Welcome to the Battlegrounds

After seeing this game show up on Twitch in early January I couldn’t help but groan at the appearance of another “survival shooter” game. If there were ever a case of market saturation in the video game industry, it would have been the past 18 months with this kind of the hill-esc genre. But it wasn’t until March that I realized this game would break the mold. And for those asking “Is this a copy of H1Z1 or Arma?” First answer this question: If someone ghost authored a book, co-authored another, and then finally had the power and support to write his own book would you accuse him of plagiarising himself?

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds’ (PUBG) freshest contender is another early access survival shooter, Escape from Tarkov. EFT is about the grind for loot; the gamble of going in with your best items and doubling down, or coming back with nothing. In stark contrast, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is an emotional rollercoaster that leaves people screaming expletives when they get shot, but then yelling “Let’s go again!” at the top of their lungs; or pumping their fists after a win, going in overconfident and getting shot within a minute of landing on the ground. I couldn’t count the times that a streamer would end a match saying “That was so stupid, I shouldn’t have done that.” Which is a drastic change from the norm. When you die in this game it’s not due to bad game mechanics or a bug – when you die in this game it’s your fault, which means you can get better and improve. Never before have I seen a game in alpha look so polished, even more so than games that have been fully released.

For a game based off of everyman-for-himself type warfare, PUBG is a game that thrives on its social aspects. Even after a player has died, their spectating mode allows for fallen teammates to be a second set of eyes to their surviving ones. Although they are no longer rising through the ranks they can still be “in the game” by being a spotter and helping their friends shoot their way to the top.

Not only do duos and team pairings allow for excellent team play, but they bring about the moments that have people sitting around tables years after this game is long dead reminiscing about “the time that…”  Their game mechanics and combat system provides opportunities for plays that will be shared among friends, across Twitter, and find their way to the top of Reddit before the match is even uploaded to YouTube.

If pressed I’d have to describe a video game as a relationship. Of course, any connection we have to another living thing is a relationship but – aren’t some of today’s modern games living? People spend hours with them away from other things and other people, focusing on no other stimuli than what’s in front of them and the people with them in-game. My opening paragraph was written yesterday, and I opened by asking if PU’s Battlegrounds is a game that will have the power to pull gamers from their long-term relationships with other games. I wanted to know if players would abandon their guilds or gaming partners, if they would feel no twinge of remorse canceling their long established plans to have a good time with like-minded people, and last night my question was answered.

I was watching someone on Stream, who started off their duo match by telling their partner that in six hours they’d have to leave for a previously scheduled CS:GO scrim that he had to take part in.  When the six hours was up it was clear that he genuinely didn’t want to stop playing PU’s BG. He felt that the six hours he had previously spent playing the game wasn’t enough, even going so far as to call his teammates to see if the scrim wasn’t canceled or postponed. PUBG is a game like this that makes people not want to leave their computers to get up to eat or use the bathroom, and that fact will change the space of gaming for our foreseeable future.

There’s a lot more I can say about this game but, after just a few days of watching, I want to keep it less than a thousand words. This game breathes authenticity. While other games force competition by sponsoring tournaments and matches before people even get their hands on the game: this community has become naturally competitive, with no forcing on the part of the devs. With players from CS:GO and CoD coming in with levels of communication that can only be rivaled by professional players, this game will continue to grow into the champion I know it will be. I couldn’t help but sit in awe when I saw that professional Twitch streamerSacriel, had created his own replay system, allowing him to look back at the mistakes he’s made in-game and analyze them – making sure he does not suffer death the same way again. A creation of his own design that would do well to be implemented in PUBG.

Of course, there are things that could be fixed. I’ve seen too many times, that players get caught in their menu and die before they can leave. I assume the game sends your inventory data to the server as you close your menu and because of this there is a temporary pause, but that pause is just long enough for you to be downed and slaughtered. I’d like it if the moment you took damage: your inventory would close itself, and any saving that needed to be done would happen in the background so you could at least attempt to defend yourself. And although bright yellow text pops up reminding you the player zone is about to change, when your head is in the game and you’re searching for enemies sometimes that text goes unnoticed. Implementing an audio indication of some kind might aid in people running for the circle at the last minute – but maybe that’s the point.

I don’t know what PU’s BG has in store. All I know is, now that PlayerUnknown is at the helm of his own team, he will do more than just mod. His team and this community will alter the face of online competitive gaming forever.

tl;dr
– With a genre oversaturated with games, the man who has helped create the best one now has the ability to create his own, and what a beautiful thing it will be.
– It is both exhilarating and infuriating, but it always leaves you coming back for more. Any death is a fault of yours, not the game, simply illuminating the brilliance of the game design.
– Is made for both solo and social players. You can have fun playing alone, or coordinate plays with your friends that you remember for years and leave you climbing to the top of the leaderboards.
– Like a carefully crafted MMO, this game will have you leaving long established friends and communities, compelling you to return to fulfill that desire to be the last man standing. It will hook you, and never for a second will you be left wondering WHY you’re hooked, the reasons are obvious.
– It instills genuine competition and isn’t forcing it down the community’s throat.
– Could definitely make a few tweaks and improvements, but this is one of the most polished games I’ve seen, let alone for one still in alpha.
– I don’t know much, but I know this game will change the face of the multiplayer genre (and shooters alike) for years to come.

@WASDmeta

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