The War Z, now amazingly named “Infestation: Survivor Stories”. The game which puts you in an open-world as you try to survive the zombies, players and the very game itself thanks to the bugs and constant crashes. It has been a rough year indeed for the folks behind the Zombie Survival MMO, but let’s be honest, they have deserved every single bit of the stick they have received. You could argue that some are more responsible than others, but the bottom-line is they are all as accountable if they continue to work on such a blatant cash grab. Here is my experience of playing The War Z, and why I have been left feeling like I have been mugged in broad-daylight, then mugged again on my way to the police station.
But let’s go back to where it all began? We all saw it coming, after the huge success of DayZ, a game would inevitably come along and reap the rewards by taking advantage of the hype DayZ had created. That game, was ‘The War Z’. I was very excited by this announcement if I am honest. I now had a choice between a ground-breaking mod for Arma 2, or a “proper” zombie survival MMO. Oh and the DayZ SA was just being announced and was in development.
What was showcased by The War Z looked amazing. The screenshots had me sold, they even had an image of someone driving a car! A global Inventory, sweet! I can have 5 characters? I’m down for that! Remember those videos showcasing barricading, the zombie animations and alpha game-play. Most people were sold. Of course, there were people who were very dubious of it. I myself had a few doubts – why does Hammerpoint have no official website for example. But I just brushed it under the rug and pre-ordered my Legend package. As part of it, I get 6 months of Stronghold Server rental, and they sound awesome! They made promises, promises which they knew we wanted to hear, and so they had no problem promising these promises, with no intentions of actually delivering them.
Now, I pre-ordered my copy of The War Z as soon as it was available. I remember being at work and getting my brother to order us two copies, checking constantly to make sure we had our copy! I guess the first bit of shady business was the fact they stated that Legend Packages were only available before they ran out. I was naive and didn’t care really, but looking back, you slot the pieces of the puzzle together and you get the whole picture. I also knew that the game hadn’t been in development for 2 years, that is probably what annoyed me the most. Instead of being honest, they felt they needed to lie to get rid of the bad attention they gained for taking advantage of DayZ. But again, I didn’t care as long as I had the game they promised and it was brilliant. I had no reason to suspect for one moment that the majority of core features advertised would be missing, and still to this day not even in-game. No game I had bought into the Alpha for had done it, so why would HP do the same?
Leading on from the launch of Alpha in October, through to around Christmas was a pretty decent ride for me. I enjoyed the game more so than I can remember enjoying any other game. There were still rumours that the game was going to get shut down in 6 months amid others, but like I said, no company had ever done this, it would just be a blatant scam. But hacking became a real issue for everyone. Once again, didn’t they state the game would be hard to hack?
This is when I began to wake up, and become very, very annoyed. Why on earth would they not put up the money for a proper, working anti-hack? It was unplayable, they knew this, but they didn’t care. They had our money, and the money of the hackers who kept on buying more copies of the game to continue hacking. The only winners here were Hammerpoint. In December, they also published a road-map with timelines on when we can expect features promised. It said that by the end of January, strongholds, server rentals, cars etc would all be in-game. To date, only one of those is present, and I even have a problem with them.
The forums are a complete disgrace, both before, and after the hacking incident. Want to criticize the game, your thread will get deleted, you will probably get a warning too. They do not care for their players, as is shown by their regular long periods of absence, leaving the forums to grow more and more into a hornet’s nest. The trolls are just fabulous too, but I can’t blame them for preferring to troll than to actually play the game.
Up until this point, I had been fairly content with the game, I hated the hacking, lack of features, but it was still enjoyable. I played regularly and best of all, you could find loot, both in the marketplace and on servers! Then came the great patch of Mid-February! They added in Private Server Rentals! I was so excited, I could now start a Role-Play server, no hackers and get decent loot! Immediately, the price was a stumbling block. They didn’t even know themselves what was the minimum number of slots. Before release, they stated cheap server rentals, and the ability to have 10, 30 slot servers. Perfect! Not quite. Again, it was all lies.
