I will start off by admitting that I am not a PC gamer. I don't particularly enjoy first-person or zombie-based games, but there was something about H1Z1 that caught my eye. The open sandbox style with the day-to-night changes, as well as the eating and drinking for survival mechanics, while nothing new, is certainly underused, so I decided to go all in on my immersive zombie experience.
H1Z1 - Alpha Awareness
It's very much still in its alpha stage, and some of the more hilarious bugs, such as zombies stuck motionless in the air, zombies running through and getting caught in the walls of caravans, as well as the way that crates had a tendency to be smashed to pieces before miraculously popping back into reality could all be easily forgiven. None of this was game-breaking and was sort of charming in the way Goat Simulator is.
I had read about all the fun you can have punching people to death as you start out with little more than the clothes on your back and your wits, but my first couple of attempts at gameplay were met with eons of loneliness. Sure I punched a wolf to death, but where is the fun in that if you don't have the simple things, like someone to share the moment with or a way to harvest its meat?
H1Z1, though does contain one of my pet peeves: it doesn't pause in the menu. When I was looking at the controls or messing around in the inventory, which I will admit I probably did more than the average player might, I would find myself attacked by one of the slowest zombies in video game history and, as such, have to spend 5 minutes out running him before going back. I did, at one point, pick up a really sweet axe and machete, which made the zombie hacking so much more blissful, but then I bitterly lost them both as I died of starvation because I didn't figure out you had to right-click things to eat them fast enough.
H1Z1 - Performance and Stability
On three occasions, I had to wait at least 25 minutes to get into a server, but it was a pain I didn't mind enduring as I hungered for human contact. The first instance was met with bitter disappointment as I spawned into yet another empty forest. However, it was in my second server while searching an abandoned home depot that suddenly my speakers burst into life.
"Hello" shouted a voice over the ocean. There was someone here, another player, what would we do, what adventures would we go on? Then for no good reason, he shot me, I ran, and what ensued was a 10-minute sequence of him chasing me through the forest, screaming much like many movie psychopaths, "Stop running boooooooyyyy, you're only making it harder booooyyyy" over and over. I was hoping benevolent sexism would save me here but sadly, my laptop microphone was too quiet for him to hear my girlish screams of annoyance until, finally, he caught up and stabbed me to death.
On one server with my new character, "sugerbumms" I did find a small band of helpful people, and we bounced around gleefully punching zombies to death together until I looked at the inventory, and they disappeared. I spent the rest of my time on that server getting shot, punched, and generally smacked out by other in-game players for no reason other than they were bored and looking for something to do.
The Final Thoughts
I only played about a few hours of H1Z1, and I think that was about enough for me and the alpha. I certainly believe that it has a lot of potentials to be something special, but it's just not there yet. There were two things that I think H1Z1 needs to attend to before all else, and it wasn't even the 25-minute server wait time. While the in-game micro-transactions were not completely intrusive, I could see the air-drop option conspicuously in the bottom left corner on the inventory screen, and knowing air-drops attract players, in the depths of my loneliness, I was tempted to click it just to feel the warm rush of human communication.
The second was the problem of everyone simply killing each other instead of banding together to hopefully survive longer. Zombies are slow, sparse, and can be easily outrun or punched to death and as such, there is no need to band together against the common evil. I understand that they wanted to create a more realistic playing experience, but in my personal opinion a few objectives placed in the game here and there could prevent all the person-on-person killings that seem to have completely overrun the gameplay. Keep an eye on H1Z1, as it might just become something really good, but it's not just yet.
TechRaptor previewed H1Z1 on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer. This preview was originally published on 01-31-2015. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions and for historical context.
Disclosure: TechRaptor's copy of H1Z1 was provided complimentary of the developers.