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Population Zero Online Previews Combat Mechanics

Joseph Bradford Posted:
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Upcoming survival MMORPG, Population Zero, aims to re-imagine the genre when it releases to the world. In a recent blog post, the team broke down the combat in PZO, and  what it means to survive combat in a world with permanent war.

In Population Zero, like in all survival-style MMO games today, combat is kind of a big deal. Players won't just be pitted against environmental dangers, but also other players looking to survive and conquer Population Zero's savage planet. Players will have to use their skills, reflexes and more in any given fight to come out on top. Just as important is how players prepare for combat.

Population Zero has the bog-standard health and stamina found in most games, but sticks with the survival theme by forcing players to keep an eye on thirst, hunger, cooling and even overheating at any given moment. Players will need to plan excursions into the world accordingly, as taking the wrong armor or clothing could leave you vulnerable to the elements around you. Take the wrong armor and you could find yourself overheating before another player even lays a hand on you. 

However, combat in survival games tends to be pretty similar, as many other games such as Conan Exiles require you to maintain these same levels when exploring the map. Talking with us, the team behind Population Zero states that combat in their game should be based on player skill, not simply the items they are carrying overpowering another player. 

There is more than just combat that sets us apart from other survival games. For starters the combat system we aim for is based on player skill. The more they play the more experienced they become, the better warriors they become. 

Exploration, raids and a bit of questing along with world type events we are currently prototyping together with the combat system and mutations - that is what we as developers feel will entertain our players in addition to fighting.

That isn't to say items aren't important. Having the right items is important, as it in any game. There are two types of attacks: melee and ranged, and the weapons themselves are ether pointed, edged and blunt. According to Enplex Games: 

Disadvantages come with weapon types. Depending on what weapon you use, some are slower but hit harder, other weapons are fast but do less damage. Using the wrong weapons on specific enemies (for example using an edged weapon against heavily armored alien lifeform) might not be as effective as using a pointed or a blunt weapon. So before you decide to go hunting you should prepare accordingly.

Some armors themselves are better at dealing with blunt damage, while others are better at deflecting pointed weapons. Anticipating your enemy when on the hunt is seemingly important in Population Zero

Each player can use perks, both temporary and permanent, to help augment their combat abilities.Temporary perks can even be lost after death, making each fight have some real weight to it, other than just the idea of dying being an inconvenience. 

Enplex explained the Perks briefly for us thusly:

After getting a perk it is put into a temporary slot. Perks in temp. Slots begin working immediately, but a character loses them upon death. A player can move perks into permanent slots, but those are limited and they need specific resources as payment. Perks in permanent slots will stay with a character even after death. There can’t be more than 15 permanent perks, so a player should choose wisely. 

Here are some perk examples:

  • Hoarder - Inventory Max Weight +10; Fall Damage +10%
  • Miner's Luck - 25% chance to get X2 mineral resources
  • Inorganic - Overheating 20% slower, Freezing 20% slower, Detoxication +100%
  • Quick - "Speed +10%, Stamina Regeneration +40"
  • Glass Cannon - Damage +20%; Health -500

Population Zero, like many survival games before it, is setting itself up to be as much about planning for your encounters as it is getting good at the combat itself. Setting out will require planning - and that planning will help when you do encounter enemies along the way. Having the right equipment, ensuring your hunger and thirst are satiated, and ensuring you have food and water to help combat and maintain stamina levels in combat is key to surviving the hard, savage planet, whether the enemy is another player or a PvE encounter. 

Players can also slip into the Void - the space between the two major factions you can swap between during gameplay, and this Void creature is strong as a result. However, it's a bit restricted to help add balance to the experience. We asked Enplex to elaborate a bit on this for players who might not understand what the Void, or the faction system, is:

There are two basic factions in the game. Humans (technocrats) and aliens (xenobiotes). Both have their specific features, and both are a choice our players will make. Players will be able to switch between the two factions almost anytime, but Void is neither of them. Void is a zero state, from which you can choose to become one faction or the other. Some people prefer staying in a form of a Void, for they are faster and stronger than other lifeforms. This comes with many disadvantages though. Voids can’t craft, use weapons or any meds to replenish health. You can consider them berserks, suited for combat purposes and in group PvP they might be just the right tool to turn the tide of battle.

Be sure to check out the full blog post for more details on the combat in Population Zero. The team is continuing its Closed Beta test currently, which started on October 24th and runs through October 27th. You can sign up on the website to try your hand at the survival game in its early stages. 


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore