H1Z1 is a free-to-play sandbox MMO set in Middle America 15 years after a zombie virus outbreak.
Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley described the game in a Twitch livestream, as promised, noting that players can start anywhere on the map before heading off to explore cities and wilderness alike.
Players will gather resources, build shelters and can work together to create larger structures with weapons to fend off animals, Infected (zombies) or other players.
Weapons include molotov cocktails and explosives as well as “other fun surprises”, and players can use vehicles and fire, with aircraft on the way. Crafting is said to be deeper than in competing titles.
Writing on Reddit, Smedley said H1Z1 is different from other survival sandboxes in that if offers a persistent world with “thousands” of players on multiple isolated servers, with players able to leave a lasting change on the world, as in EverQuest Next Landmark.
Rulesets may vary from server to server, player economy will be fostered, and SOE hopes to enable all-out “war” on other players or zombies if that’s what you want to do.
There will be no skills or levelling, as gameplay will be entirely freeform. Smedley described players forming “roving gangs” based in shared headquarters, or living quietly as farmers trading away resources with other players.
“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,” he said.
Players will also be able to customise their characters, and when you die, you’ll respawn with the same character – and maybe even with your gear, although SOE’s still weighing that up.
H1Z1 is being built on the ForgeLight engine, and SOE will share its development with the community via a public roadmap – like Planetside 2 – and allow them to contribute via Player Studio. It’s expected on PC first, with early access available for around $20. The full game will be supported by microtransactions.