Premature Evaluation: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Every week we dump Brendan out the back of a plane and into the hotbed of gunfire that veterans know only as ‘early access’. This week, the competitive murderfields of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds [official site].

I’m halfway across the river when the net starts closing in. A huge electric field looms up behind me, sparkling and fizzing and nipping at my heels as I swim for my life. Having just dodged a player driving by in his jeep, I was now going to die of wounds slowly inflicted over time by the game itself, simply for not being in the right place. I kicked and swam, even as the electric field overtook me and my screen started to slowly bleed. If I didn’t reach the safe zone soon – marked by a white circle on the mini-map, I’d be dead. Oh well, I figured, there are less interesting ways to go.

This is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the new ‘Battle Royale’ game from Bluehole and Brendan Greene, the developer behind Arma’s battle royale and H1Z1’s King of the Hill. But if you’re hoping for something a little fresh from one of the format’s experienced progenitors, turn now and walk sadly away. There’s absolutely nothing here of novelty. It’s just another shooter on a big map.

As such, there isn’t much to explain. After a gathering screen, you are thrust onto a plane with 99 other players, where you’ll skydive out onto the 8km x 8km island below. Depending on what you’ve picked on the menu screen, you’re all either fighting solo or murdering it out in groups of two or four. Seeing where people drop and picking your own safe and uncrowded landing spot is the first major challenge. Actually, strike that. The first major challenge is making it through the airplane ride.

The trademark title of the game puts everything in capitals – PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS – as if the game itself is shouting at you, a fitting moniker for a game in which all players spend the first 30-60 seconds in the plane screaming at each other like a bus full of children on their way to a borstal. There’s bad singing, racial slurs, meaningless squealing. It is like some chemistry genius filtered and distilled all the toxicity from online gaming into a single aluminium cylinder. You can mute the whole place as soon as you appear, and I suggest that you do.

Once you’re out and soaring through the air, the desire is to find a place with equipment and supplies. Guns, in other words. There are first aid kits and grenades of differing types, as well as clothes and the obligatory motorcycle helmets, but what you really want is a good old-fashioned AK, or an M16. The rush for these weapons isn’t as frantic as in H1Z1, I found. If you drop into a peaceful area with no other ‘contestants’ you’ll easily survive long enough to find a good firearm, and possibly even a scope, special magazine, or some other kind of attachment. Backpacks and helmets have different levels, clearly stated when you stand by them, allowing you to hold more or withstand more damage if you get shot in the bonce, something that’d otherwise straight-up kill you.

Within minutes, the game starts warning you to move. A circle on your map denotes the next safe zone (and a red area denotes a place about to be bombed by planes). In this case, “safe zone” means somewhere you can exist where the game won’t zap you for standing around, as opposed to an actual place of safety. Like its older brothers, Battlegrounds wastes no energy or thought by leaving it up to you whether to team up or kill people you meet. The aim is always to kill. This isn’t DayZ or the Division’s dark zone, where there are advantages and disadvantages to attacking another player. This is vanilla, kill-em-all elimination. This has always been a sad thing for the genre, I’ve found, since it makes no new demands of the players and introduces nothing to the “game” of survival that we have not seen before. Battle royales done in this way will always tend towards, or simply be, a deathmatch without the benefit of concise level design.

But there’s plenty of people who are up for that, clearly. The loud swarms of players in Battlegrounds must be at least partly composed of those fed up with H1Z1. But what they expect to find here of note, I’m not sure. Maybe the appeal is that this is more or less the same thing, but with a new map? Maybe everyone just thinks that this time – this time – the game will actually be finished. I don’t know. I joined up expecting something a little fresher or different. I should have expected the game’s narrow-mindedness the moment it wouldn’t accept my nickname.

There are times of tension and excitement, like in any hunger game. The reason I was swimming for my life, for example, was because a flashed warning informed me that in 30 seconds the noose would tighten. But there was a bay to cross. The only way over was a steel bridge some 500 meters or so away, and just reaching that bridge would actually take me back towards the edge of the now-closing circle of death. I had to make a choice – run for the bridge and pray, or jump in the water and swim.

As it turned out, you swim verrrryy sloooowllyyyy. But it was still enough of a head start. I made it to the next safe zone, hurt but alive, and just in time to see the next warning flash up and start running for my life all over again. There were 18 people left alive at this point, and I hadn’t even been in a shootout with anyone yet.

That would change within a few minutes, as the sound of an unseen car came from a nearby compound. The engine stopped and I saw the vehicle (empty, quiet) before I saw the driver (crouching, shooting). I was peppered with bullets and became the 13th-last person to die.

In squads I died much more quickly, a result of the over-confidence of groups and speed at which a gang of four can hoover up all the goodies in a house and move onto the next. There’s tension there too; you might be gathering up some new boots, just for kicks, when suddenly a shot rings out. This is something the game does well – the sound of distant gunfire. But how distant? A second flurry of shots ring out, this time closer. Everyone gets ready, looking at the horizon to the south. But then, out of the west, a jeeps zooms in and empties four angry men behind the cover of an old warehouse. Whoever it was that was shooting to the south will now hear, in the distance, the shots that spell your own death.

