Death was waiting for me.
No sooner do I spawn into H1Z1 for the first time than I’m set upon by a pair of zombies, looking to turn me into their personal hors d’oeuvre. Hor d’oevres? Whatever. The point is, that by the time I manage to fumble my axe out of my inventory and chop them into bits, I’m already at 50% health.
Welcome to H1Z1, population: you – but not for long.
The devs would later tell me that’s a bug, that zombies aren’t supposed to spawn right next to a fresh player spawn, but that doesn’t do me much good now. I’m half dead, in the middle of nowhere, and I need to find… well, I’m not sure what. A gun? Some food? A friend? All three would be nice.
At least it’s daytime, so I can see what I’m doing. Using the tried-and-true method of “randomly pick a direction and start walking,” I randomly pick a direction and start walking. Before long, I meander over the crest of a hill and see a cluster of houses and shops along a dusty road. The shops are at one end of the lonely strip, nearer to me, while down the road I see a few more zombies milling about. Not wanting to take my chances in my weakened state, I opt for the shops. A man’s gotta eat, after all.
I find a can of beans – “Smed’s Best” or somesuch – and consider my scavenging a success, since I’m still alive. As I move to the back of the shop, I’m in a narrow corridor near the back exit, still hunting for supplies, when supplies come to me.
A deer scampers into the open back door and I think venison’s about to be added to the menu. Had I been a little wiser or more experienced, I might have realized that a rapidly moving deer meant something was chasing it and… yep, just as I get to the door, a zombie wanders in right in front of me. It’s distracted by the deer and has its back to me but I’m so surprised that I practically fumble my axe and barely get a hit in before it decides on a more savory dinner option: me.
By the time I’ve dealt with the zombie, the deer is gone and I’m at 20% health.
I peek out the back door. There’s another deer there – maybe it’s the same one, I lost track as I was fighting for my life – but otherwise, all is quiet. I decide to scoot around the back of the shop and to one of the nearby houses, out of sight of whatever might be lurking out front. As I’m creeping around the edge between a house and a fence, I learn that zombies aren’t the only threat. A dog, or maybe a wolf, scares the ever-loving shit out of me as it jumps me and starts taking chunks out of my ass. One axe shot to the head ends it. I like to think it wasn’t so much a hungry predator as much as it was the loyal pet of whoever used to own the house, defending its master’s property. Sorry, Fido.
In any case, I’m at 10% health as I duck into the house. A little more food, and some water, but that’s about it. Even worse, as I’m scavenging, I hear… noises. The all-too-familiar groans of the walking dead seem to surround me, trapping me in my temporary sanctuary and heralding my grisly doom.
I rush to the back door and close it. Then I desperately check and re-check the house, making sure I didn’t miss any weapons. At 10% health and only a clumsy axe to my name, I don’t like my chances. This is when the game seems its most frightening and most thrilling – nearly dead, I’ve got nothing but my own nerves and a primitive weapon, while a horde of slavering undead linger just outside. It’s probably more like one or two zombies, and not a horde, but you’d feel the same way if you were in my situation. The spooky ambient music doesn’t improve my mood.
With my siege progressing into its third hour (or minute), I decide that something has to be done. The noises are less audible at my original entry point, the back door, so I decide to bust out that way and make a break for it, never looking back. I sprint out across the fields behind the house, and make for the comforting embrace of the wilderness.
I don’t make it unscathed. One zombie – maybe the entirety of my “horde” – follows me. And let me tell you, they run pretty well. (Zombie running speed is something SOE is continually adjusting.) I decide to meet my fate head-on, so I turn, ready my axe, and trade blows with my pursuer. When it’s over, he’s not standing and I am… barely. 1% health.
I limp along for a while before coming to another road with several wrecked cars and a bridge leading off into the distance. Zombies guard the bridge, so I decide to take my chances with the cars. Nothing, nothing, some water, nothing… hey, is that cloth? Rip, tear… yay, bandages!
Bandages restore me to 14% health, but there’s a new threat. A bear is also prowling amidst the wreckage. I crouch down, considering that, like the deer, maybe it won’t be hostile. Maybe I can scoot around him and get to the next car…
So focused am I on the bear that I don’t even notice the zombie coming up behind me until it’s too late. And this time, it really is too late. I turn and get one shot in, but the surprise attack finishes me off in short order.
Life in H1Z1 is short and brutal when you just have to deal with the ambient monsters and wildlife. I can only imagine how much more dangerous it will be with players.