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PlanetSide 2

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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to PlanetSide 2 is better than ever, it’s time to return to Auraxis">Planetside 2

By Sterling Hammer

PlanetSide 2 is two years old in November, and has changed a lot. In constant contact with the community, SOE have reformed the economy, restructured Auraxis' vast planetary bases, redesigned the UI, and even added entire continents, like the long-awaited Hossin swampland. PlanetSide has a proud legacy, but PS2 has evolved into something unique a free-to-play game that supports multiplayer warfare on a startling scale. If you haven't played since launch, it's time for another visit.

Accessibility upgrades

PlanetSide 2 is about combined arms and persistent warfare on a massive scale. Co-ordinated squads, platoons and outfits can have a profound impact on the territorial layout of PS2's maps, but it's a daunting prospect for new players. Accessibility was one of PlanetSide 2's main issues at launch, and two years since release has been spent making the game easier for new players to pick up, so they can get into fights as quickly as possible. Some of these changes are immediately obvious to those who have been playing since launch while others are a bit more subtle.

The certification system, which dictates access to guns and new skills, was given a complete overhaul to make it less confusing. Now each class has specific certifications (of which, there are fewer), which are conveniently listed under the class in the redesigned UI. Vehicles have received the same treatment.

The tutorial is another good addition. It gives players a quick overview that explain how to use terminals, weapons and vehicles. The virtual reality training area can help you learn the ropes without hundreds of your enemies brutally ending your practice session. It s also a great way to try out new weapons without having to dodge hostile fire, and before investing precious Station Cash.

Level and map redesign

If you haven't played since day one, you'll find a vastly different base-design mentality from the game's original cookie-cutter structures. The development team has made multiple passes on Indar and most recently Amerish to bring more varied terrain base-design to the game, which encourages more interesting battles. Underground tunnels were added to the game to add additional exits from Spawn rooms. Many outposts were redesigned from the ground up so that some are better for infantry fights, and less susceptible to air attacks. Hossin was released with the disclaimer that much of what has been learned on Indar, Esamir and Amerish has not yet been implemented on Hossin, so expect lots more tweaking in the coming months.

Community-driven features

PlanetSide 2 is Sony Online Entertainment's first serious foray into community-driven development. Many features of the game are a direct result of player feedback, delivered via Twitter, Reddit and community fan sites. You could even meet the development team face to face and give your feedback if you wanted to at SOE Live, their yearly community event.

The death screen is a direct result of that feedback. When original alpha footage was shown, the community was not happy with a killcam in PlanetSide. The dev team replaced it with a display of stats about your session and your killer, complete with a shot of your killer s customized avatar. The team is also working on a new resource system, championed by player-turned-developer, which aims to bring some of the original mechanics of PlanetSide to the game.

SOE has found this development approach so successful that it's using it for H1Z1, and Landmark. Frequent development sessions on Twitch and development participation on Reddit have become the norm. The team even took a suggestion for a feature and developed it in one day on Twitch, from development meetings all the way up to the final implementation of the feature in-game. You can tune in to the PlanetSide 2 Twitch channel and see the developers create bases and artwork for the game live, and give direct feedback as they go.

The state of Auraxis

With the accessibility updates in place, the development team has started to shift their focus onto PS2's seasoned elite. Hence the addition of Hossin, a swamp continent with large, lush, trees and the potential for more interesting ground-air interaction. Light assault troops can scale trees, and aircraft have to swerve around large crops of vegetation to make effective ground-attacks.

This update also brings 'continent locking.' One empire can now 'lock' a continent by owning at least 94% of the territory or winning an in-game alert. This kicks the other two empires off, and claims the continent for the winning empire, granting bonuses for the duration of a lock. Warp gate rotation is another great update. To help keep the game dynamic and interesting, ownership of the warp gates that serve as the main base for each faction can change hands, causing a massive scramble as armies adjust the the new position of their home base.

The Hossin update also brings several new features for Outfits (PS2's player-formed armies), including a much needed in-game recruitment system, outfit decals which will one day be customizable, and outfit base capture where the highest scoring outfit during a base capture gets in-game credit, and their decals displayed on the base.

