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Producer's Letter: Combat Zone & More!

Anthony Castoro gives some deeper insight on the next game update. 

We've got a great combat-centric update on the Test servers right now! Those of you who have been following our announcements at TwitchCon and more recent updates on social channels may be familiar with the list of features and changes. There are some new nuggets of information below worth reading about before you jump in to this newest Test update.

Last week we had a livestream that went into greater detail on the improvements listed below, so be sure to check that out as well:

Combat Zone

The Test server is going to be your first look at the new Combat Zone! It's your destination to get your hands on most of the weapons in the game so you can practice your skills against other players. This will be a great place to hone your aim or just warm up before you get serious for an evening (or morning) of H1Z1. At 2KM x 2km, it's a fairly small map, but it incorporates design elements from Z2 so you can practice fighting in the hills, neighborhoods, and city areas. When you select Combat Zone from the Play menu (all the way at the bottom), you'll spawn on the ground in a random location. You'll be equipped with a selection of weapons and some equipment including a backpack, helmet, medkits, and other items already on your person. There is no parachuting; you spawn directly onto the map in an area determined by the population in the zone. You can then keep looting up or seek out other players to fight immediately. If you die, you'll have the option to respawn, at which point you'll spawn back in at another random location, ready to go.

Combat Practice 1 Combat Practice 2 Combat Practice Map

Combat Tuning

We've made some additional adjustments to the weapons based on feedback from you, the players.

Combat Practice Range

  • AR-15 Recoil Reset Reduction – We've made a small reduction in the AR-15 recoil reset timing to improve the feel of the weapon in combat. Let us know if the AR-15 feels better with this new reset timing and how it may change your weapon preference.
  • AK-47 Reduced Fire Rate – Based on game data and player feedback, we decreased the fire rate of the AK to address mid-range and close-quarters spammability.
  • Shotgun Fixed Pattern – The shotgun now features a fixed, non-rotating pattern. We've also added a much-requested center pellet. Damage has been increased, but damage fall-off has also been increased to make it a more reliable close range weapon.
  • Bullet Drop – We've slightly decreased the bullet drop across pistols and rifles to be more in line with the pre-Combat Update bullet drop. Note - The AK-47's bullet drop pattern will now be more similar to the AR-15's.

Match Pacing

We're making some pretty interesting changes to the gas pacing early in the match to speed up the initial looting lull. We're also removing the toxicity system, and retuning the gas damage to compensate for this. In addition, the gas early in the match will now be more transparent, but will become much more difficult to see through as the match progresses to prevent camping.

Daily Challenges

We are instituting a Daily Challenge system to the game with this update. Basically, this system offers you 3 different Challenges to complete every day: one easy, one medium, and one hard. You will have the ability to dismiss one of these Challenges each day and get a replacement. The primary reward for challenges is Skulls. Challenges do not have to be completed in a single match and they won’t be replaced until you discard or complete them.

Here are a few example Challenges:

  • Halfway There – Place in the top 75 in a Solos match (easy)
  • Domed – Destroy 10 helmets worn by other players (medium)
  • One Shot. One Kill. – Kill an opponent with the .308 Hunting Rifle (hard)
  • Magnum Rampage – Kill 10 opponents with the Magnum (hard)

Below is a work-in-progress image of what the Daily Challenge system will look like in-game.

Daily Challenges

When we introduce Daily Challenges, we are also going to be removing the Bounty System and updating the Skull Store. Take a look at a few of the new items, including the first ever animated helmet!

Skull Store 1Skull Store 2Skull Store 3

Improved Visuals

We revamped the lighting and colors of The Arena to be more visually appealing while at the same time improving gameplay. This change came in part from direct player feedback during the Reverse AMA.

Visual Comparison

Other Items

  • Fall Damage - We've made some changes to the fall damage system to make it more consistent. You will take the same damage from the same height regardless of forward velocity. You will also no longer take 1-2 damage randomly when running and jumping over small objects.
  • Explosive Arrows are now super effective against vehicles.
  • It is now possible to loot while reloading.
  • The fifth passenger in a vehicle can now reload and shoot.

We've made improvements to our file system that significantly reduce the download size of the game. This change will require that previous files are downloaded again to receive the new format. However, future downloads will utilize the new format and will therefore require a smaller amount of space.

It's been great seeing all the initial feedback from players jumping onto the Test server and playing in Combat Practice. Please keep that feedback coming, as we'll be making small adjustments to the Test server frequently before getting all of this into the Live game.

As always, make sure you're following us on Twitter and Reddit for the most up-to-date information.

- Anthony Castoro