sZone Online is a post-apocalyptic survival MMORPG where players choose a specialization and gather artifacts in a radiated wasteland. Work together to defend against mutated creatures or war against each other in the open-world environment of The Zone.
|Publisher: Cybertime System
Release Date: March 02, 2014
PvP: Open World / Arena
Pros: +S.T.A.L.K.E.R. inspired. +Open-world PvP. +Low system requirements. +Open skill system.
Cons: -Lacking tutorial. -Dated graphics. -Only Russian voice-acting. -Countless hours of walking and grinding.
sZone Online Overview
Enter a post-apocalyptic landscape in the shoes of a Stalker on the hunt for rare and priceless artifacts in sZone Online, a survival-horror MMORPG based on the PC shooter - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Choose from one of two factions, each with different professions and specializations. Roam 40 square kilometers of radiated Ukranian countryside while collecting weapons, equipment, and artifacts to help you fight against the wasteland's mutated creatures as well as your fellow Stalkers who can turn on you at any time. Whether you're in The Zone searching for riches, fame, or glory, you definitely have your work cut out for you.
sZone Online Key Features:
- Huge world - explore over 40 square kilometers brimming with abandoned facilities across multiple environments and inhabited by aggressive mutated creatures.
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Inspired - return to The Zone and explore a devastated post-apocalyptic landscape based on the Ukranian countryside.
- Specializations - choose a career path and tailor-fit your character to your own playing style with the myriad of skills and specializations at your disposal.
- Tons of Weapons and Gear - choose from a wide selection of weapons, clothing, and armor to defend yourself, from the AK-47 Assault Rifle to the RPG-29.
- Open World PvP - be wary while scavenging The Zone; zealous players will not hesitate to shoot you on sight and rob you of every piece of equipment you've worked hard for.
sZone Online Screenshots
sZone Online Featured Video
sZone Online Review
by Marc Marasigan
sZone is a free-to-play 3D post-apocalyptic survival sandbox MMORPG where players take on the role of Stalkers, mercenaries-for-rent, and complete various task for the locals in the radiated, mutant-infested area called “The Zone,” based on real-world areas around the Ukrainian countryside. If the plot seems oddly familiar it’s because the game is based on the widely popular series of survival horror games S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and by “based on” I mean a complete knock-off. It’s also worth mentioning that sZone’s developers are in no way affiliated with the original game’s developers. Graphically the game doesn’t look too pretty but decent enough. Although a full graphics overhaul wouldn’t be unwarranted, especially for the environment textures as well as the character models and animations. The sound effects are good, but the background music is essentially non-existent. There’s also a few moments of voice-acting but unfortunately they’re all in Russian, along with almost every in-game sign. The game also has optimization issues and is prone to FPS drops, lags, and crashes. Check out the floating head below.
I’m An Alien, I’m A Legal Alien
Upon launching the game players are given a choice of servers: EU PvP and PvE, and US PvP. Don’t know why they don’t have a US PvE server but it probably won’t be an issue considering that most, if not all, of the players are in it for the PvP, much like DayZ and other survival horror games. Once players have chosen their servers, they are then given the chance to create their characters. Players can choose from two factions, the Natives who’ve been living in The Zone from the start of the crisis, and Aliens who have illegally entered The Zone to work as Stalkers. Each faction offers different choices for class and specialties. Once they’ve chosen they’re faction, players then proceed with customizing their characters.
The game offers a fairly limited choice of pre-made face and clothing styles, and offers noticeably more choices for male characters than for females. Clothes, armor, masks, and a variety of other gear can be obtained in-game so the lack of clothing options shouldn’t be a problem. More face and hair options would have been nice though.
Once players have created their characters they are then dropped into The Zone, in a town called Lubecht where players start out their journey to success, honor, glory, or whatever it is that drove them to become Stalkers. The game lacks a formal tutorial but instead provides players with instructions and hints through a pop-up dialog box that appears on the upper-left part of the screen when they encounter something new, such as talking to an NPC for the first time, equipping an item, or crafting. While the pop-up box does offers helpful information often times it can be quite vague and annoying,. especially when it keeps popping-up and repeating the same hint for the [N]th time in 5 minutes of gameplay. Fortunately, it can easily be turned off with a simple click.
The game features standard shooter controls such as the WASD keys to move, Space to jump, C to crouch, the mouse to aim (LMB to fire, and RMB to focus aim), which instead of making players aim down their sights zooms in about an inch and makes the crosshair a hair smaller. Surprisingly, the game also allows players to switch between first-person and third-person on the fly using the F4 button, which puts first-person users at a slight disadvantage since playing in third-person makes it that much easier to see over a wall or around a corner.
