Sony Online Entertainment has finally lifted the lid on its zombie survival free-to-play MMO H1Z1, with president John Smedley taking to Reddit to explain what it's all about.
"I wanted to tell you about an exciting new free-to-play game we've had under wraps here at SOE for some time," he wrote. "It's called H1Z1. It's a massively multiplayer game in which players fight for survival in a world where death is the only sure thing.
"The H1Z1 virus devastated mankind and left nothing but death and destruction in its wake and a world nearly empty of human life where the remnants of humanity are in a fight against extinction against those infected with the virus. It's been 15 years since H1Z1 was first encountered and what's left of the world before is overrun with the Infected. Humanity has been reduced to hiding in the shadows, searching desperately for food and water and anything that can help to survive even for another day.
"But the Infected aren't the only dangers in the world. Everyday life in the Apocalypse means dealing with all kinds of wild animals and the brutality of other survivors, as well as finding your next meal and a safe place to sleep. It also means scavenging or crafting anything that can help you live just one more day. In H1Z1 every minute of every day is borrowed time and fearing for your life... unless you are the Danger (talking to you Walter), but life can and will go on... even in circumstances as dire as this. Humanity has not given in to the Infected. There are still pockets of humanity and the fight goes on!"
Smedley says that his team's vision for the game is pretty ambitious.
"We are starting with what I would call 'Middle America' – an 'anywhere and everywhere' town. The world is massive as you've come to expect from our games. Over time we will grow the world until we have our own version of the U.S. after the death and destruction brought on during the H1Z1 epidemic," he explained.
"It will be our own version of America. We'll have urban cities and desolate wide open places. All connected seamlessly. Our focus is building a sandbox style of gameplay where players can build shelters out of resources in the world. They can even work together to make amazing fortresses complete with weaponry to help defend against both the Infected and other players. Players also have access to a very deep crafting system that can let players make a huge variety of awesome stuff, including weapons (I made a 1911 the other day) and things like Molotov cocktails, explosives.. and other fun surprises."
The game has been built using SOE's proprietary next-gen Forgelight engine, and has also been designed from the ground up for players to become part of the design process. Expect player-created items to make their way into the game.
"The main thing that differentiates H1Z1 from the other great games in the genre is the emphasis we are putting on player ownership and building," Smedley adds. "We want you to be able to form roving gangs that are headquartered out of an abandoned warehouse that you've taken over... or a house you've built from scratch after having cut trees down and secured the resources to make it. We are giving players the tools to make their own towns, camps and defenses, and they can decide how to set up their base (which is in the world btw... not instanced). We're building in all the social features you've come to expect from an SOE game (grouping, proximity voice chat, voice chat for your gang, and many other cool social features).
"To use a simple reference I'm sure everyone interested in this game will get... we want our players to make Woodbury from The Walking Dead if they want to. Or take over a prison. Or fix an old car so you and your friends (yeah we have multiplayer vehicles) can run zombies and players over mercilessly, and revel in the sheer delight of hearing a zombie scream as you light it on fire, or craft a gun to take down your friends and enemies alike."
Smedley concluded: "If you prefer a quiet life as a farmer raising crops... 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. It's going to be a blast!"
A livestream playtest is due to take place next week.