On Tuesday, Daybreak formally announced that the neglected PvE half of H1Z1, Just Survive, would be shedding its H1Z1 branding once and for all. The reveal couldn’t help but remind me of the way Daybreak did the same thing for Landmark, deleting the “EverQuest Next” and then the EverQuest IP altogether from the title and marketing before ultimately scrapping the entire game not long after launch.
I don’t think Just Survive is necessarily doomed without the branding, however. In fact, I can think of several MMOs that I wish could have dumped their IPs or changed their names to rid themselves of the proverbial albatross ’round their necks. Star Wars Galaxies leaps immediately to mind.
What MMO would you like to see dump its branding or IP?
Daybreak is a whirlwind this week: First it broke up the H1Z1 party and got Just Survive its own apartment, and now it’s bringing PlanetSide 2 up to speed. The studio is unveiling what it’s calling Critical Mass, an update planned for later in August that overhauls the game’s victory point system.
“Previously, the VP system acted as a sort of checklist where factions would complete various objectives which then rewarded points to that faction,” Daybreak explains. “Earning these points was somewhat removed from the moment to moment experience, and would often reward factions for what they’ve done in the past, instead of painting a picture of the current state of a continent. This was especially noticeable toward the end of the process, where continents would lock abruptly, often interrupting high-intensity battles in a dissatisfying or anticlimactic way.”
To fix that, the team is removing random alerts, nuking the “checklist goals” from the system, changing how continent locking works, and providing scaling rewards. Expect it on the test server “soon” ahead of the PC/PS4 launch later in August.
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree break down the big Guild Wars 2 news, celebrate FFXIV’s momentous milestone, muse about Dual Universe, and more! We also have a special interview with H1Z1: Just Survive Creative Director Ben Jones about the massive overhaul to this survival sandbox.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
Remember the survival version of H1Z1? If not, we can’t say that we blame you: Since Daybreak split the game in two, the bulk of development and attention has gone to the last-man standing tournament mode. Just check out how many patches and tournaments H1Z1: King of the Kill has seen! Those wanting to focus on the survival side of things were just out of luck as those servers seriously languished.
But all that changes today. No longer will H1Z1 Just Survive be lost in its sibling’s shadow; from here on out, Just Survive is its own game. And the name isn’t the only thing changing; beyond a rebranding, the entire game has gotten quite an overhaul.
I sat down with Creative Director Ben Jones for a tour of the many changes that go live today. We traveled the new map, investigated new POIs, visited the new safe zone respawn points (a few times!), met NPCs, checked out the new economy, and peeked at the new stronghold system. Jones also assured me that with its own development team, Just Survive will be receiving regular updates going forward. Will it be enough to bring players back? It worked for me. I had stopped playing the title quite a while ago (as I had no interest in KotK), but what I’ve seen now has me excited to give it another go.
Did you forget H1Z1 is still in early access? We did not! The King of the Kill half in particular is still getting heavy updates rolled out to the PTS, including the combat-centric one profiled in Daybreak’s most recent producer’s letter.
“The Combat Update improves many facets of the game to provide the best combat experience yet, spanning from how your character responds to your inputs, to shooting mechanics, all the way down to the specifics of where each weapon excels in a gunfight,” Daybreak says. Beyond combat, this update includes some new Points of Interest on the map, and revisions to game pacing. We will be testing this update in phases, starting with a focus on ‘solos.’ Once we’re satisfied that we’ve gotten the feedback we need for solos, we’ll announce the next phase of testing.”
Expect huge changes and additions in the form of weapon ballistics, recoil, animations, the firing reticle, retuned weapon range, shinier rifles, the new dynamic camera, more responsive player movement, improvements to thrown weapons, a ton of new points of interest, bleed mechanic tweaks, vehicle buffs, and functional footwear. I am not making that up.
Daybreak’s stream darling is starting down the road to another grand tournament, as the H1Z1 Invitational was announced to be returning to TwitchCon this October.
A half-million dollar prize pool has been set aside for the best
zombie human slayers in H1Z1: King of the Kill. The fun begins this month at GamesCom, continues through September at Pax West and the Tokyo Game Show, and concludes at TwitchCon at the end of October.
There are three tournaments planned for the event. An “All-Stars” invitational will pit 60 online celebrities against each other, while a “Legends” bout will bring the best of the best out to play. Then there’s the $50,000 “Challengers” invitational in which anyone (even you, Kyle) can enter and claw his or her way to the top.
Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “What ever happened to that game?” With hundreds upon hundreds of online titles these days, it’s surprisingly easy for MMOs to fall through the cracks and become buried as more aggressive or active games take the spotlight.