But even these life-by-life climaxes can’t really change what this is: another battle royale game with nothing original to say. Given the chance to inject some life into a genre that is fast losing all its novelty, Bluehole and PlayerUnknown have seemingly decided to shrug and just do “more of the same”. For many, that’s enough. But I’m looking for a more interesting way to die.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is out on Steam for £26.99/$29.99. These impressions are based on build 1710141

80 Comments

Top comments

  1. malkav11 says:

    To me, to accurately recreate what makes Battle Royale the movie or novel interesting, the players would need to be (mostly) unwilling. It's a class of high school students, after all, and mostly they're not killers and especially don't want to murder their friends and classmates. The fact that a few of them turn out to be a little more up for that sort of thing than you might expect is a critical drama driver, but if everyone there was gung ho from the start it'd be a largely interest-free bloodbath. And obviously, you'd have a real hard time recreating that in a videogame where people have to deliberately buy and launch it to participate. So it's a bit of a flawed premise from the start.
  1. Drib says:

    For me it’s the title that is most annoying. The game looks sorta old, graphically, and sounds dull as hell honestly.

    But “PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS” is just awful.

    • Snowskeeper says:

      “HEY IT’S ME I DID A THING BUY MY GAME” is rarely good marketing. Unless you’re Sid Meier or Tom Clancy, I guess.

      • Drib says:

        Right. I mean they get to do it because they’ve done interesting things.

        I don’t know who PlayerUnknown is. Maybe he’s a well known person in certain circles. But it just comes across as stupid, here.

        • fish99 says:

          It’s a bad name because of the capitalization and the fact that it can’t be easily abbreviated (PUB Geee sounds terrible), not because it has PU’s name in it. He is definitely well know within the PC multiplayer scene and especially on twitch. This particular niche is his baby.

    • JoeD2nd says:

      Compared to H1Z1 King of the Kill, this is an enormous graphics update.

  2. Walsh says:

    If this is more of the same, then what is the best implementation of the king of the hill/battle royale genre? What game would you recommend someone if they never played any?

    • Snowskeeper says:

      “But there’s plenty of people who are up for that, clearly. The loud swarms of players in Battlegrounds must be at least partly composed of those fed up with H1Z1. But what they expect to find here of note, I’m not sure. Maybe the appeal is that this is more or less the same thing, but with a new map? Maybe everyone just thinks that this time – this time – the game will actually be finished.”

      Based on this, I’d say his feelings on the subject equate roughly to “none of them; don’t buy any.”

    • Brendan Caldwell says:

      The Culling, while having its own problems, did some fun things. You could build traps and set off gas and stuff like that. To me a decent Battle Royale would have some uncertainty. A reason to team up and a reason to suspect others, or just a playerbase that includes some helpful people – but admittedly very few achieve that. DayZ probably came the closest and it isn’t really a BR type deal.

      • darkChozo says:

        Battle royale games aren’t really aiming for that sort of emergent gameplay. It’s much more of an explicitly competitive gamemode than DayZ and it’s ilk; there’s not much room for cooperation when your goal is to kill everyone else.

        Personally, I think that’s a strength, because you don’t get a game whose implied gameplay is at odds with its systems like DayZ. But it’s certainly a downside if you’re looking for stories and not Arma-ish slow shooter gameplay.

        • badmothergamer says:

          I agree. BR is kill or be killed. Or in PUBG you create a team before the match. I’m not sure how you would incorporate a cooperative mode from within a single player match. It didn’t work with DayZ when players had other options than killing everyone.

          I played DayZ Epoch for Arma 2 for the kind of gameplay Brendan describes. That’s why BR for Arma 2 was so welcome. I could jump in a BR match, get some action in, then go back to managing my little loot empire in Epoch.

          • wengart says:

            While BR games are just glorified death matches you could make one that required teamwork.

            There are a few milsim shooters that make teamplay much more important by hobbling players dramatically. No Battle royale game really approaches the genre with crippling gameplay that. If they did you would almost certainly see more organic teamwork, but you won’t ever see that as long as individual players are relatively equal in power.

            If the pinnacle gun were a MN 91/30 and you were lucky to find a whole 5 round clip, combined with melee combat that was essentially suicide. Winning a knife fight, for example, resulting in the winner bleeding to death. With some basic “food” consumption requirement. You would see players working together more often because they cannot reasonably survive alone.

          • badmothergamer says:

            PUBG has duo and 4 player squad modes. Watch people streaming and you’ll see how much tactics and teamwork matters in those modes.

            As for solo mode, this is a 30-35 minute match. As soon as you die, you click the button to join a new match and less than 2 minutes later you’re jumping from the plane again. There just isn’t time for anything other than killing and surviving.

