In a bit of controversial news, the H1Z1 team has recently added cannibalism to the April Roadmap. The initial plan is to first allow players to harvest meat from one another’s corpses the same way players harvest meat from animal corpses; but eventually the team plans to add other elements that cause cannibalism to have some significant risks.
Cannibalism in H1Z1
Some of planned risks include, but are not limited to: the potential transmission of the H1Z1 virus, nausea (that prevents you from eating any food or water for an extended duration) and even a potential addiction to human meat. The addiction mechanic works as a potential chance your character becomes addicted to human meat and will no longer eat any other type of food. A person with cannibalistic tendencies will still be able to eat animal meat but with energy returns diminished by half.
When I first saw the addition to the roadmap and the mixed response on the game’s subreddit – I reached out directly to the development team to ask them a few questions. I was able to sit down with game designers Jimmy Whisenhunt and Kris Roberts to talk:
TTH: When did the idea first come to the team to possibly include cannibalism as a game mechanic?
Jimmy: [laughs] Kris should probably answer this one.
Kris: Yeah, it was my fault. It came up when we were talking about how players harvest meat. It was really logical to me, with H1Z1 being a survival game. If people get desperate enough… they’ll do anything. That’s how it came up.
TTH: How did the team respond initially?
Kris: Obviously we had some laughs, but as we talked it seemed more likely that it could be a viable mechanic. I think most of the team really liked the idea, which is why we ultimately came to the conclusion to add it.
TTH: Did you have any concerns about this increasing the hostility in the game?
Jimmy: We did, which is why we plan on adding some unique and significant risks to eating another human’s remains. We’re going to make it dangerous enough that it shouldn’t be a regular or reliable source of food.
TTH: What about the addiction mechanic? Where did that come from?
Kris: Guilty again. Part of what made the mechanic really interesting to me was the deeper implications. The movie the Book of Eli had an interesting twist on cannibalism, and I thought we could take that a step further. The concept for addiction was a great way to provide an additional risk, even for players that go the role-playing route and play that twisted-survivor type.
Jimmy: It’s really cool. I think most people will underestimate how powerfully it affects your character. It makes eating become a huge chore if you get addicted, and there is always a chance you will.
TTH: It definitely seems to add a whole new flavor to the game. What about reactions from outside? Were you expecting so many people to oppose the idea?
Jimmy: Kind of. I mean, we’ve learned that our player-base is pretty diverse. Almost every mechanic we’ve added we’ve gotten mixed reactions from. This was one we were more optimistic about, knowing it doesn’t really offer much opportunity to grief other players with.
Kris: Unless people eating your dead body bother you. Maybe then. [laughs]
Jimmy: We also expect some negative responses from people outside the player-base, but hey – we’re making a PvP zombie-survival game, if cannibalism bothers you, you’re probably playing the wrong game.
TTH: [laughs] I agree. Well thanks for taking the time to sit down with me guys. This should make the game a bit more interesting moving forward. Any last words?
Jimmy: That’s what we’re hoping, thanks for the interview.
Kris: Yeah, thanks for having us. I’m excited this mechanic will be going in pretty soon. It’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time, mostly me. [laughs] Hopefully everyone will like it as much as I do.
TTH: Thanks guys.
That’s it for the interview.
While this mechanic has stirred up a bit of controversy on reddit, it seems like most people that are excited about H1Z1 are optimistic. There is a loud minority with reservations, but hopefully the addition of some significant consequences will reduce those concerns. It really does fit the theme of the game, and if handled properly could be a very intriguing mechanic, especially in role-playing situations.
I also imagine this mechanic paired with restraints. When you get captured and tied up, you have a whole new option to worry about from your captors. The hills in H1Z1 now have eyes!
Let me know what you think of cannibalism in H1Z1. Do you think these drawbacks will be enough to balance it? Voice your opinion in the comment section below.
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