PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds is a battle royale game where players find themselves stranded on an island with up to 100 players. Only one can survive. Battle for resources, vehicles, and weapons and be the last player standing.
Type: Battle Royale
Release Date: March 23, 2017
Pros: +Big game map (8x8km) +Variety of weapons and gear. +Vehicles & cosmetics add depth.
Cons: -Repetitive Gameplay. -Single game mode/map. -Melee weapons worthless.
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds Overview
Welcome to PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds, where players will find themselves stranded on an island with up to 100 others. It's survival of the fittest; only one player can be left standing (or team in duo / squad mode) Begin with nothing and fight for limited resources, gear, and vehicles to survive. Scavenge over sixteen different kinds of weapons, from shotguns to assault rifles. Make use of the open-world map, exploring abandoned buildings, forests, and hills. Create and customize mods to challenge the community. Spectate and watch replays to see which player makes it out alive.
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds Key Features:
- Battle Royale – begin with nothing on an island with up to 100 players and fight to be the last one standing.
- Weapon Variety – choose between sixteen types of weapons, from handguns to SMGs.
- Create Mods – create and customize mods to challenge other players.
- Open-World Island – Massive game map with abandoned buildings, beaches, and hills for players to traverse.
- Duo Mode – Don't go in alone! Team up with a friend and be the last team standing to win!
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds Screenshots
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds Featured Video
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds Review
By, Erhan Altay
Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is a third-person shooter where a large number of players compete to be the last ones standing on a massive East European island littered with guns, ammo, and other kit. Developed by Korean studio Bluehole (of Tera fame) and the original developer behind ARMA mod Battle Royale, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is a genre defining title that should appeal to anyone interested in survival style shooters.
Birth of a Genre
Its not often that we witness the birth of a new genre. Most studios are content with releasing the same old games with incremental improvements. But every once in awhile, a new idea comes along that takes the gaming market by storm and forces existing studios to take notice. Often these sparks of genius don’t come from established studios, but from private modders. The mod-to-genre pipeline has given us some of today’s biggest hits including Counter Strike Global Offensive (spawned from a Half-Life mod) and League of Legends (inspired by a Warcraft 3 mod.)
The ARMA Siblings
ARMA, the hyper realistic tactical shooter series, is perhaps unique in birthing not one, but two genres through its modding community. The first was DayZ which gave us the seeds of the survival genre later popularized by titles like Rust. The other was Battle Royale. While DayZ and games of its lineage stress persistent servers with long reset timers and open-ended gameplay, Battle Royale offers matches with a start and end, win and loss conditions. That win condition, of course, being last-man-standing. Standalone Examples of this model include The Culling and H1Z1: King of the Kill.
A Phone Call From Seoul
Given the success of Battle Royale and its imitators, it’s no surprise that many other studios have started wading into the genre. But what I didn’t expect was for the South Korean studio Bluehole, better known for their fantasy MMORPG Tera, to take the initiative. As reported on the first Battlegrounds Dev blog, Dr Changham Kim, Bluehole’s production director, reached out to PLAYERUNKNOWN in February of 2016 and by the end of March, the modder had moved to Seoul and joined Bluehole as Creative Director of the Battlegrounds project. Given this timeline, development speed has been brisk. We got a peek at the first Alpha build in September 2016 and a Closed Beta playable by anyone who pre-ordered a mere five months later, running from February to March 2017. Examining these dates reveals that Battlegrounds went from a phone call to a public build in less than a year. Part of that fast turnaround is explained by the decision to use the Unreal 4 engine, but it is an impressive technical achievement nonetheless.
Survival of the Fittest
The game launched with a $29.99 Early Access price tag with the option of a $39.99 Deluxe Edition offering limited edition skins which can be traded on the Steam marketplace. After installing the game, players go through a quick character creation process offering male/female gender options, several hairstyles, and hair colors. There is no customization beyond that save the ability to chose a player name. The main game mode can be queued either solo or with a partner. Each option has its own queue so solo players won’t be pitted against groups of two and vice versa. Players are held in an open lobby area as the game fills up. The Closed Beta supported up to 100 players, but the developers have stated a goal of supporting 250+ per match. Once the game fills, players are flown onto the battlefield on transport planes from which they can parachute off at their desired location.Upon landing, its up to each player to rummage through abandoned buildings for guns, ammunition, clothes, body armor, energy drinks, and even melee weapons like machetes. Areas with higher building density offer more items, but are also likely to attract more players. Choice of landing spot is the single most important decision players make in Battlegrounds. It is quite common to see half of players eliminated within the first 5 minutes, many within moments of landing. More sparse locations offer fewer goodies, but safer landing zones from which to establish your bearings.
Risk vs Reward
While Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds only offers a single map, it is a massive, 8x8 KM island with multiple points of interest. The scattering of dense and sparse regions allows for a variety of playstyles. If you want a high-risk, high-reward match, land near the central town of Pochinki or Yasnaya Polyana to the north east. For a more stealth oriented, low-and-slow playstyle there are many small clusters of buildings scattered between the major focal points. Perhaps the greatest strength of the game’s map is its high level of detail and variety. It allows different play styles and is so large that I never really felt like it was getting repetitive. You can play for hours without cycling back to the same route you took dozens of matches ago. Another brilliant trick of game design Bluehole pulled off with the map is how players are corralled into ever shrinking regions as the player count dwindles. Almost all games of this style have some sort of shrinking arena feature, but the one in Battlegrounds ensures different parts of the map are explored every match. Rather than the arena magically shrinking like in The Culling, a white circle marks the player zone within minutes of a match starting. Players are given 5 minutes to get within this zone’s borders. After a pause, a smaller white circle appears within the previous zone and once again players must make their way inside. To spice things up, red circles appear on portions of the map which signify incoming aerial bombardments. Players within these regions must immediately dash out of them or take cover in nearby buildings.
