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E3 2014: H1Z1

Posted on June 12, 2014 AT 02:00pm

Publisher Sony Online Entertainment
Developer Sony Online Entertainment
Platform PC
Release Date TBA
You can read the rest of our Opinionated Guide to E3 2014 or head to our E3 hub for even more coverage.

The Rundown

With H1Z1, Sony Online Entertainment is trying their hand at delivering the first truly massive and satisfying zombie MMO. Since the game is built on the same tech as PlanetSide 2, each server can potentially support thousands of players, all existing side by side as they try to survive the undead threat. Promisingly, the team isn’t looking to rein in players with a lot of structure and quest lines, but instead is focusing on delivering a wealth of systems that can help players tell their own stories, whether they want to band together and form communities to survive or rob other players of their hard earned supplies. Most excitingly, SOE has chosen to take an open approach to development, working with the community to figure out how the game will develop as it moves into Steam Early Access later this year and, eventually, as a full-blown release.

The Verdict

To fully understand just why I’m so psyched for H1Z1, a little background: I had a chance to play an earlier build of the game about a month ago, and at that point, it was what I’d generously call “functional.” You could walk around, chop down trees, get instantly killed by zombies, and, if you were me, crash to desktop twice. That was pretty much it.

This week, when I got my hands on it again, it was almost like playing an entirely different game. The level of polish was exponentially higher, combat against the zombies felt fairer and more satisfying, and there was, quite simply, tons more to see and do. I had legitimate adventures—some intentional, some less so, but all pretty memorable across the board. I plowed over hordes of zombies in a Jeep, then did some donuts in the rain to celebrate. I built a structure. I got to use my first gun to pick off a few zombies with headshots from a safe distance. I tried out the new flashlight. I discovered said flashlight was slightly bugged when I accidentally used it to chop down a tree. Then, just because I could, I chased down a deer and killed it with my flashlight.

I’m told there’s still a decently sized list of wrinkles to iron out before Early Access (I fear my beloved flashlight axe is one of them), and it’ll obviously be much longer before the full free-to-play release. But two things have made me an early and devoted believer: SOE’s compelling vision for what the game will become, and the surprising speed with which it’s actually getting there. If the team can do this much in a month, I can’t wait to see where H1Z1 will be a year from now.

Josh Harmon, Associate Editor
Josh Harmon picked up a controller when he was 3 years old—and he hasn't looked back since. This has made him particularly vulnerable to attacks from behind. He joined EGM as an intern following a brief-but-storied career on a number of small gaming blogs across the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @jorshy. Meet the rest of the crew.

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