    • fish99 says:

      I’d recommend this. The Culling which Brendon mentions has no players.

    • Bashmet says:

      From watching streams, the general consensus is that this game sits between Arma (realistic) and H1Z1 (arcady) styles of gunplay.

      So for the battle royale type of gameplay, you may just base it on that. But for value, I don’t think you can beat Arma 3.

    • trooperwally says:

      I’d say arma is still the best battle royale type out there right now. For starters it’s not early access so is (reasonably) stable. And then there’s the fact that it’s an enormous sandbox of military hardware. Pretty well anyone can knock up a custom mission in the editor in an hour and if you have more time and/or skill you can get fancy with scripted events. That all adds up to being able to make exactly the sort of BR setting you and your mates want.

      I did this with RPS folks a few years ago and we had great fun. For a while. Then I think we came to the same conclusion a lot of people reach with BR games: once the novelty wears off it’s just a big and slow deathmatch.

  3. badmothergamer says:

    I played with PlayerUnknown in his original Battle Royale mod for Arma 2 and loved it. I skipped the Arma 3 mod and H1Z1 but was very happy to see him get a chance to make his own game from scratch and played a bit of the beta. As soon as it was available for purchase I did so.

    So I’m biased and don’t have much experience to compare to other BR games. From what I can gather people are enjoying PUBG because it isn’t nearly as arcadey as H1Z1, goofy as The Culling, and unlike Arma 3 the interface is made for this kind of fast pace. Also consider a lot of people who enjoy BR games know PlayerUnknown as the father of the genre and like myself simply want to support him.

    A lot of people are both burned out on the genre and/or turned off it due to previous experiences of games not being completed. There is no reason to think this will happen with PUBG. The lead dev is 100% behind the product and given the sales figures financing shouldn’t be an issue for awhile.

    All that being said, it’s EA, so there are issues. The jumping is odd (they plan to add a “vault” like Arma), the weapon/gear selection is limited, and there is only one map. All these should be improved soon but I’m not aware of a timeline.

    tldr; Much more finely tuned than H1Z1 and much more user friendly than Arma 3. And it’s PlayerUnknown’s baby so it should be supported for a long while.

    • badmothergamer says:

      I should add that while I play alone, most streamers I watch are playing duo or squad matches and having a great time. The game makes teaming up with Steam friends extremely simple and watching two squads race to the circle while players lean out the windows firing at each other is a blast.

    • nearly says:

      As someone who hasn’t taken a dive into any of these titles in this genre but who has watched them occasionally on streams and has lately been watching this particular game on stream, it seems like a lot of the appeal is just the level of polish and how feature-complete it is compared to a lot of other EA titles that just kinda find something that works and then kick their feet for a while because the community at least knows the relevant bugs. It definitely seems much better tuned for the type of game it wants to be, and there’s something to be said for a game that’s perfectly adequate at what a lot of games do fairly poorly and just tries to nail the perfect set-up rather than turn everything on its head. I’m sure anyone into this kind of game is more than aware of how many options they have if they want something a bit different.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      “… as the father of the genre and like myself simply want to support him.”

      Bit weird. Why?

      • badmothergamer says:

        Because I’ve been following his development of BR mods/games since his first mod for Arma 2. Back then there were only a couple of servers and you often had to wait 15+ minutes for 30 people to join and a match to start. PU was always around though, listening to our feedback, fixing bugs, etc.

        It’s been great to watch someone’s baby grow from a small mod to the top selling game on steam. It was worth $30 to me.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        Same reason you’d support any content creator, really. You buy something from the original creator instead of a knockoff because you believe that the original creator cares more about their creation, that it will be better, that they’ll use the money they make to go on and do other great stuff later. You do this instead of buying the imitations because those tend to be derivative, giving money to people who borrowed ideas instead of creating them, to people who are making something because it will make a profit rather than because it’s something they love.

  4. Achilles84 says:

    I’ve really enjoyed the game so far. Winning a match feels amazing when you finally do it. I won twice in a row the other day and I had to take a break to get calmed down. The name of the game may be silly but it’s of no consequence. Thankfully the toxic lobby can be muted.

    I hope they continue to optimize it, but the gameplay loop seems pretty good to me. I don’t think it needs something fresh. They wanted to make a Battle Royale game, not something else. I can understand not liking the genre, which reviewer seemingly doesn’t, but I like the simplicity of it.

    I’ve been burning up the shadowplay button with it.

    • badmothergamer says:

      Congrats on those wins! My best was a couple of top 5 finishes but in my final game last night I made it to the final standoff. I made a mistake and rushed despite being in the better position and he pulled a nice head shot to kill me, but it was great.

  5. Dogshevik says:

    The tone of this article made me think. Actually, “modders turned devs” would be an interesting topic in itself for RPS.

    I can´t quite put my finger on it, but I noticed that you can more or less tell when a game is made by former modders, even when not told so. They seem to have -something- in common, a certain feel, yet I can´t explicitly say what that is.

