Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is an epic 100 person struggle between aggressive enemy hunting and careful self-preservation. Each match begins with you and up to 99 other players in an aircraft headed for the huge map on which the battle royale takes place. Once your boots are on the ground, you will be warned that the ‘play area’ will soon restrict itself. Where on the map it will restrict itself to is randomised. You have a limited amount of time to make it to that play area before the map starts to close in around you, damaging you if you’re caught outside. This leads to frantic vehicle-based cross-country journeys, nasty close encounters and early scrambles to find suitable weapons with which to defend yourself.
Battlegrounds is currently in its early access stage, which means that there are a few graphical hiccups (such as the annoying glitch which didn’t load building textures and wouldn’t let me into houses) and gameplay issues that will need to be addressed further into development. However, it is still at its core a very enjoyable experience. You will find that it’s fairly difficult to predict what will happen in each match. You have a plethora of options and plenty of decisions to make from the outset. Whether you choose to jump from the plane early or late, whether you approach towns or stay on outskirts, whether you engage an enemy or not. It is all entirely up to you and it can bring on a variety of different outcomes. If you play too safe, you may not be as well equipped for the final battles you’re forced to engage in by the continually decreasing circle of play. If you play too aggressively, you’ll die at the hands of someone with a cooler head. There are NO respawns, so there’s a real need to manage the situation.
The sense of unpredictability is a good thing overall, but there are times when you find yourself running for what feels like forever, only to arrive within a safe zone just to be gunned down. You’ll suffer from a lot of frustration if you’re unlucky, but that’s probably the harshest criticism that can be made in my point of view. If you’re looking for something consistent and fast-paced, then this game is not for you. If you are willing to be patient, the game can be extremely rewarding.
There is a level of customisation to be used. In matches, you can find scopes and various peripherals to attach to your guns in order to maximise their effectiveness. Outside of matches, there are clothing options which are purely cosmetic. To unlock these options, you exchange battle points for crates. Not an uncommon practice for the modern era of video games, admittedly. Of course, there’s an option to use real money to buy the crates, but since the rewards have no bearing on your overall performance in game, then there isn’t much of an ethical issue. It should only be viewed as a way of rewarding the developers for a good game, and the rewards you get from the crates are a small token of appreciation on their part. There’s absolutely no need to purchase them otherwise.
There are three game modes at the moment: solo, duo and squad. Each brings its own set of challenges. Playing in a squad can provide extra cover but you’ll find yourself competing with your team-mates for the best weapons and you may disagree on strategy. Playing alone leaves the decision making up to you but can also mean you struggle to survive. In team games, you get ‘knocked out’ before death, and there’s a chance for revival. In solo mode, if you get downed, you die. It’s worth bouncing from one mode to another in order to keep things fresh.
At this point in time, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is a suspenseful, thrilling survival game which continually draws the player back in for “just one more match”. The game evokes all sorts of emotions, from the sheer terror of hearing footsteps upstairs in a house, to the unparalleled joy of finding an assault rifle and being further assured that you’ll live that bit longer. It’s a simple concept, which becomes more complicated through strategy and player choice. This game has bags of potential, and at the current cost of £27, it’s worth it. I cannot wait to see what else gets added before full release.