Today, Daybreak Games made some major announcements about its zombie MMO franchise H1Z1. The game is coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this summer, while the PC edition is being split into two distinct packages, each of which will be sold separately, the studio announced today.
On PC, H1Z1 is becoming two independent games: H1Z1: King of the Kill and H1Z1: Just Survive. King of the Kill is described as a "large-scale, high-intensity" shooter that includes a number of games, including Battle Royale, which was created by a player who goes by the name PlayerUnknown.
The regular H1Z1 game--which has sold 2.5 million copies in its unfinished state, Daybreak said--is changing names and will be known as H1Z1: Just Survive. This is the regular game as you know it.
King of the Kill and Just Survive will sell for $20 each when they launch on PC through Steam Early Access. If you currently own or buy H1Z1 on or before February 16, you'll get both games when they separate a day later. H1Z1 currently sells for $20.
Separating the games in this way was something that the H1Z1 community asked for, Daybreak chief publishing officer Laura Naviaux told GameSpot in an interview. She explained that it became clear to Daybreak from their own observations and player feedback that people were largely playing the game in two distinct ways (Battle Royale vs. open-world), so it made sense to split them up in an effort to better serve both audiences.
"They have completely different communities that have different needs, desires, and wants, and we really want to be able to cater and grow the games to be able to nurture both of those players bases distinctly," she said. "After a lot of thought, we came to the conclusion that we should really split these games into two different products and the player community had actually asked us to do that."
When the split happens on February 17, all the items that existing H1Z1 players have will be replicated across Just Survive and King of the Kill. This includes your crates, keys, and items, among other things.
Just Survive and King of the Hill exist under the same umbrella, but are developed by two different teams inside of Daybreak games. Just Survive is staying in Early Access until the end of 2016, while King of the Kill will leave Early Access this summer, launching simultaneously with the PS4 and Xbox One versions. A specific release date has not been announced.
On console, only King of the Kill will be offered, at least for launch this summer. A Daybreak games representative told GameSpot that the plan is to bring Just Survive, or some form of it, to console...eventually.
"We're working on our plans for bringing Just Survive out of Early Access and to console, but no details on timing or additional info at this time."
H1Z1 creative director Jens Andersen also confirmed to GameSpot that the console versions of King of the Kill will offer microtransactions, just as the PC edition does. He stressed they will be for cosmetic items only, so as to avoid a "pay-to-win" scenario.
"All of the microtransactions that we have right now are vanity-based; there is no power being sold," he explained. "In fact, it's very important for the nature of the King of the Kill experience that players start on an even playing field."
With regards to the PS4 and Xbox One versions of King of the Kill as it relates to graphics and performance, Andersen said the goal is to achieve parity for resolution and frame rate. He didn't share any specific targets, but said the team's goal is to make each version look and run as good as possible.
Although another Daybreak title, DC Universe Online, supports cross-platform play between console and PC, the studio would not confirm if this will also be true for H1Z1. "Those are things we're figuring out right now," Naviaux said. "We want to make sure the player communities and populations as best we can, so we're taking all of that into consideration to figure out the best path for H1Z1."
Some have also remarked that H1Z1 on PC is not the best-looking game out there, so we wondered if Daybreak might be planning to introduce some visual improvements for the full launch. Andersen confirmed this is indeed happening.
"Absolutely, in fact we just recently introduced finished some work on toxic gas that is featured in the Battle Royale mode and it looks amazing now," Andersen explained. "Right now in the game it looks pretty janky, to be honest with you. It was a first pass. We are in Early Access. So being in Early Access, we might add things that are fun to the game that prove-out mechanics that aren't yet visually polished to the fidelity level that we expect in the final product."
"An example would be, you're going to see an amazing improvement to the gas, the visuals of the gas. We're also working on tree improvements right now. Cool stuff happening both visually and in terms of level design that's really going to enhance the game and make it even higher fidelity than it is right now both in gameplay and visuals."
Daybreak, formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment, split off from Sony a year ago this month. H1Z1 is the studio's second game announced for Xbox One, following DC Universe Online. John Smedley, who was CEO of Sony Online Entertainment and Daybreak for a period of time, left the developer at the end of 2015 amid a clash with a hacker.