Player Unknown’s Battleground’s isn’t the sort of game I’d usually be interested in. Firstly, it’s an online shooter. Secondly, it’s a PC exclusive online shooter. And thirdly, it’s a PC exclusive online shooter that is far from finished. And yet the game is dominating my thoughts in ways that few games do. Why is that?
So, what is Battleground’s? It’s a last-man-standing shooter where you’re tasked with surviving on an island with 100 other people also trying to do just that. With Guns. Because it’d be a shit shooter without guns.
It’s that simple. Ish. You see Battleground’s has one or two tricks up its khaki sleeve that turn the game from a fairly ho-hum milletary shooter into something more unique. And that’s the games huge map, or more specifically how the game pushes its players closer together. Forcing the interaction that many of them would rather avoid.
To stop players from simple hiding in a building and waiting for everyone to die/log off, the map slowly contracts. If you get caught outside the newly defined play-area, you’ll quickly start to lose health. Obviously that won’t do, and so this one simply trick forces players into a smaller and smaller area of the map until finally the last remaining players are within spitting distance of one another.
In forcing players to move forever inward, the player are asked to decide between hunkering down in the safety of a building or doing the perhaps more intelligent thing of advancing towards the eventual centre of the games map.
It all makes the game incredibly intense, and that is ultimately why Battleground’s is doing as well as it is. From the moment you leave the plane you’re on a constant state of alert. Is there anyone falling in your vicinity? Has anyone landed in the same place as you? Where the fuck are all the guns? Was that a door opening behind me? Can I hear a vehicle approaching? What the fuck am I going to do with a frying pan? It’s a game of constant vigilance. If you drop your guard for one second, there’s a good chance you’ll be gunned down, and then you’re faced with another nerve-wracking jump from the plane. Rinse and repeat.
Battleground’s is an Early Access game. So don’t expect a perfectly refined experience. There are bugs, there’s some optimisation to be done and sometimes the games frame rate drops out entirely. Hopefully going forward the vast majority of these will be ironed out. And even with those issues I still think there’s so much to love here that they’re almost part of the charm.
I think Player Unknowns Battleground’s is a hell of a thing. What’s more, I think that even with the Early Access tag attached to it, it’s very much worth purchasing. If they don’t improve the game further it’ll suck, but I don’t think it’d make this a bad purchase; the core game is so rewarding and fun and tense and generally addictive that I’d be totally okay if this was it.