H1Z1, the open-world zombie survival simulator from Daybreak Games, is “evolving,” if that’s what you call cutting content from one game and reselling it as a separate game.
The game released as an early access title on Steam in January 2015 with copious technical issues, but despite its rocky launch the developer reported selling over a million copies within three months. A year later, Daybreak has announced plans to split the game’s two modes of play into separate games, citing feedback from the game’s online community as a main influence on the decision. The game’s original open-world survival concept is now H1Z1: Just Survive, while its competitive Battle Royale mode has become H1Z1: King of the Kill.
The popular zombie apocalypse simulator features the same sort of focus on day-to-day survival made popular by DayZ. You pick berries, purify water, run from zombies, and try not to get murdered on sight by other survivors vying for the game’s limited supplies. In addition, players have also been able to switch to Battle Royale, a “fast-paced fight-to-the-death” variant of the game, in which the map is steadily bombed into oblivion as survivors race to be the last man standing in an ever-shrinking safe zone. It’s this second bit that is being hacked from the central experience and brought back to independent, unholy life.
Laura Naviaux, Daybreak’s chief publishing officer, explained why the company thinks the split is the best choice for the game’s future. “Over the course of development, we discovered it had evolved into two unique gaming experiences, appealing to two distinct communities,” Naviaux said. “Fostering lasting communities is the bedrock of our organization, and by allowing these worlds to exist independently and grow in their own distinguished ways, we can better deliver on a consistent vision and clear roadmap for each game toward official release and beyond.”
Each game will be supported by its own development team. According to creative director Jens Anderson, King of the Kill gamers can expect numerous mode additions within the next few months, while development continues for Just Survive. “We are working on creating a world that’s immersive, that captures the mindset of the last remaining humans trying to survive a post-apocalyptic zombie-filled wasteland,” Anderson said. “It’s a richer gameplay experience, and we want to make sure we do it justice.”
As of February 17th, H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Kill will be available separately for $19.99 each, although gamers who already own H1Z1, or who purchase the singular title before February 17th, will automatically own both titles. Daybreak also announced plans to release King of the Kill on the PC, Xbox One, and PS4 this summer. The developer has not given any details on when Just Survive will be released. In addition to the announcement about the game split, Daybreak told PC Gamer that the original plan to make H1Z1 free-to-play has been abandoned.
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