Title: Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds
Platform: Windows, with future release on Xbox One and PlayStation 4
Rating: Teens 13+, for violence
The premise of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds sounds like a horrible vacation plan: Go sky diving on a remote island, and then kill everyone you meet.
Battlegrounds is a realistic action game in which up to 100 players fight in a battle royale, a type of largescale death match where players fight to be the last alive. Playing solo or with a squad of two or four others, the last person or team alive is the winner, winner chicken dinner.
Every match begins with players parachuting empty-handed onto a 25 square mile island, where they scavenge weapons, armor, medical supplies and vehicles from buildings and other sites. The map of the island is the same each match, but the locations of guns and other items are randomized each session. Failing to find a good weapon in the first minutes usually proves fatal.
Weapons range from light machine guns, sniper rifles and AK-47s to crossbows, machetes and even a frying pan. Once on the ground, players grab gear they find and then either hide, waiting for others to kill each other off, or hunt down other players. Killed players can be searched for the gear they collected.
Every few minutes, the battlefield shrinks. A white circle appears on the map and players have a limited time to move from wherever they are on the island to the inside of the circle. This keeps players from hiding out in one spot the whole match and forces them into encounters with one another. Players caught outside the circle take damage until they die.
Getting kills, surviving deeper into the game and winning matches earns points that can be used to buy outfits and accessories to customize your character.
Battlegrounds is another game that’s still in what’s called Early Access — gamers can buy and play it now, but the developer is still working on key features. Since its debut in March, more than 4 million copies have been sold. It’s currently only available on Windows through the Steam distribution network, but an Xbox One release is scheduled for later this year, and PlayStation 4 in 2018.
Two more maps — a desert area and a snowy area — are also in development, and the game is updated by the developer every week.
A number of other developments are planned as well, such as a zombie mode, where only one squad are humans and the rest of the 100 players control zombies, and a cooperative campaign mode.
Battlegrounds is among the most-watched games on Twitch.tv, with tens of thousands of people, 24 hours a day, watching someone else play the game. It’s easy to see why this game has had such
fast, widespread appeal. Hiding in a house, shotgun aimed at the door, listening to the approaching footsteps of other players as they search really gets the adrenaline pumping.
Getting good gear is only half the battle. Probably even less than that. This is a strategy game, a contest of wits. A clever player with a 9mm pistol and the element of surprise can take out someone in full body armor with a machine gun.
Every moment is a dilemma: Do you leave cover and search the next house over for a better gear, or medical supplies? If you move, you’ll make noise, or someone might see you. In fact, there might be someone waiting in that next
house for someone else to act. But staying still isn’t a longterm option either, because of the shrinking play area. And if you hear someone, do you let him walk past or shoot him? Firing guns makes lots of noise, which other players will hear, so taking out one enemy means another is probably on the way.
Every match of Battlegrounds feels fresh because of how equipment is randomly generated across the map, not to mention the rotating cast of nearly 100 other players to compete against. Each match takes anywhere from a few minutes (if another player gives you an early exit) to about a half hour. But death is not the end — just go back to the lobby and immediately jump into another match!
I had the most fun with this game playing in a squad of four with some folks I met playing Rust over the past couple of weeks. In fact, in just our second match together, we won! Amazingly, our entire team survived. No man left behind. Less amazingly, I hadn’t actually managed to kill a single player the whole match. But a win’s a win, right?
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds was reviewed on Windows.
Scene from Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds