My first (and only) kill in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

A loading delay meant that I could hear the plane engine before I could see the plane. By the time my vision had calibrated, a few people had already made the jump and were either plummeting or parachuting toward the island. I don’t know the lay of the land, I don’t really understand the rules, and my only objective is to survive for as long as possible.

This is my first foray into PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds [official site] and I’m not ready.

There’s a counter at the top right of the screen and even before I hit the ground I can see that eight people have died. That leaves 89; 89 people who want to kill me.

I pull my parachute cord too early and end up drifting in the air, possibly an easy target, certainly wasting time that could be spent hoovering up equipment. When I finally touchdown, the cluster of buildings I directed myself toward seems less like shelter and more like a threat. Anyone could be lurking behind closed doors, or crouching by windows.

The hunt was on.

The first building I searched had nothing of use and I suddenly felt like I was back in DayZ, where I’d wander for hours without finding anything but rotten fruit. The appeal of Battlegrounds, for me, is the way it forces people to fight, the arena shrinking every few minutes to create conflict. As the player numbers drop, the area they’re playing in becomes smaller, meaning there’ll be nowhere to hide.

For now though, I seem to be alone. Gunfire crackled in the distance sending me scurrying into the next building in line, but it didn’t seem to be directed at me.

That second building was like the greatest lootchest in the world. An assault rifle, a helmet, some ammo, a laser sight and scope. Those accessories turned out to be useless, either because they didn’t fit my weapon or because I didn’t know how to attach them properly, but at least I had a gun. Not knowing quite what I should do next, I hugged a windowframe and scanned the fields, looking for movement.

There was no movement.

Seconds later, a warning flashed onto the screen. I had to move to a new area in the next five minutes or I’d be… killed? I think staying out of the combat zone means insta-death (I later learn it just saps your health rather than killing you instantly), but despite my fears I decided I could cover the distance easily enough so I stayed in my safe haven for a while longer.

Still no movement.

At this point, there were around 70 people left and I figured at least half of them were already in the marked zone, while the others were probably en route. I waited another minute, giving myself 210 seconds to cover the distance. It was at that point that I realised I had no idea how long it’d take me to cover what looked like around a tenth of the map. I knew there were vehicles in the game, but I didn’t have one so I’d most likely be on foot.

I left the building and ran.

The safezone was further away than I’d anticipated, and I only had ten seconds to spare when I reached the edge of it. I was standing near a copse of trees and as I’d approached the line on the map that I needed to cross, bullets had started to whistle past my head. I just kept running, preferring to die by the gun than by whatever the heck the blue shimmering wall of doom might be.

Being shot at from afar marked my first contact with another player. I have no idea what happened to that player, but after I emerged from hiding behind a tree, the shooting had stopped and I never heard from them again. Maybe somebody killed them while they were trying to kill me, maybe they ran out of bullets, maybe they decided to move on.

There were 32 people still living.

I squat-ran north, toward the sea. There was a bridge to the north-east of my position, which led to a second island which was now right in the centre of the safe zone. I decided to go to the beach instead of heading for the bridge, since it’d almost certainly be a killing floor.

Along the way, I found another cluster of buildings. Another five minute warning hit the screen while I was still in the fields though, and it confirmed what I had most feared. The island to the north was the safe zone – sure, the actual water was part of it too, but I didn’t fancy my chances floating around in the sea.

There was a decision to be made. I hadn’t killed anyone yet but I felt like I was in with a chance of getting into the top twenty simply by being isolated from the action. Heading to the bridge would almost certainly throw me into the fight and I didn’t fancy my chances so…

The safe zone just about touched the very edge of the beach on my side of the water. Maybe a couple of metres of it. I could start a new life there, camping under the stars, feasting on fish every night while the rest of the fools killed each other over on the island. I was going to win this thing by default, simply because I wasn’t some gun-happy killer.

