Feeding an appetite for massively multiplayer, post-apocalyptic survival situations generated by "DayZ" and "Rust" will be "H1Z1," launching on PC in a matter of weeks.
With an emphasis on building and survival, "H1Z1" will pull players in from "DayZ," "Minecraft" and "Rust" by opening its doors as a free-to-play game and emphasizing resource gathering, shelter building, crafting, and the ability to set things on fire.
Strictly speaking, "H1Z1" refers to a deadly virus unleashed 15 years prior to the game's events, though its name riffs on scientific nomenclature for the flu virus, H1N1, via the insertion a handy "Z" for "zombie."
And Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley was reasonably candid about the game's influences, having opened a dedicated subforum on Reddit, tipping his hat to "other great games in the genre."
"'H1Z1' is an MMO that allows players to take on the role of an apocalypse survivor in a world that's filled with zombies," Smedley had told the hosts of GameTalk Live in a pre-recorded segment. "A world. Not just a little tiny server: a world."
"What you are seeing on some of these other games is taken to the next level, because we have [the 'PlanetSide 2'] engine that can outperform anything I've seen in these other games."
And where "DayZ" is set in a splinter Russian republic, "Rust" in an unexplained future apocalypse that's sent survivors back to the stone aeg, "H1Z1" picks Middle America as its backdrop, enabling it to channel the vibe of "The Walking Dead" as players set about constructing townships, virtual economies, garages and fortified farmlands.
The PC version was first to be announced, and although Smedley could only allude to the existence of a PlayStation 4 equivalent, cracking a huge grin as he did so, SOE's plans have already extended to a PS4 version of its flagship action MMO "Planetside 2."
The PC launch is to take place in the next 4-6 weeks and, though the game will become free-to-play, beta access is to be granted to those with an SOE All Access monthly subscription ($15) due to debut later in April, or via Steam's Early Access channel for a $20 fee.