    I don´t think it is just not funding or polish. Maybe a certain single-mindedness? Not sure. It´s off-topic anyways, so forgive my random rambling.

    • Snowskeeper says:

      Ehhh. I’m not sure I agree with “single-mindedness.” Dean Hall’s probably the most famous example of a modder-turned-dev, and he seems to have very little in the way of focus.

    • draglikepull says:

      It’s quite common for people to shift from making mods to becoming full-time developers since mods are one of the easiest places to get started making games. Clint Hocking (Far Cry 2) and Jon Shafer (Civ 5) come to mind as well-known devs I’ve heard discuss their modding backgrounds, but there are tons more.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      And as a follow up, game journos-turned-devs, such as Tom Francis, and Jim, late of this parish.

  6. malkav11 says:

    To me, to accurately recreate what makes Battle Royale the movie or novel interesting, the players would need to be (mostly) unwilling. It’s a class of high school students, after all, and mostly they’re not killers and especially don’t want to murder their friends and classmates. The fact that a few of them turn out to be a little more up for that sort of thing than you might expect is a critical drama driver, but if everyone there was gung ho from the start it’d be a largely interest-free bloodbath. And obviously, you’d have a real hard time recreating that in a videogame where people have to deliberately buy and launch it to participate. So it’s a bit of a flawed premise from the start.

    • JoeD2nd says:

      Welcome to almost all video games. Every single war based video game has the same issue. Every horror based game has the same issue. Every survival game has the same issue. Almost no one would willfully put themselves in the positions that video games do…that’s why they’re games.

      • malkav11 says:

        I don’t think you’ve understood the argument I’m making. Which is, to wit, Battle Royale is an interesting, dramatic scenario because the unwillingness of the participants drives behavior that is not just a deathmatch. Therefore, a game version where everyone involved is there specifically to win the deathmatch is not ever going to generate the sort of character behavior that would replicate what makes Battle Royale interesting. That’s not an issue for the vast majority of games, because most games either thrive on typical player behavior or are prescripted to behave in interesting ways regardless.

        Is it possible to make an interesting death match game? Sure, for people who like that sort of thing. And some of the rules conceits of the Battle Royale premise could make interesting wrinkles. But you’re not recreating what makes that particular story good.

        • KaijiKun says:

          The term “Battle Royale” or “Battle Royal” has been in use for far longer than the Japanese movie has existed. The movie was named after the term, rather than coining it.

          It simply refers to a battle with many combatants wherein they fight until only one winner remains, which is exactly what the Battle Royale gaming genre entails.

          You entire argument that the genre is somehow “flawed” because the players aren’t unwilling participants was a pure waste of time and energy on your part, unfortunately.

    • ThePuzzler says:

      Concept: A Battle Royale where the objective is to survive in a shrinking battlefield. You start with a random weapon. The only way to get a better weapon is by killing another player and taking theirs.

      When the timer runs out, if you’re still alive you score points. You score more points if there are more people alive at the end. There’s no need for anyone to kill anyone. But some players will kill for fun anyway. Maybe if the only way to survive is to kill them before they get a chance to kill you. As a social experiment, how many people would choose to fire the first shot?

    • jrod says:

      gameplay mechanics > narrative

      …at least in this genre.

      its a good, solid shooter with tons of tension and genuinely gets my juices flowing in a way very few have since the early days of DayZ mod.

    • vahnn says:

      While that’s true if these games were aiming to recreate the Battle Royale films or novels, but I don’t think they are. “Battle royale” is both a term and concept that existed long before that particular franchise.

  7. mollemannen says:

    it’s a shame that this is kinda the genre of the future then, just not completely realized yet. a mostly random, asynchronous multiplayer sandbox shooter with a hundred people that can be played in about half an hour should taste like syrup in the mouths of devs. if only they could figure out respawns and persistance they’ll have one mode for everyone. might be getting old.

  8. racccoon says:

    Unfortunately its the name that’s making it money, “playerunknown” seems to cause a stir in a buying frenzy of a game that already has been done and dusted many times. The electric field is far too boring to want to play it. I prefer to watch a grand master than bother to download this game, “Frankie” is the best laugh & serious dayz type player on youtube.

    P.s

    FINAL FANTASY XIV is now free to play up to level 35

    • frightlever says:

      Frankie has the one PUBG video up, but Sada streams it most weekends on Twitch, and a couple of weeks ago he was teaming with Frankie. I spent a very entertaining couple of hours watching the pair of them wise-cracking the whole time, like one of their old DayZ videos together.

      link to twitch.tv

      I was really sceptical about Twitch and had never bothered with it, but since Amazon bought it I’ve been visiting it more and more, particularly because you get a few free games a month if you link your Amazon Prime account, and the option to “subscribe” to a Twitch streamer each month for free.

      • MercurialJack says:

        What’s this about free games if you link your Prime account to Twitch? How does that work? Do you have a link or any details on that?

