With the battle royale format more popular than ever, it’s no surprise that some games will borrow features from others. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has followed this trend in its latest update, adding a comeback mechanic to its newest map. The new system puts defeated players in a “Comeback Arena” that sounds eerily like Call of Duty: Warzone‘s gulag.
The 12.2 patch for PUBG adds a new map called Taego, which is the same size as its first map. Players can currently play on the new map in solo or squad modes, and it notably doesn’t have a red zone or any inclement weather.
The map itself also has a number of unique characteristics, like landmarks and wildlife that will react to the sound of gunfire. However, its most unique elements are all gameplay-centered, including the aforementioned comeback mechanic and a new self-revive item.
Players who die when playing on Taego during the game’s first Blue Zone phase will be transported to the Comeback Arena, a separate area where survivors can battle it out. Anyone that stays alive long enough in this arena will be transported back to the main map during the third Blue Zone phase. It’s worth noting that, unlike in Warzone, this feature is only available if you’re playing squads, leaving solo players out in the cold.
Solo players looking for a second chance will have to get lucky and come across a Self-AED. This new item will let knocked-out players revive themselves and is available in both solo and squad games.
A number of other changes and additions were also made with PUBG‘s 12.2 patch, all of which can be viewed on the game’s site.
Going back to PUBG in 2021 was a mistake
The thought entered my head when I heard that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was getting a new 8×8 map this month: “Wow, when was the last time I played PUBG?” I don’t hear much about the battle royale game that kicked off the trend way back in 2017, but it’s still one of the most played games on Steam every day. “I should check out that new map and see how PUBG is doing!”
That was a big mistake.
I clocked around 55 hours in PUBG during its first year. My friends and I weren’t nightly winners, but we had our share of chicken dinners. In its first months, I remember being excited about PUBG’s potential as a sim-adjacent competitive shooter. Having played PlayerUnknown’s original Arma 3 battle royale mode, I liked PUBG’s simplified weapon handling and more stable shooter foundation on Unreal Engine 4. At the time, PUBG made the mechanically obtuse, ultra sim-y DayZ and Arma 3 look like the dinosaurs in the room. Nowadays, PUBG is more obsolete than either of them.
PUBG is only four years old, but it already feels like a relic of a genre that moved on to bigger and better things. Jumping back in the past week, I was immediately surprised by how little has changed. Movement is still floaty and slightly delayed, vehicles drive like butt, character models are ugly, cosmetics are bland, and the waiting period before a match actually starts is obnoxious as hell.
Seriously, I thought battle royale games figured this out already: Give me something to do or just show me a list of players. I don’t want to wait two or three minutes to find a game just to spend another 60 seconds standing around an empty street while randos throw apples at my head. At least Call of Duty: Warzone’s pre-game lobby hands you a random weapon to practice your aim or blow off steam with. I’d appreciate a similar mini free-for-all in PUBG’s lobby, at least so I don’t have to spend that pregame minute hovering over the “exit” button, pondering on why I’m playing boomer royale.
There are so many 2017-ass design choices here that come off as dated and uninviting now, most of which trickle down from a terrible looting experience. Outfitting a rifle with a few attachments I found in a dingy garage is still a chore.
After countless hours in Apex Legends and Warzone, PUBG’s loot pool feels bloated with samey SMGs, rifles, and attachments. Loot spawns in messy clumps that make something as simple as picking up an individual item off the ground maddening (good luck picking up that tiny compensator instead of the medkit clipping through it). You’re heavily encouraged to use the inventory interface for every interaction with the world, which means spending ten minutes sorting through garbage in a menu ripped from 2013 early access DayZ until you have the gear needed to be competitive.
This laborious, drawn-out looting phase carried over from the survival games that preceded PUBG is what originally killed my battle royale buzz. In the years since, the biggest battle royale games have sped up the looting process or minimized its importance in favor of the actual good part of battle royale: tight, coordinated team fights.
Apex Legends has a simplistic loot hierarchy with readable, spaced-out pickups effortlessly pocketed from the ground. To make sure you barely have to micromanage anything, attachments automatically transfer from one weapon to the next (PUBG eventually borrowed this feature in late 2019). Warzone went a step further in 2020 when it ditched looted attachments for pre-configured weapon blueprints that piggyback off the strong customization in Modern Warfare’s Gunsmith. Instead of scrounging around dusty bedrooms hoping for a 4X scope, I can call in the kitted-out M4 of my dreams within minutes.