But first I had to get past the final buildings between me and the beach. It seemed sensible to search them, just in case anything of value was inside. I figured everyone was already on the island so I wasn’t expecting to run into a fully armoured super-soldier crouching in the corner of a dilapidated kitchen. Thankfully when I did run into a fully armoured super-soldier crouching in the corner of a dilapidated kitchen he was looking the other way and apparently my panic response involves unloading an entire clip into whoever is in front of me.

I felt like the strongest man in the world as I looted the body. Now I was a fully armoured super-soldier and I was definitely going to win my first ever Battlegrounds game. I briefly considered storming the bridge now that I was essentially the Terminator – conveniently forgetting that I’d taken the mantle of Terminator by killing the previous holder of the title by accident – but the lure of the beach was strong. I’d have a square foot of land to call my own and what more can an inhabitant of the Battlegrounds ever hope for?

There were 25 left alive as I made my way down the rocks to the beach. Truth be told, the beach was essentially just some more rocks. I tried to cram myself between two, figuring I’d be concealed from sight, and then the death wall closed in. I was safe, secure and happy.

Scanning the bridge and the island for movement, I forced myself further into the crevice that was now home, already considering where I’d hang the pictures and which rock would be the bedroom.

There was no movement.

And then I died.

It was a home invasion of the most brutal sort. There I was in the crevice, assuming everyone else was somewhere ahead, crammed into the top of the map on that distant island, and some almighty arse came blundering down the rocks and shot me in the back.

Outraged, I tried to switch to spectator mode to see what the bastard would do next, but before I could figure out whether that was possible, the game crashed.

I’ll be back.

I wasn’t expecting to write about this misadventure so I didn’t take any pictures; I’ve used pictures from elsewhere on RPS.

From this site

28 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Severn2j says:

    I think it was 4 or 5 games before I managed to kill anyone, and I have to say, it was probably the greatest online kill I’ve ever made, just from the sheer panic/elation of it.. That one kill cemented the game as a keeper right there.

    Never knew there was a spectator mode though, I guess you learn something new every day…

    • Adam Smith says:

      I don’t think there is! It crashed before I had a chance to find out. I feel like there should be – I like seeing what happens to the person who finished me off.

      • Premium User Badge

        Severn2j says:

        Even if the camera just pointed in the direction that the kill came from would be a help. Half the time I’m killed I have no idea where who or where it was. Spectator mode would be nice (in solo, other modes may have tactical issues), but a kill cam is essential, imo.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        In team mode you can follow your teammates after you’ve died, like some kind of lonely ghost.

      • Drumclem says:

        Great read Adam! Actually, I quite like the fact that there is not killcam or spectator mode when you die. The message seems to be “if you wanted to see what happened, you shouldn’t have died, stupid”. And it accentuates the paranoia for the following games: as someone said, the more you play PUBG, the more the map seems to be haunted with memories of games past…

  2. haldolium says:

    This sounds so much like early Day-Z. A game that can give novel and wonderful moments, yet riddled by bugs, performance issues and network instability…

    • Doomlord says:

      In all fairness, I started playing about 5 days ago and have only seen one network snafu. Certainly haven’t seen enough issues to make it glaringly obvious this game is in Early Access (It almost feels finished in many ways.)

    • Moraven says:

      Last week was pretty bad.

      Last client patch last week vastly improved my performance on 5 year old hardware.

    • Drumclem says:

      It’s actually really stable on my rig and that of many friends. Honestly, this game is more like a version of DayZ that is way more focused, and devoid of nonsense (i.e. zombies). It’s just hardcore enough that you feel involved in every game, but not completely devastated when you just lost 6h of progress to a hidden sniper as in the DayZ of old.

    • Flopper says:

      On a good PC the game runs like a dream. In open areas I get over 90-100 FPS. In cities I sit almost exactly at 60FPS.

      And I agree with most others. After you get your first kill it’s almost an immediate “I GET IT NOW!” and you’re locked in.

      One tip I think most people mess up on is if the target is inside 25m don’t aim down the sight. Just hold right click and shoot. It’s more accurate than you think.