  9. jedics says:

    Wow the reviewer clearly doesn’t like the genre but any one worth their salt as a writer would of pointed out what the game has got right!

    Seems to me that the gun play is satisfying, movement very fluid generally and the developer obviously put a lot of time into taking out the tediousness of looting that so many other games in the genre have. I think its a nice blending of realism vs arcade gameplay and the most important point is that it just came out of alpha AND it will be modable so others can take it more into the survival angle if they wish without having to fumble around with that horrible arma engine this time….

    I see great things for the futre of the game and I think this review lacks imagination and vision!

    • ButteringSundays says:

      “any one worth their salt as a writer would of pointed out what the game has got right!”

      Yes, yes, any writer that disagrees with you is bad and there is a single canonical way to write a video game review, we get it.

      It seems what you want is a Steam review with bullet lists, scores and an appeal to objectivity, written by someone you agree with.

      Maybe you’ll upvote them if it’s imaginative enough?

      • Rektion says:

        IDK how anyone could read this review and not just think how much of an idiot this guy is and how obvious it is he just went into the game with a negative view, jumping at any chance to shit talk the game. He thinks the graphics are bad… in a clearly un-optomized game… He can’t even count, his name is prohibited because it’s over 16 characters long, yet he still complains instead of reading what’s in front of him. This guy shouldn’t have wrote this review, he just looks like a complete idiot that bashes shit to look cool or for some other dumbass reason.

        • skeletortoise says:

          What you infer from his jokey mention of the name creator serving as a bad omen for the rest of his time with the game just tells me so much about you. Wow.

          • Rektion says:

            Wow, how badly do you want this Brendan fellas dick? Look at all your lame ass attempts to get him to notice you. So pathetic man haha

          • skeletortoise says:

            You got me.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          I’d put you on the plane.

      • Wynter says:

        Isn’t a certain amount of objectivity expected in a review? Would you want every review to be biased by the reviewer’s personal preferences and gameplay styles? Would you want a deep, insightful adventure game reviewed by someone who really only plays twitch shooters and MOBAs?

        I don’t think this review gives the game a fair shake at all – it goes out of its way to point to the samey-ness and complain but says nothing of the quality of the game and what it gets right. I’ve never played the original BR ARMA 2 mods but I picked up this game and I love it – it’s like a distilled version of DayZ PVP without all the clunkiness and survival/zombie mechanics.

        It’s perfectly ok to have your own likes/dislikes, but if you walk into the game hating the genre how can you possibly review it objectively?

        • Sin Vega says:

          Isn’t a certain amount of objectivity expected in a review?

          No.

          Would you want every review to be biased by the reviewer’s personal preferences and gameplay styles?

          Yes. But that’s irrelevant anyway, because all reviews of everything in history have been so, because that is how humans are.

          Would you want a deep, insightful adventure game reviewed by someone who really only plays twitch shooters and MOBAs?

          Maybe. If I respect their judgement and they have something interesting to say about it, sure. Why is it unacceptable for a game to be reviewed by someone who dislikes the genre, but okay to be reviewed by someone who likes it?

          if you walk into the game hating the genre how can you possibly review it objectively?

          Objectivity in criticism does not exist, and if it did it would be worthless neutrality. Disiking a genre (or setting, or developer, or art style) doesn’t rule out giving something a fair hearing. I’ve written positively about two games in genres that I openly hate (including a revised opinion of a game I’d tried before and hated), and negatively about games in genres I love. Criticism isn’t about only picking out the things you already like and avoiding the ones you don’t. If anything, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is a mark of a good critic.

          Besides, there’s nothing here that says to me that Brendan dislikes the genre. If anything he seems very keen for someone to get the genre right and actually finish making the game.

          • Wynter says:

            Isn’t a certain amount of objectivity expected in a review?

            No.

            Well, since you said no without backing your statement up it must be true.

            Objectivity is what lets us trust that the author is not pushing a personal agenda. He literally says that he was hoping the game would change the genre and dislikes it because it doesn’t. I don’t like MOBAs, I want to see something completely different and less RTS-y come up to make me like them. I would be an awful choice to review a MOBA because I bring my own agenda to the table.

            Would you want every review to be biased by the reviewer’s personal preferences and gameplay styles?

            Yes. But that’s irrelevant anyway, because all reviews of everything in history have been so, because that is how humans are.

            Not true. Most reviewers have a desire to experience the item they are reviewing. You don’t have to be a fanboy but you have to at least LIKE the category that item falls in a little bit, or as someone who DOES like the category of the item I can’t trust your opinion. Sure, there’s some bias this way and that, but why is it useful to have someone who clearly is tired of a genre to review something in that genre?

            Would you want a deep, insightful adventure game reviewed by someone who really only plays twitch shooters and MOBAs?

            Maybe. If I respect their judgement and they have something interesting to say about it, sure. Why is it unacceptable for a game to be reviewed by someone who dislikes the genre, but okay to be reviewed by someone who likes it?

