I’m walking in the woods on the outskirts of one of H1Z1’s larger towns with a bow in my hands. My eyes are peeled for any wandering zombies as I make my way aimlessly though the trees, picking blackberries as I go. My head snaps up. I hear footsteps crunching in the dirt, and their pace is measured and consistent, unlike the lumbering steps of Zs. A human.
I knock my bow with an arrow and strain my ears. I turn towards the sound and draw my bow, waiting. A few seconds later a man in a grey shirt pops over the bushes running with purpose. He stops as soon as he sees me and my drawn weapon. Raising his hands awkwardly over his head, he speaks.
“Hey… hey man friendly. I’m one of the good guys,” he says calmly. I’ve heard that before, and usually it is followed with an arrow, bullet, or hatched to the head. He tells me to follow him and keeps his arms up. I am within risk of starving to death, and having no other clear objective in mind I decide to follow him. A few moments of sprinting and I can see a fort through the trees. He turns towards me and tells me to put my weapon away lest I want to be sniped by his friends keeping watch. I accept grudgingly as I have nothing of considerable value.
As the fort becomes more clearly visible I can see that this group is gearing up for something; they are all armed with some sort of firearm and furnaces are ablaze for crafting. They greet me friendly enough and describe their plan; a group of bandits are holed up in one of the business offices of the town, the one with the best sniper vantage points. Because of their location they have stopped all traffic in and out of the town, and are shooting everything that moves. They outline a plan to flush them out while I admire their group size; I can count eight “good guys” strong. The leader of the group, donned in a nice cowboy hat, tells me that as I’m new they aren’t going to risk giving me a firearm. Instead he hands me a beautifully crafted wooden bow and a decent amount of arrows. With everything in order, we being to approach the town from the woods.
On the edge of the woods, everyone is told to no longer speak so we can stealth in and hopefully get the jump on them. We then divide into two groups. I’m with the cowboy hat leader, a kid who hasn’t said a single thing but keeps waving at me, a kid in a nice red polo shirt, and a nondescript guy in white who also has a bow. Its our job to take the long way around the grocery store and then cut across the parking lot at the base of the target office building. The other group will take a more direct route and will serve mainly as a distraction. We split and begin our trek behind the market.
We are in position behind the support beams of the grocery store facade awaiting orders when it happens. A rifle shot cracks out amid the silence. The kid who had taken a fancy to waving at me drops like a ton of bricks, his brains splattering against the “20% off all Gaupmann’s products!” sign. Something has gone wrong. We’ve been spotted. Suddenly gunfire erupts from the opposite side of the building, the distraction team now under fire. Cowboy leader breaks radio silence.
“Shit! Go, go, go! Get inside!” We begin laying down cover fire on the office windows and make our way slowly across the parking lot using cars and dividing walls for cover. The kid in white with a bow peeks out from cover and looses an arrow that clanks harmlessly against the brick wall of the target building about thirty feet off its mark. In return, a bullet makes its way through his neck and he collapses to the ground. Its around this moment when I realize how ridiculously inadequate bows and arrows are in this situation. Another bout of gunshots erupts on the other side of the building, and we use this moment to advance a bit further. I get bold and bring an arrow back and let fly. It manages to make it through the top window. A face appears behind a long gun barrel and I inhale sharply fully expecting my death. There is a crack somewhere behind me and I watch as the face in the window is reduced to blood. Cowboy lets out a holler and reloads. I let out a little shout of glee.
The happiness is short lived, however, as a spray of assault rifle bullets lance through the air and catch Cowboy up the leg and into the stomach. He slumps over behind a rusty sedan. I run out from cover, thinking only to bandage him up. At this time the white shirted ally a few cars down is shot by a combination of hunting rifle and assault rifle, and drops.
As I reach the sedan I see red as a bullet makes its way through my torso. I’m hurt, but not terribly. I crouch beside cowboy and toss him a bandage. He is gushing blood from his wounds.
“Well shit… Looks like we lost!” he says, disappointed. I tell him to use the bandage, but he says its pointless; he is bleeding faster than a makeshift wrap will cure. The world has returned to an eerie silence, signifying that our distraction team has also been defeated. “Get out of here man. Save yourself.” With that, he stands one last time and sprints across the pavement. I watch in stunned silence as he runs.
He falls once last time. Without wasting time I bolt the other way and run through the grocery store, crashing through the aisles and exiting through the supply dock on the other side. I flee to the hills in emotional turmoil, and vow revenge on the Cranberry Bandits…
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H1Z1 is currently in Early Access from Sony Online Entertainment.