Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) set an ambitious goal of developing a game in an already seemingly bloated genre space and they intended to make it on a Free to Play model. With games like DayZ, Rust, 7 Days to Die, The Last of Us and seemingly countless others out there popping up on a monthly basis, the SOE offering of H1Z1 promised some of the same while trying to be altogether different. Well, here are some of my impressions of my first two hours playing H1Z1.
After delays of the Early Release both months ago and then again on the day of release (January 15, 2015), I was able to get into a server and take a look around. The controls are naturally familiar … riffing off of the popular schemes from the First Person Shooters and the movements are fluid. That already puts it ahead of Garry Newman’s relaunch of Rust, a game I sunk hundreds of hours into before they wiped the slate clean and went for something a lot less appealing. So general motions and animations of my character looked decent. Points for the SOE team on that. Spawning out in the middle of nowhere, however, still baffles me. Honestly, was my character out camping with their buddies and the zombie apocalypse hit … *POOF* my buddies took off leaving me there sleeping in the dirt? Thanks guys! I hope you get bitten and I have to ram a spike through your noggin’, ya friggin’ a-holes! But these are minor concerns. My priorities are interaction, loot, level design, mobs and of course, construction.
So, how does your character interact with others? To say that the game needs some polishing is an understatement. It’s clear the netcode for one on one melee is better than that of DayZ — by default better than early months of Battlefield 4 — but it is still quite jerky. You have to guess where your target will be when you go to swing and hope you connect. When it comes to ranged, I used a bow, which bugged out like crazy and often left me standing there holding my wood …. Thanks guys! I died because of that, but fortunately spawned right beside my attacker and took back all of my gear. That aside, there is a proximity based in game voice chat which is kind of neat, but really isn’t very useful. You have to be standing literally right on top of someone to hear them clearly … and more often than not you just get confused and disoriented trying to find the troll who is calling your mother fat from a distance. I mean if it is proximity, shouldn’t I be about to figure out where the little bastard is each time he spoke? Seriously. I am sure that’ll get better though… It’s more or less a sidebar sort of feature in these sorts of games. I spend most of my time on TeamSpeak3 anyway.
So, here are my beefs so far … Loot. My lord there’s none in the game. Yes, it’s a Pre-Release sort of thing and I am essentially testing it, but my god I hate spending hours looking for something only to find two damn sticks! That’s practically an insult. Ok, I found a little more. I did find a backpack and some food as well. Meanwhile, Phreeck — the guy I do most of my streaming with on Twitch — was rolling in the epic loot. Perhaps it was simply bad luck I wasn’t finding anything. It could be. However, searching objects for loot takes far too long. You have to wait for the object to show you it is lootable THEN you can search it, but that is if you don’t get bored waiting for the server lag to clear and get on with it. Most of the loot, at least so far that I have found and heard from Phreeck, is within the level. Cars have metal. Houses have items. Woods have sticks. Crates have all sorts of stuff…. The level, so far, looks pretty decent. Some buggy bits and obvious shortcuts for an early release, but definitely playable. The mobs? Well, they ignore you. Zombies are easy to avoid and as easy to get rid of. Deer love to get punched to death. Wolves stride through town as though you’re not there. Bears, however, if Ellohime is any indication, are complete assholes.
So how about crafting and construction, Grims? Is that cool beans? Well Timmy, you don’t mind if I call you Timmy, right? It’s a neat take on it, Timmy. Yes, I know, again we have seen a lot of the same systems in other games and you’re right, it has caused Garry Newman to show his passive-aggressive colours, but anything done in video games is worth looking at again and possibly adapting it. Instead of basically knowing everything right off the bat, you have to pick up materials and discover recipes. I like that… It adds a level of creativity to attempting to discover new recipes, but ultimately it is simply fodder for the Wiki pages.
Overall, I really like the game so far. I plan on doing a 12 hour stream of content and playing tonight, so I will have more of a sense of direction the game is pushing in and where I’d like to see it go. I do think that the first thing I would change if I could would be that the server list would show accurate pings (currently they all show as amazing to my location, which I know isn’t true) and perhaps flesh out that delay on looting. Next I would make aggressive mobs in the game actually fearsome and brutal. Otherwise, as an early access alpha-ish game, I see a lot of upside.
If I could have one major gripe it is that the game is bought in Steam, but requires a secondary login through SOE’s Station launcher which has absolutely no bearing on my character in the game as I am able to make multiple characters per server so long as I have unique names throughout all servers. What’s the point? If you release on Steam, you should not need a secondary login.
Tune into my Twitch Stream at 7pm EST on weekdays, or randomly throughout the weekend. Best to follow me and be told when I am online.
ps. All the jackasses on Steam bitching about this being a pre-release pay to play for an eventual Free to Play game need to knock their shit off. Seriously… If you don’t like that idea nor the idea of actual transparent game design where we players have an immediate say, then pipe down.