            It’s not unacceptable, but it’s damn sure not credible: they are clearly starting out with an agenda that puts the game in the shadow of his experiences with other games, not to stand on its own merit. Critical integrity aside, people do use these articles as a way to determine if a game is fun to play. If I wrote a review about the new Madden game and people used it to make purchasing decisions, fewer people would buy it because I painted it in a negative light – except it wasn’t made for me, so why should anyone listen to my opinion about it, much less feature it on a respected website?

            if you walk into the game hating the genre how can you possibly review it objectively?

            Objectivity in criticism does not exist, and if it did it would be worthless neutrality. Disiking a genre (or setting, or developer, or art style) doesn’t rule out giving something a fair hearing. I’ve written positively about two games in genres that I openly hate (including a revised opinion of a game I’d tried before and hated), and negatively about games in genres I love. Criticism isn’t about only picking out the things you already like and avoiding the ones you don’t. If anything, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is a mark of a good critic.

            This is pure sophistry, disliking something automatically tilts the scale against the target of the review. You can espouse what the soul of a critic is all you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that if you are predisposed not to like something it won’t review as well. We don’t send racing sportscasters to cover baseball games. We don’t have book critics review the movie versions. Sure, RPS can put whatever article they want on their site written by whoever, that’s their prerogative – and I can lose a little more respect for the editorial staff as a result.

            Besides, there’s nothing here that says to me that Brendan dislikes the genre. If anything he seems very keen for someone to get the genre right and actually finish making the game.

            From the article:

            I joined up expecting something a little fresher or different.

            But if you’re hoping for something a little fresh from one of the format’s experienced progenitors, turn now and walk sadly away.

            But even these life-by-life climaxes can’t really change what this is: another battle royale game with nothing original to say.

            He literally went into this expecting a Battle Royale genre game to change the genre. If that doesn’t say he’s tired of the genre, I don’t know what does. I stopped playing MOBAs when I realized they all followed a formula I didn’t enjoy. I loved MMORPGs but when I got burned out and none of the innovations seemed innovative to me, I quit.

            Maybe we should have someone who is less tired of the style of game review the game.

          • Sin Vega says:

            Between this weirdly paranoid obsession you have with “agendas”, failing to see the cognitive dissonance it takes to claim that a dislike for a genre is not ‘objective’ but a fondness for it somehow is, and equating the difference between subgenres of videogames with the difference between novels and film (I mean, jesus christ), it’s pretty clear that you have no idea what criticism is.

          • Wynter says:

            Yes, clearly I have no idea what criticism is. Obviously dislike of something is true objectivity and fondness is stupid. And giving parallels from different entertainment forms is dumb because of jesus christ.

            Thank god I have someone on the Internet to show me that I am wrong who is an actual critic with articles that he says he wrote. And so insightful, the way they avoid having to make actual points by cherry picking phrases to put down – truly I am a changed man.

            Thanks for being you, so nobody else has to.

          • DrollRemark says:

            Isn’t a certain amount of objectivity expected in a review?

            No.

            Well, since you said no without backing your statement up it must be true.

            Ahahahahahahahaha oh boy.

  10. Vastial says:

    I disagree. For me, Battlegrounds strikes the perfect balance between the tension and excitement of early DAYZ with the mil-sim combat of ARMA 3, all be it in a superior engine.

    The reviewer obviously has an axe to grind here as the differences between this and H1Z1 are night and day. This is the battle royale formula well on its way to being perfected.

    The community haven’t asked to reinvent the wheel, they’ve asked for an amalgamation of all the things that make the genre great; Battlegrounds is very much community driven in that regard and the devs have aspired to act on each and every suggestion made.

    With mod support and full workshop integration planned, we could very well see more survival aspects added, alongside the removal of the play area system altogether.

    My ARMA clan has really embraced the game, it provides a deep enough squad based tactical sandbox that’s superior to every comparable title out right now.

    • trankzen says:

      How would you rate it against ARMA 3’s Battle Royale ? Isn’t it too arcadey ? As a regular player of that mod I’ve been following the development of Battlegrounds, and I’m contemplating buying it.

      • theirongiant says:

        I’d say it hits a sweet spot between Arma and H1Z1 and takes the best elements from both. The article punches down on it for not doing anything new but I think fans of the genre are, for now, just looking for an iteration that does things right and this is the closest BR style games have gotten so far.

        • trankzen says:

          Thank you for replying. Is the melee combat any good ?

          • theirongiant says:

            Melee is as pretty much as woeful as any of the other games mentioned but it’s never really used beyond the rare occasion at the very start of the game when you find yourself landing in a highly contested area and no-one has any weapons. Pro-tip: you want to avoid putting yourself in those situations. You can carry 2 main weapons and a pistol so I’ve never found myself in the situation were I’d need to go melee after the first minute or two of the game.

            A more accurate description would be that the gunplay is arma while the movement and looting is H1Z1. If you liked A3BR then I’d recommended it, it’s the best version of BR available.