Ultimately, PS2 simply feels better than it once did. It really comes into its own when you play with a group of organized people, but there's still plenty of room for lone combatants. If you haven t ever played PS2, or decided to take a break, now is the time to go back and check out the vast number of changes that have been made since release. The majority have been for the better, and as a result PlanetSide 2 is a much more fun and polished experience, with less downtime, and more opportunity to battle huge enemy armies.
Community Announcements - Mkae
Explore a brand new continent with over 80 new bases in a brand new biome.
This is an Early Expedition. Read about what that means in this post from Creative Director Matt Higby:


Continent Locking:
Continents can now be locked to a conquering empire in one of two ways:
Dominate the continent by owning at least 94% of the territory.

Win an Alert:
When a continent locks, the conquering empire automatically captures all remaining regions on the continent.
All players on the locked continent will be prompted to redeploy to another continent.
A maximum of 2 continents can be locked at any one time.
Whenever a continent is locked the oldest existing locked continent will automatically unlock.
A Continent Benefit is now only active while the continent is locked.

Continent Benefits have changed:
Amerish gives -50% Infantry Purchases (up from -10% Aerospace Purchases)
Esamir gives -50% Mechanized Purchases (up from -10% Mechanized Purchases)
Indar gives -50% Aerospace Purchases (up from -10% Infantry Purchases)
Hossin gives +25% XP (new) (It's almost like we want you to play there!)
To accommodate continent locking, Global Alerts have been removed from the game, meaning every alert is now specific to a continent
When a continent is unlocked the warpgates on that continent will rotate, and territory will be reset to a default starting configuration for each warpgate. (Tired of your warpgate location? Now you can fix it)
Warpgates will no longer rotate every other week and are now exclusively rotated via continent locking.

Outfits Recruiting:
Do you run an outfit? Looking for some new blood? List your outfit in the brand new recruiting system.
Are you looking to join an outfit? Want to meet some new friends? Find an outfit to join in the brand new recruiting system.
To list your outfit go to the outfit screen and there is a Manage Recruitment button.
To view recruiting outfits, go to the outfits button on the social tab. On the main page is a button to find an outfit.

Outfit Decals:
Your outfit can now select a decal to represent yourselves.
Purchase Infantry or Vehicle Outfit decals in their Depot categories for 100 SC or 250 Certs
Equip like a normal decal. If you’re in an outfit and the outfit has a decal selected, the decal will display as the selected decal.
If you’re not in an outfit, the decal will not display.

Outfit Base Capture:
When your outfit captures a base your outfit’s decal will be displayed on the faction banners at the base, on the scoreboard, and on the map.
An outfit is recognized as being the captors by being the highest scoring outfit during the base’s capture
For now, this score is simply the cumulative score of the outfit members that participated in the base capture (i.e. the scores that are displayed on the scoreboard).

The descriptions on the Medical Applicator now list the hotkeys required for healing and reviving.
Adjusted ranges of “Enter Vehicle” and “Equipment Terminal” interactions on Sunderer.
Change reduces overlap and is intended to reduce the chances of accidentally triggering the interaction you don’t want.
When the vehicle is deployed, you will need to get closer to the terminal and closer to the vehicle.
When the vehicle is undeployed there should be no change in the enter vehicle interaction.
A lattice link has been added between TI Alloys and Ceres Hydroponics on Indar.

Bug Fixes:
Desynch fix for multiple situations.
Fixed focus issues with the chat window after hitting escape.
Fixed an issue where thermal optics for the Dual-75 Duster were not set up like other belly guns.
The TR Honeycomb camo will now scale correctly.
Updated the descriptions for Liberator belly weapons to be more accurate with recent changes.
The un-purchasable magazine size certification should no longer appear for the Hyena Missile Launcher.
Camo will now apply correctly to the Bruiser Plating and Scrapper Vanguard attachments.
Kills caused by explosions will no longer grant double experience.
Equipping the Ammunition Package during a weapon reload will no longer skip the reload animation.
Adjusted the Ammunition Package so that it it less likely to continuously shake when thrown on uneven terrain.
Fixed an issue where tank reverse turning speed would change when toggling the ‘Invert Reverse Steering for Tanks’ option.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Planetside 2 to get weather system, new H1Z1 screens show snow effects">H1Z1

