A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that H1Z1: Battle Royale is a downloadable online multiplayer game focused on third-person gun combat. Working alone or in small teams, players slowly converge in a central area with the goal of killing everyone else and being the last one standing, similar to the fast-paced action found in the newer (and extremely popular) Fortnite. Getting hit by gunfire, explosions, or vehicles often results in moderate splashes of red blood. While the action is centered on sensationalized gun combat, players will get a chance to practice teamwork and communication skills if they choose to play modes in which they're grouped with one to four other players. While there's no profanity in the game dialogue, players are likely to hear strong language -- as well as insults and slurs -- from other players via the game's voice-communication system. And some dominant players could end up serving as role models, for better or worse. Players are also encouraged to spend real money for avatar-customization items.
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What's it about?
H1Z1: BATTLE ROYALE is the console version of the popular PC game H1Z1, a battle royale-style game in which up to 100 players gradually converge with the goal of being the last player (or team) standing. Players parachute onto a large map, where they must quickly scavenge for guns, ammunition, and armor. As the match progresses, toxic gas slowly closes in on a central area, forcing players together and causing confrontation. While the console version of the game appears similar to the PC version on the surface, it's been substantially redesigned, with features such as crafting completely removed, a radial weapon selection system added, and a weapon and armor progression system added that forces players to track down parachute drops that include improved gear. Modes include classic every-player-for-him/herself matches, squad events in which players are grouped in teams of two or five players, and combat training, in which players continually respawn in ongoing matches meant to let them practice strategies and weapons. A vehicle-based mode found in the PC edition is slated to arrive at a later date. It's free to play, though players can spend money on cosmetic options to customize their avatars.
Is it any good?
Players looking for a substantially different take on the popular battle royale-style game won't find it in this large, action-packed shooter, which doesn't really stand out from the competition. But while H1Z1: Battle Royale on the console is a fairly traditional last-man-standing experience, here it's been tuned and modified to make it simpler and more approachable. The controls are familiar, and goals are straightforward. No crafting or weapon modifications means that players simply need to find and grab the gear they want from random parachute drops on the map. It's not too hard to find good stuff, though actually laying hands on some items can be a bit tricky, since other players nearby are drawn to gear drops, too. Most importantly, the action feels fast and contained, with the encroaching gas forcing players into a very tight area quite quickly, ensuring that matches don't linger much beyond 15 minutes.
The game does suffer from issues common to the genre. It runs relatively smoothly, but it's certainly no graphical showcase. Textures and visual details are decidedly low-grade and don't load as quickly as you might like -- especially early on in crowded games. And while individual matches can be exhilarating, the experience lacks the sort of overarching connective tissue needed to satisfy anyoone craving longer-term goals. It's a game that absolutely lives in the moment -- which could be a point for it or against it, depending on the individual player. H1Z1: Battle Royale is a capable, serviceable alternative to games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and it's probably the simplest battle royale game to date, but beyond its (admittedly appealing) accessibility, it doesn't have much to set it apart.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Do you feel an emotional difference when playing games in which violence is directed at computer-controlled enemies vs. other players' avatars like in H1Z1: Battle Royale?
Talk about the difference between working alone and playing with a team. Are you more satisfied if you win on your own or as part of a group? Why?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $0
- Pricing structure: Free (This game is free to download and play, though players are encouraged to purchase cosmetic upgrades for their avatars. A Battle Pass for the first season costs $5.49 and provides awards with progression.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Daybreak Games
- Release date: August 7, 2018
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- Topics: Cars and Trucks
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Blood
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.