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Producer's Letter: Combat Update

We are very close to the public testing phase of the Combat Update, which I know many of you have been eagerly awaiting. Today's update to the Test Server is a major step forward in coming out of Early Access and in realizing H1Z1's true potential by improving many of its core mechanics and features. 

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. 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.

If there’s one update to jump on the Test Server and play early, this is it. As we work to improve the core gameplay, many features that you’re used to may evolve. We ask that you give the changes a fair test before deciding if you agree or disagree with the decision. We also want you to know that not everything you see on Test will make it to the Live server. We will be actively listening to feedback to refine features with this update. We expect to iterate several times on the Test Server before anything is released to live, so if you encounter a problem or bug, please visit the extensive known issues list before reporting it. It is very likely that we’re already planning to address it! You can read the full Combat Update Test Server patch notes here.

There’s a lot of meat to this update, so let’s get to it! 

Shooting and Gunplay

We know that proficiency with your weapons is key to being the last player standing, so we’ve made improvements to weapon ballistics, hit markers, recoil, animations and more to improve H1Z1’s shooting mechanics. Our goal is to ensure that firing a weapon gives you all the feedback you need to learn and master each weapon. 

The reticle has been upgraded to show exactly how accurate your weapon is. Each round fired will fly somewhere within the ring. As your weapon recoils, it grows less accurate with each subsequent shot fired until you ease off the trigger. 

A “Classic Reticle” option has been added to the Settings menu to allow you to use any of the custom reticles already available, but note that these will not show your weapon’s accuracy.

We’ve created new hit markers for the shotgun that indicate where your shot strikes. This makes it much easier to learn how far away you can take shots effectively based on how much of the shot hits at different distances. 

Bullets now move at a more believable speed, and each weapon’s ballistics profile has been improved to better match its real-world counterpart. Rifle rounds fly fast and flat, pistol rounds hit hard up close but lose power over distance, and shotgun shells tear things up in close quarters. To help understand how your bullets fly and where they will hit, bullets have a visible trail. 

Bullets may fly faster across a flatter trajectory, but it’s still important to learn how far to lead a moving target and how high to aim a shot at long range. If you find bullet trails too distracting, a setting has also been added to hide them.

Making the Most of Each Gun

To add more variety to gameplay, each gun has been highly tuned to excel in a specific role and carefully counterbalanced with drawbacks to give each weapon a distinct play style. You’ll now have to be more strategic about which guns you decide to pick up and equip. 

AR-15: 

Second only to the Hunting Rifle for long range combat, the AR-15’s high accuracy and comparably low recoil make it ideal for reaching out and touching targets at a distance. Its improved recoil pattern (which now includes vertical recoil) rewards players who can steel their nerves to take precision shots at long range.

AK-47:

The AK reigns supreme in mid-range fights. Hitting harder and firing faster than the AR15, the AK is lethal in the hands of a player who can learn to control its punchy recoil.

Hunting Rifle:

This high-powered rifle is still just as effective at dropping players at long range in one or two hits, provided you can get your hands on one. The “Scope Sway” mechanic has been removed.

Shotgun:

While capable of dropping a target with one or two good hits up close, the shotgun requires a good sense of timing since it cycles slowly. The weapon’s spread has been opened up a little wider, making it more effective firing on the run at close range targets, but significantly less effective at medium range shots.

M9:

This easy to handle pistol may not hit particularly hard, but doesn’t kick back particularly hard either. Boasting the largest magazine size of all of H1Z1’s pistols, it’s also the most forgiving to rapid-fire.

M1911:

This classic military pistol delivers more damage than its modern counterpart, the M9, but offers fewer rounds in the magazine and has worse recoil control. In this update, it has been upgraded with a ten round magazine.

Magnum:

The magnum now delivers a staggering amount of damage and tears through armor without a second thought. With only six shots loaded and a slow re-fire time, every shot landed or missed makes a big difference. Its ballistics have been improved so that a precise shooter can hit a moving target without too much lead.

Regarding the R380: we did not feel the R380, an intentionally under-powered pistol, had a good place amongst the newly balanced weapons. We want to make sure every gun has a role in which it excels, and the R380 fell short in every aspect of combat gameplay performance. It has been removed from the game, and its skin will be made available for the M1911.

Expanding the Arsenal: The Hellfire 4-6

Not only did we refine all the guns currently in the game, but we’ve added another one to the arsenal. The H1Z1 weapon catalogue welcomes the Hellfire 4-6: A fast-firing, close-quarters compact submachine gun. 

 

The Hellfire chambers a 4.6x30mm lightweight cartridge for controllable fully automatic spray-down fire. The Hellfire can burn through its thirty round magazine in approximately two seconds, shredding targets in close-quarters combat. 

Rifles [Visually] Rebuilt

We’re raising the quality bar on our weapons. We’ve rebuilt the AR-15 and AK-47 to higher artistic fidelity with modernized parts and updated animations. These guns received a new muzzle effects pass, and will soon be updated with fire and handling sounds recorded from their real-world counterparts. You can expect more guns to get the same treatment down the road as well. By the time we push this to the Live servers, all the older weapon skins will fit onto the newer weapon models. 

 

Dynamic Cameras

A lot of work has gone into our camera system to better show off your character and make it easier to shoot and move around the world. We’ve shifted the camera over slightly so you can better see what you’re shooting at, as well as where your shots are landing. 

The camera has been upgraded to dynamically adapt its framing depending on what you’re doing. We’re keeping a wide angle when you’re out in the open. As you run forward, the camera pulls back to better show off your character. 

The camera will pull in tight in buildings to give you a better view of interior spaces in detail. 

And of course, when you’re aiming your weapon, we’re shifting the camera over to give you a clear line of fire to your target. 

