H1Z1, SOE’s zombie survival MMO, has just had a release date stuck on it. An early access release date, anyway. There will be two versions, one which has yet to be announced, and a basic early access SKU that will launch on January 15th for $19.99.
“We wanted to set a high bar quality wise for Early Access,” CEO John Smedley said on Twitter, just before the announcement. “Happy with where we ended even if it took longer.”
The release date of January 15th will give the team enough time to polish existing features. “Why did it take longer than we originally thought? It’s a fair question,” Smedley said onReddit. “The simple answer is once we saw what we could have had earlier it wasn’t good enough and we wanted to put something out that we would be proud of. What you’ll be playing January 15th is a really fun game, but it’s early. It’s everything Early Access should be – a fun and compelling game that isn’t finished. Our goal is to have you help us finish it and have it be a game we can build a large community in over time.”
The map will start out at 64 square kilometres, but that will start to grow straight away. The end goal is a map of a virtual, zombie-infested USA.
Since the initial announcement, comparisons to DayZ have been common. Smedley assures that it’s different, it’s an MMO, but warns that it won’t be as rich in features as DayZ is at the moment.
“Is H1Z1 going to be better than Day Z day 1? No it won’t. We’ll get asked that question a lot and I wanted to be up front about it. We’re not as feature rich and they have a lot of really cool stuff we just don’t have yet. That being said, we’re also a different game. We’re an MMO and our goals are to create a large scale world that gives you the incredible feeling of being a survivor in a zombie apocalypse.”
And DayZ has been in early access for a year, of course.
At 3:30pm PST, SOE will be streaming a Q&A with the developers over on Twitch.