Too long it has been, since a gaming post graced DWR.  The Battle Royal first person shooter game PlayerUnknown’s Battleground (PUBG), still in early access, has made its way on to my gaming list.

First and foremost, like all early access games, there is a dire need for optimization and stability as frame rate and connectivity to the game servers can sometimes be quite questionable.  When things are going great though, watch out, this is one of the games in which you say to yourself, ‘Okay, just one more before bed…’ and then suddenly it is 4am.

The concept is quite simple.  I’ll let Wikipedia do the talking:

“The game is based on battle royal-style game mods previously developed by Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene for other games, but expanded into one standalone game under Greene’s creative direction. In the game, up to one hundred players parachute onto an island and scavenge for weapons and equipment to kill others while avoiding getting killed themselves. The available safe area of the game’s world decreases in size over a match, directing surviving players into tighter areas and forcing encounters. The last player or team standing wins the round.”

And that’s it.   Throw 100 avatars onto a 8km island and see who comes out the winner.  It is the chaos that comes with each round that brings me, and others back again and again.  What makes the game so darn replayable is a series of risk/reward decisions must be made in every phase of the gaming experience.

Firstly, where does one jump out of the plane?  Choosing a city or hamlet will increase your chances of getting the guns and gear you need to survive but then twelve other people have that exact same idea and are heading to the same area.  So then it becomes a frantic race to see who can arm themselves first and have the advantage over their unarmed opponents, or do you go more out of the way, with less chance of the good loot, but also less people.

Secondly, layer on top of the loot vs people decisions, the geographical considerations involved in having a good run.  The available playing area cordons off after five minutes, what happens is that a large circle appears randomly on the map and after some time an ominous blue forcefield slowly closes around that circle effectively shepherding the players into a new smaller playing area.  Being far away from where the circle is drawn is never a good thing and forces you to make decisions that e often not tactically sound.  Thus, dropping toward the middle of the island is generally a fairly good idea because you will never be too far away from the initial circle boundary.

Thirdly, add to the mix the randomness of the gear available; sometimes you just cannot find a scope, or enough ammunition, or armour and you have to make due with what is available.

Of course, on top of all these points is the fact that you are playing against people who will be as conniving and opportunistic as humanly possible as everyone is trying to win the match.  You can bet your bottom dollar that people are lying in ambush waiting for the likes of unwary players who are not being careful.  Every corner must be checked, wide open spaces avoided, tree lines inspected, ridges surveyed – because the bastards are out there and will unhelpfully remind you of their presence, and your misfortune, with gunfire.

PUBG allows the option of teaming up with either a squad of 2 or 4 people, the new caveat being that rather than dying outright when injured, members of your team can revive you if they get to you before you bleed out.  Thus, more dynamics are added as then people tend to stick together and fight together leading to nasty 4 v 4 firefights and ambushes.

Playing this game has brought back some of the early pulse pounding experiences I’ve had with first person shooters when they first made their appearance on the market.  Running that flag in Soldier of Fortune 2, or being the last team member alive in Counterstrike were all heart rate quickening good times.  PUBG has brought those sorts of experiences back in a new setting that I’m finding most enjoyable.