Battlegrounds

Survival shooter Battlegroundssubstantial update this morning added two special servers specifically for first-person play. They’re brutal.

Early last month, developer PlayerUnknown announced the first-person server update. Fans were thrilled. I couldn’t put it better than Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson: “Expect a tense game to get even tenser, with limited powers of astral projection no longer in your arsenal.” The game, usually a third-person affair, allows you to see what’s going on behind and around you. This perspective is crucial for awareness, staying alive and getting the drop on opponents.

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Now, players can enter first-person servers at the bottom of the normal play menu in the “Team” section. After a few hours of play there, I can say for sure that first-person mode is not for the faint of heart.

If you’re big into first-person shooters, a lot of this will seem familiar. Sounds will happen, but with a slimmer field of vision, you won’t know where they came from until their source probably killed you. It’s important to constantly look behind you and and over your shoulder to remain aware of your surroundings. Without being able to see my avatar in the game, I found myself totally paranoid about my safety. I felt like a sheep wandering around a map crawling with wolves:

It’s a lot scarier than the third-person mode, which already elicits small screams from me fairly regularly. A larger area with lots of hiding spots (i.e. the hospital or school) feels like a horror movie given your compromised first-person awareness. On the flip side, everything, including little victories, is more thrilling. Close-up combat feels more high-stakes because the distance between you and your weapon is smaller. And for that reason, it’s easier to focus on shooting. Even gathering weapons and items is, to me, markedly more rewarding—up-close, a pile of random crap can feel like a bounty instead of discarded trash. Crawling around the grassy landscape feels realer, as does hiding in rusty bathrooms and, well, driving.

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Thankfully, Battlegrounds lets you toggle your field of vision in first-person mode now:

Competing on the new servers is like mainlining to what makes Battlegrounds nerve-wracking and challenging. In my experience, there is a substantial leap in skill necessary to master first-person. It’s likely that players who want to mess around, explore the map or pull of silly stunts will probably remain on third-person servers, while those more compelled by critically challenging and high-stakes play might gravitate toward first-person. Unfortunately, the Battlegrounds servers are having a bit of trouble right now, as evidenced by this ghost woman I continually failed to hit with my car: