The first few hours spent in H1Z1 were quite the journey, and one that has been unlike my first steps into any other MMOG to date. While I had anticipated environmental factors or direct conflict with zombies and other players would be my leading cause of death, something altogether different happened. I starved to death, repeatedly.
Each container, vehicle, or structure I found had recently been farmed out by other players, and with nothing useful in my inventory I would watch in horror as my health ran down to zero. While standing on the precipice of throwing my hands up in frustration and walking away from the game, I instead made a handful of choices that ultimately provided a far more enjoyable experience.
Below are some tips based on my experiences in H1Z1 so far that just might help you avoid some of the horrific starvation dirt naps I suffered for my first few hours in the game. As we continue exploring the game, additional tips will be added, but the initial list below should help increase your initial chances of survival. If you can make it through your first hour or so in-game, chances of survival should continue to increase, barring any open conflicts or ganking by other players.
1. Don’t be afraid to try out different servers
Following my third starvation death due to the world being farmed out by other players, I decided to switch to a new server. That one choice made a world of difference. Your first hour in-game is critical to your prospects of ongoing survival, so it is worth starting fresh on new servers until you’ve found one that affords you the ability to gather some essential inventory items.
2. Collect any empty water bottles you find
While you will occasionally stumble across full bottles of purified water, you’re more likely to find empty bottles. These are still incredibly valuable, as you can fill them by standing in any body of water. This will initially give you some Dirty Water. Drag that item into one of the discovery boxes and it will unlock the recipe for Stagnant Water, and eventually Purified Water.
You can then create Purified Water by placing the full bottles in any active Campfire. Keeping even one or two of these on hand will help keep you Hydrated.
3. Campfires are your friend
Campfires function like containers where you can place various objects. Much like the purification of water mentioned above, you’ll want to cook any raw foods you find before eating to prevent food poisoning. If you can’t find a lit campfire but have even a basic weapon like an axe or machete, you can begin chopping down smaller trees. These will drop logs, two of which will help you set up a campfire.
The trick from there is to find a means of lighting it. Barring the use of something like a flare, torches are somewhat easy to create, and can double another weapon type. Strips of cloth, animal fat, and branches can take a bit of searching to scavenge, but help make a torch.
A word of caution on campfires and torches: Both of these items make you incredibly easy to spot while in active use which can be bad news on PvP servers. If you set up your own campfire, it can be best to do so a safe distance away from towns and main roads. Likewise, you probably don’t want to run around with a lit torch unless you want to paint a giant bull’s-eye on yourself for unfriendly players.
4. Direct conflict with zeds can usually be avoided
The only times I’ve made direct contact with zombies was due to conscious choice to do so. Most I’ve come across can easily be avoided entirely which I’d encourage until you’ve got the materials to make a bow or other less-noisy type of weapon. Fighting them in melee range will often result in bleeding damage that you’ll want to avoid at all costs.
If you do suffer bleeding damage, gauze or bandages can help stop the bleeding and heal you for a minor amount of lost health. Interestingly enough, if you do kill zeds, they have a chance to drop some cloth that you can then use to bandage yourself up after the fight.
5. Pick up any shirts you find
While fashion is the least of your concerns when your primary objective is basic survival, shirts can actually help save your life. From your inventory, you’ll have the drop-down option to rip them into strips of cloth that can be used to make torches or, more importantly, bandages.
Even while at the point of starvation, bandages helped give me enough minor boosts to health to keep me alive long enough to take down a deer, collect the raw meat and animal fat, and proceed to set up a campfire to cook the meat.
As a general rule, bandages are another critical item along with water bottles that you will want to stock up on at your earliest opportunity.
6. Use your fists and not your mouth
Even if a structure is seemingly empty, still look around for wooden boxes. You can bust these up by punching them, so don’t need tools like an axe first. The boxes will often drop wooden planks that can be used to discover new recipes or craft with. You might not be able to use them immediately, but will be glad to have some on hand if you manage to survive your initial hunt for food and water.
7. Not all objects are found in containers
If you’re running low on health and are close to starvation, you don’t have a ton of time to search every refrigerator and cupboard you come across. Instead of anally searching various container types inside of buildings, do a quick scan of surfaces instead.
Doing so I managed to find my first axe, multiple shirts, and plenty of empty water bottles. Don’t expect these items to emit magical sparkles like collectible items found in other MMOs. You’ll have to find and gather them without the nicety of visual cues. Once you learn to spot collectible objects, it can make a world of difference.
8. Be on the lookout for blackberry bushes
As noted above, H1Z1 doesn't always make it obvious when you're able to interact with objects found in the world. That's absolutely the case with things like blackberry bushes which can be found in abundance in certain areas. To interact with them, simply walk into the bush and hit the magic [E] key. You'll have a chance of either gathering berries or branches. The branches are kind of heavy, but you can right-click to drop them as needed to free up room in your inventory.
The berries can either be eaten directly, or combied with Purified Water to create Blackberry Juice. Drinking this will give you both hydration and a small amount of energy, so can be another means of keeping yourself alive until you can find a more substantial source for food / energy.
So far I've found blackberry bushes in abundance near the edges of streams and on the outskirts of towns. As shown in the recipe, you'll need to collect 5 berries for each bottle of juice, and each bush only yeilds a single berry at a time. I'd suggest harvesting and holding onto as many as you can find early on, as you can always eat them for a very minor boost to energy and hydration in a pinch.
As we continue exploring the earliest stages of survival in H1Z1, we’ll be adding additional tips to this page. Have some of your own survival tips to share? Drop a note down in the comments if you feel so inclined.