Cycling in video games leans towards the extreme and the exciting: bombing downhill at murderous speeds, professional racing, treasure hunt, and such. I'd like to see more of the mundane too. For many adults, a bicycle is simply a way to get to work, to the shops, or to see your pals. So after battle royale shooter PUBG: Battlegrounds added bicycles, I decided to commute around the stag & hen weekend warzones by bike as much as possible.
Four long years after I was first excited by a potential hint of Plunkbikes (which sadly turned out to be decorative), Plunkbat's developers finally added rideable bicycles in a November 2021 update. Found commonly on the outskirts of maps, they are a fast-ish and almost silent way to get around the battlefield. Murderhiking becomes murderbikepacking.
These bicycles can be quite useful, especially if you don't find a motor vehicle. I've nabbed kills by rolling up on people unheard, I've outpaced the blue ring of death, and I've dodged gunfire as I sped towards my destination. They're fun too, able to bunny-hop with ease and almost murderously eager to roll into flips. You can even fire single-handed weapons while riding (going no-hands to reload). Plus you can ring the bell as much as you want, so with careful clicking it's possible to ding out a passable Chelsea Dagger for the lads.
Just remember that, as in the real world, bicycle commuters are at the mercy of motorists. I've been run over by baddies several times, and had some nasty dings from pals too.
I do appreciate Plunkbat's choice of bicycle: a folding mountain bike with front suspension, disc brakes, and internal hub gears. A folding frame is a classic choice for commuters, easy to bring indoors for safekeeping and widely permitted by buses, trains, and taxis too (I've never re-folded a bike in Plunkbat but I might if the laaads rolled up in a party wagon, honking). A hardtail mountain bike is decent for the off-roading often required, with front suspension and chunky tyres to smooth out bumps (much appreciated after parachuting with a hangover) plus disc brakes for stopping power in all conditions. Gears built into the wheel hub are simpler and more reliable than external gears with derailleurs, making this a great choice for stag & hen weekend bike hire. And the lights and bell are vital for safety and japes. Everyone even wears a helmet, though admittedly that's more for bullets. I think the devs picked the perfect type of bicycle for the game's setting, though mudguards would be good to stop filth spraying up the back of your leather trenchcoats and lobster onesies.
While folding bikes and internal gears tend to be heavier and slower, that's no problem for the Plunklads. With only a little effort, they ride at 62kmh—faster than Tour De France cyclists on £13,000 carbon fibre bikes. Forget EPO, they should start doping with Red Bull and banter.
I do sorely wish I could give my pal a backie on the Plunkbike. Attempts with my usual bunch of lads to form a roaming gang of bicycle bully boys have fallen through because we've yet to find enough for the whole squad. Occasions we had even two bikes led to a vast increase in stunts and foolishness, so I desire more. Though there is fun in lads on bikes circling the bikeless, ringing and stunting—a bit of banter to encourage searching.
I would also appreciate the addition of a rare rubbish bicycle, a small chance to find a rusting heap which squeaks and creaks and grinds along, with a grating bell. I realise that would be a big development effort for a gag item only I would enjoy but tatty old bikes are strewn about the maps as props, so it feels a little cruel that I can't ride them. My own runabout (the bike I'm happy to leave locked up in public) is a pal's old mountain bike, which was nicked a good decade ago then neglected until the police unexpectedly returned it. I've grown fond of its few vocal bits of personality I haven't been able to tighten or lubricate away, recurrent noises that don't indicate anything good but do come to feel like familiar panting patterns of a friendly dog accompanying me on a ride to the shops.
Bicycles would be a good fit for more games where crossing large distances quick-ish and quietly is valuable. I know a number of bicycles have graced millitary sim series Arma across the years, as well as ye olde Arma mod version of DayZ. A bicycle is a great vehicle for evading zombies and humans alike after the apocalypse: quiet, reliable, easy to fix, easy to scavenge replacement parts for, and a huge mechanical multiplier of your effort.
Because I can't let it go: I still think the game's 2021 rebranding to 'PUBG: Battlegrounds' was bad. That makes it Playerunknown's Battlegrounds: Battlegrounds? No. Should've officially renamed it Plunkbat, the nickname everyone loves and adores.