Learning Can Be Fun!
Perhaps I’ve grown jaded over the years, but I just couldn’t get into any of the survival games that came out (or Early Accessed) in recent years. My friends would hype me up for Rust, Ark, Conan Exiles, whatever. But it was always the same. I ran around naked for a few hours, collected some rocks, wood, plants, then died. I understood why others found these games fun. They were building “bases” (really just shacks), and raiding (zerging) other players on their server in an endless cycle which always seemed to include hours collecting rocks while nude. Those same friends roped me into The Culling which offered the whole ‘start naked’ appeal but with the ‘collect rocks’ part (mostly) trimmed. This time I had the opposite issue. It was too simple. Sure, it was fun for a few hours but the map was relatively small, it always shrank in the same way, and eventually we got bored of it. Not too hot, not too cold. It’s a difficult balance, especially when dealing with finicky, choice-ridden gamers who can quickly get a sense of your game via twitch, youtube, or a free beta weekend. For all the technical faults with the game which I will soon get into, it's worth emphasizing this point: I was having fun with Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds from the start. There is a learning curve, but its not a daunting one. I died to the red-zone airstrike on my first match after narrowing making it into the white circled play-zone area after realizing it meant. That was a but perplexing, but I could immediately understand what I did wrong and jumped into another match with that new knowledge. From there on, the game still had things to teach me but they were more or less intuitive.
Not Everyone Is Equal
Besides the variety found across the map, Battlegrounds keeps things exciting with its range of weapons. I still recall watching the Japanese movie Battle Royale as a child and one of my lasting memories of the film was the fact that some of the students weren’t quite as lucky with the weapons and items they started with as others. The same sense of randomness is at play in Battlegrounds. That first house you run into may only yield a machete and a pistol with one round. Or you might land near a warehouse with a AK/M4, several extra clips, stock and sight modifications, body armor, helmet, some stun grenades, etc. Even some of the cosmetic stuff you’ll find scattered across the map adds both the atmosphere and fun. A variety of hats, types of coats, pants, shirts, etc can be equipped despite not offering much in the way of stats. I truly hope Bluehole continues to add stuff like this in future updates. One entire category of gear that could use work, however, are the melee weapons. I don’t expect them to ever trounce guns, but they just feel underpowered and worse, the swings are just not satisfying. A single machete swing at close range is enough to bring someone down. As of now, there’s no reason to even pick up melee weapons if you see them on the ground. Despite this flaw, this feature can easily be fixed. Just up the damage and perhaps work on the umph of melee swings. Other mechanical issues may prove more difficult.
Shooting Isn’t The Point
Battle Royale style games have been around for several years now, but I have yet to play one that feels remotely as fluid as, say, Counter Strike. Part of this is due to the third-person nature of these titles and the nonsensical camera-peaking that allows, but it goes beyond that. The ‘gun play’ for lack of a better term just feels off in Battlegrounds. It's just odd, and something that has to be learned. It must just have to do with the tradeoffs developers have to make in accommodating hundreds of players on a single map at the same time. Part of the gun play issues I encountered were also likely exacerbated by low frame rates. It's a lot more difficult to react and aim at a fluctuating 30-40 FPS than at a solid 60. If performance issues are fixed, I will be glad to revise this portion of the review. Fortunately for Battlegrounds, simply shooting the other guy isn’t really the point. Well, it is. But it goes beyond that. If I just wanted tight gun control, I would play Counter Strike Global Offensive. Instead, Playerunknown’s Battleground offers an experience. It is the experience of starting with nothing, quickly establishing yourself and know it can all be gone in an instant of carelessness. Twenty minutes of careful planning can be erased in a moment if you don’t see that guy hiding in the bushes. That may sound tedious or frustrating, and believe me many games of this variety have bored me. But not Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. The matches last just long enough to prevent them from getting stale while still feeling like a meaningful endeavor. I’m glad the game has garnered strong interest and can’t wait to see how the king of the genre continues to shape it in the years to come.
Final Verdict: Great
Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds sets a new standard for the up and coming Battle Royale genre. The game is large enough to avoid feeling repetitive while accessible and fast paced enough to appeal to a broad audience. The map allows for a variety of playstyles and has plenty to explore. Some features including melee weapons, inventory management, and item pickup animations still feel off.
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds Videos
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds Links
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds System Requirements
Operating System: Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10 64 bit
CPU: Intel i3 4340 / AMD FX-6300
Video Card: nVidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB / AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB
RAM: 6 GB
Hard Disk Space: 30 GB
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds Music & Soundtrack
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds Additional Information
Creative Director: Brendan Greene (PLAYERUNKNOWN)
Exeuctive Producer: Dr Chang han Kim
Game Engine: Unreal Engine 4
Alpha: November 2016
Closed Beta: February 24, 2017 - March 19, 2017
Early Access: March 23 2017
Development History / Background:
PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds is a battle royale game developed and published by Bluehole, a South Korean gaming company. Bluehole reached out to PLAYERUNKNOWN, creator of the Battle Royale mode for H1Z1 and Arma 3, in February 2016 to develop Battlegrounds. By the end of March 2016 development on Battlegrounds had begun in Seoul. Built on the Unreal Engine 4, PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds entered Alpha testing in November of 2016, Closed Beta in February, and Steam Early Access on March 23, about a year after development started on the project.