Heading into SOE Live 2014, Sony Online Entertainment’s annual convention, many excited fans were hoping to hear word of an H1Z1 early access date. H1Z1 early access has long been expected and if ever there was a time to do it, an SOE focused convention would seem to be the ideal time and location. Fans are buzzing and all eyes on the developers with hopes of big announcements. Indeed, even in our SOE Live 2014 Predictions, we confidently stated that an H1Z1 early access release date would coincide with the show itself.
Still, despite the hype and expectations, many were disappointed to come out of the H1Z1 keynote without even the slightest hint at a release window.
When asked about the absence of an early access date, the zombie survival MMO’s Senior Game Designer Jimmy Whisenhunt assured us that the delay is for the benefit of both the fans and the future of the game. Insisting that they’re committed to working through bugs and making all the tweaks and fixes necessary to deliver a stable, enjoyable build, early access will come as soon as it’s ready. Looking at other early releases of the zombie survival MMO genre, many of them release to unfulfilled promises and game-breaking bugs. With the massive selection games on the market and a plethora of other options for players to turn to, a good first impression can be all the difference in making or breaking a game.
“When you jump into a game for the first time and it’s full of problems, it doesn’t give you much incentive to come back,” said Whisenhunt. “We don’t want that. We’re Sony Online Entertainment, we’re a AAA studio and we have a certain standard that we have to hold ourselves to.”
After some hands-on time with the build available at SOE Live 2014, there’s no denying the progress that’s been made. Controls feel tighter and more responsive and zombie AI is improving. But despite this, the game still suffers from from its fair share of bugs and glitches. Bears seemed unreasonably determined to walk through walls, rag doll physics are something of a scary mess and parts of the interface need refining.
It’s understandably frustrating to be kept on hold for so long for the H1Z1 early access release date, and it’s a sentiment with which the developers sympathize. It’s certainly not their intention to keep you waiting, they just want to deliver a good experience. After all, as Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto once said, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”