This morning, shortly after breakfast, I was shot in the face by Spider-Man.
Or, at least, that’s what it felt like. I was playing the latest test version of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, moving through Pochinki near the middle of the map in a (cough) borrowed car when I pulled over to bind my wounds. Swinging out of the driver’s side door I took off at a run and did something completely wonderful.
I climbed over a wall.
It was more of a leap, actually, and a graceful one at that. When I hit the ground, I immediately tapped the prone button to drop into cover. For all intents and purposes I was safe, completely obscured from view and enemy fire. Moreover, I didn’t have to walk around to the front of the building to get inside it, thereby exposing myself to observation from the rest of the town. It was marvelous.
I imagined for a moment what this could mean for the game. When it goes live in the near future, players will be able to scramble into cover during intense firefights, they could maneuver around to places previously inaccessible and flank their quarry.
In my mind a small and magical John Woo film played out for an instant. John Wick was there, too. Both of the Johns. There were also doves.
Shortly thereafter, I got shot in the face by some dude pretending to be Spider-Man.
It happened in an instant. One moment I was rounding a corner, gun up to suppress anyone poking through the door of the landing, and the next I was domed by a player practically hovering in mid-air above the stairwell.
Killed by a 9 mm UMP. The indignity.
It’s possible that this was an exploit that has been in the game for a long time. I haven’t logged in in about a month. But it’s also possible that this is a new perch suddenly made available because of the recent update. Either way, it’s in the game now. It’s something that will have to be dealt with.
With this death I learned an important lesson. This update, which is expected to go live soon, will dramatically change the game. Developer Brendan “Playerunknown” Greene admitted as much last month during a recent panel discussion. “Vaulting will change the game severely,” he said. It will be “interesting,” he said. “The world isn’t built to be vaulted around,” he said.
These were not subtle statements, but rather warnings. Things are gonna get weird here, and they’re gonna be weird for a while.
Other players are already finding unusual bugs. For instance, there’s a spot on the second floor of a building on the starting island that you can now clip through.
Shooting someone in the back this way seems unsporting. Nevertheless ...
What Greene and the team at PUBG Corp. are building isn’t intended to be sporting. It’s supposed to be brutal. In real life, close-quarters combat with small arms is not a beautiful thing. Keanu Reeves is not there. These is no slow motion, and rarely are there birds of any kind.
CQC is vicious and brutal. The rule of thumb is to use every advantage that you have, and to practice beforehand. On the offense, the goal is to fill the room with guns as quickly as possible. On defense, the goal is to protect yourself from incoming fire as best you can while simultaneously unloading every round in the magazine as quickly as possible.
In a video game, there are clearly more restrictions than there are in real life. But there are also, let’s say, creative ways to manipulate the system. Players are going to find these exploits, their use will propagate and the game will be unbalanced for a time.
PUBG Corp. has effectively made their work much, much harder going forward.
They have a lot of work ahead of them, and their fans will need to be patient.