It's a double-whammy of weather news, courtesy of SOE's John Smedley. The studio's CEO dropped falling facts across Twitter last night, showing a series of snow-covered landscapes from the upcoming H1Z1. In addition, Smedley revealed that weather effects are being planned for Planetside 2.

yeah. snow too. also weather is coming to PS2 as well as H1Z1 pic.twitter.com/3LIUJ5ph41— John Smedley (@j_smedley) June 30, 2014

Soon after, Smedley confirmed via a reply that, in H1Z1, they "are going to make it so the elements matter" implying that the snow will have an effect on a character's survival. It's not yet known how weather will be implemented in Planetside 2, however, and whether or not it will be a purely aesthetic element.

Planetside 2 recently received a major update, finally adding the swamplands of Hossin to the game. H1Z1, meanwhile, was further detailed in a new E3 trailer.

You can see the rest of Smedley's snow-swept H1Z1 screenshots below.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Nathan Grayson)

welcome to the jungle / we've got mud / and more mud

It’s sometimes easy to forget about poor ol’ PlanetSide 2 with all these Battleline Hardmen and Advanced Warfaces duking it out for our attention. And while the MMOFPS has still, even after nearly two years of being available in various forms, arguably not lived up to its full potential, there’s nothing else quite like it. That’s why we go there to ruthlessly bop PC Gamer’s legions on the nose so much. Come to think of it, maybe another eat/sleep/play/war-date is in order, seeing as SOE just launched a big update that includes an entire new continent, Hossin. You want swamps? Well, Yoda, you got ‘em.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Major PlanetSide 2 update is live now, adds swampy Hossin continent">Planetside 2 swamps

Two years in development, the Hossin continent is now accessible in PlanetSide 2 thanks to a major update available now. Originally scheduled for an April 2013 launch, Hossin is a swampy, infantry-oriented map which should please fans of mud and shades of brown. It also boasts an Interlink Facility and 80 new bases in a brand new biome.

That s not all the new update introduces: the long demanded Continent Locking feature has been switched on, allowing empires to conquer whole swathes of the game world. There are several caveats to this: only two Continents can be locked down at a once, so when a third is locked the first will open again. Continent Benefits have changed too, with early rewards of +25 XP offered to encourage play on Hossin. Meanwhile, outfit recruitment has been beefed up, with the freedom to customise outfit uniforms should you wish to look fancier than others. Your decal will also display on any captured base.

There's a catch though: the Continent isn't quite finished. PlanetSide 2 creative director Matt Higby explains that it's in working order, but that finetuning would have taken an additional three months. Higby justifies the 'Early Expedition' approach as a way to complete the maps with the input of the playerbase, which makes sense considering the iterative approach SOE has taken to the other continents.

"There isn't any other way to say it except to say that Hossin is not finished," he said. "If we wanted to 'finish' Hossin without sacrificing the quality level we've established, it would probably be three months before it was ready to go live - we don't want to wait that long, and we don't think you want to either."

You can read Higby's full statement here. There s also a loong list of bug fixes, which you can read among the full patch notes on the official PlanetSide 2 forum.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to SOE and ProSiebenSat.1 part ways; European PS2, DCUO and EQ2 accounts must soon be transferred">Planetside 2

Back in April, SOE launched an All Access subscription service designed to unify membership across SOE's free-to-play games including Planetside 2, DC Universe Online and Everquest 2, as well as the upcoming Everquest Next, Landmark and H1Z1. In Europe, though, it's a less attractive offer. SOE's EU portfolio is more fragmented, as their existing games are managed and distributed by ProSiebenSat.1 Games.

That soon won't be the case. SOE and ProSiebenSat.1 have today announced that, going forward, all ProSiebenSat.1 accounts for SOE games must be migrated to Sony's service. For EU players of Planetside 2, DC Universe Online and Everquest 2, existing accounts must be transferred from July 1st in order to keep playing. In addition, SOE have removed their region lock, so new accounts can be created directly on their system.

