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This week, Yahtzee reviews PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

Transcript Edit

You may have noticed a rather glaring gap in my 2017 lineup of reviews. "Oh, really, Yahtz? You mean the game that's been the biggest seller on Steam for fucking months? The one that practically embodied the year itself because it's nihilistic, depressing, argumentative, and full of loot boxes and wankers?" Yes, I am, of course, referring to none other than Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Ha ha, big joke. I mean PUBG, which stands for "PlayerUnknown's Bonanza Goldmine". The breakout hit multiplayer shooter based somewhat on the concept of Battle Royale, except Battle Royale didn't involve quite so many people running around in their underpants. (Not yet, anyway. Don't put the idea in their head; you know what Japanese culture's like.)

One hundred players are dropped unarmed and helpless into a deserted sandbox map, everyone who owned property in the area apparently thought that a small pile of guns and supplies makes a lovely living room conversation piece, the playing area gradually shrinks over time, and the winner is the last person to get shot, fall to their death, or quit in disgust after listening to the voice chat, because another thing PUBG could stand for is "Players Unabashedly Backing Genocide"! Seriously, the first thing I did was mute that shit, 'cos I started my first game and immediately heard someone going "Niggers, niggers, niggers, niggers!", and I know that sounds like something I'd make up, but I swear they were. Hell, who needs to interact with the other players, anyway? I do usually avoid multiplayer games - after all, I "Personally Understate the Benefits of Gregariousness" - but I'm fine as long as I don't have to socialize and we can just mutely exterminate each other, like when I go to trivia night at the pub. 

PUBG is such a simple concept, I'm hesitant to give Mr. Unknown any credit for it. Multiplayer shooters have had the tendency to overthink themselves lately in an effort to stand out from the crowd; "Ooh, let's make it about capturing territory! No, wait, let's make it one tough player against four weak players working together, like a sort of reverse gangbang!" So sooner or later, someone was going to go, "Hey, why don't we just take the basic deathmatch concept that was in the very first multiplayer shooters ever and scale it up to the biggest map and the biggest number of players possible with modern technology?" And then the innovation of the shrinking play area would be obvious, as otherwise, you'd have the last two players sitting eighteen miles apart, waiting for the other to come into the coffee shop they've been camping for three hours, for you see, "Pugnacity Under Boundaries Germinates".

What I'm saying is that someone was going to come up with this eventually, and in a better world, it might have been someone who knew how to make a game that didn't crash every hour or so, that doesn't look like it was composed entirely from stock textures and models from the Contemporary Shooter Starter Kit, and where the graphics didn't flicker like my eyelids whenever my mum asks if I'm ever going to get a real job. 

But anyway, I imagined my first experience with PlayerUnknown's Buggery Grind was pretty similar to most people's: I ran around in a seemingly empty landscape for a while, then something far in the distance made a coughing sound and my head exploded. Then I'd use the DeathCam and witness my death from the point of view of the fucking Terminator, who whipped around 180 degrees, instantly spotted me eight miles away, and sniped me with a gun the size of an ironing board that he must have gotten from a downed alien spaceship. And incidentally, it was while consulting a DeathCam that I discovered that the game doesn't draw long grass past a certain distance; so there I was, crawling on my belly, thinking I'd cleverly concealed myself, only to discover that the other players were seeing a bloke lying in full view, attempting to make love to a golf course fairway.

But over time, I picked up some useful strategies through experience, hard grit, and reading a website with some useful strategies on it, such as, "Stop going prone, you idiot! If someone's shooting at you, that's when you need to be running like fuck; as we all know, 'Proning Ultimately Begets Grief'. And try not wearing boots; it doesn't reduce movement sound by much, but hey, could be the fight-winner." Advice I found slightly galling, because boots were the one thing I'd gotten from the one loot box I'd earned, and I'd been excitedly running around the levels, showing them off to all the concealed snipers.

But my skills swiftly improved; I'd find a nice tucked-away spot to touch down, find gear, sprint across open terrain, serpentine-ing and making incoherent blubbering noises, find more gear, score a couple of kills by crouching in the corner of a large, obvious building, and waiting half an hour for people to serpentine in. By these methods, I was soon routinely surviving to the top ten. "But wait a minute," I thought as a protracted squatting session between two pews in a church rolled into its tenth minute. "There's something missing from this essential gaming experience. Oh, that's right! I'm not having any fucking fun!"

Impressive as my numbers were becoming, the moment the game drew close and I was forced to go where the last few dudes were, I felt like Robinson Crusoe being rediscovered by human civilization; so there'd be five or six super-Terminators having the inevitable sniping duel that every game turns into, and me running into the middle of them going "It's me! Ha ha! I was in that church all along! But now I'm out and I'm proud and--! Oh, look, so is my large intestine. Bleh!" I'd only gotten better at hiding, not fighting, so that was when I made the command decision to do the exact opposite of the good advice and start dropping directly onto fucking target ranges and IHOPs that were going to be swarming with dudes right away, so success becomes less about tricksy, inconvenient things like actual skill and more about who can randomly stumble upon a room with a gun in it first. Sure, I started dying a hell of a lot more, but I also hadn't put enough time investment into each match to give a shit. Drop out and start another game, fuck it; after all, "Prolonging the Unavoidable Bores me Greatly".

And hey, sometimes I had actually survived the initial melee, and then, bonus on bonus, I wouldn't have to loot the area, because all these corpses lying around have thoughtfully done it already. Then I was having fun! Sometimes I'd suicidally parachute onto the very edge of the map and hope to find a motorbike with which I could speed into the safe zone and start doing stunt jumps as increasingly large numbers of bemused crosshairs zero in, and that was fun, too. So I'm not too bothered about "gitting gud" at PlayerUnknown's Bear Grylls, 'cos it's not a very refined game and all the people who have "git gud" don't seem to be extracting much fun out of the bargain; lots of loot boxes, I'm sure, and in the year when loot boxes became a symbolic evil right alongside toothbrush mustaches and ugg boots, PlayerUnknown's Burbling Grandma's cosmetic loot boxes are taking a pretty sizeable amount of piss, probably up to waist-deep, at least.

After my first boots adventure, I knuckled down and church-camped my way to my second loot box, dreaming of the next fancy cosmetic that would surely make me the belle of the morgue, and you know what I got? A pair of beige trousers. Great! This'll be perfect camouflage if the next match takes place in an IKEA showroom. So I knuckled down again until I got my third loot box, which contained a pair of white trousers. My fourth, which was about where I resolved to give up playing the loot box market, was - brace yourselves - a pair of black trousers. Well, at least I assembled a complete spectrum of trousers, or to put that another way, I "Painstakingly United a Britches Gradient".

Addenda Edit

  • The unknown soldier: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • For the record my very best result was coming 2nd, which I can only assume was during some kind of mass typhoid outbreak
  • This is probably the most time I've spent in church in years
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2018
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins · Sonic Forces · Star Wars Battlefront II · Hand of Fate 2 · South Park: The Fractured but Whole
2018
Q1 Top 5 of 2017 · Okami HD · PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds · Fortnite and Dusk · Doki Doki Literature Club! · The Inpatient and Doom VFR · Monster Hunter World · Subnautica · Kingdom Come: Deliverance · Metal Gear Survive · Hot Coffee · Hunt Down The Freeman · Ghost of a Tale
Q2 A Way Out · Far Cry 5 · Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom · Extinction and Attack on Titan 2 · God of War 4 · Yakuza 6: The Song of Life · Silent Hill 4: The Room