Murderous: H1Z1’s accessibility could kill DayZ’s complacency

By Patrick Garratt, Tuesday, 20 January 2015 16:19 GMT

Will DayZ ever be finished? Fortunately for you, it doesn’t matter if there’s a more accessible, more enjoyable, less broken alternative.

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I plan on going back to H1Z1. Despite all the hoo-ha, it seems it could be the accessible zombie survival epic for which many have waited. DayZ should watch its back: H1Z1 is well worth a look.

Given the recent fracas about buy-to-win in H1Z1, I’m not sure what surprises me more: the fact it isn’t completely awful, or that its shameless replication of the DayZ formula has yielded a sensible progression for PC zombie survival. For DayZ is a hard game, a frustrating concept that rewards the dedicated, but off which the less persistent inevitably bounce. While you may die just as regularly in SOE’s mimic, which released to Steam Early Access this week, it’s more accessible and apparently more enjoyable. Based on initial impressions, H1Z1 may seriously challenge DayZ’s refusal to ever complete its own development.

Here’s an example of the difference, and this is going to tickle anyone with a DayZ history: you start with the first elements of a weapon. I know. You begin by shredding your t-shirt and trousers, using the scraps of cloth to craft a satchel. You then run into the woods (trees are everywhere) and grab some sticks to create a bow with the remaining material. Within a minute of starting any H1Z1 game you’re armed with a projectile weapon for hunting other players, wildlife and zombies. The softening of the model is refreshing compared to the DayZ’s deadly opening moments, where you’re as vulnerable as a newborn. It’s quite regular to spawn, do initial crafting, search a house, get into a fight and actually win, all within a few minutes. You aren’t guaranteed to die. Considering the source material, that’s welcome empowerment.

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And you can actually kill the zombies. I played DayZ last May and wrote a quick guide about how to start while getting dead many times. When I mentioned the toughness of the zombies on Twitter, responses soon told me they were broken and virtually indestructible. Not so in H1Z1. The undead shamble rather than charge, and they’re droppable with an arrow to the head. Again, you feel as though the situation isn’t entirely helpless. You can survive.

The reality, of course, is that you usually die almost instantly, but at least you had a fighting chance. Most players you encounter will immediately attack, but for all the screaming about play-to-win I’ve seen no-one with a gun. Everyone’s running around with bows and arrows and branches from blackberry bushes (the ultimate weapon). The much-hated airdrops appear to be something of a damp squib, in fact. You start with three drops in your inventory, after which you need to buy more. Once you’ve called the crate in, you need to wait for the inexplicable plane to arrive. The chances of dying at this point are high. They were for me, anyway. I requested two drops and got killed waiting for both. I hope whoever found them enjoyed the goodies. Would I buy more? I doubt it.

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Why bother when you’re going to die anyway? Becoming au fait with any kind of long-term survival in H1Z1 is going to take time, so why spend real money beyond the price of entry? I’ve seen players driving round in cop cars, sirens blaring, and from a few guide videos I watched this morning it’s obvious you can find hatchets and knives just by being patient. If others want to pay for an advantage, that’s fine. I’ll tough it out. Besides, I doubt you’re going to find a police cruiser inside a care package.

I’ve only played a few hours of H1Z1, just as I did with DayZ, but I’ll tell you this: I never returned to to DayZ because it was so broken. “Buggy” is fine (apparently), but a prime enemy being granted unworthy immortality is ruinous. I plan on going back to H1Z1, however. Despite all the hoo-ha, it seems it could be the accessible zombie survival epic for which many have waited. DayZ should watch its back: H1Z1 is well worth a look.

H1Z1 is now available via Steam Early Access.

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