"We constantly review community feedback via all channels and want to thank you for your ongoing dialog," write SOE and ProSiebenSat.1 in a joint statement. "On or about July 1, 2014, we will offer PSG players the opportunity to migrate their existing accounts to SOE account management, in order to continue playing SOE games. All earned status, characters and in-game coin will transfer with the account."

Payment details and personal information won't be transferred, and so will have to be re-entered on the new SOE version of transferred accounts. For those currently using both services, however, SOE say they are unable to merge the two accounts.

PSG account holders will have until September 28th to migrate their account.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to H1Z1 designer claims engine supports “more zombies than you can kill in a lifetime”">H1Z1

H1Z1 is SOE s next game, and the confluence of the Planetside 2 engine and the zombie survival setting has a shot of adding an interesting amount of depth to the walking-dead genre. Jimmy Whisenhunt, senior designer on H1Z1, came by the live Twitch stream show at E3 to talk more about the game s goals and SOE s devotion to involving the community in the development process.

The big question surrounding H1Z1 is how it will be different from the massively successful mod-turned-standalone project DayZ. It s a survival MMO, Whisenhunt says immediately. It s an MMO in a way that s persistent. It s huge, it s massive. We re starting with 64 square kilometers and we ll be growing from that. We re starting in an area that is kind of middle America, looks kind of Northwesternish with trees and rolling hills.

SOE has earned a lot of praise for their open development style, and Whisenhunt reiterated that it is a conscious, deliberate choice. The team checks the H1Z1 subreddit daily, and many feature requests and design decisions are influenced directly from the community. A free-look system, for example, was a widely requested feature, and Whisenhunt just got word that free-look was implemented after he started traveling to Los Angeles for the show.

We re on the forgelight engine, and we re leveraging a lot of what we learned on Planetside 2, he says. We have a lot of ability to do whatever we want with vehicles, but right now we re starting with a four-door, four-wheel drive offroader.

H1Z1 will also distinguish itself by the behavior and quantity of its titular undead.

We re leveraging our world in a new way, he says. We ve shown a little bit of the hoards, and we can support more zombies than a player could kill in his entire life Zombies are attracted to not just sight, but they can smell you. As you move around the world and change what you re doing, you re going to change where the zombies are. We also have livestock, as you can see, and the animals aren t just for food though they are for that. We had an instance down at the booth where you saw a deer come busting out of the wood, and when they re running like that they re spooked. Behind the deer come twenty zombies, and they re chasing the deer.

Like Planetside 2 before it, H1Z1 will be a free-to-play game with microtransactions, but Whisenhunt insists that nothing you can buy with real money will have an affect on gameplay. Evan got a chance to spend some time with the game a couple of weeks ago, and you can read his impressions here. As always, catch up on all of our E3 coverage by visiting this page.
Jun 4, 2014
Community Announcements - Mkae
New Membership Perk - Squad Boost
Members in a squad will now provide the entire group with 3% bonus XP

• Continent Domination Threshold for gaining a continent benefit is now 94%
• Continent Domination Threshold for losing a continent benefit is now 7%
• Lattice links have been added between all adjacent warpgate-bordering territories.
• Hex regions around the warpgates have been adjusted to fit new lattice links between the warpgate-adjacent territories.
• Added a short deploy timer to Instant Action when a player is dead.

New Ribbons
• Resupply - for resupplying ammunition to friendly players, including vehicle resupplies.
• Air Deterrence - for surface-to-air damage inflicted against enemy aircraft.
• Air Superiority - for air-to-air ESF vs ESF kills.
• Anti-Tank - for destroying enemy tanks.
• Recon - for motion sensor and scout radar assists.
• Spotter - for spot assists.
• AMS Support - for supporting your team with Sunderer AMS spawns.
• Marksman - for infantry vs infantry kills at ranges >= 70m
• Vehicular Combat - for roadkill and ram kills while in a vehicle.
• Point Control - for capturing control consoles and kills around them.
• Savior - for saving your teammates from certain death.
• Objective Support - for overloading, stabilizing, and destroying generators.
• Squad Spawn - for providing a spawn for your squad members via beacon, Sunderer, or Galaxy.
• Deployment - For deploy bonuses from transporting friendly players who go on to earn kills shortly thereafter.
Area Bugs
• Speculative fix for the base flipping.
• Refactored some code that will improve how areas are handled in general (gravity pads, etc).
• Adding significant amounts of logging in case the above two fixes don’t work.