  11. Gothnak says:

    I’m still entirely unable to play any game where you wander around a bit and then get killed by another player, far far far too stressful and annoying and i have work to deal with.

    I’d love to play these type of games co-op against increasingly tough AI baddies, but PvP god no, people are dicks.

  12. pennywyz says:

    This is a classic example of the reviewer being pretty unaware of the “community” surrounding a particular game. He’s not wrong, obviously it’s just an opinion, but he clearly doesn’t understand what the Battle Royale community wants here.

    The community is not looking for a new experience. They’re looking for a good experience. As someone else mentioned above, they want the BR formula perfected not changed. Maybe the reviewer is unaware of, or just didn’t emphasize enough the real reason that PUBG is incredibly popular right now is that the other BR games have significant problems that streamers/players have been griping about since forever. What they really want is a game that doesn’t glitch out when you are in the top 3, preventing a win for example, or decent hit boxes, or rubber banding, etc.

    PUBG does have many of these problems, not unexpected (at least by normal, rational people) in the early access state. The difference seems to be that for the point of development they are at the game is already quite good. This sentiment is not universal but has been echoed by many popular streamers, and there is a lot of optimism about PU’s responsiveness to the community and how that will shape the game into the “perfect” BR… maybe kind of like how CS hasn’t been an innovative shooter in forever, but does what it does perfectly.

    I have been watching all of the BR games on twitch (Halifax is probably my favorite, nice guy and very good) for a long time and I can guarantee you the community isn’t clamoring for deep complex player interactions or interesting survival mechanics.

    So no, the reviewer isn’t “wrong” just like an outsider calling NASCAR boring isn’t wrong, or someone reviewing a Will Ferrell movie and droning on about the lack of complex characters, but he does seem significantly ignorant about the target audience that his opinion becomes laughably irrelevant to people that actually enjoy the genre.

    Also, no one gives a shit about the name.

    • skeletortoise says:

      So his review isn’t tailored to the people who were already going to buy and obsess over this game no matter what? Doesn’t really sound like an issue.

      • pennywyz says:

        No, it has nothing to do with tailoring a review to a specific audience. His review is ignorant to the point of being a major disservice to anyone not currently interested who might be after an informed review, or to someone on the fence for example.

        Think about an equivalent review for a generic game example Walking Simulator 5… reviewer says that the game is terrible and cites the lack of guns or leaderboards as major problems. Most people here would say the guy doesn’t know anything about the genre and as a result the review is laughably unhelpful. Some readers who are also unfamiliar with walking simulators will avoid the game based off the review, missing out on a game they otherwise may not have considered playing and may have actually enjoyed.

        • skeletortoise says:

          Well first, your original comment basically says his review is correct but he fails to grasp the game’s purpose or audience, and now you’re accusing him of completely mischaracterizing the game altogether. Which is it? It’s also rather silly to accuse him of ignorance, as he’s done a P.E. on three or four of these things now.

          I think your criticism is wildly off base, and not particularly good even if it wasn’t. Genres are not rigid templates without room for originality that games can shield themselves from criticism with. Walking Simulators, like battle royales, are free to expand upon and experiment with their format. If they don’t, they open themselves up to being called uncompelling or unoriginal or what have you. That doesn’t make them horrendous disasters*, but it doesn’t entitle them to glowing praise. Taken to an extreme, yes, I can see demanding certain changes as being obtuse, but at no point did it sound to me like Brendan was demanding this game incorporate 2D platforming.

          The one pretty fair criticism I could see being levied against this review is that by focusing on how little this differed from other games, he never really gave this game it’s own complete independent assessment. Which is fine for those who already perfectly understand the genre, which I believe to be enough people that it doesn’t matter at all. And I have to say, if someone is unfamiliar with the genre and are literate, they’ll read this and say, huh, maybe I need to look more into this hungry games stuff before this will mean anything.

          *The review doesn’t even sound that bad to me. “Okay, but a lot like every other game with this premise” is only damning if you don’t like the genre or you’re insecure about it.

          • ScubaMonster says:

            I think your last point illustrates the issues I had with the article (this coming from someone who has never played a single Battle Royale game period). The majority of the criticism seemed to revolve around how it’s not bringing anything new to the table or innovating, but I’d like to see what things it does better than its contemporaries and vice versa. I didn’t really get any of that from the article. It just came across as very jaded, even to someone who hasn’t played any of these games.

          • pennywyz says:

            I meant he’s not “wrong” as in I understand it’s an opinion with no wrong or right.

    • Eightball says:

      lol

      “You can’t review this thing it’s my fetish”

      If you’re in the furry battle royale “community” already you won’t need a review from a generalist site. You’ll have your own furry “community” reviewers to rely on. Why don’t you tip on out… you pervert.

      • pennywyz says:

        At no point did I even approach that sentiment but I’m sure you felt super good typing up that (retarded) rebuttal to an argument no one made.

