H1Z1 PlayStation 4 Interview – 60 FPS & Higher Resolution on PS4 Pro, New Gunplay Mechanics, Weapon Attachments
In the hours leading up to the first matches of the H1Z1 Pro League in Las Vegas, Nevada, we had the chance to take a quick look at the announcement of H1Z1 coming to the PlayStation 4 on May 22nd (other platforms might follow at a later time). To answer some of the questions we had about what changes are coming to H1Z1 on console, we had the pleasure of speaking with Tony Morton, Lead Combat and Systems Designer for the project at Daybreak Games.
How long have you been in development on the PS4 version of H1Z1?
TM: We've been in development for many, many months at this point. We took a look at the PC version and we wanted to do our due diligence to make sure that we refined and streamlined the game for the console. We didn't want to just straight port it, because there are a lot of aspects of (H1Z1) that just didn't feel at home on the controller. Nobody ever gets excited about diving through inventory, especially when you're in combat. The removal of inventory management, the removal of crafting, salvaging, reworking how the loot system works; all of these were cognizant ideas around 'what do we need to do to preserve the core feeling of H1Z1 and just make it feel good on a controller?'.
You've talked a lot about the smaller mechanics: the increased bullet velocity, the decreased bullet drop just so the gunplay feels a lot better, and since you got rid of the car keys, everyone can just hop into a vehicle and drive around. How do you feel about the vehicles? Do they play more of a role in combat?
TM: First off, the vehicles, it's great because we're used to having to feather 'A' and 'D' to turn on PC, whereas with the console, you get the actual analog and you can turn a little or gas a little/lot. The vehicle fidelity feels really good on a console. The increased vehicle counts were made in mind of wanting to shorten match times (and) people need to get moving. As far as the feel of the vehicles and playing a role in combat, I think it's still going to work out pretty similar to how it is for PC. Players are still going to drive in, get their car sideways and use it for cover much like we see on PC as well. I think that the combat mechanics based on vehicles will be more 1:1, but how a player interacts with (a vehicle) and the amount of control they have over the vehicles will be more refined just due to the fact that you have the analog sticks and triggers; it's not always 100% or 0%.
Do you feel like Auto Royale might make its debut on PS4 at a later date?
TM: I would really hope so. We're still working on Auto Royale on PC, making sure that there are refinements that we still want to do to it: removal of some of the inventory overhead and other retention mechanisms. Those are things are would require a little bit of work, because on console there is no inventory so that would definitely have to be thought of. While we're still moving around some of the foundational aspects of Auto Royale, let's make sure that the foundation is solid and then build on top of it. I think that (H1Z1) Auto Royale on console would definitely be a lot of fun.
This isn't the first time that you've used the Forge Light engine on consoles. (Daybreak Games) did have PlanetSide 2 makes its way onto console back in 2015. Did working on that particular project give you guidance on how to make a PC title transition its way onto console?
TM: Yeah, so you know there were a lot of "consolations" (no pun intended) for PlanetSide 2. There was a lot of UI rework done, but even when it goes back to the foundational/technical aspects of TRC requirements (Technical Requirements Checklist for Sony submissions), we're more aware of that now. Especially in Daybreak's history, we used to be Sony, so a lot of that is built into the heritage of the company. It's one of the reasons why we picked PlayStation, to begin with. We're huge fans and it feels like home, so let's do it again.
For the fans that don't have a PlayStation 4 yet, if they primarily play on other platforms like the Xbox One, do you see H1Z1 making its way to other consoles in the future?
TM: Right now, we're focused on PlayStation 4 and making sure that's the best version it can be. Once that's out there and we are happy with it, we are completely open to exploring other platforms.
How do you feel about crossplay (for H1Z1) in the future? The PS4 version has so many radical tweaks compared to the PC version, but do you see other consoles playing against each other in the future?
TM: I think if we explored crossplay, it would have to be between console and console. Even the bullet speeds are different between PC and console. It would definitely be down to the tech guys to figure out how all of that fun stuff would work, but if we were to do crossplay (for H1Z1), it would have to definitely be between console platforms.
