I’m alone, stranded miles from friends and family who may still be alive. I was away at a business conference when the CDC officially declared the outbreak a disaster. This was immediately followed by the President initiating a state of emergency and the FCC terminating all mass transit. The National Guard descended. Martial Law was instituted and cities with reported outbreaks were put under quarantine. It was too late - much too late. Silent carriers were already spreading the H1Z1 virus throughout the general population. Panic, chaos and violence reigned, as millions of people succumbed to H1Z1 as if overnight.
Out of state with no transportation, I made the decision to sneak out of my hotel at dawn to steal a car or make it on foot if necessary. My first priority was to avoid the threat of other humans, who in the face of this unprecedented menace, were giving way to their baser instincts. Conversations about weeding out the weak – "doing what was necessary to survive” were being whispered in dark corners and behind closed doors. No thanks, I’ll take my chances alone.
From what we saw on the news before the networks around the global went dark, zombies were attracted to areas with high population counts. Makes sense. Hunters gather nearer to their prey. The hungry migrate to food sources. Humans are the hunted now. We are the food. Watching as on air broadcasters were attacked by infected co-workers was bone chilling. This was no War of the Worlds hoax. The blood and wretched screaming of the victims was all too real.
Earlier that evening, I’d gone out with a few others to find supplies before every store in the vicinity was completely looted. The plan was to work as a team and head out the next morning. That was before the infighting began and we started viewing each other as a potential enemy. I kept what I’d found close at hand and when the others were sleeping, I slipped away. Better to leave them to their collective fate and take mine into my own hands.
For the first time in my life I was glad to be single with no children. I can’t even imagine what parents were going through. I was an only child and my parents were gone. Still, I had family and friends I cared about and needed to get to. As much as I had drifted apart from a few college buddies due to a sharp divergence in lifestyle choices, I was thankful that Rob and I had remained in contact. Relenting to his persistent invitations to go hunting and camping would now serve me well. I was no expert but I could handle myself when push turned to shove. “Good looking out bro,” I whispered to myself.
As the sun rose red on the horizon, foretelling the fate of man, I slipped into the shadows and began an 868 mile journey to home…
Note: Written before the Jan 26th loot patch
I’m playing H1Z1 on a PVE server and not surprisingly, there are people roleplaying their gaming experience. I’ve heard of players acting the part of peacekeepers and others trying to build small outposts. Pace22, a PVP streamer I became familar with and often ran into in ArcheAge, is busy taking hostages who are being inducted into his army by force, after fighting another hostage to the death. Small shanty town outposts are popping up on the medium population server I’m playing on. For myself, I’m going to RP a young man trying to make his way home to his family and friends.
One of the huge issues plaguing the game at the moment is a lack of loot spawns. The logic being used to prevent players from spawn camping is actually preventing the vast majority of loot from regenerating after an items is removed the first time until the server is reset. It’s pretty damned hard to survive when base items or necessary crafting components aren’t spawning into the game. There have been 3 fixes for it patched into the game but it feels like it’s actually gotten worse.
One of my strategies is to skip the buildings in the big towns as they’re more likely to have people in and around them most of the time which will prevent loot that should be there from coming back. Instead I’ll going for the smaller neighborhoods in between the big cities hoping that they see less foot traffic. I’m also going to painstakingly OPEN EVERY CONTAINER, CABINETS, DRAWER, TRASH BIN, ETC. to increase my odds of finding something - anything useful.
Friday evening I spent 3 hours trying to find 6 pieces of cloth to make a satchel and any sort of melee weapon so that I could breakdown animals for meat and zombies for cloth. But the satchel was the most urgent. I was at the point of having to collect 1 stick at a time to craft 2 arrows per because I couldn’t carry anymore items on my person. I had to have a bag of some sort.
I woke up early Saturday and started playing right after breakfast. I figured some items might have reset back into the game with fewer players online overnight and it worked. It wasn’t quick but over the course of 2 hours I found a cap that I immediately shredded into 2 pieces of cloth. I also grabbed a first aid kit and 7 bullets for the gun I’d found the day before. I also had a rifle but dropped that to the ground when I ran across a sheet of metal, knowing that metal as a crafting resource was more valuable to me that another weapon that lacked bullets. The outskirts of Cranberry had proven fruitful in the early morning hours. It was nearing lunch. I was running into more players which meant loot would probably be shit again. Instead of continuing to loot I decided to make my way to Pleasant Valley and log off until the next morning.
The Road to Pleasant Valley
Not able to carry more than a handful of arrows at a time, I was avoiding combat with zombies and wild life. Until I could cut animals down for meat there was no reward for the risk. Zombies were only occasionally dropping loot bags so there again, there was nothing to gain to take the risk of dying and losing the little I’d been able to acquire thus far. All that changed in the last patch.
Zombies were supposedly dropping more loot bags according to what I was seeing on Twitch. They’d become more aggressive and self-aware. Sony had acknowledge that the zombies weren’t initially that much of a threat and were sparsely populated both of which would change over time. Guess the time for some of that was now.
