The island of Erangel, 100 people and weapons scattered everywhere. For anyone paying attention to either the live streaming scene or PC gaming, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (affectionately referred to by many as PUBG) has been the new hotness in recent months. Topping sales charts and consistently ranking among the most watched games on services like Twitch and Mixer, its popularity still appears to be on the rise with millions of copies sold, and they’ve done it all while the game is still in early access.
Relatively new to the scene, the “Battle Royale” genre got its start with games like DayZ and the Battle Royale mod for ARMA 2 and 3. Even more fascinating is that Brendan Greene, better known as PLAYERUNKNOWN, was heavily involved in many of the genre’s most popular titles including Battle Royale, H1Z1: King of the Kill, and now PUBG.
For those unfamiliar with the game, PUBG rounds start with 100 players flying over an island that appears to be from the Eastern Bloc. The plane flies a random path each game, with players skydiving out. Once survivors hit the ground, it’s a mad dash to dig through various buildings, scrounging for weapons, armor, ammunition, vehicles, and more. As time progresses, the playable area is restricted by the “blue wall of death,” forcing everyone to bring the fight ever closer. Every couple minutes, the circle gets tighter and tighter until there’s only one player left standing. Along the way, other curveballs are tossed at players such as red zones that bomb an area for a time and care packages planes that can drop promise of special weaponry. The last player (or team) standing gets to walk away with the satisfaction of a job well done and a “chicken dinner,” the game’s affectionately-termed trophy (called so for the phrase “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” that victors see after the final kill).
So what’s made the game so wildly appealing? I believe much of that is that it lends itself to quick turnover. If you hit the ground next to an opponent that manages to find a weapon and slaughter you before you can come up with anything, you can immediately join a new round. For longer-lasting players, there’s a constant sense of tension and adrenaline that makes for a gameplay experience rivaled by very few other offerings (though apparently Ubisoft wants to add similar formulas to their some of their games). It’s highly addicting, with every game playing out in its own unique way. You can also have a great time playing solo, duo, or in a squad.
The game isn’t perfect. There are still a lot of bugs that need to be ironed out before it leaves Early Access. Developer Bluehole currently has plans to officially launch the product on PC before the end of 2017. They’ve also announced an Xbox One version to launch in the preview program sometime late 2017, as well as the promise of more maps and first person-only servers.
Can PUBG continue its meteoric rise? Only time will tell, but it currently has a phenomenal start. If you have a PC and can’t wait to get into the action, you can pick it up in Early Access for $30 via Steam, though I personally recommend grabbing some friends to bring along for the ride!). It can undoubtedly be frustrating, but it’s addicting and you’ll come back time after time. No number of chicken dinners will satiate you once you’ve experienced what the game has to offer.