        • Eightball says:

          Your argument boils down to “how dare you review a game in a ‘genre’ without devoting the last several years of your life to that genre.”

          I did enjoy typing that up though, thanks.

          • ScubaMonster says:

            Or maybe it’s better to have writers who enjoy a certain genre to be the ones to write about them? I don’t care about sports at all so I wouldn’t bother writing about sports games because my opinion would be pretty unhelpful and meaningless. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the writer falls squarely into that category but I get the sentiment.

          • pennywyz says:

            That’s your interpretation of what I wrote, but not what the words actually say.

  13. xcession says:

    I rather like PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS.

    I do dislike the title though. It’s clumsy, conceited, redundant. Even “Brendan Greene’s Battlegrounds” would have more value in a “Tom Clancey’s blah” kinda way. I think the worst bit is the use of a gaming handle as a public, professional identity. It’s just…. juvenile. Having said that, would I expect “LevelCap” or “JackFrags” to introduce themselves using their monikers to other people in real life? Probably. That makes me a sad panda.

    Title aside, I’ve never played BR games before, so with no prior experience I’m enjoying it.

    I’ve played ArmA before however, and I hated its clumsy, clunky, laggy, resource-hungry engine, so I can understand the interest PUB has received. If DayZ were to move engine I’d certainly be interested in that all over again.

    It’s a little odd that this review levels the charge of “nothing new” against a game which has only just entered Early Access. “Nothing new YET” would seem a little less reductionist.

  14. skeletortoise says:

    I don’t have an issue with this game format, it’s not my jam, but I can see the appeal. It does bum me out though, because I feel like that specific take on battle royale, essentially deathmatch shooters on giant maps, has totally crowded out other potential interesting takes on the concept (much like Alice recently speculated may have happened with Counter Strike, back in the day). I think it would be a lot more compelling just by reducing the emphasis on shooting. Introducing a severe ammo scarcity, more mechanics, weapons, traps, randomized map layouts, teams/alliances that expire or change unpredictably. It’s got tons of potential and it bums me out a bit that this is all anyone seems interested in.

  15. jrod says:

    Who cares about the title of the game if it is fun? Call it “Lemon Squirts Zebra Pants” for all I care – it’s a good blend of oldschool dayz tension with some real skilll based hunter/hunted gameplay.

  16. Satanogria says:

    “a genre that is fast losing all its novelty” rofl… the genre is now more famous than ever… this game made 11 millions in 1 weekend, what are you talking about…

    • skeletortoise says:

      He pretty clearly said novelty, not profitability.

      • xcession says:

        What novelty even is there in PUB’s predecessors? I’ve not played them, that’s a genuine question. From what I’ve played of PUB, it’s appeal is its simplicity: you just kill everyone else. Losing novelty doesn’t really seem like a criticism that can stick to a genre that’s so low-brow that no one cares for anything but the lols. I say that as a fan of PUB too. It’s just utterly disposable mindlessness.

        • skeletortoise says:

          Sure, I don’t disagree, but that doesn’t change the fact that what Satanogria said is totally unrelated.

          And I would also point out, since this review’s getting a lot of criticism, that a game having no novelty to speak of makes it pretty pointless to speak about for any length. I suppose Brendan could’ve gone into painstaking detail on the general premise of these games, but I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t get it at this point.

  17. frightlever says:

    FWIW there’s only so much you can do with a Battle Royale game designed to be played in around twenty minutes or so. There are a BUNCH of survival games that have the luxury to do things significantly differently, because you respawn and therefore death is inconsequential.

    If you want to create an environment where players have to interact significantly maybe you need something like the system used in… The Ship? Where a condition of winning is that you have to kill certain named players only, while also requiring the co-operation of several players in order to advance through stages. eg requiring several levers to be pulled at once to get to the end stage. I dunno. I feel someone would have come up with something if it was feasible – seems like people like what they’re being served.

    The biggest problem PUBG seems to have right now (speaking as a viewer, having never played it) is that RNG plays far too significant a role in which of the last dozen or so actually wins the game.

  18. TheAngriestHobo says:

    you might be gathering up some new boots, just for kicks

    I’m not sure if the pun is intentional or not, but this made me chuckle.

  19. fish99 says:

    This is the second article I’ve seen on RPS where the writers have played a BR game and basically spent the whole article complaining that it wasn’t a survival game. You did the same thing with H1Z1:KotK.

  20. vahnn says:

    I played for about 1.5 hours before getting a refund. The whole time I was desperately trey to find something to set it apart from h1z1,but besides a couple super minor things, it’s almost completely identical. No point in owning both. Only wish I could still refund h1z1,because zzzzzzzzzzz….

  21. PoulWrist says:

    I’ve had interest in the genre for a while, this game just seems to be the best in the genre. it isn’t layered with a ton of “some other game” that H1Z1 and ARMA3 mods are, and is built from the ground up to be this game. There’s a lot of content and stuff planned and I think I’ll be getting it after a round of patches have been launched and a future outlined.