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Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - JA­SON BEN­NETT ARKANSAS DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

Ti­tle: Player Un­known’s Bat­tle­grounds

Plat­form: Win­dows, with fu­ture re­lease on Xbox One and PlayS­ta­tion 4

Cost: $29.99

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.

REPLAYABILITY

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

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