When it comes to making a PUBG map, Krafton and the Battlegrounds development team have a lot of factors to consider — a lot of people to please. Add too many weapons and vehicles, and you might tip the meta, making the battle royale game suddenly too gung-ho and easy. Strip everything back and you face the same problem. Not enough buildings; too many buildings. Snipers are overpowered; there’s nowhere built for long-range combat.
With PUBG now entering its sixth year, or even more, if you trace it back to Brendan Greene’s original mod, it faces stiffer-than-ever competition thanks to Fortnite, Call of Duty Warzone 2, and Apex Legends. Trying to keep the shooter fresh is a constant fight. But as the stalwart Vikendi map — perhaps better known as ‘the one with all the snow,’ and that deathtrap Villa in the centre — is now relaunched as Vikendi Reborn, Taehyun Kim, production director at PUBG Studios, explains how to balance what players love and expect with new, compelling ideas.
“What makes a map good or bad depends on whether the dev continuously listens to player feedback and reflects it into future updates,” Taehyun tells PCGamesN. “Even after a year of design, development, and internal tests, we still find something new and get insights from player experiences. And we think a lot about how to provide a new experience even with the same concept and environment.
“Vikendi had been loved by many fans, but we got some feedback after a revamp in 2020 that it could have been better. This made us decide to proceed with Vikendi Reborn to provide a new gameplay experience with this map while keeping its core charms.”
Jump into the new-look Vikendi, and it might take you a moment to realise what’s different. The changes are subtle at first – a bit more snow, a faster snowmobile – but like Deston, the latest PUBG map that’s been procedurally tweaked and perfected since its launch in July last year, Vikendi Reborn hides the subtle craft of balancing a game for a hundred players at a time, all of them with different tastes, experiences, and skill sets.
“Vikendi is especially meaningful for players,” Taehyun explains. “I will never forget how enthusiastic our fans were about the release of Vikendi in the winter of 2018. So, we focused on bringing back the snowy environment, which had been considered most important among fans in the old Vikendi. We also wanted to keep the identity of the map including its representative POIs and features as well as having some old locations make a comeback.
“Two years ago, we cleared part of the snow in the update of Vikendi Remastered. Players didn’t like the update and we thought Vikendi lost its unique charm. But, through Vikendi Reborn, we’ve learned once again that the key to making a map loved by players is to preserve its core elements and features, while letting players approach the map with their own diverse playstyles.”
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