Vikendi, PlayerUnknown’s Battleground’s new snow-themed map, has finally been revealed, with a cinematic trailer that first aired during The Game Awards on Thursday night.
The map, which is set in Eastern Europe, takes players to a wintry country full of abandoned cities blanketed in snow. Vikendi is PUBG’s first 6 km by 6 km map, making it directly in-between the sizes of Sanhok, the game’s newer smaller map, and Erangel, the original larger PUBG map.
But it’s more than size that makes Vikendi unique. The map also adds environmental hazards like frozen rivers and lakes that can send players careening out of control if they don’t drive carefully, or forests that are far more dense and tightly packed with trees than other maps. And then of course, there’s the snow, which deforms around players as they move through it making tracking opponents an entirely new element of PUBG’s game play.
Shortly before the reveal, Polygon spoke with PUBG’s world art director, Dave Curd, to talk about Vikendi, the map’s unique gameplay and what exactly went into making the perfect PUBG snow map.
Polygon: Since PUBG’s release, fans have been excited about the idea of and asking for a snow map. What made you feel like this was the right time to actually make it?
Dave Curd: From the beginning we knew there was interest there, but our challenge as game makers is to discuss why make a map, why is this map special, why should we take on this endeavor, what do we want to provide that the other maps don’t provide? So at the beginning of our discussions we really kind of fell in love with the idea of tracking players and kind of the hunter becoming the hunted.
We thought this was a fun gameplay conceit that we hadn’t seen in our own maps yet. And so of course snow made the most sense to implement. And from there we thought, well, we have one player base that really loves the kind of rush of the four by four Sanhok map, and we have another player base that’s really into the tactical deliberate pace that you might see in Miramar or Erangel. So then we started thinking, OK, what about a six by six? Can this be a sweet spot in the middle? That was kind of why make this map. We wanted to explore stalker gameplay and we wanted to kind of bridge the gap between those player bases.
Are there going to be features like footprints in the snow and stuff like that to help make that, that tracking happen?
Absolutely. So, we have footprints. We have vehicle prints, and tracks obviously, and even when you’re prone and kind of snake crawling, you’re going to smear some snow around. In PUBG when the doors are open, when the windows are broken, you know someone’s been there, but you don’t know when. So our intention was, if you see the tracks you know you’re warm, you know you’re right on top of them, so you can kind of make that interesting choice. Do I follow the tracks and maybe it’s a setup or maybe I’m going to catch them in the back or do I not take the fight, go the opposite way and get more looted, prepare for the next time.
Yeah. I’ve always thought of PUBG as like walking into a crime scene and trying to figure out like exactly happened and that sounds like it’s gonna be a totally new elements of that.
You know, we really think that’s kind of what sets our game apart is it’s this kind of tension in this oscillation between survival and fighting. I think some games are all action and some games are all survival and this kind of a high stakes hide and seek is where our sweet spot is and we’re really excited to see how the communities uses the tracks. Obviously hunting players is huge, but I’m really expecting a lot of a lot of running around a corner and then posting up with your weapon and seeing who’s following you. The traps that are going to be laid I think should be pretty fun.
Was there anything early on with this map that you all or even you specifically looked at and said this has to be in the PUBG map that we’re going to work on?
Absolutely. Early into the process we looked at frozen rivers and lakes and what it might be like to kind of pilot a very fast snowmobile across those surfaces. So you’re driving this incredibly fast, slippery, scary thing across a frozen wilderness with fishing sheds and old frozen boats and giant rocks. And it was just this this awesome feeling that we hadn’t captured in any of our previous maps. And another thing we were excited to try was kind of the density of forest, you know, all of our maps naturally have wilderness. Well, we really wanted to have some heavy, heavy forest to kind of supplement the stalking-tracks-through-the-snow gameplay with also going into these mazes of heavy dense trees.
The river thing is really interesting. I think PUBG players probably already see rivers is sort of natural barriers, like it’s a big deal to cross them. And it’s interesting that you can translate into something different with this new map.
Yeah, now it’s like what if a river was the fastest highway across the map? We were pleased to kind of try that inversion.