Cert Refund: Optics Incorrectly Deducting Certs
• We performed a grant to replenish certs for a small group of players who were incorrectly charged twice for certain optics purchases.

• Charger Energy Values have been Increased.
• Drop rates for implants have been reduced.

Bugs Fixed
• Updated Harasser nanite auto repair description to reflect in-game effect.
• Fixed a bug where EOD HUD implants were draining energy while the implant user was dead.
• Darklight flashlight should now be available on NC4 Mag-Shot.
• Sending a message from Outfit Members list will no longer redirect to friends list.
• Fixed some texture stretching issues on the Magrider.
• Infantry decals will appear over armor now.
• You can now resupply grenades in VR Training.
• Crouching then jumping on a vehicle will no longer result in suicide.
• Headhunter camo will now cover the entire body.
• The 3.4x Red Dot sight reticle will now show up better at night.
• Fixed an issue where some items could be removed from you when leaving VR Training.
• Fixed a bug where the Greenhorn Voice Pack was missing.
• The AV mana turret ribbon is now awarded at the intended number of kills.
Community Announcements - Mkae
Cert Window
• Cert screen has been replaced by the Nano-Cycler (Implant) screen
o Leadership certs can be found in the Social screen
o Class certs can be found in the Classes screen
• Soldiers can now augment their battle prowess by equipping combat implants
o Implants are slotted in custom loadouts
o Implants are occasionally awarded to soldiers as they earn experience
o Implants can also be requisitioned with Certification Points or Station Cash via Implant Packs in the Depot
o Implants are powered by the Implant Power Core, which uses energy to power their effects
 When energy is completely depleted, implant effects are lost until energy is replenished
 Implant energy is replenished by using Chargers
 Chargers are occasionally awarded to soldiers as they earn experience
 Chargers can also be requisitioned with Certification Points or Station Cash in the Depot
o There are three tiers of implants - the higher the tier, the more powerful the implant!
• Soldiers can now use the new Nano-Cycler to break down unwanted implants and create new implants
o The Nano-Cycler is accessed from the main menu
o Nano-Cycler instructions can be found in its help menu

New Weapons
• New Combat Medic Assault Rifles
o NC-9 A-Tross
 The NC's A-Tross was created as the ultimate in heavy-hitting, long-range assault rifles. Featuring a 30-round magazine and an overclocked propulsion coil firing a high-damage projectile, the A-Tross can drop targets at even distant ranges.
o TORQ-9
 The Terran Operations Rifle is a favorite amongst TR who feel at home with an all-around performer. Deadly accurate with fast reload assists for its 40 round magazine, the TORQ-9's versatility and ease of use make it a solid choice in combat.
o Terminus VX-9
 The Vanu's shadowy VX Labs launched the Terminus VX-9 shortly after joining the war. Engineered with advanced cooling systems that allow for its high rate of fire, the Terminus allows users to hold their ground at close-to-medium ranges.
• New Common Pool Shotgun
o NS Baron G5
 Nanite Systems' first attempts into close-range weaponry resulted in the powerful Baron G5. The tube fed Baron is able to put down targets at longer ranges than typical shotguns thanks to its narrow choke.

Medic Updates
• Combat Medics can now use Battle rifles (Warden, AMR-66, and Eidolon VE33) for their primary weapon.
• Combat Medic now has access to the Adrenaline Pump certification in their suit slot.
• Triage now heals allies who are outside of the vehicle if they are within 5 meters.
• Heal Grenades
o Heal rate increased from 60 hp per second to 100 hp per second
o Detonate time is now faster, from 3 to 2 seconds
o Increased heal range to 10 meters
• Fixed last two ranks of the medic’s default heal ability regening the timer during use, causing active duration to be inconsistent. All ranks of the medic ability now match the cert upgrade descriptions.
• The last cert rank of the medic’s default ability now adds +1 meter to the ability range.

