Sony Online Entertainment first announced H1Z1, a zombie apocalypse survival MMO (massively multiplayer online game) for PS4 and PC in April 2014, and excited game fans have been talking about it ever since. The game isn't quite finished yet, but you'll find everything there is to know about it so far in this article, including its release date, gameplay features and more.

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H1Z1 release date: When is H1Z1 coming out on PS4 and PC?

Since first announcing the game in April last year, Sony Online Entertainment has been regularly sharing news and sneak peeks into the development process of the game, so it seems to be taking a very open and honest approach.

It's this open approach, though, that led to the conclusion from many of those eagerly awaiting the game that H1Z1 wouldn't be available in "late May 2014" as the company had originally promised, and those naysayers were right.

In a live-stream to the H1Z1 community, which took place on 29 May last year, the developers teased that there would be a H1Z1 event taking place on 6 June, but that also didn't represent the release of the game, disappointing many fans.

The next release date rumour on the list was 10 June, which coincided with the E3 gaming conference in LA, but again, H1Z1 wasn't released then.

H1Z1 finally launched on Steam Early Access on 15 January 2015 in North America and Europe.

Sony Online Entertainment's John Smedley took to the H1Z1 Reddit page to reveal the news of the Early Access Release Date.

"After a lot of hard work, we've decided to make the release date January 15th, 2015," he wrote. "This gives us just enough time to polish what we have and put out something we'll be proud of and hopefully you'll be excited to play."

Talking about the delay to the release of the game, Smedley said: "The simple answer is once we saw what we could have had earlier it wasn't good enough and we wanted to put something out that we would be proud of."

"What you'll be playing January 15th is a really fun game, but it's early," he continued. "It's everything Early Access should be – a fun compelling game that isn't finished. Our goal is to have you help us finish it and have it be a game we can build a large community in over time."

Smedley did point out, however, that it's important for anyone thinking of buying early access to the game that it is "absolutely not" a finished game. "The goal here is to let you in early and help us mold it into a game you want to be part of for quite a long time," he explained.

That became quite apparent when the early access began, as it suffered from technical issues that were pretty major. Many players were unable to login to their accounts or enter an active server. In addition, there were framerate issues, problems with the AI and a complete lack of voice chat. Those issues were fixed in a patch but that patch actually made all servers go offline. Whoops.

Things are getting better, though, and as of 24 March the game had sold more than one million copies. You can start playing the early access game on Steam if you're willing to put up with some bugs. There are two different options. The first is the basic early access SKU, which costs £14.99. With that, you'll get three event tickets, two crates and one crate key. 

The second is a more expensive SKU. You'll get 25 event tickets, three airdrop tickets, six crates, four crate keys and the exclusive Aviator Hat Crafting Recipe.

There's no word yet about the PS4 version of H1Z1, but we'll update this article when we find out more. The only thing we've heard so far is that we should expect it to arrive this year, but if the bugs continue to be a problem it's possible that it could be delayed.

H1Z1 Steam Early Access

On Steam, the developers of H1Z1 notes that the Early Access game is a way for players to "experience and make a difference in H1Z1 as it evolves throughout the development process." It's part of the transparent approach taken in the game's creation.

"The H1Z1 development team will continue to create new features and may make significant changes based on the needs of the game," the page continues.

H1Z1 cheaters

Daybreak, the developers of H1Z1, were recently forced to ban 30,000 people from the game after it was discovered they had been cheating. The company's president John Smedley has said that cheaters can upload public apologies to YouTube and possibly get unbanned from the game, which has started an influx of apologies from those who want to continue playing. However, Smedley has now said that he has unbanned five people from the game and will stop there.

H1Z1 gameplay

As mentioned above, H1Z1 is a zombie apocalypse survival MMO. Set in a walking-dead-infested United States, the aim of the game is to survive by collecting resources that'll enable you to build shelters and craft weapons. And of course, there's lots of zombie killing to be done.

Rather than pitting players against each other, H1Z1 requires players to work together to survive the zombies.

However, as the developers point out on the H1Z1 website, more players in your vicinity means more zombie bait, so there's not always safety in numbers.

But don't worry; if you do end up getting eaten by a zombie, or dying of starvation or dehydration, perhaps, your corpse could come back to life as a zombie too.

There are meters at the bottom of the screen that let you monitor your health, stamina, hunger and thirst, and there's also an inventory to store your supplies. If you're wearing a backpack, expect your inventory to have more space than if you're just wearing a shirt, though.

Lots of comparisons have been made between H1Z1 and DayZ, Bohemia Interactive's zombie game released late in 2013. On the subject, Smedley has said: "Is H1Z1 going to be better than DayZ on day one? No, it won't. We'll get asked that question a lot and I wanted to be up front about it. We're not as feature rich and they have a lot of really cool stuff we just don't have yet. That being said, we're also a different game. We're an MMO and our goals are to create a large scale world that gives you the incredible feeling of being a survivor in a zombie apocalypse."

When it's released in January, H1Z1's world will be roughly 64k square kilometres, but Smedley says the team will work on growing it straight away. The plan is to create a complete virtual version of the US post-apocalypse.

You can find out more about H1Z1 in our H1Z1 hands-on preview.

H1Z1 videos

H1Z1 screenshots