game coming, and it’s not a battle royale. It’s not a sequel, either. In fact, it’s “an original narrative experience within the PUBG universe,” according to the PUBG Corporation. Glen Schofield, formerly of Sledgehammer and Visceral Games, is leading up PUBG Corporation’s new studio ‘Striking Distance’ to build this new PUBG game.
The gameplay is going to require a complete, ground-up rebuild, though.
If you’ve ever played one of the custom PUBG modes, like death match, you know the game doesn’t lend itself well to being played outside its battle royale comfort zone. With all the hundreds of hours I have into PUBG, I still don’t like how the guns feel.
Sometimes it seems like you can score a kill with a single clip from an Uzi on a level-2 armored foe, while other times it’s like you empty an extended clip from an M4 into an unarmored player only to have them put you down with a headshot from a 9mm pistol. It can feel extremely inconsistent in close quarters, and if a narrative PUBG game incorporates the weapons we know (and sometimes love), it’s going to need to be closer to a Call of Duty than to the current PUBG playstyle.
But there’s plenty of ways in which a story-focused PUBG will work. Glen Schofield helped create one of my all-time favorite games in Dead Space, and having him as CEO of the new studio fills me with a lot of hope the narrative PUBG game is going to deliver the goods, story-wise. Building a narrative around the events of PUBG sounds extremely interesting to me, and there are lots of different ways it could be spun. It could tell the origin of why the areas are abandoned, and what events transpired leaving the communities empty and pock-marked with the scars of warfare.
There are lots of questions to answer. Why is a Russian island, one with a military base, nuclear power plant, and several small towns and farms, completely devoid of life? How is a massive area in the desert southwest, with several small cities, left ruined? More importantly, why did a graffiti artist spray paint “Punk’s not dead” on random houses before leaving?
Or it could explore the reasons for the battle royale event itself. Who’s behind it? How are the combatants selected to take part? Why are there so many C-130s in the PUBG universe?
I love PUBG. I have several hundred hours sunk into it over the years, the largest portion of it spent on Erangel in solo, but a not-insignificant portion spent with friends in Miramar. Dropping into the abandoned landscapes of each of PUBG’s four maps, I like to imagine the history of each area and fill in the blanks of the PUBG fiction in my own mind. It’s easy because there isn’t any PUBG fiction. You just try and stay alive longer than anyone else. That’s it. But its four maps, and how they ended up as empty battlegrounds, are ripe for storytelling.
One thing I’ve always loved about PUBG solo is how lonely it feels. I play it like a game of hide and seek, only engaging enemies in battle when I absolutely need to. Hiding inside a tattered gas station in Miramar, there’s a real sense of loneliness.
As far as gameplay is concerned, I’ve always considered PUBG more cat and mouse than a run-and-gun battle royale. Hearing a set of unexpected foot steps after looting in silence for minutes at a time is one of the most thrilling events in gaming, made more thrilling by a successful kill. If you’re under-looted, hearing the footsteps as they run off to the next compound is another, wholly different kind of thrill. I hope the narrative-drive PUBG can capture some of this loneliness and the tense moments that come when you have to decide whether to act or stay put.
I’m excited to see where this all ends up, both in its narrative and gameplay. It doesn’t need to play like a Call of Duty at all, but it can’t play like PUBG, either.
Seth Macy is IGN’s tech and commerce editor and just wants to be your friend. Find him on Twitter @sethmacy.