PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds continues to experiment with new modes that stretch the definition of what the game is or can be. The latest limited-time event is called War, and brings team deathmatch-style rules to the battle royale game. You can read our previous story if you’re curious about the specifics of its rules, because I want to talk about how the new mode plays.
War is the most radical departure that PUBG has ever offered on the main server. Dying no longer means that you’re out of the round, as players now spawn back in the plane after they’re taken out. This means that you’ll have much more time to actually play the game during each 15-minute round, and the tiny safe zone — which is visible instantly and which never changes — will get players jumping in throughout the entire match.
The inclusion of random loot further increases the pace of the game. Each player spawns with a random AR or DMR, as well as a pistol, helmet, vest and grenade. There are better weapons to be found around the map, but the gunfights begin instantly.
It’s that unrelenting pace of the action across a match that’s both timed and scored that feels so different. The pressure to perform, to be constantly engaging in combat to score points for your team, is non-stop.
Somewhat paradoxically, having three 10-person teams per round also means that you have less responsibility than in previous versions of the game. If you die, it won’t hobble your squad, although you’ll still need to aggressively attack other players to score points in order to win. It doesn’t matter if you die often, as long as you kill other people more.
The chicken dinners are somewhat devalued here — you have a 33 percent chance of getting one per round, all things being equal — but much of the pressure of classical PUBG has also been removed. This is yet another mode that focuses on fun and accessibility over the tension and extended pacing of vanilla PUBG.
And it is a fun mode, especially if you grab nine friends to all join the same team. You have no choice but to engage as quickly as possible, as you take damage even if you jump out of the plane outside the safe zone with a plan to drop in. You have to be in the small vertical slice of the map for the entire duration. This is a mode that aims to pile players on top of each other and keep them there.
PUBG Corp. is clearly throwing as many new ideas as it can at the main game, and it’s going to be paying close attention to see what sticks. The War mode may not be a blueprint for what’s coming next. The important thing is that it changes the rules so drastically that it’s hard to tell how players are going to react, or what kind of fun they’ll find playing within the mode in ways the developers perhaps never intended. This is a game mode that’s going to get everyone out of their comfort zone while playing PUBG, and it’s fascinating to see what traditional team deathmatch looks like with a battle royale skin.
War isn’t the mode that I’d say needs to stay around forever, but the exciting question is going to be what PUBG Corp. learns from this event — and then uses to tighten the main game. I’m happy to jump in and give the studio some ideas.