Well, every so often we here at Massively Overpowered find ourselves curious what has transpired with certain MMOs that we haven’t heard from in quite a while. Have we missed the action and notices? Has the game gone into stealth maintenance mode? What’s the deal? What has it been up to lately?
That’s when we put on our detective hats and go sleuthing. Today we look at whatever happened to PlanetSide 2, A Tale in the Desert, and Istaria (witness protection program name: Horizons).
Time and again, we here at Massively OP have noted how RuneScape seems to be incredibly underestimated by the larger MMO community. For how popular it is, it never seems to get the respect and attention from the core MMORPG community that its online contemporaries do.
That is, until you head over to Twitch. According to the June viewing charts over on NewZoo, the fantasy MMORPG drew in an astounding 6.7 million hours of viewership over that month alone. This is enough to put it in 11th place, well ahead of titles like Destiny, Minecraft, Black Desert, and H1Z1: King of the Kill. It’s RuneScape’s world — we only watch it from afar.
The top 10 of the viewership chart is filled with the usual suspects, including much of Blizzard’s roster (World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm) and the dominant MOBAs of our time (League of Legends and Dota 2).
ARK and Conan aren’t the only survivalboxes in town — in fact, several of the modern contenders in the subgenre have updates and videos this week demonstrating their progress.
Today, we’ll start with Next Day: Survival, a new game to our coverage here on Massively OP and one that’s just hit early access today. It’s touting its storyline, questing, “sophisticated crafting system,” car restoration system, repitation, and multiple game modes, including pure PvE and a single-player mode.
“Next Day: Survival is a multi-player survival game with elements of RPG. Its action takes place in an imaginary country within the Eastern Europe, a large part of whose territory is contaminated with toxic fog. The player’s main task is to survive, to develop his game character’s skills, and to interact with the surrounding world, other players, and non-player characters (NPCs). In the course of the game, the character earns a reputation, which gives him the chance to join various factions of survivors, each with their own features and limitations.”
The one thing that I thought we could all count on forever was that the MMO life cycle was pretty easy to understand. A game is launched, then it runs for a certain amount of time, then it shuts down. That last part kind of sucks, but the point is that you know when it’s time to move on. The life cycle is clearly one of creation, then life, then death, like a potted ficus or a cheap desk chair you get at Target.
But then sometimes you have a cheap desk chair that breaks in a crucial way, but you manage to screw the right sort of braces together so you can keep using it for another year after it should have been thrown out. And sometimes an MMO is born, and then it lives, and then it… doesn’t live, but it’s not actually shut down or in maintenance. Or it isn’t clear what’s going on with it, due to what seems to be total abandonment. Or it updates more than games which are supposedly live.
That’s what this column is all about. MMOs in a weird sort of limbo, where some facts are clear, but the results or the overall trajectory make no sense. Sometimes it’s not even clear if the game has actually launched or not. It’s weird.
After some ups and downs this afternoon — everybody loves the “try again later” message, right? — Valve’s summer Steam sale is finally underway and stable. Here’s what we’re looking at in our corner of the gaming world.
Sometimes you have to ask yourself why developers fix bugs that are clearly awesome. And so it is with H1Z1: King of the Kill’s recent patch, which mentions that the team “fixed at least one major cause for vehicles appearing to sink into the terrain and explode when approached.” At least there’s the hope that there are other causes, right?
Anyway, yesterday’s patch was relatively small, mostly focused on a few small adjustments, infrastructure improvements to better handle the load of players, and the addition of laminated armor to airdrops.
Meanwhile, the sadly neglected H1Z1: Just Survive is getting a little bit of attention with this afternoon’s stronghold livestream. “Exciting changes are coming to Just Survive this summer and we want to kick that off with a livestream discussing the new stronghold system,” the team posted. Watch it after the break!
Soloers and team players alike are invited to put their skills to the test in H1Z1’s newest tournament, the Elite Series. Debuting at DreamHack Atlanta on July 21st, the Elite Series will throw some of the best players in the world against each other in single-elimination bouts, all fighting for a slice of the $100,000 prize pool.
A million bucks is on the line for each event in the Elite Series, split between single and team players. It sounds as though the DreamHack event will be the first of a batch of Elite Series tournaments, although Daybreak is being coy on announcing future dates.
Daybreak Director of E-sports Mark Tuttle thinks that this will be a must-watch event: “It’s an arena for the best head-to-head H1Z1 action and will undoubtedly have viewers and players on the edge of their seat. There is nothing that can match the scale or intensity of an H1Z1 tournament where everyone is dropped in together, competing amidst the mayhem to be the last one standing, and we are excited to continue to develop this new genre of e-sports.”