It’s quiet. I’ve been hiding in an abandoned farmhouse for 20 minutes, crouched between a wall, a shelving unit and what feels like the worlds largest, shiniest, most inconspicuous window in existance. I’m waiting for someone. Perhaps I’ll hear the distant sounds of a muzzle blast, or the slow rumble of a car driving over a hill a mile away. Or maybe I’ll hear nothing. I wait some more.
I like this house. I picked it out as I ejected from the crashing plane that kicks off each PUBG match. It’s got good viewing angles, its got one door in and out, it’s got two levels and lots of noisy doors. If anyone approaches, I’ll see them. If anyone creeps through the weeds out back and gets in, I’ll hear them. It’s my house. It’s my safe place. And so I wait some more.
After what feels like an eternity of staring down the barrel of my scoped rifle, I see him. One lone wolf running directly across the field in front of me. I pause. If I shoot and miss I’ll have given up my number 1 asset: my position. If I let him pass maybe he’ll work his way around back and get me before I get him. I’ve got 2 seconds to decide. I bring up my scope, and pull the trigger.
Headshot. One less person to worry about. I sit and wait.
The map is getting smaller now. The playable area constricting ever inwards, forcing its players into a smaller and smaller zone. I check my map; I’m still okay. I wait. I’m scanning the horizon once again, checking to see what’s out there. It’s clear. I should probably go and loot the guy I’ve just killed. I talk myself out of it; it’s not worth the risk.
The funny thing about Battlegrounds, and what I think it does better than almost any other competitive game I’ve ever played, is that my moment of triumph would ultimately be my undoing. In a game of survival, engaging the enemy is fraught with danger, even if you aren’t aware of that danger yet. Maybe if I had let lone-wolf continue on his way it wouldn’t have happened. Maybe if I’d have repositioned after my kill I’d be safe? Maybe the bastard had already clocked me and had decided ten minutes ago to do what they were going to do.
Suddenly and without warning, I’m dead. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know who killed me, or what direction the bullet came from. I’m just dead. All of that watching and waiting; all of it for naught. I spent the best part of half an hour hiding, and still someone saw me.
I don’t know how long they’d been watching me, but chances are they saw my gunfire a moment earlier. You think you’re safe, you think you’ve ‘got this’. Wrong. You’re dead. It’s brutal, it’s surgical, and it’s absolutely one of my favourite experiences of the year so far.