Sony Online Entertainment, developers of PlanetSide 2, has revealed a new free-to-play MMO called H1Z1. It's a massively multiplayer game in which players "fight for survival in a world where death is the only sure thing," according to SOE president John Smedley.
"The H1Z1 virus devastated mankind and left nothing but death and destruction in its wake and a world nearly empty of human life where the remnants of humanity are in a fight against extinction against those infected with the virus," he explained. Here's a brief description of the game, provided by Smedley.
It’s been 15 years since H1Z1 was first encountered and what’s left of the world before is overrun with the Infected. Humanity has been reduced to hiding in the shadows, searching desperately for food and water and anything that can help to survive even for another day. But the Infected aren’t the only dangers in the world. Everyday life in the Apocalypse means dealing with all kinds of wild animals and the brutality of other survivors, as well as finding your next meal and a safe place to sleep. It also means scavenging or crafting anything that can help you live just one more day. In H1Z1 every minute of every day is borrowed time and fearing for your life… unless you are the Danger (talking to you Walter), but life can and will go on… even in circumstances as dire as this. Humanity has not given in to the Infected. There are still pockets of humanity and the fight goes on!
Although Smedley addressed the similarities H1Z1 shares with other post-apocalyptic survival MMOs, like DayZ and Rust, he also pointed out what will make this game different.
"First off, it’s a persistent MMO that can hold thousands of players on servers we host (yes there will be multiple servers with very different rule sets)," he said. "It means a thriving economy (oh yes… there’s trading). It also means you have potential allies in the all-out war on the Infected… and many an enemy as well."
H1Z1 uses SOE's proprietary next-gen Forgelight engine, and has been designed from the ground up for players to become "part of the design process." The Roadmap system built for PlanetSide 2 will also be used "extensively" to clearly communicate upcoming features. Using Player Studio, player-created items will be featured in the game.
"The main thing that differentiates H1Z1 from the other great games in the genre is the emphasis we are putting on player ownership and building," Smedley explained. "We want you to be able to form roving gangs that are headquartered out of an abandoned warehouse that you’ve taken over… or a house you’ve built from scratch after having cut trees down and secured the resources to make it. We are giving players the tools to make their own towns, camps and defenses, and they can decide how to set up their base (which is in the world btw… not instanced). We’re building in all the social features you’ve come to expect from an SOE game (grouping, proximity voice chat, voice chat for your gang, and many other cool social features)."
Smedley continued, "To use a simple reference I’m sure everyone interested in this game will get… we want our players to make Woodbury from The Walking Dead if they want to. Or take over a prison. Or fix an old car so you and your friends (yeah we have multiplayer vehicles) can run zombies and players over mercilessly, and revel in the sheer delight of hearing a zombie scream as you light it on fire, or craft a gun to take down your friends and enemies alike. Our goal here is to provide emergent gameplay that will allow our players to make the world their own the way they want to. One of the best things about H1Z1 being an MMO is the fact that with a lot of people playing, we’re able to see all different kinds of gameplay. If you prefer a quiet life as a farmer raising crops… we’re going to make sure your zombie apocalypse fantasy is complete. If you’re like me and you want nothing more than to kill everything that moves, by all means see how that goes. It’s going to be a blast!"
SOE has set up a subreddit for H1Z1 where you can find all sorts of additional information. Of course, we'll be providing updates as we learn more. H1Z1 is will launch on PC, though SOE has plans to also release it on PS4. No clear launch dates have been given for either version.