After sporadic experiments in event modes and tests, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds has added flare guns that players can use to call in an airdrop of a double-sized care package or an armoured car. That's powerful, sure, but also sends up a literal flare to indicate where you are and where some big loot will soon be. I found they added an interesting tactical element during the events, and am glad to see them become regular items. Today's update also brings two new vehicles for the map Vikendi, a zippy snowbike and a ruff tuff 4x4.
Flare guns are rare drops found in random spots around maps. Grab one, fire it into the air, and it'll hang around calling in an airdrop. If you're firing from inside the current safe zone, a plane will swing by to drop a bumper-sized loot crate on the flare. Fire a flare outside and the plan will drop an armoured UAZ instead. Y'know, about the same as in the Metal Rain event mode, only without squillions of flares popping off all over.
The formal launch of flare guns brings a few changes to how they work, following feedback. Players won't get packages from flares until the blue circle closes for the first time, as that's a whole lot of power to secure in the early game when everyone's spread out and you're unlikely to be challenged. As if the red flares hanging in the sky weren't hint enough that someone has a drop coming, the UI will display a wee notification when someone nearby pops one for a crate drop and add a marker for the drop to the map - but not for people who call in armoured cars. And flare guns spare with different rarity on the different maps.
I'm glad to see flare guns become part of plain ol' Plunkbat. The create hotspots of conflict they create are more interesting than regular airdrops, with the launching team picking locations carefully and nearby cratenappers seeing clearly where it'll come down. And they're well worth contesting, given how bountiful the crates are and how beefy the armoured UAZ is.
In terms of other shiny newness, the update replaces Vikendi's UAZs with the new Zima and the Snowbike finally makes its delayed debut. The Zima's a 4x4 able to deal with the snow better than many vehicles, while the Snowbike is a frail but zippy little tracked bike.
A few performance improvements are squeezed in, which are always welcome. Various bugs are fixed. And hey, Steam and Discord friends lists can now show your pals more about what you're up to in-game, saying if you're actively playing and, if so, which mode and how long the round's been going on. Handy, that.
See the Update #26 patch notes (as created for the test server) for full details.