      I run it at 2,560 x 1,440. On an i7 6700k, GTX 1080, 16GB 3200mhz RAM.

    • fish99 says:

      Not really, on both counts. It doesn’t have DayZ’s emergent gameplay, since it’s purely a deathmatch, and I’d say it’s already in a better technical state than DayZ after only a few months in early access.

  3. Doomlord says:

    I’ve found it a novel and enjoyable experience, overall.

    I do feel like it’s (unfortunately) a bit too much gathering (like 85% of the game-time) and too little fighting/killing, though. Wish they could address that balance. I think one thing they could do would be to offer a mode whereby you get maybe 2-3 lives instead of one but once the game’s gotten down to the final 2 or 3 dome-shrinked zones, you lose the extras, or something.

    Improvements I’d like to see include:

    – Better hitreg and weapon damage modeling – all too often I’ve unloaded multiple shots into someone, seeing blood spray and have them not even downed. WTF? Fix that, please. It’s the number one thing that’ll make people grow weary of your game (SEE: Siege, Rainbow Six).

    – Needs different maps. I think a map that’s nearly all buildings and urban would be amazing (thinking of something like Amiens in BF1, for example). Definitely would like to see a couple of maps that are more innovative, overall.

    – More stuff to find, more interactivity in the environment would rock, too.

    – Game could use a Kill-cam. Since you can’t really convey info to anyone after we die and we can’t even stay in game to watch things, I see little reason why it shouldn’t have one. It’s annoying to insta-die with no idea where you got killed from. Yes, yes, I know (yawn) that it’s not “realistic” but we’re playing a videogame here and one that’s not terrible unlike Hunger Games mixed with Running Man, so I think we can handle a little suspension of disbelief requirement by adding this.

    • tbs says:

      When I first started playing the game, I found the balance between gathering and fighting annoying as well. I got to the final 5 a couple times having only killed one person and hiding a lot, only to be outgunned by people that were much better at the shooting mechanics.

      You have to embrace the early cluster fk. Drop into the military base (or any of the other big cities) and get blown up. And then do it again. Because pretty quickly you’ll get much better at rapidly looting and shooting. So much so that you can return to more “interesting” loot spots (like the secret underground bunker, or the spawn island) and still be effective with the weaponry. It’s much more satisfying to do the sneaky sneaky with confidence.

      There’s so many people playing that it’s pretty easy to get a game. Jump in and be one of those first 8 deaths a few times and see if it makes the experience better.

    • Moraven says:

      Kill-cam in solo would be nice. Obviously it would be a bit much in duo/squads. Lots of deaths and no idea from where.

      Weapon damage.
      Arm/Leg hits are 0.5 chest hits.
      Headshots are x2.5 of chest hits.
      Armor/Helm reduce damage.
      Lvl 1 – 30% reduction
      Lvl 2 – 40% reduction
      Lvl 3 – 55% reduction

      So something like level 3 chest can be a difference between life and death in a close battle.

      Something as simple as a Lvl 1 helm can prevent instant death from a single AR shot to the head.

      Not sure how updated this sheet is, but gives you can idea.
      link to docs.google.com

      Don’t be afraid to start a game in a high loot area, where 3+ others also are dropping. You get some quick action in that first 5 minutes and improve your gun play. Using cover and re-positioning can give you a advantage if you are a potato shooter.

    • Premium User Badge

      cultiv8ed says:

      If you want to greatly improve the fighting to gathering ratio just drop at a school. You can almost tailor your experience based on where you land and how aggressive you are.

      Playing with people increases the fun factor by a lot as well. Even if its just a randomly selected squad. You’ll find some friendly and talkative squad mates.

    • fish99 says:

      If you’re good enough you can kill players to get loot. I’ve seem some streamers who successfully play like this. Just loot your first gun/ammo/backpack/helmet, grab a car and go hunting.

  4. poliovaccine says:

    Just gotta say, these little game journals lending some narrative and life are among my favorite things to read on RPS. *Always* plan on writing about your misadventures, willya?

