PUBG’s new map is a bloodbath. At a quarter the size of the game’s first and second maps, Savage cuts out all the tedium of hunting for good gear in exchange for fast and frequent encounters with other players. It is the proverbial kick up the backside that PUBG has needed since Fortnite Battle Royale ballooned in popularity.
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This is a fast and accessible version of battle royale for players who do not want to spend 30 minutes creeping from bush to bush only to have their head shot off by an enemy lurking on a ridge half a mile away.
Those out-of-nowhere deaths still happen, but they are nowhere near as demotivating when playing on Savage. An abnormally high loot density ensures every player is able to put together a solid inventory of weapons, armour, healing supplies, and attachments after searching just two or three buildings. Tiny huts are packed with goodies like 4x scopes, assault rifles, and painkillers.
Compare that to Erangel, where a three-storey house is typically filled with pistols, melee weapons, and a curious abundance of padded jackets. This is especially important as you rarely drop into a location alone. The condensed map means that you will even have to clash with other players when dropping into a remote cluster of shacks far from the plane’s flight path. At least now every player has a chance at grabbing an assault rifle before any shots are fired.
Fleeing the circle is a less harrowing experience, too. On multiple occasions I had that sinking feeling you get when you realise you have left it too late to start moving towards the new play zone, only to discover I was a short sprint away from safety. But safety is fleeting in Savage, and you can always bank on there being an enemy nearby to punish your every lapse in judgement.
There are always situations in Miramar and Erangel where you can bank on your safety due to how stretched the action is across the map - squatting in an open field to pop some painkillers is doable in a pinch. Savage brings back some of the immediate horror of your first few battle royale games. Tactics that have by now become ingrained in the PUBG community are flung out as everyone is, once again, having to fight for every bit of ground they cover with reckless abandon, simply because there isn’t enough space to go around.
During one match I used a boat to linger on the border of the play zone, far away from the congested melee scraps playing out on the beach in the distance. I spent a minute healing, reloading, and juggling attachments before realising another boat was out there with me. They had not noticed my approach and neglected to check behind them - I do not often get a free kill in PUBG. But before I could line up the shot I heard a thunderous crack and then my screen went black. The killcam confirmed that, just like my target, I was being watched too… by another boat. Every available space in Savage is a battleground, even the very border of the map.
The topography only exacerbates matters, mixing the verticality of Miramar with the dense woodlands and dissecting rivers of Erangel. A contrasting landscape of gentle hill slopes and jagged rock formations separate skirmishes, carving up any open ground so that multiple battles can rage in such confined spaces. An abundance of foliage, both at ground level and in the treetops, drastically limits your vision, forcing you to focus all of your attention onto your immediate surroundings, eyes straining to spot moving players or an irregularly shaped tree trunk. The deliberate pacing of those 8x8km maps might be gone, but the tension has been cranked up to 11.
Savage has a long way to come, as entire areas like Abandoned Resort are still greyboxed, but at its core it fixes a number of the issues that have been gradually grating on the patience of PUBG’s players. Searching countless houses in vain, dying to outrageous long shots, spending the whole game chasing the play zone: Savage brings PUBG a step closer to the accessibility and pace of Fortnite without sacrificing any of its MilSim qualities.
After the disappointment of Miramar and numerous uninspired live events, PUBG needs a win now more than ever if it is to keep pace with Fortnite. The new Savage map feels like that win: a clear response to community feedback and a proper departure from the gameplay its players are used to.
Did you manage to play any of the new map? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below.