PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds hits early access

The funny thing about ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Battle Royale’ games isn’t that they miss how awful those dystopian murdergames are, rather that they recreate the experience of the antagonists – those hated and feared few who relish the killing and thrive in murderland. They’re the Hunger Royale All-Stars, dozens of Kiriyamas and Catos thrown into murderlands where the would-be suicides and pacifists are already winnowed by not buying the game. The genre’s mighty popular these days — H1Z1: King of the Kill is the third most-played game on Steam — and today a new blooddrenched contender swaggers into the arena. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds [official site] has just entered early access, with some pedigree to its name.

The eponymous PlayerUnknown is Brendan Greene, a chap who was behind Arma’s big Battle Royale mod and helped out on King of the Kill. He joined Tera developers Bluehole to work on a Hungerer with his own name on it, quite literally, and here it is.

PlayerUnknown’s Battleground airdrops dozens of players onto 64 square kilometres of murder island to scavenge for weapons and supplies, find vehicles, and ultimately try to off each other. Last murderer (or squad) standing wins, chummos.

Battlegrounds is £26.99/29,99€/$26.99 on Steam Early Access. Bluehole expect it’ll leave early access and launch properly within six months. They plan to use this time to add more features and content, following player feedback, and to make mod tools.

If you’ve been playing in the beta (or watching it – it’s topped 110,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch) then have a peek at what arrived in the launch day patch. Performance improvements, additional translations, and bug fixes, mostly.


  1. Treners says:

    Ho hum. Don’t understand the appeal at all but hope people have fun.

    • Cerulean Shaman says:

      Basically it’s less spammy and less mindless than a traditional shooter, like say Call of Duty. Here you have an extermination match in a game designed the ground up to support it and it’s actually a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed it more than most traditional shooters, though really it’s just a different type of game. The adrenaline rush is nothing compared to CoD or Titanfall, if you die there you rage a bit and come back minutes later for revenge.

      Here, your heart starts thrumping, you’re desperately taking cover while bandaging ever slowly, trying to a get a glimpse while also trying to formulate an escape plan.

      It’s a lot of fun.

  2. stringerdell says:

    Kiriyama was so damn cool with his floppy hair and submachine gun…

    While I get the appeal of the format all of these games seem fairly awful. Janky graphics, basic gunplay and excessive crafting.

    • Cerulean Shaman says:

      The graphics aren’t so bad, though I’ve always been less critical because I remember back when I thought Perfect Dark and Goldeneye were great.

      Also, a lot of streamers play on lowest settings to max their FPS because the game’s not too optimized yet, and then you have to add the hit of the streaming.

      You don’t really have to craft in this game though. I think you’re mistaking it for something like ARK or Dayz, which it’s not. The only game really close to it is H1Z1 which is a nightmare of issues all on its own because of really lazy devs.

      The gunplay is actually really good, by the way, and the gameplay of hunting other players while skulking around different territories trying not to get hunted in turn is actually really fun. I’d give it a go, at least, you can always refund within an hour…

      • stringerdell says:

        It’s definitely possible I’m confusing it for a similar title to be fair. The concept is interesting to me so Ill take a look again toward the end of early access and see how it’s shaping up

        • badmothergamer says:

          I believe you are thinking of The Culling, which is a battle royale game but requires crafting for weapons.

  3. dontnormally says:

    Awarding players who’d prefer to sneak about, make alliances, buck the system, and minimize killcount would be a really interesting (and more apt) spin on the formula.

    Adding mechanical reasons to form into groups creates avenues for interesting backstabbing, too. A sort of prisoner’s dilemma where sticking together has the highest overall value shared, but backstabbing your “teammates” is safer and consolidates value.

    Just like battle royale / hunger games.

    • Vandelay says:

      Unfortunately, those things are hard to program and balance. It seems rather pointless to go to the effort when the far simpler option seems to sell bucket loads.

      I don’t really understand why they sell so much though. They all just look like mediocre to bad deathmatch games.

    • frightlever says:

      What you’re describing sounds interesting – maybe look at Deceit.

      link to

      It’s one of those games where you aren’t sure who the bad guys are.

      Anyway, I’ve watched a LOT of Battlegrounds. Typically matches last 15-20 minutes. There simply isn’t enough time for any complicated alliances to form.

      Personally I find spectating it on Twitch to be highly entertaining. Really good to veg out to on a Sunday.

      Pretty sure it’ll handily eclipse H1Z1 King of the Hill shortly.

    • meepmeep says:

      That inherently exists in these games, you often get roving packs of people working together. However, just as in the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the equilibrium state and optimal strategy is to look out for yourself.

    • badmothergamer says:

      While they don’t have anything close to the mechanics you describe, they will have specific team servers. I believe the reasoning is to (hopefully) avoid people teaming up on solo servers which is a problem for all battle royale style games.

      Based on the beta, there will be servers for solo, duo, and 4 player teams. They even have some cool animations for passengers to fire out of vehicles.

  4. Jerkzilla says:

    Man, I never got why this, DayZ and the Arma 3 mod always include third person. On what planet does telepathically peeking around corners constitute a “good” gameplay mechanic for a game in which you die in a couple of bullets? Every Arma video I’ve seen shot on a server with the feature enabled included footage of its abuse.

    I guess it’s pretty popular but it looks just so out of place in a supposedly realistic game.

    • Chewbacca says:

      That’s why I only played the hardcore servers for the Arma 3 mod. And this game apparently also has a first person only mode. Don’t know why so many people prefer the third person mode that just supports campers.

  5. April March says:

    I can’t believe the game is actually called that. On earlier reports I had thought PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds meant the game Battlegrounds, by developer PlayerUnknown. (Which I guess kind of is, but that’s still part of the name of the game.) To think that, one day, we laughed at Warfighter’s name.