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Getting to Know PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is a battle-royale style shooter from Korean-based developer Bluehole. It’s built on Unreal Engine 4 and is currently for sale in Steam Early Access, a service that allows developers to charge a nominal fee for early access to titles that are still in development. Players offer feedback and can help guide the development process as devs apply changes from the community. Even in its unfinished state, PUBG has broken the record for concurrent players on Steam (over 1.5 million CCUs as of this writing), knocking out the popular DOTA 2 and Valves’s own CS:GO and Team Fortress 2.

From its beginning the project has been overseen by BlueHole Creative Director Brendan Greene (aka PlayerUknown). Brendan has deep roots in the battle-royale genre and is arguably its founder—at least in its current form. Before PUBG, he created the DayZ: Battle Royale mod and spearheaded the H1Z1: King of the Hill spinoff of H1Z1 from Sony Online Entertainment. Ironically Epic Games--owner and creator of the Unreal Engine--have created a batte-royale mode for their recently released title Fortnite as an homage and hat-tip to PUBG. Though Bluehole may see otherwise, the recognition is great.

Battlegrounds gameplay 2
Roof loot is dangerous. Little cover!

We know the game is unfinished and selling like sugar-coated selfie sticks, and the developers are well schooled for the genre. But is it fun to play? We’re here to say it’s all that and a chicken dinner.

The Broad Strokes

In PUBG, rounds are played in single, Duo or 4-man squad matches. Each round includes up to 100 players. At the beginning of each match all players are placed aboard a plane that is flown across a single 8x8 kilometer map. Though there is already some variety because the placement of items and your drop-point is different each round, more maps are being worked on by the developers. The plane’s flight trajectory is different each round, which helps break up the monotony and forces players to learn more of the map with each play through. Players must choose when to eject in hopes of parachuting into an area where they can quickly loot-up and make themselves battle-ready with weapons, accessories, meds and other supplies.

Battlegrounds inventory

The landscape is littered with all sorts of buildings and structures including farm houses, barns, hangars, multi-level homes, schools, hospitals, restaurants, military installations, a prison, mansion and more. Every few minutes the “Play Area” shrinks in scale, pushing players ever-closer together for inevitable engagement. All players outside the Play Area begin to bleed out until death or until they reach the new Play Area. This being a battle-royal style game, your main objective is to be the last team or man standing.

Battlegrounds lobby

Tips For New Players

For new players, landing near good loot is key. But you don’t want to land near too many players who might kill you before you can gear-up. We suggest landing in more open areas with only a few buildings around like a farm, or small neighborhood of houses. Most players will target the military base, or larger housing structures like apartments and large cities. Again the flight path of the plane changes each round. So it will be virtually impossible to reach some areas in a feasible amount of time before they are outside the Play Area. So choose wisely. More informed drop choices will come with experience.

Battlegrounds 2

Also remember that loot is random. Don’t expect to find that sweet Mini-14 rifle in the same place twice. Speaking of sweet loot dropping randomly, throughout matches, a plane can be heard flying overhead. Often it will drop a care package of more specialized loot. The plane and the package’s slow decent can be seen for miles. If you’re in the vicinity, you now have a few choices; Go for the goods, ignore it altogether or use it as bait and pick off any would-be opportunists.

Battlegrounds map
Select your insertion point carefully

The game world is peppered with a variety of vehicle types. Use them carefully. We found it best to travel on foot to keep things more stealthy without announcing your arrival via car engine. The game has standard motorcylces and those with sidecars, dune buggies, commuter cars, military style jeeps and boats. Each has its own physics and and distinct handling mechanics. Take advantage of these to quickly get inside the Play Area when it’s too far for foot-travel or to make a quicker push on the care package. Conversely, it’s good to keep an ear out for these vehicles as it really helps to immediately pinpoint an enemy’s position when they roll up.

Another key tip; do not take the grenades for granted. We noticed a lot of players skip over the various throwable ordinances (molotov, grenade, flash bang, smoke grenade). These can be lifesavers. Smoke can easily create a window of escape even when trapped in a building with a single exit. A Flash can blind an entire squad for easy clean-up. That brings me to our next tip. Work as a unit. A winning team is a coordinated team and the game physics compliment this greatly. Shoot a hole in a wooden door while a teammate tosses a grenade through. Now run in and finish up any limping survivors.

Battlegrounds settings

While there are many layers to this simple battle-royal concept, one of the biggest tips that has helped us and many other players is proper button mapping. Take some time to go over the controls and buttons for key functions like Bandages, health and speed boosters, and the various grenades. There can be a lot of downtime in the game spent running across the landscape enjoying the horizon. But a firefight can break out at any moment and they are usually fast-paced, brutal, and unforgiving. You want to be ready and able to take advantage of all your hard-earned loot with a quick tap of a button.

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