Thursday, July 19, 2012

First Look: The War Z

Today Arktos Entertainment and Hammerpoint Interactive announced The War Z, a zombie survival MMO that will put up to two hundred and fifty players in a large area and let them try to survive. Before you say Day Z is better or write it off as a Day Z clone, you should take a look all of the details. They are both zombie games, for sure, but otherwise they are very different. The War Z is indeed an MMO and it will be exclusively for PC. You will be able to play the game in normal mode, where death is merely a setback and you don't permanently die, or in hardcore mode, where your character will permanently die if you are killed. There are strong RPG elements like quests and experience/leveling. Each map will be between 200 and 400 square kilo-meters, which is about 250 miles at max, and players will be able to cooperate or kill each other. It isn't going to be as much of an open sandbox world as Day Z, mainly because there will be safe settlements where players can buy or sell items and leave notes for other players, but it still looks like it has a lot to offer.

Here is the initial list of the features in The War Z:

  • Survival Horror MMO with entire game world build around a Zombie Apocalypse
  • Two modes of play: Normal (downed characters can be revived after “cool down” period) and Hardcore (death will be permanent)
  • Ability to switch between first-person (FPS) and third-person (TPS) perspectives
  • Huge maps ranging between 200 and 400 square kilometers
  • Meld of PvE (player versus environment) and PvP (player versus player) gameplay
  • Unique social elements, including bounties, rewards, help requests, trap setting, etc.
  • Safe Settlements: safe cities within the world where players can purchase, sell and store items as well as post notes for other players
  • Single purchase, downloadable client with ability to play full game without subscriptions or requiring in-game transactions
  • Full developer support with regularly scheduled, free content updates
  • Dedicated public servers as well as private servers that can be completely self-managed in game client
One of the first things I wanted to note, in case you missed it in that list, was the pricing model of The War Z. Everyone is always worried about anything labeled MMO and how that means it will gouge them of money, but fear not, The War Z will be available for one single purchase, no subscription, and it will be regularly updated with free content. Sounds too good to be true and it kind of is. There will be microtranscations, but they are doing it like many other these days were all microtransactions do is save time for those who don't have it. They won't provide better weapons or equipment and everything you purchase with real money may also be purchased with in-game currency. You will be able to easily play the game without buying anything with real money and they just wanted to added the microtranscation as a convenient option. 

The War Z will have you scavenging for supplies, fighting off infection and leveling up your character. It has strong RPG elements and you will be able to earn experience, level up and learn new skills that will help you survive. You will also be earn in-game money and purchase supplies in the previously mentioned safe settlements. You will join a game through servers and you will be able to make friends and easily join them on whatever server they are on, or you may even go into a server as a group. Since The War Z is mainly a RPG there will be quests in the game. Initially they thought to have you unlock new areas through quests, like a traditional RPG, but they were inspired by Day Z to drop that idea and to make the world open from the start. 

The first world they are going to release will be called Colorado and they will periodically release more based off real places like New York or Los Angeles. This will all be released free to anyone who owns the game. Story wise the game is set five years after a zombie apocalypse and the world is left with few survivors, few supplies, destroyed cities and a few zombies are starting to evolve into something more.  Around the world there will be discarded notes and diaries that will reveal stories and information about the world. The notes and diaries aren't just for lore either, some of them will allow you to find hidden equipment or supplies if you read them carefully. There will also be notes left by other players, which could lead to your demise or end up helping you, depends entirely on them. 

Since The War Z is an MMO there will be some familiar aspects to it, like clans. You will be able to form alliances with other clans and essentially go to war, just like most MMO's with player versus player, but hopefully that will be done in a less generic way then just having your clan kill everyone in the other clan. One good thing about being in a clan or even just having a group of friends, is being able to going into cities at night and collect valuable supplies. There is a day/night cycle and at night you can find special zombies and better gear, but it is also more dangerous. 

The Zombies in Day Z are a bit slower than players and you can actually outrun, but you will likely need to barricade yourself somewhere or climb up somewhere where they can't go. You can deal with zombies in many ways. For example, you can sneak by them, if there are few of them and you are quiet enough, you can kill them all with a silenced weapon, you can spray zombie scent on yourself and walk on by. Each area will have different amounts of zombies, so you can easily run into a few or a giant horde.

Supplies will be realistically spread throughout the world, meaning a small house might have a few supplies, but a grocery store in the middle of a city will likely have much more. You won't have to go into cities if you don't want to, but other players may lure you into them and the developers claim that other survivors are the most dangerous thing in this world. You can trade with other people, but it requires a bit of trust. To trade you place items on the ground that you want to trade and the person you trading with may just shoot you in the face and take it all. There are many ways you will be able to deal with that kind of thing, like bring friends alone, but like Day Z players will likely be very paranoid about running into anyone.

The War Z is a survival game, so you will have to eat and drink to survive, but you will also have to find medical supplies to heal injures. All of that is minor compared to the zombie virus, if you get infected with that you are in a trouble. Hopefully you will have a vaccine, but otherwise you will have to call for help from others or find one before you turn into a zombie. The developers haven't clarified what happens once you turn into zombie, like I would love to know if you will just die and have to create a new character, even on normal ,or if the the player have some kind of control over the zombie. It would also be interesting if player zombies were different from other zombies, like maybe they carried a portion of that persons supplies still on them and looked like a fresher zombie.

The Safe Settlements in the game are essentially just cities from any other MMO, except they have some unique aspects to them. First off, they are the only place in the game were you can purchase supplies or a vaccine, if you have enough money. Secondly, you will be able to only access message boards in settlements, which will let you look for groups with other players and a few other things. Third, they are not safe from other players. You can still kill other players in settlements, but the NPC's will attack you and you will immediately receive a bad reputation. In settlements there will also be a bank of sorts that will let you deposit gear into a global inventory.

Like Day Z, The War Z doesn't have a specific goal for players other than survive as long as you can. There is no max level for your characters, but you can complete 100% of a world. There will be missions that you have to complete in order to achieve that and there will be leaderboards as well, all of which will be separate for the two different difficulty modes. Servers can be mixed difficulties, meaning hardcore and normal characters can both be playing on it, or specifically one. If you are on a hardcore server there will be rare and special gear that you can only earn there. Throughout the world there will also be memories, which are story sections of some kind that you can play through cooperatively with friends.

The War Z will be $30 with no subscriptions and a decent sounding micortranscation system (explained in the second paragraph of the post). They are currently in alpha and they are going to be running a beta later this summer for people who sign up on their website or those who pre-order the game, which you currently can't do. They are trying to release the game this fall, but we will see how that all turns and there are many elements of the game that I need to see in action before I am sold. However, I am very excited to see developers taking note of the popularity of Day Z and deciding to go in similar directions, which can only lead to good things. Thanks for checking it out and I will do updates as more is revealed.
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All information is taken from The War Z press release, but also from this splendid IGN interview that was put up today. Check that out for more, especially since I didn't cover everything they went over and they have some exclusive screenshots. Thanks for reading!

-Written by Sean Cargle


  1. "Zombies will attracted loud noises and they will also to be see and smell you".

    Did a 10 year old write this article?

    1. I suppose that sentence had no purpose, so thanks for the comment.

    2. hahaha possibly.