Named after popular modder “PlayerUnknown” (Brendan Greene), who worked on DayZ and H1Z1, Battlegrounds reworks what those two games did into a simpler and more polished production. The game has gone on to top the Steam sales charts and sell over six million copies, with peak concurrent player counts reaching nearly 500,000 and topping heavy hitters such as Grand Theft Auto V and Fallout 4.
There are a lot of similarities between this game and Greene’s previous work, but whether you know his name or are hearing about him for the firsttime, there are some important things you’ll want to know about PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds before getting started.
What kind of game is Battlegrounds?
Unlike similar survival games such as H1Z1 and DayZ, this game doesn’t contain any zombies. This is strictly a competitive multiplayer game, with no offline or single-player modes to speak of. There are three multiplayer modes -- solo, duo and teams -- and only one map (for now). This is a shooter in which you play in either third-person or first-person perspectives on a very large map with a whopping 100 other players.
The match starts with everyone in a cargo plane, and everyone chooses when to eject as the plane flies from one end of the map to the other. You then skydive your way down, landing with nothing but the clothes on your back. It’s up to you to scour any nearby buildings for weapons, armor, ammo and health pickups.
Meanwhile, all 100 other players will be trying to do the same thing in the areas they’ve chosen to land. With any luck, you won’t land too close to someone else, and you’ll snag a cool pistol or rifle. The last person or team standing wins, but everyone gets points for how long they survive and how many kills they score.
This game is in Early Access. Is it buggy or unfinished?
The game is in a very stable state, though occasional server disconnects can happen. The developer has promised to release daily updates to keep on top of balance and performance issues.
However, the content on offer is a little slim. The online competitive mode is all you can play right now, and the reward points you earn for playing only unlock random clothing options. Expect to see more added to this over time.
Controller support is also incomplete; important functions such as crouching and going prone don’t work with a gamepad.
Is PlayerUnkown's Battlegrounds coming to consoles?
Yup. Battlegrounds will arrive on Xbox One later this year, with some extra performance perks for folks who pick up an Xbox One X. No word on price or release date yet.
While the game is being slated as an Xbox One console launch exclusive, there's still hope for PS4 fans. According to a statement released to Game Informer by Bluehole Studios, the company is "always looking at various platforms to potentially introduce our game."
What happens during a match?
To force each player to fight , the playable area will begin to constrict to a small circular safe zone. A blue circle will appear around the edges of the map and begin slowly closing in on the designated safe zone. Anyone caught outside the blue circle will take continuous damage. It’s your job to fight or sneak your way to the safe zone as it gets smaller and smaller. Inevitably, the player count will fall, and fast.
If you’re shot down a teammate can revive you (unless you’re playing in Solo mode). But once you die, it’s back to the lobby. That means your playtime in a match can be anywhere from just a few minutes up to 30 minutes, if you survive to the last few people left standing.
What kind of equipment can you find?
There are the standard pistols, rifles, shotguns and grenades to find in the various buildings on the map. You’ll also pick up tactical vests and helmets that offer damage reduction and items to replenish your health (it doesn’t refill on its own). You’ll also find weapon mods like red-dot sights, scopes and silencers, and backpacks to increase how many items you can hold.
More important, you’ll find the occasional working vehicle. Most cars are rusted-out junk piles, but a few are drivable. If there’s gas in the tank, then you’re good to haul it across the map as you please. Just be aware that cars make a ton of noise and can get stuck on uneven terrain.
Any tips for first-timers?
There are a few important things that will give you an edge when you’re starting out.
Most buildings have doors, and every door is closed at the beginning of a match. So if you see a door that’s open, that means another player has been through it -- and may still be inside. Close doors behind you, or leave them open, depending on what you want others to see.
All weapons start unloaded. When you pick up that cool assault rifle, don’t forget to load it!
Sound plays a big part of success, as player footsteps are key to finding out if a building is occupied or if someone is running up on the building you’ve holed up in. Stay low, and only move when necessary.
Keeping to the perimeter of the safe zone can make things simpler, as you can expect threats to come from only one direction. It may seem smart to run to the center of the safe zone as it shrinks in size, but then anyone can come at you from any direction.
Keep an eye out for random aerial bombings that will be marked on your map with a small red circle. If you end up in one, just get indoors as soon as you can. Likewise, supply drops will be flown in that contain some extra good loot. Just be prepared to fend off other players with the same idea.
You won’t die instantly if you go outside the blue zone, so don’t be too afraid to stay near it. But when the timer runs down and it begins to move in, you need to run toward the safe zone; it closes in fast.
The icons above your mini-map tell you how close your are to the safe zone and the blue zone. The white square is the safe zone, the blue square is the out-of-bounds blue zone, and the running man icon is your position relative to both of them. The countdown indicates when the blue zone will begin shrinking toward the safe zone. Use these icons, instead of opening your map too often, to maintain better awareness.