long confirmed item and will be in the early access. Players could scavenge for items and food, but being able to cook, craft, and build a base will increase survival chances. This includes the ability to repair items.
Many different animals will also be in the game to contribute to the “circle of death.” Those mentioned so far include bears, wolves, and ravens. A zombie boar was demonstrated in a YouTube video approximately one month ago so that looks like it will be a thing too.
Pets will be added later and wild animals cannot be tamed. However, SOE sarcastically encouraged players to go tame the first bear they see.
What do you think of H1Z1? Could it be a possible DayZ killer? Sound off in the comments below.
[Images via H1Z1 Facebook Page]