Turning the edgy murder enthusiasts of Playerunknown's Battlegrounds into daffy LARPers clad in homemade armour of tinfoil, buckets, and bathrobes sounds like an April Fools' joke, and it was - but the devs did still make it. The Fantasy Battle Royale event mode launched yesterday and is around for another six days, so I called up the laaads last night. It's really quite fun! The class-based LARPing is fun to play, charging about with swords and magic spells, and the whole thing is tonally fun in a very welcome way.
So there you and four pals are, presented with a choice of four character classes. The Ranger has a crossbow and flashbangs which blind enemies while buffing allies. The Wizard has a fireball wand and can conjure more explosions. The Barbarian has a sword and ludicrous speed. The Paladin has a mace which slows enemies, a shield to cower behind or charge forth with, and several healing abilities. And, of course, they're all in scrappy homemade costumes.
As the laaads tumbled out the plane, we started laughing at our outfits. Delights then continued with everything from idly spaffing fireballs as the Wizard to marvelling at how fast our Barbarian ended up running. Even being charged by Paladins sheltering behind their shields was fun, for the shock of melee being something to fear in this game and the horror of seeing two baddies with bin lids bodying my boy.
Fights have a whole different pace, with melee classes trying to close the distance while the ranged fighters zap and pling and pray to god no one gets near them. It's a lovely fresh feeling for an event mode. I couldn't tell you how well balanced it all is. I've done some damage as Wizard and Ranger, but also been cut down by juiced-up Barbarians and bodied by the aforementioned binboys. Class differences seem to get balanced out somewhat by classes all competing for the same class-specific upgrade crystals, which means squads are encouraged to pick one of each class or they'll be fighting for the same gear.
Ah, I like it. It's fun, it's different, it's silly, and it reinforces the game's rich lore of stag and hen weekends gone wrong. Here you and your friends are hurling out a plane wearing daft costumes to lark about pretending to be wizards, riding motorbikes you're pretending are unicorns, and cheering as your mate in the muscle suit chugs a giant Red Bull. I am thrilled to be unlocking these costumes for keepsies by completing the quests.
I'd bet the Paladin is also a cautious way to introduce the idea of a riot shield for regular play.
Fantasy Battle Royale will run until April 8th at 7:59am. If you're a lapsed Plunker like me, you might be glad for a return to Erangel in a whole new silly way.