With the new inventory system, you've talked about how there's new weapons, new optics and attachments. As far as different scopes for weapons, when you find a weapon, does it have a scope already attached?
TM: (H1Z1) is definitely like a 'loot and scoot' or 'grab and go'. You just pick up a weapon and use it. The console version of H1Z1 has its own development team and gives them the ability to set up a weapon with the attachments and balance them properly and not worry about how a weapon needs to be balanced with six different scopes. It's a lot easier for us to manage on our end and it's just a lot less for the player to deal with on their end. Grab a gun, shoot it. If you like it, cool. If you don't like it, find a different gun and try that one and hopefully you like that one instead. It's more about embracing that fast-paced action that is H1Z1.
How do you convey that to the player? If there are two guns on the ground and one has a different scope versus the other, how does the player understand what's equipped?
TM: So, each gun only comes equipped with one setup. The ranch rifle has a 4X scope; the AK has a red dot. The differences in scopes are pretty apparent on the ground models, but it won't take much interaction to swap them out. It should be small, bite-sized bits that should be easy for the player to get used to and just find the one they want and roll with it.
From the footage that we've seen, some of the scopes take a lot of screen real estate. Will you have (some way) to compensate for that on console?
TM: The big thing is that a lot of the stuff that you see today, a lot of that is Pre-Alpha. We're currently playing with how much screen real estate that the scope does take up and in the last iteration, we had the same gun take up most of the screen and it is now *way* less of the screen, so you can still have that peripheral awareness.
How will H1Z1 make use of the additional power of the PlayStation 4 Pro?
TM: The PS4 Pro is locked in at 60 frames per second, the regular PlayStation 4 is locked in at a minimum of 45FPS. There are also some resolution gains on the PS4 Pro. Higher frame rates and resolution are where the bang and the buck were spent on the PS4 Pro.
Are there other enhancements, such as model fidelity, or will there be parity between the two versions?
TM: There should be parity between the two versions.
As far as modes for H1Z1, will you support Solo/Duo/Squad modes on PS4?
TM: We will support Solo, Duos, and Fives just like we do on PC. Right now, we're looking into supporting the event system that's on PC, like Swagnum Opus with magnums that shoot fireworks or Shotty Snipers, which is pretty self-explanatory, but we're looking at those to mix it up and give players something different to experience.
Lastly, how do you feel about the Battle Royale genre as a whole and what kind of direction do you think it could be headed?
TM: That's a good one. Battle Royale is very much a 1.0 version. Let's say you look at the three games: take H1Z1 and get rid of the cars, take Fortnite and get rid of the building, take PUBG and get rid of the attachments. It's essentially the same game. It's those three things that differentiate the three games, aside from the level of competitiveness or accessibility, however you want to look at it that way. By doing something so simple as (H1Z1) Auto Royale and put people in cars, it's about as basic as you could get, and it was essentially a different game. I think the future of BR is something that no one can really answer yet because the possibilities are endless. The ability to do such small changes to the ruleset or how you play or who you play as or what you're using when you play, the sky is literally the limit. If you read in the news, there's a lot of bigger contenders that are starting to show up. I think I saw something the other day that Battlefield is playing with BR and Call of Duty is playing with BR and this guy and that guy and everybody is playing with BR. It's going to be interesting to see the genre grow and to see where people really do hardcore innovations on the ruleset to make it work.
There was a little game I played on Steam called Maelstrom. It's a ship Battle Royale game and it's fun and polished and as the match goes on, the ring shrinks and people come together and you're playing BR without realizing that you're playing a Battle Royale. It's one of those things where it's super exciting to be where I'm at to have the ability to work on some of these innovations and take this thing to the next level. We can see where other people take (the genre) and go 'damn, that's a really good idea! What else can we do?' and grow this (genre) together. If you look all the way back at FPS back in the day like Goldeneye and look at FPS today, the crazy stuff that we do in FPS today compared to where it started, it's only going to do that tenfold.
Thank you very much for your time, Tony.