I remember, years ago, playing the Arma 3 ‘Battle Royale’ mod. A mod, created by PlayerUnknown, in which you jump out of a plane, loot buildings for guns and try to slaughter everyone else on the island before they slaughter you. PlayerUnkown, who based the mod on the Japanese film of the same name, has now expanded on the original concept with their first standalone game: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, also known by the catchy title of PUBG.
The concept of PUBG is a time honoured one: go to an isolated and secluded place, and kill everyone else. It’s been explored in countless mods, fully featured games and even a fully-fledged Hollywood blockbuster series, over the last few years. However, it is PUBG’s execution of the concept that has made it stand out from its survivalist rivals, such as H1Z1 and The Culling. Despite only being a few months into early access, it is surprisingly feature-rich and incredibly compelling.
There’s nothing like a jeep full of your heavily armed friends gunning out of the windows at some poor sap in the distance to really scratch your Mad Max itch.
My first match felt incredible, equal parts thrilling and terrifying. I parachuted down into the crater, a very popular area due to the amount of loot you can get from it. My first kill was a madman running towards me with a machete. I could hear my heart in my ears as I frantically loaded my pistol and clumsily gunned him down. I finished looting the building and camped out on the rooftop to pick out stragglers, while everyone else in the crater brutally murdered each other. In PUBG, discretion is often the better part of valour. After introducing a few people to my Kalashnikov, I decided it was time to move before I was caught in the magical blue circle of death that appears about five minutes into every battle. I ran down to one of the dune buggies left by my victims and started my road trip to safety. As I neared the next play zone, I learnt an extremely important lesson: getting out of a vehicle while it’s moving, even slowly, will absolutely kill you. I watched with sadness as my incredibly geared up corpse rag-dolled into the middle distance, carried forward by my treacherous vehicle.
It is remarkably easy to die in PUBG. A momentary lapse in concentration could see you gunned down by an unseen enemy and an unfortunately placed end zone could sentence you to an infuriating death in the blue zone. Equally, the games numerous glitches and dodgy vehicle physics can unfairly end your round as well. PUBG is a fickle mistress, but a rewarding one too.
The gunplay is some of the most satisfying I’ve ever experienced, with rifles taking centre stage as everyone’s preferred weapon. Submachine Guns are viable for the early game and for close range firefights in buildings and compounds. Pistols and crossbows are a rare sight outside the first minute or two, discarded and ignored by players who don’t see them worth the carry weight.
Car combat is also in the game and it is wonderfully implemented. There’s nothing like a jeep full of your heavily armed friends gunning out of the windows at some poor sap in the distance to really scratch your Mad Max itch.
It’s a well-made cocktail of tension and action; served with a tasteful garnish of craziness.
The one complaint I have about the gunplay is the shotguns. I’m usually a big fan of shotguns in games but PUBG just can’t get them right. Half the time they are completely useless, the other half they put the Grim Reaper’s scythe to shame. I’ve been left speechless dozens of times after being puréed by a trench gun, despite my high level armour.
In conclusion, PUBG is some of the most fun you can have on Steam at the moment and I wholly recommend it to anyone who can get a few mates together. The game takes a moment to learn, but weeks to truly master. No two rounds are truly the same and no round is ever boring. It’s a well-made cocktail of tension and action; served with a tasteful garnish of craziness.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to return to living out my fantasy as a gun-toting Katniss Everdeen.