H1Z1 Battle Royale is back from the dead, but will it stay?

Battle royales are still dominating the gaming market. With giants like Fortnite and Apex Legends leading the pack, it is hard for smaller scale battle royales to keep up. That’s true even if you are one of the founding fathers of the genre.

Such is the case for Z1 Battle Royale, previously known by the name of H1Z1 King of the Kill. Some good news for fans of one of the OG BRs – Z1 Battle Royale is currently experience a pretty strong resurgence.


Up until now, Z1 had slid under everyone’s radars. Since last June, the game had dipped to below-1000 concurrent players on average. A slow death in the depths of peoples’ Steam libraries: a grim, but plausible end. But with the recent tournament put on by THump – including big name players from back in the day like TFue and LyndonFPS – we are seeing players return home in droves.

Though the increase in player count is nowhere near Z1‘s peak in 2017, it is a breath of life into a game that was slowly dying. With daily players reaching nearly 10,000 each day, and content creators content-creating for it again, things are looking up.

How does it feel 3 years later?

I used to play Z1 back in the day when it still went by H1Z1 King of the Kill. I will probably forever call it H1Z1. It was my first battle royale game – excluding Minecraft Hunger Games, which is the godfather of all battle royales. Thanks Notch.

With the recent rise in player numbers, I decided to dust off my laptop – the same one I used to play H1Z1 on back in the day, for old times sake. I have to say, the game holds up. The longest I spent waiting for a game before I found a lobby was around 12 seconds. I was into games within minutes, with little down time in between games.

So here we are, playing H1Z1 in 2020. Not having played in 3 years has definitely left me rusty. The skill gap is ever so noticeable; I guess a lot of people stuck around and got really, really good? Either way, the game is still fun!

H1Z1 always had a few mechanics that make it stand out from other games in its genre. The crafting system really pushes players to utilize all loot found. Z1 also emphasizes having a vehicle. Without one you are much less likely to survive. Z1‘s main loop for fights is driving up to an enemy, immediately exiting the vehicle and then raining lead upon them. Without a vehicle as cover, you are put at an extreme disadvantage.

The verdict

Is Z1 worth playing now? The short answer is yes. If you enjoy the battle royale genre, you may find that Z1 fills some gaps that more current games don’t.

Z1‘s revival is also a testament of what streamers and content creators can do for games. It’s plain to see that this recent revival could not have happened without the help of streamers and community figures. I hope that more games experiencing premature declines also get this type of treatment from time to time.

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Derrick Tomlinson

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Fan of looter-shooters, the FPS genre, Marvel and Star Wars.
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