Daybreak Games’ battle royale title has officially beat PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds to PS4 with its full launch this week, following a series of successful months in Early Access on Sony’s ageing console. Maturer than Fortnite but more accessible than PUBG, H1Z1: Battle Royale - despite looking visually drab and unoriginal for the most part - occupies a comfortable space between its two biggest competitors, and warrants a look-in whenever you’re in the mood for a different flavour of battle royale.
Don’t expect to drop in and start piling up the wins like a second rate Chuck Norris, though. H1Z1: Battle Royale is just as tough and competitive as any other game of its kind, and its players are a bloodthirsty bunch who won’t treat newcomers with any more mercy than seasoned pros. You’ll need to learn to walk the walk and battle the royale if you’re intending to turn victory into a habit, and there are a couple of H1Z1: Battle Royale tips to heed before flying into the game’s single PvP map. Here’s the essential stuff I’ve learned after putting several hours into H1Z1: Battle Royale.
1. Learn how to tame the wonky landing mechanics
H1Z1: Battle Royale doesn’t make a great first impression, in that its parachuting controls are really, really awkward. Perhaps in a bid to bring it in line closer to the real thing, Daybreak won’t just let you glide through the air like a knife through warm butter, as you may be used to in Fortnite, but there’s a certain strategy to it that, once mastered, allows you to get to your desired destination each and every time. The trick, as one player brilliantly puts it, is to imagine yourself as a giant, ungainly “sky crab.”
In other words, think laterally. Choose your location and position yourself at a 90 degree angle to it, so that it’s either on your left or right side. Once that’s lined up, tilt your parachute sideways towards the landing spot, and diagonally fall towards it. Remember that the left analog stick controls your movement whereas the right dictates the speed of your descent, so harmonise these twin pillars of motion to aim yourself correctly, and you should be hitting the ground running like a champ.
2. Cars are basically essential
Cars aren’t just everywhere in H1Z1: Battle Royale, they're a huge part of the game’s dynamics. Daybreak Games even created a separate Battle Royale mode, Auto Royale, where players duke it out exclusively in vehicles, though that’s yet to hit PS4. Otherwise, you’d be wise to find and keep hold of the nearest car around during matches of battle royale in H1Z1, as they’re your ticket to staying alive and ahead of the game.
That’s because, for one thing, the gaseous cloud that encloses the map during matches is a lot faster than the red zone or storm in Battlegrounds and Fortnite respectively, making it easy to get caught in its fumes if you don’t have the wheels to escape. But you’ll also find players often using cars to chase each other or score road kills, and the only way to avoid that is to fight fire with fire, or vehicle with vehicle, as it were. Cars will appear on your mini-map, and come in all shapes and sizes, while certain air drops will even drop automobiles from above, so keep your eyes on the sky as much as the ground when looking for one.
3. Get to grips with the armour and inventory systems
H1Z1: Battle Royale follows the mould shared by other titles in the genre, with a tiered gear system stratified by colours indicating both rarity and/or power. The tree tiers and their respective colours are Uncommon (Green), Rare (Purple), and Epic (Gold), and this applies to both weapons and armour found across the battle royale map. Players can equip head, body, and foot armour, which adds extra health to each of those areas of the body, but higher rated loot will provide stronger resistance buffs or more surface protection.
Similarly, stronger weapons like RPGs and the SOCOM sniper rifle only come in Rare or Epic variants, reflecting their comparative strength against more standard firearms. Once you’ve understood the schema behind H1Z1’s loot system, you’ll be able to more confidently make quick decisions on the fly when figuring out what items to pick, and what to leave behind.
4. Those boots aren’t made for sneaking
Footwear is more important than you think in H1Z1: Battle Royale. As an extra layer to the aforementioned armour system, the decision to wear any boots you find across the map for extra protection will come at the cost to your character's stealth capabilities.
This is because all equipped shoes will generate noise in-game whenever your player walks across the terrain, alerting any nearby enemies to your presence and letting them pinpoint your exact location by the sound of your footsteps. If you want to stay hidden, take your shoes off and stick them in your inventory till you’re ready to open fire. Sometimes the stealthy approach is worth the risk to your poor, bare tootsies.
5. Familiarise yourself with the shooting in Combat Training
Every battle royale game is going to feel and play a little different in the shooting department, as developers set their own preferences for factors like bullet drop, recoil, muzzle flash, and more. As far as H1Z1: Battle Royale is concerned, it's a robust enough shooter, but there is a degree of wonk to how it all controls, at least on console. You’ll need to get used to the rhythms and stylings of H1Z1’s shooting to start hitting those targets accurately, and Combat Training is the perfect place to practice.
It’s basically a giant, hour-long free for all with a bunch of other players, but there’s no score or competitive aspect to the fighting. Instead, Combat Training gives you quick access to moving targets with no fear of tarnishing your competitive reputation. Not just good for target practice, Combat Training is also a nice break from the intensity of Battle Royale, especially when you’re tired of all the action-less walking that those matches can sometimes entail.
7. Keep an eye out for airdrops
What’s a battle royale game without airdrops falling from the sky like heavenly mana? In H1Z1, they’re just as valuable as you’d expect, and appearing more frequently than you might be used to in Fortnite and PUBG, too. These tiered military crates possess the best gear available in-game, a lot of which can’t be acquired by scrounging around the map, including hotly sought after weapons and armour.
You can see and hear these giant crates parachuting from the sky at regular intervals, and an icon will appear on your minimap, so it’s not hard to find them. Just remember that other folks will likely be heading towards them as eagerly as you are, so prepare to fight over its contents if you’re not in a sharing mood.
7. Listen out for radio chatter
As well as dropping down as airdrops, Military Crates also randomly spawn across the map at the beginning of each match. These are more conspicuous loot caches, and a good way to pick up more powerful gear before the first wave of air drops turns everyone into super soldiers.
You can detect a Military Crate’s whereabouts through the in-game radio waves that will segue into your audio whenever one is nearby. Think of them like chests in Fortnite: Battle Royale, using surround sound to determine the precise location of the crate, and quickly lapping up whatever’s inside like a pig to the trough.
8. Be careful where you throw that Airstrike Signal
One of the cool items you might discover in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 airdrop is the Airstrike Signal, which is a throwable that, when used, calls in three waves of fighter bombers to carpet bomb the area upon which the grenade landed. It’s an immensely powerful piece of kit that has the potential to wipe out entire squads of enemies, making it a great find for anyone who knows how to use it.
That last point is crucial, because Airstrike Signals don’t discriminate between friend or foe when thrown, and you could easily end up killing yourself if you don’t chuck the grenade far enough from your own position. Treat it with caution, therefore, and definitely don’t accidentally bounce it off a wall back at yourself, or haphazardly chuck it in blind panic during the middle of a fight. It probably won’t end well for yourself, or your poor competitors either.