Games like Arma, Day Z, and H1Z1 have been the destinations for players looking to get their battle on in Battle Royale. One thing they all have in common? Playerunknown was involved. After making several mods for the Arma engine games and consulting on H1Z1, the next logical step was to make his own game. Enter Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, the game that has exploded into one of the most popular games on Steam and Twitch. Having now reached two million units sold in early access I had to jump in and see just how good it was.
I’m familiar with the concept of the battle royale game mode having watched plenty of it, but never felt compelled to dive in myself. Previously those modes were attached to games I had little interest in playing. Battlegrounds is built from the ground up for battle royale, not an additional mode or afterthought. I was intrigued and boy am I happy I took the plunge. Battlegrounds is thrilling, tense, at times frustrating, but ultimately immensely satisfying.
If you’ve never played a battle royale game, the premise is fairly simple. One hundred players are shoved into an airplane and flown to a large island. Players decide when they’re ready to jump out and parachute to the ground with nothing but the clothes on their back, for now. When you hit the ground it becomes a race to be the most armed player around and to take out other players who made the mistake of landing near you. Or, you can have that happen to you. Matches can last about 25-30 minutes at their longest but can be over in seconds if you aren’t careful. Those instances are certainly an annoyance, but servers are always packed and matchmaking takes just seconds.
If you make it through the first ten or so minutes, the game takes a very drastic turn. While surviving is always the goal, managing your position both on the map and on the field of battle becomes all the more important. Keeping a low profile and keeping quiet are important for staying out of the sights of that guy in the apartments, or the guy fully prone at the top of the hill with the blue zone to his back. Oh yeah, the blue zone. At certain intervals, during the game, you will have to enter a white circle on the map which is the play zone. Players outside the play zone when the timer hits zero will be subject to the blue zone. The blue zone kills you, slowly, but if you aren’t careful it will be a slow, painful death as you see all your efforts wasted because you didn’t pay attention to the map.
I don’t need to get too much into the nitty gritty, but just know that as the zones shrink and players come closer and closer together the game comes alive. The intensity of pushing into a zone as the blue death wall closes in behind you while taking shots at another player while taking shots from someone else who you have no clue where he is, it’s kind of awesome. I’ve had a few top 10 finishes thus far, both in solo play and in the team modes (duo or squad), and my disappointment in not winning was buried beneath my elevated heart rate and my mind playing over that last engagement a million more times in my head. It’s hard not to want to go back and try again, knowing when you were so close. I haven’t played a multiplayer game that offers the kind of rush that Battlegrounds does.
I found the game shockingly easy to get into with my first top 10 placement in my first four games. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of skill required to excel at the game (which I do have, not going to dis myself in my own article) but a player who knows how to stay out of sight and pick the right fights can make it far enough to earn some bragging rights. Approachable isn’t the right word, but know that you can pick up the game and become mildly competent in very little time. Players who want more out of the experience can challenge themselves early with fights over weapons and gaining an understanding of where better weapons tend to spawn (hint: it’s closer to the spots that seem the most dangerous).
Being in early access the game can see some drastic changes between now and its final release. There are some bugs to be squashed and plenty of optimization to do, but even in this early state, the game is a blast. At $29.99 (or less if you’re a savvy shopper) there is a low cost of entry with a lot of room for growth. Even if you’re the type to stay away from early access titles, everything so far points to Battlegrounds enjoying enough success to make it all the way to final release in solid shape. If you have any desire to play, I’d 100% say to do it. You won’t be disappointed.