The developers of H1Z1 have kicked off the game’s latest season of content by changing its name and undoing many aspects of the past two years of development. The game, which is now called Z1 Battle Royale, has returned to what many players regard as its peak – a specific patch from its early access release.
It’s worth pointing out that this is not a straight revert – pulling that off would have likely caused a major headache by reintroducing several old bugs back into the game. But in the patch notes, which were posted to Steam last night, general manager Anthony Castoro said that the update “represents the first big delivery on the promise that the new NantG team made when it took over development last September: Bring back the game that so many of you fell in love with.”
Burns refers specifically to Preseason 3, the period of the game’s development that saw it pulling in more than 150,000 concurrent players. Everything from combat to the world and environment has been scaled back, with dozens of notes specifically referencing “PS3 values.”
It’s not all old news though, and there are a few new features included in the update. Missions provide optional tasks to attempt throughout the course of a game, offering rewards if you can pull them off. There’s also a new Fragments system, which provides rewards for looting downed players.
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It also looks as though NantG is looking to attempt to reinvigorate the game’s competitive scene. A ranked mode has been introduced, and a tournament structure is already in place for the top 75 solo players from each region. That’ll take place towards the end of the month, but even if you don’t make it, you’ll receive cosmetic prizes based on your progression throughout the season.
Whether these changes will be enough to bring the once thriving player-base back remains to be seen. While H1Z1 saw some significant popularity, suites of unpopular changes caused player counts to drop from a peak of 150,000 in July 2017 to just over 2,000 in February. There’s no doubt that there’s plenty more battle royale competition now, but since the update, the player count has already spiked to more than 12,000, suggesting that Season 3 could be the start of a move in the right direction.