Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds: Early Access Review

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.

Advertisements

Overwatch: Orisa Goes LIVE! Thoughts and Opinions

Yesterday (21st of March), the 24th character to join the Overwatch roster was made live. She’s the third new character to be added to the game since launch. She’s a large, omnic quadraped armed with a gatling gun and a robotic Nigerian accent, which is as amazing as it sounds. She champions justice and protecting the public, giving off serious RoboCop vibes. She was built by eleven-year-old Efi Oladele, as an almost immediate response to an attack on Numbani by Doomfist (who we’re bound to see introduced to the game soon). She plays the tank role and comes equipped with 200 health, 200 armour. That’s the lowest of the tanks, and on par with Zarya. Zarya’s shields DO regenerate, however, meaning Orisa has lower survivability than her counterparts.

I spend most of my time playing tanks or supports on Overwatch, and so I was excited to get to grips with this new character. These are my thoughts on how she plays:

Pros:

Her kit borrows from the kits of other heroes, and so is quite easy to get used to. Her E ability is a deploy-able barrier with 900 health, not unlike Reinhardt’s shield. Her shift ability fortifies her and protects her from crowd control abilities such as Pharah’s concussive blast, or Lucio’s “boop”, among others. Her right-click is a mini-graviton surge which pulls enemies together and groups them up. Her ultimate, a “supercharger”, is dropped into the heat of battle to power up the damage output of her nearby allies. The damage increase is seemingly comparable to Mercy’s. Overall, her kit makes few unique strides in terms of gameplay changes, but is also incredibly useful to have in one character.

Her gun is a joy to use. It has a clip of 150, and fires from three barrels, making it feel like a death machine when used appropriately. Not only that, but I couldn’t help smiling with glee at the sound the gun makes. It’s a joy to listen to it while you mow your enemies down. The damage output isn’t ridiculously high, but you can still leave a noticeable mark on your opponents.

Her ultimate is probably the best thing about her. If you place it strategically, it can provide an insane amount of support to your team-mates, and can shift the tide of battles in your favour. The only downside is that it can be destroyed easier than Symmetra’s ultimates, so you’ll have be careful where you place it. I find myself thinking back to the last game I played as Orisa. We had a Bastion on top of the payload, being boosted by the supercharger AND a nano boost from Ana. The results were predictably chaotic and joyful.

Cons:

She has very low mobility, and no abilities to counteract that. If you’re going to play Orisa, you have to be absolutely certain to put yourself in positions where you’ll have an escape route, or you’ll find yourself dead more often than not.

Her health isn’t very high for a tank. She can easily be targeted and taken out by some offensive characters, and has no healing properties of her own. It is paramount to her survival to make good use of her barrier and to stay with team-mates. You cannot solo-tank as Orisa. It is not an option.

Her head is an easy target. I found that characters such as Reaper or Tracer were really enjoying getting in behind me, and picking me off before I could even think about trying to get away. Flankers will rejoice at this news.

Fortify is incredibly difficult to time properly. I have only used it successfully a handful of times at this stage.

Conclusion:

Above all, Orisa is fun to play, but she is not without her weaknesses. I find that without adequate protection from others, she struggles to survive. She cannot easily disengage from a combat scenario, so to use her properly, you need to stay as a group.

Her kit is incredibly useful and enjoyable to use, and she definitely has a place in the meta. To me, however, she seems like a complementary character. Her place is beside other tanks, rather than as a tank on her own. It feels like she could have been put in the support category just as easily.

In any case, I’m enjoying my time with her so far and I can’t wait to see how she’s used when she’s finally enabled in competitive play. She’s certain to shake up the meta for better or for worse.

Thanks for reading.