Our H1Z1 guide (2018) covers the Battle Royale and Auto Royale versions of the game, with tips, tricks and strategy advice to be added in future updates.
If you've yet to - somehow - have your thirst for Battle Royale games well and truly satisfied, then you might very well be interested to know that H1Z1 (the game that pretty much kicked the whole craze off), is about to go free to play. The news was confirmed a little earlier on today.
It's a move that's always seemed like something of an inevitability if the game was to hope to remain relevant in the shadows of PUBG and Fortnite (the latter of which is also free to play), but there is compensation for early backers in the form of cosmetics and in-game credits. Hopefully that'll be enough to take the sting out of the shift in monetisation.
To help players who are both veterans of the genre and complete newcomers, we wanted to put together a guide to H1Z1 that would provide you with a complete overview of what to expect. From installing the game to understanding the rules of engagement, this primer should have you covered. We hope to add plenty of tips and strategy advice to this article after launch as well.
Before we get stuck in though, here's the trailer confirming the free to play announcement. Right below that we've got the lowdown on what to expect when you fire up the game. If it proves popular then we'll be launching spin-off guides into all aspects of the game, so check back soon for updates.
What is H1Z1?
In very simple terms, H1Z1 is a Battle Royale game where 150 players drop onto a map, scavenge furiously around for armour and weapons, and then hunt each other down until there's only one person remaining (in single-player mode, that is - more on that in a moment).
As you've probably already guessed though, you can't just find a sneaky spot on the map to hole up in so as to avoid combat altogether. Just like in all games of this type, in H1Z1 you'll have to keep moving to avoid the grasp of a toxic cloud of smoke. Get caught out in this funk and you'll eventually succumb to the fumes, adding yourself to the death tally in a rather embarrassing fashion.
This ever-shrinking playable area ensures that players are gradually drawn closer and closer together as the end-game plays out, increasing the tension slowly but surely over the course of a match.
That's not to say there isn't room for the more devious players to bide their time though. By all means find a safety spot and wait for your victims to unknowingly come to you - just be prepared to set up a new ambush spot on a pretty regular basis, and as the playable space grows ever tighter.
How to install H1Z1
If you have Steam then you'll find it very easy to grab H1Z1. All you need to do is fire up the Steam client, search for the game, and download it.
This article was first published on the 8th March 2018, just before the free to play client was released, and so you should be able to find it on the store front very easily at the time of reading.
There are a huge number of weapon types to scavenge as you mooch around the map, from pistols, to shotguns, to grenades, bows and plenty more in-between.
It goes without saying that you are highly encouraged to track down any weapon whatsoever when you first hit the dirt. Even if you have the most primitive weapon you can imagine in your inventory, it's going to give you an advantage over the other player who has none.
There are many different types of Armour in H1Z1 and each type has a couple of associated stats. Durability is related to the amount of punishment the item can take, while Protection (as the name suggests) is the rating that measures how much damage is mitigated.
You can make use of items such as bandages and first-aid kits in order to restore a little damage following a feisty firefight. They're available in many different variations and we'll have a guide on how to choose between each one for you in the very near future.
Like in PUBG - but unlike Fortnite Battle Royale - you can make use of the vehicles that are dotted around the map to buy yourself a little more mobility. This is incredibly handy when you either want to escape the toxic cloud, or you want to hunt other players on unfavourable terms (for them, that is).
The various vehicles in the game have different levels of protection, and some are faster than others as well. It's really not worth being too picky on this front though, as having any kind of vehicle is a huge advantage, and you can always grab something better when you come across it.
It's also worth pointing out that vehicles contain keys which you'll need to loot and equip. Once you've done so, other players will need to hotwire your wheels if they want to make use of the car - a lengthier process. With the keys in your inventory, you'll also be able to jump into other rides without having to hotwire them yourself.
We'll have more details for you on the vehicles of H1Z1 in a future update, so stay tuned for more tips and tricks on this front.
As well as a pretty generous selection of weapons and armour that you can hoover up around the map, there's also a crafting system in the game. By making use of this you can cook up your own collection of traps and repair kits to - hopefully - keep you in the fight a little longer than the other guy.
In order to make all of these items, you're first of all going to need to harvest plenty of materials, so don't get too blinkered about grabbing weapons and armour only. Once the game client has gone live we'll be getting stuck in to this side of the game, and hope to bring you the lowdown on all the different items you can make, and what ingredients you'll need to gather in order to do so.
If you want to go full Rambo then you will certainly enjoy getting stuck into the solo version of the game, where another 149 like-minded psychopaths are waiting to tear chunks out of you as well.
Should you favour something a little more cooperatively tactical though, then you can play H1Z1 as either a duo, or as a group of five.
Suffice to say each mode in H1Z1 requires a very different strategic outlook, and you will need to maintain close communication with your team to ensure that no man gets left behind.
Like vehicles more than just about anything else? The free to play launch also includes the new Auto Royale mode, which features combat based entirely around cars, trucks and cruisers. Just like in the on-foot version of H1Z1, the last vehicle left in one piece is declared the winner.
At the start of each match, players begin in their vehicles and can scour the map for upgrades while hunting down other player vehicles. Enemies can be taken out with traditional weapons, as well as land mines and oil slicks. The video below contains more detail on the mode:
Think you've got what it takes to go toe to toe against the very best H1Z1 players in the world? Along with the free to play announcement, the publishers have also announced a new esports league for the game.
The H1Z1 Pro League is the first dedicated Battle Royale esports league, and will see 15 teams of five players compete every week across an entire season of competitive play.
The Pro League action will take place at Ceasars Entertainment Studios in Las Vegas, with the first season of play commencing on April 21, 2018. Players will be able to either watch in person, or the content will also be streamed on Facebook (no Twitch details have been confirmed so far).
Each team will accrue points over the course of the season, with one team to emerge victorious in the Championship finale.
That's the end of the first edition of our H1Z1 Battle Royale guide. Stay tuned for future updates that drill deeper down into the nitty-gritty detail of the game!