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H1Z1 changed its name again, this time to Z1 Battle Royale

New developers NantG promise rollback to King of the Kill-era gameplay

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

H1Z1 has changed its name. Again.

The hardcore-survival-MMO-turned-battle-royale kicked off its third season on PC yesterday with a rebranding of that version to Z1 Battle Royale, or Z1BR for short. It has, in the past, been known as H1Z1, then H1Z1: King of the Kill, then back to H1Z1, and now this.

H1— sorry, Z1BR — also has a new developer: NantG, which is now taking over the project from Daybreak Game Company’s in-house developerx. NantG comes to the scene with a huge patch that Anthony Castoro, the studio’s general manager, says will “bring back the game that so many of you fell in love with,” meaning the King of the Kill version from two names ago.

Thus, Season 3 is called “The Return of the King,” and it even rolls back the loading screens and user interface to their appearances from late 2016 and early 2017. “It is a massive point of nostalgia for players and we knew we had to get it in for this patch,” the patch notes say.

Other adjustments, features, and details that fell out of favor with fans who preferred King of the Kill have also been reversed. Weapon recoil and sway and bullet velocity, for example, have been rolled back. Avatar movement and animations have also been restored to their “PS3 movement values.” The full list of changes is on Z1BR’s Steam page.

So far, the relaunch appears to have worked, from an engagement perspective anyway. The game’s peak players spiked to 12,731 concurrent users about mid-day yesterday; its average had hovered in the 1,000 to 1,500 concurrents range the first two months of 2019, peaking at 3,500. This time last year, H1Z1 had plummeted from averages and concurrents in the 86,000 and 150,000 range, respectively. Player numbers then fell so much that an esports league launched to boost the game cited them as the reason for folding before the first season was over.

Daybreak Game Company has had a rough go of it lately. In December, it announced a substantial number of layoffs, and elsewhere, the company twice delayed its latest internal project, Planetside Arena (which also features a battle royale), which was originally due on PC in January.

Z1BR is still known as H1Z1: Battle Royale on PlayStation 4, where it launched last May. It got a separate and unrelated third season update on Feb. 21.

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