Earlier this year, I hit a wall with PUBG. What was, previously, my go-to shooter became a game I rarely played. I’d drop back in to play the odd hot-drop round with a buddy here and there but, for the most part, I felt I was done with it until the 4x4 map drops.
Y’see, my biggest problem with playing PUBG the ‘right’ way is it’s really bloody boring. The real objective of PUBG is a delicious chicken dinner, which means the best way to ensure you’re dining and not whining is to play conservatively. That means dropping away from the flight path and other players, but that means you tend to end up playing the loot/running/driving simulator portion of PUBG.
Even surviving a hot drop—which, in fairness, always makes for an exciting early-game—would often lead to an incredibly boring midgame, whether I was in the circle (waiting for others to come to me), chasing it, or actively seeking out fights. For the fully conservative approach, I got tired of death by ambush (or the circle, if RNGesus was particularly cruel) after 20 minutes of looting and running. That’s not my idea of fun, which meant I was back to playing shooters like Battlefield 1 that at least let me experience that all-important ‘shooter’ part of the genre (even if BF1 has disappointed of late).
Over the weekend, as you may well be aware, PUBG had another dose of its War Mode event. I’d missed it the last time, but this more TDM-centric approach to the PUBG formula had me very interested. Forget about boring midgame, or any part of the game for that matter, because War Mode is my favourite kind of PUBG: hot drops for days!
For those unaware, War Mode separates 10 teams of five-player (max) squads and drops them into an incredibly small and fixed (no moving blue, red or white circle concerns) fighting area. Looting is less of a concern in that you spawn with weapons and level-three armour—though it’s certainly important the longer you survive—and death is a temporary inconvenience because the plane respawns players every 40 seconds.
It wouldn’t be PUBG without at least a dose of RNGesus screwing you, so your primary weapon is randomised between a smattering of fixed sniper rifles, assault rifles, and a single glorious LMG, so it’s well worth keeping an eye on what you’re packing as you drop. Also, the thing you’ll likely regularly forget to do: switch your AR from single shot to primary. I died because of that a couple of times.
When I interviewed Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene last year, his advice to PUBG newbies was to drop at School to learn the ropes of the game. I’d argue that War Mode trumps that and new—or in my case, lapsed—fans should take War Mode for a spin. While School will give you an experience that’s obviously a lot closer to the core PUBG gameplay loop, War Mode forces you to learn how to use some of the game’s most powerful weapons very, very quickly. While you can win without firing a shot in PUBG, feeling confident in your ability to hold your own in a gunfight is crucial.
In one of the ultimate first-world gaming problems, I find that there’s an adjustment period when switching between shooters, which is something I do quite a bit when new ones are released or new content drops for ones I have installed. Normally, this takes about half an hour, but with PUBG, you might pick up all the best weapons and never get a chance to use them. War Mode changes that.
So, for guns like the almighty Groza, which I’ve used maybe once in the core game (not including when weapons used to spawn on Lobby Island), you’re forced to quickly discover a few things. First, it kicks like a mule in full-auto. Second, it melts other players once you learn to control that recoil. Third, you might actually have a knack for using it (as I did).
In the past, when switching from another shooter to PUBG, I’ve found there’s an inherent insecurity with my ability to land hits, regardless of the gun I’m using. With War Mode, I very quickly adjusted to the recoil of each new full-auto weapon and started getting a grip on where to aim ahead or above of enemies with the bigger sniper rifles.
All of this training is happening on a live firing range, where other people are trying to snipe or flank your squad. Even when you hold a position, which my crew was good at doing more often than not, you have to keep an eye on enemies dropping in from above when the respawn plane flies over. You’re at an advantage because you can see them coming in (plus, you have your gun out), but if you’re not paying attention, a freshly dropped player can ruin your squad. Just like in the main game, clear communication is key.
When we weren’t in fights for stretches of time, we knew we had to go hunt them out. After all, to achieve chicken dinner in War Mode, you have to be the first team to hit 200 points, with points coming from downing or killing other players. This means you’re actively encouraged to get in the fight, which means you’re constantly giving your position away as you engage other players and, in turn, are being hunted.
Such is the popularity of War Mode that, when it’s active, it takes longer to find a regular game of PUBG. But given the adrenaline shot to the heart that War Mode offers, and the subsequent confidence that I can consistently win gunfights in PUBG, I hope PUBG Corporation makes War Mode more of a regular timed event. If you’re a lapsed fan like me, take it for a spin next time it’s live. You’ll see.