H1Z1: Battle Royale has gone through many changes for the better

Last year was the release of two games that changed gaming forever. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite unleashed a new genre that has players spending countless hours to claim victory. And with it a wave of games trying to capture the success of both games. But one game sat in early access known as H1Z1: King of the Hill. Arguably the first of the battle royale genre, Daybreak took what they’ve created and repackaged it for a PS4 re-release known as H1Z1: Battle Royale. But can it stand a chance against the wildly popular PUBG and Fortnite?

For starters, H1Z1 plays very similarly to most battle royale games. Players wait until a match is ready and parachute into a predetermined location. Rather than wait for a route and choose a destination, H1Z1 literally throws you into the action with little time to decide where to land. The closing circle is then set shortly after with poison gas, blocking off a portion of the map already. Once on foot, you are on your own to find gear and weapons to prepare yourself against whomever you come across.

Weapons can range from pistols, rifles, and shotguns to more advanced weapons like snipers and automatic rifles. Gear is also scattered to shield yourself like motorcycle helmets and armor vests. The more advanced options are Kevlar helmets and advanced tactile vests. Backpacks are also scattered which allow you to carry an additional weapon and grenade type with a tactile backpack, allowing 4 weapons and grenades types. With the exception of grenade weapons, every item you pick up can be customized. Weapons, armor, even helmets can all be customized, giving you many options as to how your character looks. Some items can be bought, like the Hardline Launch Bundle, but many can be earned within the game through victory chests and from the battle pass.

H1Z1 plays just like any shooting game there is. The camera is set to a third-person view and switches to 1st person when aiming weapons. This gives a realistic approach to aiming, given that most guns just have the sights on to aim with. There isn’t a specific type of playstyle that dominates. You can run and gun or sneak around. The one with the better weapon will most likely win. And that was probably the main downside to H1Z1 early on. Having played since the beta released, I’ve seen firsthand the many changes to get it to where it is today. It was almost a requirement to have a vehicle until the bitter end, to which the remaining few would just circle the map until the gas consumes everyone and whoever had the most health and bandages would outlive the others. It was almost necessary to gain the loot from the cargo drops to ensure victory. With vehicles being more fragile and a few weapon tier changes, the game feels more balanced but not perfect. You can still win with the basic guns that are scattered across the map, but your chances increase with the higher tiered weapons.

Since H1Z1 is based on DayZ, the map is set in a post-apocalyptic world. The setting gives an eerie vibe seeing as the thundering silence of abandoned buildings has you expecting something to jump out. There aren’t any zombies around, but wandering through the empty buildings at first make it feel like there are. And to top off the post-apocalyptic setting is the alert of an imminent bomb. The siren goes off once the counter hits 10 seconds giving you that moment to run or drive from the incoming gas.

The gas itself isn’t strong at first, giving you the possibility to survive it. But as time goes on, it hits harder forcing you to either stand and fight in the gas or make a run for it. Plus, the poisonous gas fills your entire field of vision, making it hard to navigate your way out of it. But sometimes sticking behind a bit may be the key to victory despite taking some damage. Whether alone or in teams of up to 5, the battle to remain the sole survivor is a difficult one as the match progresses. The gas gets stronger and the better weapons drop. But that first taste of victory is a sweet one.

Final Reaction

From the beta to launch, H1Z1: Battle Royale has gone through many changes – and many for the good. Although it’s still weird to not be able to run over people, the change made sense to keep it from being a vehicle heavy game. The many customizable options available add for something to work for. And being able to either purchase or earn the skins is a huge win. With a few launch bundles available, you can jump in and show who’s boss in style. Or you can intimidate your foes with the Hardline Bundle, giving you immediate access to some sweet gear. It’s not for everyone, but I first saw H1Z1 as a break from Fortnite. Now, it’s my main game when I’m feeling the need to cause havoc. It’s worth a shot that may surprise you.

Score: 4/5 Atoms

H1Z1: Battle Royale is available now for PlayStation 4.

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