H1Z1: King of the Kill Review – Run, Gun, & Mainly Fun

 
h10King of the Kill
Daybreak Game Company

Daybreak Game Company could just be one of the most hated gaming developers out there right now. With that being said, their much maligned, but still widely played game, H1Z1: King of the Kill, isn’t going anywhere soon. But let me back up a bit here…

Back in January of 2015, Daybreak debuted their new zombie-killing, open-world, crafting and building game, simply titled H1Z1. H1Z1 was originally comprised of two separate games, one which focused on more of the traditional crafting and survival elements that we’re all familiar with by now, and the other which was more PvP-oriented. The game was sold for $20.00.

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Apparently, in February of 2016, someone at Daybreak thought it would be a nifty idea to split both gaming experiences into completely separate games. The survival element became known as H1Z1: Just Survive (thoughtful title there!), while the PvP mode became H1Z1: King of the Kill. They offered each of the split up games for $20.00 apiece. Needless to say, gamers weren’t too keen on paying for two separate games when they originally got both for the same price as each.

It also became apparent which game Daybreak would begin to focus development on, from that point on. They’d offer a couple of skimpy patches here and there (mainly cosmetic) for Just Survive, while adding regular new content updates for King of the Kill. This was obviously a strategy gleaned from realizing that KotK was tearing up the charts on TwitchTV in terms of popularity.

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Long story short—Daybreak, although much-maligned, has one of the hottest gaming IPs out right now in KotK. As of this writing, it can be relied upon that KotK is amongst the top ten in terms of TwitchTv’s most played games, day in and day out (no pun intended), if not top five.

So what’s all the hubbub about? Well, KotK has a pretty good formula in place. Basically, at the start of each round, a large number of players parachute down across one of two sprawling maps. The game’s original map is more rural, with patches of small towns and suburbs, while the most recently added one is also mainly rural, but sports larger industrial areas for more urban-oriented combat. You can play the game solo, or in teams of either two or five players.

After touching down, it becomes a frantic scramble in order to secure the best weapons and equipment. Right now, AK-47’s and AR-15’s are at the top of the list for weaponry, while things like body armor and medic kits are most sought after, equipment-wise. Naturally, most of these items are placed randomly within residential or commercial areas—in other words: Buildings. Which makes sense. I mean, you’re not exactly going to be strolling through the woods and find an AK dangling from a tree, right?

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Anyhow, if you are fortunate enough to find some good equipment, things really get rocking. Expect to see the kill message list to the upper left of your screen frequently light up, as contestant after contestant is sent to their maker. Oh, and don’t forget that poison gas is pumped into the environs at regular intervals, forcing players into ever tighter quarters with one another. Those who secure vehicles are at a great advantage, as they usually don’t have to worry about being caught up within the toxic clouds.

Whomever is left within the final small circle of breathable territory has to shoot it out with one another until a final victor emerges. Winning a match not only increases one’s prestige, but also gains them some goodies in the form of loot crates, not to mention ample bragging rights on TwitchTV if they just so happened to be streaming.

The gameplay is fast and furious, and I have to admit, as a pick-up-and-play quick fix of shoot ‘em up violence, it somehow works. Most of the time. Why most of the time? Well, KotK suffers from some dodgy physics, server hit registration, and other little niggling bugs. It also seems to reward more of the fast-twitch gamer, those whose reflexes are lighting fast, rather than patient, methodical tacticians.

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But when it works, it works. There’s something inherently fun about dropping into a battlefield with a bunch of other combatants and having to shoot it out, battle royale-style, until a final, blood stained victor emerges. I’ve personally made it down to one of two players left, and have felt the blood pumping within my temples so much, that it just as well had been a submarine’s sonar pulses.

Graphically, KotK is pretty darn good. It’s come a long way in the past couple of years, and now sports some really good character and weapon models. The environments have also gone through a number of makeovers, and the maps look spectacular indeed. The sound department also nailed it, with realistic staccatos emitted from firearms, and grunts and groans from struck enemies. The only thing that I didn’t care for is how the bodies disappear almost as soon as they go down—that sort of breaks the immersion factor a little.

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KotK is a fast, frenetic, battle royale-inspired game that will constantly keep you on your toes. It has fantastic visual, great sound effects, quick and deadly gameplay, and a huge player community. While it may not appeal to more mature, tactical gamers, it will certainly whet the bloodthirsty fast-twitchers out there. However, with other battle royale-themed games on the rise, such as The Culling, it remains to be seen if H1Z1: King of the Kill can stay as popular into the foreseeable future.

SCORE: 76%

H1Z1: King of the Kill features some seriously impressive visuals. However, you have to have an equally impressive gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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