Upon first seeing what was in store for Season 7 of PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds, I was concerned the game was turning into a Fortnite clone, despite PUBG having paved the way for Battle Royale games as they are known. Some of the outfits available in the new season had a very colourful feel to them, along with the ability to purchase cartoon dinosaur masks to wear; we were one dance emote away from PUBG losing all its identity. However, after jumping into my first game in Season 7 – and inevitable quick death – fears were subsided; this is still the same PUBG. Just a little bit lighter in tone. Finally.
When playing PUBG, it’s always been advisable to suspend belief; how do you explain why 100 people would parachute onto a deserted island where only one person will survive (and then, furthermore, what happens to that individual?), at least not without treading heavily on the toes of The Hunger Games and Battle Royale film series. But PUBG have released a couple of videos on the island of Vikendi – the focal point of this update – and now I am suddenly fully invested in the ‘lore’ of PUBG and the mysteries surrounding each and every island.
These videos do quite cleverly reveal some of the new features on the revamped island, so let’s take a look more in-depth at what will be killing you/me on Vikendi.
The best area of Vikendi has had a major rehaul: Dino Park is now Dinoland. Unlike other locations in Vikendi, this has stayed where it was before – quite central – but has been given a massive makeover. Where previously this looked like an oversized kiddies’ play area in the forest, it has been transformed into a full theme park. Gone are the more lifelike dinosaurs, and they have been replaced with cartoon-looking ones, straight out of The Land Before Time films. It remains looking overrun and outdated, with paint flaking off the walls and shops barren, but it is very much a marked improvement.
Other map changes include the Abbey moving over to Mount Kreznik; if I ever drop on Vikendi you’ll likely find me cowering in and around Abbey. Some towns have been removed completely including Tovar and Movatra, whilst Volnova isn’t the sniper’s paradise it used to be as there has been substantially more cover added to that area.
Weather has been updated also. Think of it as spring in Vikendi as the southern half of the island has much less snow cover than previous, with things starting to warm up. This means that snowbikes and snowmobiles have been removed in favour of standard motorbikes to reflect the change. One major new vehicle has been added though, in the form of trains. The track patrols the perimeter mainly but will stop at certain points in-land for passengers to offload and hop on board, including at the Cosmodrome and Dinoland. Just be warned – even in this age of social distancing – other people will be waiting on the train platforms just like you.
As well as the usual weapon balancing – in-depth details of which can be found here – there is one new weapon to be found, a Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle. It has the same stats as the fan favourite Kar98k, but with its own unique look and sound.
The above changes are free to all players as part of the massive 7.1 update. For those looking for more premium items, with the arrival of Season 7 is the new Survivor Pass. This time called Cold Front, it is a chilly tribute to the island in focus this time around. Most of these new customisation options are focused around Dinoland and the fact that Vikendi is a colder map: there are a variety of dinosaur masks in both the free and premium tracks, but the premium track rewards contain the rest of the outfits including onesies and footwear. However, wearing one of these masks does not make you a better player, especially since even I managed to kill someone wearing one.
Other outfits include warmer clothing such as the Route Warrior outfit and the Jockey outfit. Then there is the Ice Queen outfit, which comes straight from the wardrobe of a young girl still singing ‘Let It Go’ at the top of their lungs. Ripped straight from the Frozen films, this sparkly, sequined outfit looks utterly out of place, but if I managed to get to Rank 99 during Season 7 to complete the outfit, it would be the only thing I would wear on the battlefield from now on.
In terms of skins for guns, armour and loot, these again follow the trend of Dinoland, with many skins being labelled Gift Shop, and they certainly fit the title, looking like something you would pick up as a memento from your day at the theme park, all bright and colourful… if a gift shop sold crossbows and Deagle pistols that is.
Instant unlockables when purchasing the Cold Front Pack priced at £12.49 include not just the Survivor Pass but also a 5 level boost, and various Dinoland attire so you can look like someone that’s come straight from working the burger bars and carnival stalls in the theme park, before heading onto the warzone.
In addition to the Cold Front pack, there is also the Supply Pack available at £8.39. This comes with a rather fetching kaleidoscope sweater and reindeer pants that would be a great outfit when Christmas rolls around. Along with a festive cap, there are also 1600 G-Coins tucked in there. Altogether, these Season 7 packs contain a lot of good loot even away from the Survivor Pass level gifts.
The developers have never rested on their laurels since PUBG first released on Xbox One, and even with this bumper update they keep going. Update 7.2 has just been revealed and will be bringing one major fan request finally to PUBG, Ranked Mode. Arriving on 26th May, Ranked Mode will limit games to 64 players on Erangel, Miramar or Sanhok. There will be increased spawns on the best loot, and no pesky redzones; just an adjusted blue zone speed to increase the speed of play. Ranked Mode also brings with it tiers and divisions to grade players throughout the season, with top players earning special rewards.
7.2 also introduces bots to help less experienced players not feel out of their depth when dropping into a normal game. Then there are specific improvements to jerry cans, including the ability to now pour gas on the floor, before setting fire to it using gunshots, molotovs and grenades. Jerry cans can also be thrown as a melee weapon but they cannot then be picked up again afterwards.
Both 7.1 and 7.2 also feature a ton of weapon balancing features. The full patch notes for 7.2 can be found here.
These latest and upcoming updates are once again a reminder that PUBG is the father of Battle Royale, and it isn’t ready to have its crown taken away just yet. Many have tried, some have gotten dangerously close, but PUBG shows it isn’t afraid to change things up if they don’t work or become stale. Ultimately, nothing gets the heart pumping like seeing that survivor number decreasing, knowing that you’re still alive, hiding away in your little ‘safe’ space, creeping towards another top ten finish. Maybe one day I’ll even win a game… not sure how my heart would cope with that.