PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS Early Access Preview: The True Battle Royale

The famous Battle Royale gamemode was turned into standalone games several times before, but only with BATTLEGROUNDS it finally achieved its highest point.

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is a new survival game from the creator of the Battle Royale mode for Arma 2, which was later adopted into such games like H1Z1 and DayZ. The mode was so popular that it was made into a standalone game that is currently available on Steam.

It’s got a very intriguing gameplay and runs pretty well for an Early Access game. BATTLEGROUNDS keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times, and induces a whole kaleidoscope of emotions. If you want to know more about this competitive survival last-man-standing shooter, then read on for more details.

The Rules of Gameplay

The game starts with your character being dropped from a military airplane on to the surface of an 8x8 km island. You can choose the drop point by pressing the F button, so every time you start a match you land in a new area. But you are not alone here -- there’s another hundred players on an island fighting to the death.

When you land, your first objective is to run into a nearby building to search for weapons and other useful items, because you’ve got nothing on your hands at this point. The counter in the top right corner tells you the number of players who are still alive…and it steadily goes down until only one of them is left.

The game isolates the group of players in a restriction zone, where you must head to take part in the Battle Royale. The closer you get to the area, the better you hear all the gunshots -- which gets your heart pumping faster and faster, ‘cause you know that soon you will be at death's door.

You need to be able to carry as much ammo and weapons as you can, so you will need to find a backpack. There is no need to rush into the death zone, but it is better to spend some time collecting things from the buildings on your way -- this way you will have more chances to survive.

It is easier to die in PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS than you may think. People have developed all sorts of tactics, and just wait for their next victim to fall into their trap. Sometimes a sniper sits in a hidden spot and takes out players one by one. On other occasions they’ll be waiting for you behind a corner to blast you to death as soon as your innocent soul decides to take cover.

One thing that stands out the most is the sound design, which is absolutely fantastic here.

However, if you manage to shoot an opponent, then you can take their stuff -- which can make you more resilient. Healing is possible in BATTLEGROUNDS, but don’t expect miracles to happen -- dying is much easier than surviving. 

Another great way of getting some really good loot is to check the sky for an airplane flying by and dropping a crate. If you can get to it first, then consider yourself lucky -- there is a big chance that other players will want to snatch it for themselves, too.

When you are getting closer to the epicenter of events and you’re carrying tons of loot, there's great danger in staying out in the open. This is when the last group of players decides the outcome of the match. In the end you get rewards, which you can spend on buying more crates.

Technical Execution of BATTLEGROUNDS

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is a great example of how these kinds of survival games should be done. The HUD, the character animation, and optimization are all top-notch. The number of firearms and ammo is huge, so there is more than enough for everybody.

However, one thing that stands out the most is the absolutely fantastic sound design. That's why it is highly recommended to play with very good headphones. As a result, you’ll be able to hear the smallest noises around you and even some from far away.

The physics and animation of objects are excellent, and look like what you would typically expect in an AAA shooter. For example, when shooting through objects, various weapons will have different levels of penetration.

If you stand near the wall, your character’s body will respond to the slightest movements, such as holding up a barrel of the gun, so it doesn’t stick through the wall. It does seem like the developers tried to make things look as believable as possible -- and they succeeded.

The Verdict: A Solid 9/10

All in all, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is a great game with almost non-existent flaws. At times the framerate drops in large open areas, but that’s a common issue in many games. On other occasions there are problems with connection to the servers. But again -- it’s an Early Access game, so there’s nothing surprising there.

BATTLEGROUNDS is an adrenaline junkie’s heaven, with tons of weapons and character customization. The combat, both melee and ranged, feels authentic and unforgiving. If you fail to reload your weapon before engaging in a shootout with another player -- you’re gone.

The map is huge and the scenery doesn’t distract from what’s really at stake. Its user interface is simple and intuitive, so you don’t waste time on figuring out what things are and where to position yourself. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is undoubtedly better than any other survival shooter available on the market today.

Note: PLAYERUNKNOWN provided an Early Access game code for the purpose of this review.


Sergey has been a freelancer in the video games industry for more than five years, writing for various publications around the world. His favorite games are MtG, Dark Souls, Diablo, and Divinity: Original Sin.

Published Mar. 28th 2017

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