If you’ve never experienced a survival-focused game like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the consistent cycle of collecting top tier equipment only to lose it all when some other player kills it and undoes all your progress probably doesn’t sound all too appealing. Unlike most video game experiences that focus on collecting weapons, equipment, and consumables, however, the survival genre tends to reward you for playing carefully and not getting too attached to your equipment. Because you can (and probably will) lose what you’ve collected, the genre forces you to value the actual gameplay experience more than the loot, creating a sandbox which allows you to have an endless amount of adventures with fellow gamers.

Take PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which is one of the latest survival experiences that’s taken Steam by storm in early access. Instead of having an open-ended world, Battlegrounds puts you into a battle royal survival experience – where you’ll be thrown down onto a gigantic island with around 100 other players and forced to fight for your life with whatever you can scavenge. Naturally, these matches can be over very quickly, or they can turn into long journeys across the landscape where every single moment could be your last.

While frustrating to learn the basics of Battlegrounds, the game slowly becomes an adrenaline-filled adventure addiction due to the insane encounters you’ll become accustomed to during your first dozen matches. Usually, this means you’ll be gunned down while looting through a series of houses, picked off by a player who’s more skilled with a sniper rifle, or be stuck outside of the safe zone for far too long. But with every subsequent game you’ll que up for, you’ll learn that Battlegrounds can provide you with a series of incredibly wild shootouts which get your blood pumping and a dozen dazzling tales of survival as you whack your way through a group of enemies with a frying pan.

Every single match of Battlegrounds is essentially your own personal story, leaving you to determine how it turns out in the end. You can choose to play it safe by sneaking your way through the various downs on the island, collecting scraps and waiting until the right moment to strike at the remaining players. You can jump straight into a hostile area covered with military weaponry and equipment, hoping to get a weapon with some ammunition to duke it out with everyone else attempting to do the same. Hell, you can even hop into a motorbike and practice doing tricks by jumping over the hills scattered across the map. And as you might expect, regardless of your personal strategy the results are wonderful no matter how long you last on the deadly island at the heart of the experience.

During my time with Battlegrounds over the last month I’ve managed to snipe enemies out of moving cars using a Kar98k rifle equipped with a red dot scope, avenge my squad be sneaking through a large wheat field using a ghillie suit, and kill four enemy players attempting to run me over with a UAZ before jumping into the river to get run over by a speedboat. Granted, not every one of these experiences was fun per se, yet there’s something about them which made me look back and laugh uncontrollably while telling my friends about each encounter.

That said, there’s no denying that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds chas plenty of glitches, performance problems, optimization issues, and balancing tweaks which need to be made to improve the overall experience. But despite the game’s early access woes, there’s something quite powerful about the way Battlegrounds allows you to create and share your own epic experiences with fellow players – even if it means you’ll face a hundred deaths for the sake of one good tale for your friends over the campfire.

Photos via playbattlegrounds.com