Running Errands Once Again
sZone might be an open-world MMORPG but the game relies on the usual kill, gather, and deliver type quests that have plagued MMORPG players for decades. Players are rewarded with experience points, items, and the in-game currency (Rubles). However, players are free to acquire and complete whatever quest they happen to stumble upon, which is great but can be quite confusing especially when most quests don’t have enough information to complete. One NPC, for example, needed the heads of mutant dogs near the Post Office but conveniently forgot to mention where exactly the Post Office is.
Most quests also lack any sort of visual cue to point players in the right direction which resulted in wasted time running around the map only to be killed by a pack of mutants; not my idea of fun, but I might have gotten used to the spoon-feeding system employed by typical MMORPGs. Players can also choose to disregard the quests altogether and run around killing stuff. This might seem like a better way to earn experience and money but eventually players still need to pick up the main story quests to advance to the next areas.
Choose Your Profession
Players are given the chance to choose their in-game profession once they reach the Police Station and talk with an NPC named Greek. Players get a different set of profession-choices depending on their faction, although most are simply slight variations of the other. The Native’s Druid, for example, functions much the same as an Alien Doctor while the Native Pathfinder bears a lot of resemblance to an Alien Hunter. A player’s chosen profession also affects how they’ll play the game. Combat professions are more suited to fighting, healing professions to patching up allies, and so on. Players can deviate from the norm and create their own builds using the game’s open skill system. Players spend experience points to unlock and improve a large variety of skills that affect what weapons they can use, which armor they can wear, as well as their endurance and regeneration. In addition, players can also unlock and improve specialist skills which are dependent on their choice of profession.
The game’s profession, skill, and specialization system offers a ton of customization potential which allows players to tailor-fit their characters to their own playing styles. Easier said than done since earning enough experience points to level up specialization skills requires countless hours of grinding. How long? Well, one specialist point requires around 50k exp, most quests give 300-500 exp and one mob gives around a hundred. You do the math.
Trust No One
sZone features an open-world PvP system similar to that of DayZ. Unfortunately, that includes the harsh death penalties implemented by the latter. For some reason it’s exactly this kind of PvP system and the sense of danger it brings that makes games like sZone, DayZ, H1Z1, and other survival horror games so popular. Except for starting areas, players can be attacked and killed by any player and looted for all they’ve got. To prevent abuse, players who earn a reputation for killing other players can be imprisoned in real-time in one of the game’s prison areas. Once imprisoned, players can choose to peacefully do their time or find a way to escape, usually by getting close with the guards. Apart from open-world PvP, players can also enter instanced battle arenas where they can test out their skills against other players in more controlled and neutral environments.
The Final Verdict – Fair
sZone has potential and has all the makings of a good survival MMORPG including an open-world environment, an open skill system, a solid crafting system, and a good PvP system. That being said, the game does seem a little rough, or should I say, plenty rough around the edges especially when it comes to graphics and optimization. It appeals to a select group of players: hardcore fans of open-world survival games like DayZ. Frankly, even fans of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, where sZone “borrowed” its concept from, will be disappointed with how the game turned out. Only if you’re a fan of the survival-horror genre, is the game is worth checking out.
sZone Online Videos
sZone Online Online Links
sZone Online System Requirements
Operating System: Windows 7/8/10
CPU: 3.2 GHz
Video Card: GeForce 6800 / ATI X1800 (256 MB)
RAM: 4 GB
Hard Disk Space: 5 GB
Operating System: Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit)
CPU: Intel Core i5-3330
Video GeForce GTX660 / Radeon HD 7850 (2GB)
RAM: 4 GB
Hard Disk Space: 9 GB
sZone Online Music & Soundtrack
sZone Online Additional Information
Developer: Cybertime System
Publisher: Cybertime System
Game Engine: Umbra Software and IDV Speedtree
Steam Greenlight Posting: December 26, 2012
Early Access Release Date: December 31, 2014
Steam Release Date: December 29, 2015
Release Date: December 29, 2015
Development History / Background:
sZone Online is developed by Russian game studio Cybertime System. On December 26, 2012 sZone Online was posted to Steam Greenlight and approved on August 25, 2014.The game was released through Steam as an Early Access title on December 31, 2015. A year later sZone Online was fully released through Steam on December 29, 2015.