I haven't played H1Z1 in a while: I initially spent some time in survival mode, both alone and with "friends", and took a few stabs at winning its Battle Royale mode (note: I lost). Since then, Daybreak has split the game into two separate Early Access titles: Just Survive, and King of the Kill. With the introduction of a new Battle Royale mode called Ignition, it seemed as good a time as any to jump in to the King of the Hill side of the game.
What I found is that Ignition is Battle Royale for people who are incredibly impatient to kill and die. Rather than BR's slowly paced hunt for gear, the long runs through the wilderness, the careful searching of buildings, and the tense build up to the final few confrontations, Ignition is in a big hurry to get players heavily armed and careening toward each other at top speed.
A match begins with players being lowered from individual helicopters—wait, no. A match begins with players trying to entertain themselves in the multiplayer lobby before the match begins.
I, too, entertained myself. I ran around punching other players. I went prone and tried to roll across the entire map. I used the various emotes. I fought a crowd to see who had the right to sit on the lobby's only toilet. I added my boots to the pile of boots that appears in every lobby for some reason.
I also traded in some of my boring pants to try to win a new pair of pants with H1Z1's loot gambling thingie. Let's see how I did!
Oooh. Brown pants. I won brown pants. Of all the colors, brown is the brownest. All the other players are going to be brown with envy when they see my new brown pants.
Finally, the match began properly. As I was saying, players are lowered to the ground from helicopters, and begin the match already sitting on gassed-up ATVs. Then everyone speeds off to get equipped. Every player has invisible explosives attached to them, and has only a few minutes to reach a safe zone before they detonate. Safe zones are visible on the map, and you can spot them when you get close as a chopper hovers above them casting down magical green beams of safety-light. Any player not in a safe zone when the timer expires blows up. Surviving players must then race to the next safe zones before the next timer expires. As the match progresses, there are fewer zones and less time to reach them.
The driving physics are about how I remember.
My first round didn't go so well. I was lowered to the ground and sped off toward a brown clump of buildings I'd spotted from the air. It registered that player death notifications were appearing almost immediately. And not the usual kinds of early BR deaths: by axes and fists and maybe a pistol. Players were being killed moments into the match by shotguns and assault rifles.
This is because Ignition is swarming with guns. In fact, upon spotting another player about twenty seconds into the match, I ran up to punch him to death only to discover he was already packing.
I'm not sure how he managed to shoot me dead without ever raising his pistol, but the point is there's no real scavenging for gear in Ignition. Pick a building and you'll almost certainly find it stuffed with weapons, ammo, armor, and of course other players looking for the same.
My next match didn't go much better. While speeding down a road—again, mere seconds into the match—I was first injured by one player with a shotgun and then another wielding an AR-15. Discovering I couldn't bandage myself while driving, I had to pull over to stop my bleeding before my health ran to zero. Just as I did, more bullets arrived to finish the job.
Eventually, I started surviving a bit longer, mostly by avoiding the bigger settlement areas and aiming for more distant, lone buildings. There's a strong impetus to loot the first place you see, but there's plenty of time on the clock before the first detonation, so it doesn't hurt to loot in less crowded areas and let the first gaggle of players kill one another. I got myself armed, took a few other players out, and eventually made it to a safe zone.
Crouching in some bushes and watching through a scope, I saw other players arriving in the zone and begin culling each other. I also got an idea of just how many players die when the timer expires and their explosives detonate. You can see the notifications spamming below.
And it was like that in every match I played. If you can make it to one of the first safe zones, you've got a decent shot at being one of the final survivors because a good handful of players will wind up getting blown to bits due to poor clock management or not knowing the map very well.
I later became one of them because don't know the map very well. This was the second instance of safe zone spawns, and I picked the one the map showed as being on an island. Unfortunately, the map didn't show that most of the island consisted of sheer cliffs, so I wound up just driving around it looking for a way up. I didn't make it, but I still placed 9th.
My strategy from then on was avoid players whenever possible, get to the first safe zone in one piece, hide if I hadn't picked up weapons or shoot players as they arrived if I had. It typically worked OK, except just about everyone is better at shooting than I am, and one time my rifle wouldn't fire despite being loaded.
I never won, though I did place 9th a second time. The third safe zone was located on top of a mountain, and since I'd once again forgotten the details of the map I couldn't find the road up, so I attempted to just drive up the sheer side of it. It was a slow and agonizing trip, but I did manage to get my ATV into the safety circle. Though I immediately slid right out again.
A few more adjustments and I was back in the circle and no longer slipping down the side of the mountain, but here's a funny thing: when you spend long minutes sliding around on a sheer cliff on a noisy ATV, other people tend to see you from miles away. Just as I'd safely parked, another player shot me in the back. I hope, at least, he enjoyed the show.
Ignition mode is clearly an attempt to goose up Battle Royale into quicker rounds with more action and fewer lulls, and I think it works. Like the rest of H1Z1, it's sort of sloppy but a lot of fun, and nothing to take too seriously. I think Ignition's shorter, gun-happy, action-heavy matches might do well for Twitch viewers who don't want to spend quite so much time watching players slowly run around scavenging in Battle Royale, and it's a good option for players who enjoy BR but want to get right to the carnage.