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PUBG’s latest mode adds armored vehicles and eight-person squads

Gear up and roll out

An armored UAZ parked for a vanity shot in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds PUBG Corp.
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Late last night PUBG Corp. released a new game mode for the PC version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It’s called Steel Rain, and it adds light armored vehicles to the game for the first time. It also ups the squad size to eight players. That means bigger gunfights early in every match, once again changing up the pace of the game.

Before you drop into Steel Rain you have the option of creating a squad with up to eight friends on Steam, otherwise you can opt to be placed automatically into another group or even go it alone.

Once in-game, you’ll find that flare guns spawn randomly around the map. Fire one off and if you’re outside of the safe zone (also called the circle) a plane will fly by and drop off an armored UAZ, a four-seater Russian all-terrain vehicle. Compared to other vehicles in Battlegrounds, which have a tendency to spontaneously combust, these things are virtually indestructible.

There’s two downsides, however. First, players can still be injured while sitting inside, so you had better keep moving or risk getting lit up with automatic weapons fire. Second, they have a tendency to tip over.

The best way to get one upright? Toss a grenade at it.

An armored UAZ tipped on its side in the Steel Rain game mode for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
“You might want to stand back.”
An armored UAZ tipped on its side is righted with a hand grenade in the Steel Rain game mode for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
“There, fixed it.”

Yes, you heard me right. In Steel Rain, anti-personnel explosives are cheaper than AAA and a lot more expeditious.

Flare guns are plentiful enough that my squad had three armored cars up and running in a matter of minutes. With eight in a squad, you’ll need at least two to move around quickly, but once you have them it’s pretty easy to see where the action is. Either look for another flare in the sky or just drive toward the sound of someone’s idling engine.

The effect of Steel Rain is that players are much more likely to engage in combat earlier in the game and, when they do, they’re likely to do battle in groups of 16-32 players. A three-way or a four-way firefight is pretty easy to stumble into and will take a lot of coordination to fight your way out of.

Steel Rain is only available for a limited time and will be pulled down some time on Monday.

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