But like a fool, and with the help of some donations, I bought a server. I discovered I was penalized for being in the EU rather than America due to the price increase. They quickly fixed that thanks to the community getting on their backs, but I had to wait over 24 hours to even receive my server. Kindly though, they stated please allow 12 hours. I waited 24! Some people even waited much longer. All was forgiven when I actually got my server, and promised by HP that we would receive compensation if we waited over 12 hours. Guess what? Still to this day this hasn’t been given out. Don’t promise things if you have no intentions of delivering! Loot was good for the first day, then they changed it. Why? I asked many times, then it hit me!
Ever since that change in loot, ammo has been very very rare in-game. Before, it was fine. Now, you will only find it if you are really lucky, or buy it in the marketplace. If you can’t find it in-game, but want to play the game, then you are going to have to buy it. I guess it has worked as they have never really changed it. They constantly change and tinker with the loot, but you can guarantee each time one item becomes so rare you will hardly ever find it, so you need to buy it. What happened to Sergey Titov saying you will be able to find everything in the marketplace in-game? I guess he came up with this idea and saw dollar signs.
Here is a Video of the man himself lying to our faces!
Another despicable tactic they used was by holding a sale on Private Servers. Great you may say? It would be if they didn’t hold it just after every renewed their servers after buying at launch! Hold the sale a few weeks after or before, but not when you know people have just paid full-price literally hours before to renew their server. The sale price ending up staying, proving they were way overpriced. We didn’t have the option to appoint admins or ban people! The amount of times I had to log-on to keep me server running hacker free thanks to not appointing an admin. I’ll give Hammerpoint some credit, they know how to pinch money from people’s wallets, even when they are looking at what is obviously underhand work. Why did I pay that much for a server I could do FA with?
Then The War Z got hacked. I guess they got what was coming to them! Oh wait a minute, all my account details were in there! They put a message up on the website, and surprisingly, they well exceeded the date they wanted the forums back up. Do these guys even have a calendar in their office? Do they know how long a day is? A week? How many days are in a week? They score a big, fat, juicy zero for time-management. Funny enough, the same number my bank balance displayed after trying to continue playing. I am joking of course.
I was still playing at this point, as annoyed as I was, I still played. I did pay $50 for the game so I can play it when I want. Except I can’t? That’s weird, thousands of other players can’t play now either? But I thought the big selling point was AAA graphics on low-end machines? I don’t think we ever, really expected AAA graphics, but we did at least expect to be able to play on low-end machines! The great graphic update changed that! The funny thing is, on low, I think the game looks worse now than it did before, simply due to the disgusting and horrible grass we have to put up with! So what did they really gain? People aren’t going to ignore the reviews and buy The War Z because it now has amazing, super-duper graphics. They want a good game, and if it has good graphics, bonus! My problem is that they deliberately used that selling point to well, sell more copies of the game! It worked, but in the process they once again lied and slipped $50 out of my back pocket. So people have two choices. Upgrade their machines to play War Z (Most people can play other games on high settings so for most it would be just for this), or just walk away and accept you lost $50, plus all the GC spent, plus Server Rentals. How come I am not raging at this point?!
I am, trust me. But what can I do? I guess technically, they haven’t broken the law, well at least some may not have been broken yet. Not only has The War Z been terrible for Hammerpoint and it’s developers, whose reputation has been permanently destroyed, but it is also terrible for PC gaming. Before The War Z, I and many others were more than happy to pay into Alpha for games we were interested in. Now, I’m not so sure if that will be the case. I’ve been stung once already, would I risk it again? It depends on the circumstances, but I feel that some Indie developers going down the Minecraft model, with little reputation will suffer in purchases. It has taught me a valuable lesson however. Don’t be so naive, and don’t hand over money as freely as I have done with The War Z.
From Day One something was fishy with the game. I ignored it and never thought the game would be in the state it is now. It was a game which promised so much, but delivered so little. No doubt The War Z will be remembered for years to come as one of, if not the Most Controversial Game of All Time. I was naive, stupid, and a year younger. For the experience, I am a more mature, and careful human being.
Unfortunately, my bank balance is now at an all-time low!