New Cosmetic Laser Sights
• New colored laser sights are now available for the NS-44 Commissioner, NS-357 Underboss, and their black and gold variants. They can be found under the Rail loadout for each weapon.

Howling Pass to NS Material Storage Update
• The road from Howling Pass to NS Material Storage has been adjusted. The choke point along that road has been vastly shortened, large fields have been added for fierce tank battles, and secure parking spots have been added for Sunderers. All together this should make fighting along this stretch much more fun!

Decoy Grenades
• Decoy grenades now place false firing indicators on enemy minimaps.
• Updated decoy grenade audio to match recent weapon audio changes.

Flash & Harasser Handling
• With some code changes we’ve made over the last few updates, we’ve updated the handling on the Flash. The Flash should grip the ground a lot better and be less likely to spin out and a *little* less likely to flip. It is still possible to do both but it should be under more extreme circumstances.
• We’ve also enabled these changes on the Harasser, but without any tuning modifications. So the Harasser is using the new code but there shouldn’t really be any noticable difference.

Gameplay Improvements
• Large outposts have Galaxy access now, if there are aircraft available.
• Lightning tanks are now available at all vehicle terminals.
• Reduced Sunderer deploy exclusion to 65 meters.
• Spawning Harassers at The Crown is much safer now.
• Revised explosion audio to help with too much low frequency buildup during gameplay and allow other things to audibly cut through. Explosions now play different sounds for close (0-250 meters) and distant (beyond 250 meters).
• Added an extra magazine to the VS Zenith VX-5 carbine for a total capacity of 210, which is consistent with other carbines.
• The ping meter on the leaderboard has been replaced with a more accurate Network Quality status.
• If your Network Quality is low you will now be warned on your HUD.

Bugs Fixed
• Many client crash fixes
• Speculative fix for the occasional 20 minute hitch that some were seeing
• Dual-75 Duster should no longer display magazine size certifications in the VR zone.
• The NS Vandal can now be trialed.
• The magazine now falls out of NS Vandal on reload.
• Polish to 3rd person reload animations for the Vandal.
• Fixed a broken Reaver Tiger Fin skinning issue.
• Fixed Sunderer attachments, Boar Grill, Bull Grill, Duskbuster Headlights, Fogbreach Headlights, and Retro Grill to not have camo on non-camo Sunderers.
• Updated tooltip on scout radars to mention they detect player movement. They have functioned this way for quite some time.
• Your loadout should no longer be reverted to slot 1 when you log out.
• Sniper scopes should no longer pop when entering and exiting ADS.
• Fixed a ton of animation bugs for things like off hands clipping into weapons to reload animations not playing correctly.
• Fixed a bunch of geometry bugs all over the world. There should be far less inescapable pits, floating bushes, shields sticking through walls, and busted stairs.
• Deployed Sunderers can no longer be moved by other vehicles.
• Semi-auto weapons will now show the correct rate of fire when looking at weapon stats.
• Shotguns now highlight pellet spread correctly when comparing them. The weapon with the lower spread is green and the higher spread is red.
• Fixed the LC2 Lynx carbine showing the icon for the old model if it wasn’t owned.
• The primary turret on the Vanguard should no longer twitch when viewing from the top gunner position.
• Auraxium medals can now be earned on the Hades, Nemesis, Hawk and Crow.
• Pulsar C medals and ribbons have been fixed.
• Many incorrect medal names have been fixed. Sorry, you don’t really have Auraxium in Female VO Pack, and your Shredder is not a Bulldog.
• The AV MANA Turret now has a ribbon.
• Fixed Phantom VA23, KSR-35, and Impetus rifles jumping during the recoil animations.
• Backseat passengers in the Harasser can now be seen reloading.
• Fixed pump-action shotguns sometimes not playing reload animations if empty.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to H1Z1 hands-on: first impressions of SOE’s zombie survival game">photo 1

SOE has embraced an extremely transparent, open style of development with H1Z1. After suddenly revealing the game just a few weeks ago with a live demo (and following that with additional, extended livestream gameplay demos, including one where the game s barricading feature was built live for viewers in one day), SOE invited press to play the game for the first time today in Santa Monica, CA as many members of the media are in town for pre-E3 appointments.

