Adam: I still haven’t won a game. I still don’t care. What a splendid thing this is. Even though it’s a completely different proposition, it’s effectively the game I wanted DayZ to be. Moments of tension, exhilaration, and laughter and curses shared generously over chat. I haven’t loved a multiplayer shooter this much in years.
Matt: In one moment, Plunkbat is a calm, pleasant environment where I can enjoy a comfortable chat with my mates. In the next, it’s a ridiculously tense shooter where death can come at any moment.
I can totally see why Plunkbat might not be your bag. A typical round might consist of 10 or 20 minutes of peaceful looting, following by an unavoidable, unceremonious death to someone who just happened to get the jump on you. It speaks to just how exquisite the game can be that all those uneventful hours are worth enduring for those rare occasions when you can make it into the very last stage of the round.
It’s sounds like a silly exaggeration, but I’ve literally had times with Plunkbat where I’ve forgotten to breathe. The other day, I was in the final 5 as the circle closed to a miniscule radius. All of us must have been a few metres away from each other, laying prone in grass that provided just enough cover for each of us to go unseen. Then the circle shrunk again, and the air erupted with the sound of bullet fire and explosions as several people made a dash for it at once.
I didn’t win that game, but I have had my fair share of chicken dinners by now. Each one is almost as delicious as the first, where I jumped out of my seat and punched the air, most likely waking up my flatmates. Who needs exercise when I have Plunkbat to set my heart pounding?
Graham: As a kid, my friends and I would play a lot of hide and seek. Every so often our conversation would return to the same idea: wouldn’t it be cool to play hide and seek over our entire town? It would never have worked for many obvious reasons, but that desire to map the drama, tension and empowerment of hiding and hunting onto large, urban terrain is so simple and obvious that it occurred to us as ten-year-olds.
It’s those uneventful minutes that Matt describes which are my favourite parts of Plunkbat. If I want immediate action and instant gratification, the game can provide that: jump when everyone else jumps, race towards the ground, and you’ll find yourself quickly in the midst of combat. But mostly what I want is to be hunkered down inside a bedroom on the second floor of a house, peeking out a window and trying to get a view of the gunfire I can hear getting closer. I want to watch another player walk by the house without ever knowing I was there, watching.
There’s another game from my youth that Plunkbat resembles, and it’s Counter-Strike. Not in the maps, which are obviously larger by miles, but in the emotional experience. The feeling of being the last person alive on your team, fighting against the odds, is rare in Counter-Strike but a permanent sensation in Plunkbat. The feeling of trying to escape unseen with hostages in tow is only happens after substantial success in Counter-Strike, but is present during every new building you infiltrate in Plunkbat. This is the game’s triumph: it makes the highest highs of other games accessible to anyone, whether they’re inexperienced or bad at first-person shooters.
Plunkbat plunkbat plunkbat.