Sony has an overarching goal for its upcoming zombie-themed postapocalyptic PC MMO H1Z1--and that's to scare you--Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley says.
"If you watch Walking Dead, you will be right at home in terms of the kind of zombies we have and the atmosphere we're trying to create," Smedley told GameSpot in a recent interview. "We want you to be afraid of the zombies and of other players."
Sony announced H1Z1 earlier this month. It is a free-to-play PC MMO with a day/night cycle, a dynamic weather system, crafting system, and a destructible world. The game's zombies are described as "unpredictable," which is probably why Smedley thinks they'll be so scary.
Also in our interview, Smedley revealed that the arrival of competing PC zombie game DayZ spurred Sony to make H1Z1 in the first place. "It's definitely fair to say that DayZ is inspiration for it, absolutely. And, I'll be honest, there's a lot of other games out there that were inspiration for it, too. I would say DayZ was sort of a catalyst kind of thing."
"DayZ did a brilliant job imagining the apocalypse. Now, the way I view it, that's their apocalypse. We've got our own ideas" -- John Smedley
The DayZ standalone has sold over 2 million copies not even six months after its in-development version went on sale late last year. Smedley was quick to praise DayZ, but also made clear that H1Z1 will most definitely be its own game.
"If you're a zombie-loving PC player, you better be playing DayZ, because it's fun as hell," Smedley said. "DayZ did a brilliant job imagining the apocalypse. Now, the way I view it, that's their apocalypse. We've got our own ideas. Our game has got a lot of its own features; not just features but it's got its own feeling. We're going for a very, very zombie-heavy [feel]."
We also quizzed Smedley about why he thinks the zombie genre has remained so popular while other horror tropes, like vampires, have seen their popularity wane in recent years.
"I think [it's] this idea of an apocalypse with some weird virus that we don't know about. There's this little thing in the back of your mind...there's this consciousness; zombies just seem to be part of our DNA as people and it just seems to immediately click with people."
Smedley went on to say that the success of The Walking Dead is feeding the frenzy for zombies in popular media, and that he hopes H1Z1 can capitalize on this enduring interest in the undead. "We're really happy about it because it gives us a background to tell our apocalypse stories in our own way," he said.
H1Z1 launches later this year on PC, first through Steam Early Access, and then as a final product sometime later. But could the game also come to the PlayStation 4 some day? Smedley hasn't ruled it out.
"We're focused on getting it out on the PC first. As a Sony company we're really excited about PS4 and the opportunities we have there," Smedley said.