I spent about 20 minutes creeping and fleeing my way through H1Z1 s open world. I found it barren and mostly uninteresting, but that s kind of to be expected at this early, pre-alpha stage. H1Z1 is a few steps beyond a tech demo right now, a loose test of how zombies and PvP get along with SOE s excellent Forgelight engine, the tech that powers PlanetSide 2 and Landmark. Melee is a bit buggy, zombies often clipped through another as a single mushed-together mass, only a small number of items seem to be implemented, and the world is seemingly only populated with wolves, deer, zombies, and other players.

My experiences were very rudimentary as a result. Running from zombies. Chopping down a tree. Walking through deserted factories. Building a campfire. The latter was simple and intuitive, a good sign for H1Z1 s ambitious goal to let players build objects and structures within its open world. At this stage it s clear that H1Z1 will benefit a lot from the work done on Landmark and PlanetSide 2; I m hoping the latter s vehicle tech finds a good home in H1Z1. It s a nice detail to see that tall trees, for example, fall when you cleave them, and that wood-gathering isn t some abstract menu exercise, as it was in the early days of DayZ.

H1Z1 s map is modeled after everywhere America, but more specifically it s meant to resemble Oregon. At this stage it s a series of valleys, bridges, unkempt infrastructure, and thin forests. Something I m hoping to see in a future build is heavy vegetation and grass that invites hiding and trap-laying. It ll be interesting to see whether Forgelight can render grass at a long distance to conceal players, something that DayZ doesn t necessarily do a great job of.

The pre-alpha inventory was easy enough to navigate and craft items through, again, clearly helped by SOE s long history of making MMOs and building such interfaces. This same menu housed the health, stamina, hunger, and hydration meters, which I was told all influence one another. If your hunger and hydration are good, you ll recover stamina. If they re all at zero, your stamina meter will erode over time, and then eventually start eating into your health.

I ll have an interview going up this week that digs into some deeper questions on H1Z1 s game systems, but for now I m at least encouraged by how easy player movement feels and that its basic parts are up and running. It s tough to judge the game at this stage because so much of its design, even as it approaches an Early Access pre-alpha release, is still being determined by the game s team of 30-something developers and its community. SOE emphasized that H1Z1 will be a hardcore survival game, but I m curious and slightly concerned about how that s going to intersect with H1Z1 s building system for housing and lesser structures.

One interesting fact I came away with was that zombies will perceive smell in the form of heatmap activity in addition to using their eyes and ears. In other words, if you build an isolated community in the wilderness, you shouldn t be completely safe and separated from zombies. I like the idea of a survival game that allows for player-created, semi-permanent communities to spring up but that has an organic, systems-driven way of getting zombies to interact with players in those areas.

This demo didn t give me too much to go on, but my gut tells me that H1Z1 will probably end up playing like a DayZ that s driven less by the fidelity of Arma 2 s world and weapon ballistics and more by crafting, building, and player-generated content. H1Z1 does, of course, bear a strong resemblance to DayZ right now (to the extent that the wave and surrender/hands up emotes are bound to the same keys), but I think that familiarity is actually an asset (in terms of how quickly H1Z1 feels natural when you sit down to play it). I m happy to see SOE not be too bashful about similarities as long as it brings its own spirit and vision to the game and recognizes that DayZ has a long list of flaws that don t need to be duplicated.

A final note: SOE told me that they want the game to be bigger than PlanetSide 2 in terms of scale, so what player capacity H1Z1 will be able to accommodate is a huge unanswered question that could potentially have a significant impact on the playing experience. Look for more specific notes about the game s systems in the Q&A I ll be posting soon.

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