While foraging in the woods for berries I gained the attention of a wolf, who by the way, was nowhere near me. I ran in the opposite direction. He was far enough behind me that it shouldn’t have been a problem. Well that’s except for the fact that HE WOULDN’T DROP AGGRO and some glitch has them catch up to you suddenly. HIS BODY JUST POPS FORWARD. Hacks!! This fucker chased me half way across the map. With my energy and hydration draining I was going to have to turn and fight it. Here’s the moment that I was relieved to have taken the time to persist with editing the XML configuration file to rebind my keys. I simply couldn’t function with the defaults.
Seriously wolf! Do I smell tasty enough to chase me across half the map??
Time to Fight or Die!
Yeah, it’s time to fight or die. To to win or lose the very little that I had but was an essential beginning toward surviving in H1Z1. When I judged that he was as far behind me as he was going to be – returns to lagging behind after popping forward, I stopped and notched an arrow into my bow.
I aimed above him to extend the distance and fired. I miss. I notched another, readjusted and fired. I missed. He’s getting closer and I’m getting flustered but know that running isn’t going to solve my problem. I pray for a headshot, which is an instant kill. I use and must use, a trackball mouse which makes keeping the pinpoint mouse indicator steady more difficult. He’s almost at me. He’s close enough that I can make out the features on his face. I let an arrow fly. HEADSHOT. The bastard falls at my feet. Talk about an adrenaline rush. Whew! I can do this I tell myself. I’m NOT good at FPS games which will make H1Z1 more of a challenge for me but am up for giving it a go.
Guess it was your turn to die.
The road back to Pleasant Valley is more treacherous than it had been the day before. More zombies – off in the woods, on hillsides and the roads, all with a wider aggro range and relentless pursuit. I don’t feel safe anywhere now. This is at it should be but is terrifying. I have to watch my back at all times. There are several more zombie encounters along the way.
One Mile Marker
I continue checking cars, campers and remote buildings I see from the roadside. I’m rewarded by finding shotgun shells. Too bad I’d dropped the shotgun already in favor of scrap metal for crafting. Oh well, maybe I can trade the shells to another player for food when I make it to PV. Thus far I’m surviving on berries, dirty water and raw rabbit meat. Anytime I see someone’s rabbit trap I steal their meat. Not proud of it but I gotta survive too. Until I get a knife of some sort, stealing meat is my only option.
As I near the outskirts of PV dusk arrives and fog descends. I have no intention of going in there at night where I have to choose between having a flashlight or a weapon in my hand. No way in hell! I recall seeing a few abandoned trailers a short distance back. I decide to park my character there and take a break.
As I get near the trailers I hear an inhuman gurgling sound. Zombie! I almost jump out of my skin. FML! My first instinct is to run into a trailer and close the door. Let his ass stay out there and perhaps aggro on someone else who comes along. Then I remember the mobs I’ve seen glitch through doors and walls on Twitch streams. I opt for being out in the open versus in a tiny space with a mob half in and half out trying to eat me.
You Can't have my Stuff!
Okay, here we go. I open the door and speed run ahead to gain enough distance to have time to aim and shoot. I miss the first three shots and he’s in my face swiping at me. NO, I refuse to lose the little bit of shit I have!!! I remember seeing players use the pushback skill which sets the target back on its heels for a second. I do that and headshot the bastard. My heart is racing in real life. Why again am I playing this game??? I don’t do scary. I don’t do horror. I don’t do FPS.
I back away from the corpse and notice a loot bag on the ground. OMG he’s dropped a loot bag. It’s getting dark. I’m panicking to search the bag and get gone before more zombies come. Am I seeing that right? Is that a satchel??? It dropped a satchel. Oh shit I can’t loot it because my meager inventory is full. I hear noise behind me. No!! FML for real. I drop my two water bottles as the fastest thing to give up that is the 100 weight I need to shed to pick up the satchel. I grab the satchel out of the loot bag and start booking it.
There’s a zombie coming after me. I keep running but wait… I need my water bottles. If I equip the satchel I’d have room for my water bottles. Okay, this zombie has to die. Screw leaving my water when god only knows how long it might take to replace them. I put him to sleep in two shots then race back to the other corpse. I grab my 2 water bottles, 25 arrows and a branch. Whew, now I’m leaving the area for real. I head back to the abandoned trailers.
Hiding inside one of them I bandage myself and eat more raw rabbit. Ick. Remembering I’d looted a branch I check to see if I can make anything with it. BRANCH + SHEET METAL = COMBAT KNIFE. Yes!!! I have my first melee weapon. Now I can carve up deer I kill for my own meat instead of stealing and hack up zombies for cloth. Scary as all hell but today was a good day in H1Z1. I’ve had enough excitement for a bit. I sit my character down on the worn mattress and logout for the day.