Title: H1Z1: Just Survive
Tested On: PC
Available On: PC
Developer: Daybreak Game Company
Publisher: Daybreak Game Company
Genre: MMO, Survival
Official Site: https://www.h1z1.com/just-survive/home
Release Date: Now (Early Access), PS4 & Xbox One Summer 2016
Where to Buy: Steam
For the last several years I have mainly been a console gamer so I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I started up H1Z1: Just Survive on my PC. I had remembered reading a little about the game and knew a post-apocalyptic style zombie game would be right up my alley so I decided to give it a go. If you are a fan of the Walking Dead, then you will certainly get the vibe that H1Z1: Just Survive feels very much like the later seasons of the show. While zombies are in the world and they can kill you, people are very much the real danger here.
H1Z1: Just Survive is a massively multiplayer game that puts you smack dab in the middle of a world that has been decimated by an unknown virus. You’ll have to scavenge supplies, craft materials and fight both the undead and other survivors to stay alive. The game was developed by the Daybreak Game Company and uses the “forgelight” engine, which is the same one used for the game Planetside 2 if you’re familiar with it. H1z1: Just Survive is currently free to play and revenue will be generated by the Daybreak Cash shop, which allows you to purchase a variety of customization items but does not sell weapons, ammo or food. Since scavenging those types of items is such a large part of the game there is no option to buy them. This thankfully causes H1Z1: Just Survive to avoid being a “Pay to Win” game. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to acquire a specialty crate even after I loaded money into my steam account. I’ve tried several things to fix this to no avail. This could be an isolated incident since during my play through, many other players had custom and specialty items from these crates equipped.
You’ll have plenty of servers to pick from at the main menu offering a variety of PVE & PVP game-play. Some servers also have certain rules in place that will alter the gameplay, such as “head shots only” and “first person only.” The PVE is not a bad way to go just starting out to help you get the hang of things but the real excitement is in PVP. I only spent a small portion of my time in PVE, but players I encountered felt that loot was much harder to come by and is lacking in this early access stage. The main plus of PVE here is that players can get a handle on things like crafting, building and scavenging as well as the UI (User interface). PVP is another beast entirely that is fun and will have your mouse covered in palm sweat, but may not be for everyone.
Players will have much more success in PVP if they join in with friends or other friendly players in the world as opposed to going lone wolf…which I personally almost always do. The thing about PVP is that when you die that’s it – you’re dead and dead for good. Anything you have accumulated or crafted up until that point will be gone and you will have to start over from scratch. This will make encounters with other players incredibly tense as the goal of the game is to survive. Right now the biggest problem with the PVP mode is the mega clans that dominate certain areas of the map, particularly around the large and small towns, which is where the bulk of loot is found. This can somewhat ruin the whole experience of the game since the whole idea of surviving is based around scavenging for supplies that you seemingly can’t get to without being killed by another group.
There is a chat proximity feature in place that is easy, convenient and potentially dangerous to use for talking to fellow players. I will say that more often than not, I was met with hostility as opposed to friendliness, not to mention the proximity chat can act like a homing beacon for those that may want to kill you. I made this mistake talking to a friendly in a town where others in the area could hear my conversation. A truck of three heavily armed individuals pulled up outside and turn my allied partner into Swiss cheese while I managed to escape out the back. By that point, I had been playing for over an hour and was desperate not to lose all that I had accumulated in that time. The thrill of getting away and the suspense of not being found really drew me into the experience; however, about five minutes later I was gunned down in the woods losing all my items. The fun I was having quickly turned to rage that resulted in scared children in my house and a nearly broken keyboard.
The crafting system is fairly simple to get a handle on with recipes for items easy to discover. Once you begin accumulating items, you can access the discover tab in your menu and drag and drop items into the boxes available. If that item can be turned into something else the “discover” option will become highlighted and clickable. It could just be one item that can be crafted into something else or several. It’s important to have your weapons set up in a way that you can easily access them in the UI if you find yourself in a bind because it’s not a quick process. You’ll also want to be sure you have an adequate hiding space or proper cover before equipping new clothes. If you have any items stored in a particular piece of clothing you will need to transfer them in order to remove that particular item. For instance, if you have bandages and scrap metal stored in your jeans, which you want to swap out for a pair of brown pants you came across, you will need to remove all items from the jeans by either transferring them to a backpack or dropping them before you can do so. It can be a somewhat tedious process, especially if you are in a hostile area where every second counts.
Survival elements also play a role in H1Z1. You’ll have to be sure your character stays hydrated, gets rest, eats and dresses wounds. When it comes to sleeping or resting, you’ll need to find a bed or craft one with the proper materials. You really don’t “sleep” at all. You just wait for about 20 seconds for your character to recharge. This can be difficult early on due to playing on a map of such a large scale. Blackberry bushes are typically very easy to come by and will be your go-to source for food just starting out. However, they will also take quite a bit of time to consume. I think a nice addition would be the ability to consume food in a manner similar to that of crafting. When crafting arrows, for example, you have the option to choose how many you’d like to make based on the supply of materials in your inventory. The food, however, has to be consumed with individual clicks and when it comes to the blackberries, it may take 20 clicks to get your health and hydration to a comfortable level.
H1Z1: Just Survive can be a great bit of fun or frustration depending on the kind of gamer you are and the amount of patience you have. However, the people over at Daybreak did a great thing by splitting H1Z1 into two separate games. If the whole survival and scavenging for supplies are a bit too slow paced for you then I recommend trying H1Z1: King of the Kill. This separate game is more of a free for all battle royale which provides much more fast paced action. You can check out the review for that here. King of the Kill is still in the early access stage as well so expect more improvements over time.
While some things need to be fixed, H1Z1: Just Survive has quite a bit of potential and I’m very interested to see how the final product turns out. Daybreak has addressed some of the PVP issues in a recent Reddit post and is actively working on fixing them for the full release of the game. If you’re one that enjoys playing by yourself, you may want to hold out just a bit longer to fully enjoy the survival experience in H1Z1 or give King of the Kill a go in the meantime.
- Gameplay: Patience is needed but has great potential
- Graphics: Minor visual bugs and clipping
- Sound: Great directional sound and proximity chat feature
- Presentation: Solid presentation for early access. Survival aspect will feel lopsided in PVP against large clans
- Fun with Friends
- Great Potential
- Monopolized by Clans in PVP
- Lacking in PVE
- Minor Visual Bugs
--Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever