Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley took to Reddit recently to answer questions about the world map of upcoming PS4 zombie MMO H1Z1.
"Our plan is simple," he said. "We're building the core of 'anywhere USA'. When we first open it up to users the map will be huge, but nowhere near as big as it's going to be in short order."
"Our Map Editing system allows us to quickly add massive areas. We want to make sure we clearly understand how the players are playing the game before we do that. On Planetside 2 we made a mistake by making multiple continents before we had a strong enough idea of what worked and what didn't. This game is different. We're doing it smarter."
Smedley went on to confirm an Early Access period in which a "massive" map will be open for players--but this "massive" map is only the beginning. "Over time (very quickly) they'll magically just be able to keep going further than they've gone before. It's a very unique way of doing it, but we actually think this is a better way to go."
Smedley also talks about nailing the atmosphere of a zombie apocalypse, something that the MMO genre's somewhat immersion-breaking traditions seem at odds with. "Zombie Apocalypse isn't going to be any fun if it's like Disneyland on Spring Break and super crowded," he believes. "We want remote.. haunting... being scared when you see someone. Your first instinct needs to be to hide. If there are 20 players in your view it's not a very convincing Apocalypse :)"
"So how many players per server? Who knows. As we add more land the number of people we can hold on a server goes way up."
In a previous post, Smedley also explained:
"We’ll have urban cities and desolate wide open places. All connected seamlessly. Our focus is building a sandbox style of gameplay where players can build shelters out of resources in the world. They can even work together to make amazing fortresses complete with weaponry to help defend against both the Infected and other players."
SOE's new project sounds quite ambitious and, if done well, could challenge mainstays in the genre like DayZ. Meanwhile, SOE brings plenty of MMO development experience to the table, with future releases like H1Z1 and EverQuest Next joining current titles DC Universe Online and PlanetSide 2, the latter of which will be on PS4 shortly.
So what will you do first when H1Z1 comes out? Go exploring? PvP? Make friends? Build bases? Take over an area of land and become a dictator of your own small country? Role-play as the Governor in your very own Woodbury? Let us know in the comments below.