  5. Chillicothe says:

    You never forget your first…

  6. DragonReign88 says:

    I think Due to the size of the map, and to be able to fight in a variety of the awesome fight spots they’ve made. “The Dead Zone”, should be made the Dead Zones.So what I mean is instead of one area getting smaller it would be, maybe 3 or 4 zones. It would allow for possibly different fight zones to be targeted randomly until 1 fighter from each zone is killed. kinda like a bracket, where top 4 will then have to reach 1 Final zone and duel it out. I only say, I like this idea, because, often times I find a place that will have good loot and players, then by the time we’ve tried tracking and killing AND looting. I had landed so far away from the fight zone, there was no time to find a vehicle, and get there in time. With multiple zones it will give time to enjoy the little fight arenas that are set up, and give you more variety of where you can run too. Also just to add it would give a little more room to be strategic, than fighting in an area that has only a shack in the middle, or an open field which has happened to me. I’m not against that. and i’m sure plenty of people might like it that way, I just think many more, might prefer it like i do?

  7. rb207 says:

    great read. Providing that experience is one of the things that make games great.

  8. gunny1993 says:

    How does this game compare to the ARMA mod? I.e, since I love the fuck out of the mod will I like this as much?

  9. ButteringSundays says:

    So can someone explain to me why this buggy mess is somehow better than all the other buggy messes that have Battle Royal modes? It’s not a new concept and yet it seems to be the best thing since sliced bread. It’s just pointy shooty right?

    • ColonelFailure says:

      It’s because life is cheap. You can spend 20 minutes without seeing anyone before being involved in one fight that ends your game. This might sound hellish, but it’s the sense of anticipation and excitement that makes a big difference. Once you’re dead you can start a fresh game in seconds and maybe, just maybe this time it’ll be different…

      So far, so battle royale. Punkbat in the hotness right now because it’s doing battle royale better than anything that has come before. Is there room for improvement? Definitely, but it’s a fast game that plays well and has plenty of variety no matter how long your sessions.

      Best yet if you’re not great at the game and play with a fellow idiot…

      Yes it’s my own video on the YouTube (it’s relevant to the topic, and I believe shows off exactly what I’m trying to convey here – mods, if this kind of blatant self-promotion offends, please remove.)

    • fish99 says:

      Well, there aren’t that many BR games/modes full stop, and most of them aren’t that good. H1Z1 for instance has awful shooting, not enough guns and it looks drab. ARMA3 BR is super clunky. Rust BR is too simple. Culling has no players last time I checked.

      PUBG at least has satisfying gunplay.

    • dbsmith says:

      I guess because this game focuses 100% on that concept, not just a secondary mode in an existing game.

      I haven’t played other BR games, but this one has me so amped to play over and over! Positioning and team communication is so essential in a team game, I think it elevates this from just pointy-shooty (assuming you are playing with 3 others).

      There are so many unique and exciting moments that come out of the gameplay naturally. Like when my team member sacrificed himself and ran into the blue death to flank the other team and destroy them. Or when we occupied a small house and had to fight 3 teams incoming from different sides. Or just landing in military base, looking around you and seeing 10 other players doing the same, picking up an AR and just getting to business.

      To be fair, I’ve not had a great time playing solo though. But the community is pretty decent, you can jump into a Discord and find a squad

  10. vahnn says:

    I’m curious about this “laser sight” you found. Is it actually a laser? Or a red dot sight? Or a scope with a laser rangefinder?

    I haven’t heard of such a thing, but in my 100 or so games, I still haven’t found a mythical M249 SAW or AWM sniper rifle yet. And I’ve only gotten my grubby mitts on an M24 sniper once, but all I had was a 4x scope for it, so I didn’t feel as badass as if I’d had an 8x or 15x. Or a “laser sight.”

    Really loving this game, though.

  11. XisStealth says:

    “involves unloading an entire c̶l̶i̶p̶ (Magazine)”

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