We’re letting you pick the side of the camera you want to see your character on. At any point in game, you can swap which shoulder your camera is on. This is set to the left-control key by default and can be changed in the “Keybindings” settings page. 

Because of how different a new camera can make the game feel, we’re also going to support “Classic Camera,” which looks and behaves exactly the same as the old camera used to. If you’re interested in the new camera angles but don’t like the dynamic motion, we’re offering a “Static Camera” as well, which includes all of the new shifted framing but does not dynamically adjust itself or move around automatically. 

Player Movement

Our animation department has been hard at work overhauling the look and feel of our characters. Your character is now not only more responsive to your controls, but also runs, leans, and turns more like real person. 

We’ve heard a lot of feedback on moving while looting, so we’re excited to share that you can now also move while looting a dead player. If you move too far away from the player’s loot sack, the inventory window will close automatically. 

Throwables

Throwables have been upgraded to be quicker to equip, easier to aim, and faster to throw on the move. You can now aim thrown weapons with the Aim Arc by holding the “Aim” button. To cancel a throw, simply release the “Aim” button. 

Additionally, thrown weapons can be “quick-thrown” by a single press of the “Fire” button.

New POIs

Our world team continues to add more locations to map and improve the overall look and feel of the world. Aside from these new Points of Interest, keep an eye out for some new rock formations that help with cover in open fields, which is especially important for those times when you don’t have a vehicle!

Harris County Fairgrounds: 

Found in E5, North West of Pleasant Valley, these abandoned fairgrounds feature a quick-changing mix of long to short range combat.

CWP Water Treatment Authority:

Found in C6, West of Pleasant Valley, this water treatment monitoring center offers good protection and visibility of the surrounding area, making it a great spot to dig in and fortify.

East Valley Shopping Center:

This large shopping center offers loot to be grabbed on the move and can be found in I7 directly East of the Airport.

CWP Utilities Compound 62:

This electrical utility area was fortified and used as a hold-out by survivors during The Outbreak. In addition to its makeshift fortifications, it offers a great view of the surrounding area. Check out F4, North of Pleasant Valley

Sunny Pines:

This community of trailers, houses, warehouses and a church spreads across the hills found West of Ranchito (G3) has replaced the prior Sunny Pines trailer park.

 

Bleed Mechanic

We’ve revised the Bleed Mechanic to make it more understandable, simplifying what you need to do to respond to bleeding and how damage is calculated by game systems. Where the Bleed Mechanic used to have six different states for “bleeding,” we’ve reduced it to four: Not Bleeding, Minor Bleeding, Moderate Bleeding, and Major Bleeding. The health bar has also been updated to show one Bleed Marker for Minor Bleeding, two Markers for Moderate, and three for Major.

It’ll take one Bandage to heal each bleed marker or a First Aid Kit to heal all three. 

Vehicle Fixes

A few vehicle improvements have been made for this update:

  • All vehicle passengers can now use the inventory of a vehicle, even while it's in motion.
  • Vehicles no longer “over flip.” They will instead land on their wheels more consistently.
  • Vehicles will no longer give the “cannot exit” message when parked in tight spaces like garages. Instead, the player will exit the car from the nearest available door.
  • We’ve adjusted the Pickup Truck to be a bit less bouncy when going over rough terrain to help compensate for the additional top speed that was added last patch. 

Navigating the World

In this update, you’ll have a few new navigational tools available at your disposal, including a more functional compass, the ability to see the exact position of you and your teammates on the map, and the capability to place a marker on the map for easy navigation reference. All of your teammates can see this marker, which can be placed by left-clicking on a location. Right clicking will remove the marker.

The first is a more functional compass. 

World Systems Improvements

We’ve improved many of the systems that control how the world behaves during matches. Improvement include:

  • Explosive Barrels no longer spawn near each other.
  • Explosive Barrels have had their point blank damage decreased so they no longer kill a player at full health.
  • Tents now flatten when shot.
  • Blue mail boxes, newspaper boxes, and cement ash trays can now be destroyed. 

Functional Footwear

If you’re still running around in your starter shoes, the first pair of better footwear you find and pick up will now automatically be equipped. Both Sturdy and Speedy footwear have had their stats bumped up as well. We’ve also added crafting components you can get from shredding and salvaging footwear you find.

Combat Practice

There’s been some chatter about Combat Training, or deathmatch as we’ve seen many of you call it. This was initially designed as an internal tool to help test the Combat Update. While testing, we found that it was actually a ton of fun and allows players a place to practice and before going into a standard match. We have more work to do on it before it’s ready for large-scale community use, but we do intend to eventually release it in H1Z1. 

Weapon Roulette Skirmish

We have a new skirmish in development you may see on the Test server in the near future that we’re calling Weapon Roulette

  • This is a standard BR mode except that all players in the match start with the same *random* gun in hand and infinite ammo for that weapon.  
  • No other guns or ammo are spawned in the map to loot, but you’ll still need to scavenge for other supplies.  
  • At certain population thresholds as the match advances, all players will have their current weapon removed, and we’ll randomly select a new weapon that will be granted out to all remaining players. 

So essentially every game should play out a bit differently because the order of the guns in play will be randomized each match and you’ll have to adapt how you play based on the gun that’s active. We’d love to get more eyes and feedback on the skirmish, so we’re hopeful we’ll be able to surface the mode on Test server soon for everyone to check out.

More in the Works!

Keep an eye out for some additional changes beyond what’s mentioned above. Plus, with all these changes to the core combat system, expect pre-season 6 to start when this update hits Live. More details on that to come. 

This update is massive and we cannot wait to play with you on Test and get your feedback! We can’t thank you enough for your support and we couldn’t be more excited for the future of H1Z1. 

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