Once Human dev adds multiple character slots after launch day criticism, but other major features are still coming later [UPDATED]

Once Human
A "Meta-Human" character in Once Human wielding a massive minigun-style weapon. (Image credit: NetEase)
Recent updates

Update 7/9/2024 at 6:05 p.m. PT / 9:05 p.m. ET: After widespread criticism from Once Human players came in the wake of its release, developer Starry Studio has chosen to add the ability to create multiple characters to the game. This means that you can now make additional characters to play on different servers, though there's seemingly still not an option to delete characters you don't want anymore.

In a message to the game's community, the admin of the official Once Human Discord server explained that Starry Studio "initially closed multi-character creation because the experience wasn't up to snuff," but ultimately decided to bring it to the game now after fans highlighted their frustration with the feature's absence at launch. However, other features like controller support and improved cross-platform save options are still coming later.

What you need to know

  • Once Human is a new free-to-play post-apocalyptic survival shooter from developer Starry Studio and publisher NetEase. After multiple beta tests, the game is now finally releasing on PC, with additional launches on iOS and Android coming later.
  • Hours before the games launch, Starry Studio revealed that the game will be missing several major features at launch.
  • These include support for making multiple characters on one account, cross-platform save support on Steam, controller support, Steam Deck compatibility, and DLSS.
  • However, multi-character support and controller support are expected to come in August, and the developers "will be adding more account options in the future" for cross-progression. They're also ""continuously working to optimize the game for the best possible experience."
  • Update: Following criticism from the Once Human community on launch day, developer Starry Studio has updated the game to give players the ability to create multiple characters ahead of the feature's planned release in August. Other features like controller support and improved cross-platform save options are still coming later.

Original article: Several hours before the scheduled arrival of Once Human — a post-apocalyptic, free-to-play survival shooter that emphasizes action combat, open world exploration, and plenty of multiplayer interactions in both PvE and PvP — on Windows PC, its developer, Starry Studio, has posted an official release FAQ on its website. Notably, this question-and-answer list reveals that multiple major features will be missing from Once Human when it launches on Steam, the Epic Games Store, and publisher NetEase's Loading Bay PC gaming app later today.

The most significant of these is the ability to create multiple characters per account at release, which Starry Studio says isn't available yet "due to technical limitations." This means you won't be able to make alternate characters on other servers once you create one to play with on your server of choice. "Some account types, such as Steam accounts," also won't be able to take advantage of cross-platform saves "due to their inherent limitations." It's unclear if the Epic Games Store supports cross-save at the time of writing, so if you want to use it once the game comes to the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, I'd start playing on Loading Bay (in case you're wondering, crossplay between all platforms is supported).

Support for controller gamepads as well as Steam Deck systems (and presumably other PC gaming handhelds like the ASUS ROG Ally and Legion Go) is also missing at launch, so for now, you'll need a traditional PC gaming setup with a keyboard and mouse to enjoy Once Human. NVIDIA's performance-boosting DLSS tech won't be in the game either "due to the ongoing optimization and integration of certain features," though there's DirectX 12 support.

A player in Once Human firing an RPG rocket launcher. (Image credit: NetEase)

Many players will undoubtedly be disappointed that these features are missing from Once Human right now, but the good news is that several of them are coming. Specifically, Starry Studio plans to add support for making multiple characters per account and controller support in August, and the developer "will be adding more account options in the future" to expand cross-platform save support, too.

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Eventual compatibility with handheld PC gaming systems is still up in the air, but given that the developers are "continuously working to optimize the game for the best possible experience," there's hope that Once Human will be playable on these devices at some point in the future. If there's enough demand for it, it's likely something Starry Studio will work on in the coming months.

The rest of the article goes into detail about how Once Human will work, explaining that its gameplay is season-based, with each season bringing Diablo 4-style resets as well as a number of different "scenarios" that feature "different rules, environments, and stories to diversify your experience" (a server will only have one scenario active per season). You'll get to keep items like crafting blueprints and purchased cosmetics across seasons, but "common resources, weapons, and items" will be moved into your own personal realm called the Eternaland when seasons end. 

Basically, the idea is that with each reset, you'll get to play Once Human with unique gameplay modifiers that shake up the experience. At launch, though, there will only be two scenarios and servers: Manibus and Evolution's Call. The former is a PvE-only space, while Evolution's Call has PvPvE and a range of both cooperative and competitive activities.

Analysis: No multi-character support at launch is painful

Multiple players battle with a flamethrower and other weapons in Once Human. (Image credit: NetEase)

Once Human not supporting the ability to create multiple characters at launch is pretty rough, as it prevents players from trying out PvE-only and PvP-enabled scenarios at the same time. It also means there's no way to join folks who happen to be on a different server without wiping out your current character, which makes playing with friends annoyingly difficult in a game built around social multiplayer. I was surprised to see cross-save support miss Steam, too, especially since other games on Valve's PC gaming platform have supported it before.

With all that said, though, it's good that Starry Studio is working to address these limitations and others, and it's great that both multi-character support as well as the option to play Once Human with a controller is planned for an August release. Hopefully Steam Deck compatibility and DLSS come at some point, too.

Once Human is here, and the multiplayer open world survival shooter might just end up being one of 2024's biggest and brightest PC games. Notably, it's completely free to play, so you can check it out without spending a penny.

Once Human | Free at Steam

Once Human | Free at Steam

Once Human — a free-to-play multiplayer survival shooter set in a post-apocalyptic future where an alien lifeform overruns Earth — could be one of 2024's biggest game releases. It's out now on Steam, the Epic Games Store, and NetEase's Loading Bay, and is coming to iOS and Android as well.

Also at: Epic Games Store | iOS App Store | Google Play Store

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.