The other big last-person-standing shooter is getting a major patch to take some pointers from the latest entry in this genre. Publisher Daybreak Game Company launched an update for H1Z1: King of the Kill today, which is its successful online competitive-survival game. H1Z1 helped kick off the Battle Royale-like craze after adding the King of the Kill mod from developer Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene into the core H1Z1 product. But in March, Greene returned with a more refined take in the form of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds from the Bluehole game studio. Battlegrounds has sold more than 8 million copies so far, and Daybreak wants to mimic what it can so that it can maintain its fan base in the face of this competition.
H1Z1: King of the Kill is still one of the most-played games on Steam. Even though it has fallen far behind Battlegrounds, which often has five-to-eight times as many simultaneous players, H1Z1 often has as many as 100,000 people all logged on at the same time. Updates like this could ensure that number doesn’t dip and send fans over to PUBG instead.
The update is live now, and I’ve spent some time with it. You can read the full patch notes on the game’s website. Weapons have gone through drastic changes that make them feel more realistic as well as more distinct compared to one another. I also got to try the new Hellfire 4-6 submachine gun, which is close-quarters firearm.
“We’re adding a new gun, finding a sweet spot for each [existing weapon], and we’re more clearly defining the role for all of our guns in the battlefield,” H1Z1 creative director David Mendelsohn said in a video about the update. “[We’re also] continuing to innovate on our feedback mechanics for our aggressive gunplay.”
Feedback from weapons was also something I picked up on. Each gun had more realistic recoil and animations, and firing weapons now provides me with clues about how much it is jumping around or how accurate it is.
All of this feels closer to Battlegrounds than previous versions of H1Z1, but the similarities come in more forms than just the weapons. Throwables, like grenades, now use an aim arc like in Battlegrounds. King of the Kill now puts a compass bar at the top of the screen, marks your exact location on the map, and gives you the option to put down waypoints. All of those navigation options come directly from PUBG. H1Z1 also has a “dynamic” camera that behaves like PUBG’s third-person view. For example, you can switch from aiming over your character’s left or right shoulder by toggling a button.
Finally, Daybreak is adding new locations-of-interest to the map to improve the variety of encounters. I don’t think any of this is enough to convince me to choose King of the Kill over Battlegrounds, which is getting regular updates of its own. But H1Z1 has enough players to sustain itself, and Daybreak wants to keep them more than anything else.