Pull the cord
I've tried crafting, I've tried meeting people. Time for H1Z1's main event: Battle Royale. Dozens of players are dumped onto the map—a map with no zombies—and the last one standing, wins. To keep players moving and fighting each other, poison gas starts closing in from all sides until only a tiny safe circle remains on the map.
I played a half-dozen matches this week, and found something I haven't experienced in H1Z1 yet: excitement and tension. Here's my Battle Royale journal.
The hot box
When you join a Battle Royale server, you begin in a walled-in area with all the other players, usually around 70 or 80 of them. If you like being around a lot of open-mic shrieking, cursing, racial slurs, and Twitch streamers all trying to become the next PewDiePie and failing miserably, I have some great news for you. Otherwise, I suggest taking your headphones off and just watching the fist-fights.
The first match begins. I parachute to the ground, aiming for a house. Death notifications of other players immediately begin appearing. As I land, I see someone else run inside the house I'm headed for, so I chase him in. He comes back out with an axe. I see another axe on the floor, and grab it. We begin axe-fighting. He axes me better than I axe him. I'm out of the match. I came in 73rd.
I land in one of the larger settlements, and find a better weapon than an axe: a working truck. As I drive, I see someone shooting at me from the top of a chain link fence. Based on information gleaned from every other video game ever made, I know I can ram the fence and destroy it. My truck bounces right off the fence as if it's made of solid steel. Meanwhile, his bullets turn my car into a smoking wreck. I speed away.
I ditch the car and loot a few buildings, finding my first gun, an AR15, and two boxes of ammo. After some more scrounging, I head back up the road, and hear a car approaching fast from behind. I spin around and fire into its windshield and it veers away. Unfortunately, there was another car right behind it. This one doesn't veer. I'm squashed. I came in 38th.
I aim my chute for a remote campsite. There I find a backpack, a bow, and arrows. After a few minutes of running, I spot another player and fire some arrows at him. He flees. While running up a hill, I hear an engine. A truck is coming up behind me. I zig, hoping he'll zag. He doesn't zag, he zigs. I'm smooshed. I came in 48th.
I land near some houses. Immediately, someone begins firing a shotgun at me. I charge right at him, leaping and swinging my fists, knowing how hard it is to shoot an erratic lunatic who's right in your face. He fires a few more times, but I'm jumping and punching so madly he's not able to finish me off. He flees the house and I follow. There is an immediately flurry of rifle shots from someone else. He drops, then I drop. I placed 66th.
I find a pistol, some ammo, and a motorcycle helmet. Then I run for a long time. The gas begins to pour in to the map, and as I make for the safe zone, it overtakes me. It takes a long time, but I eventually succumb to the gas, choking my way into 32nd place. I didn't see a single person in this round.
I kill a guy! At last! I find an AR15 shortly after landing, and open fire on a moving Jeep. Instead of trying to run me over, the driver leaps out and goes after me with his shotgun. I drop him, but as I'm reloading I hear shots behind me. Then the shots go through me. I place 61st.
I land near the radio tower again, and scrounge up some weapons. When the circle is drawn, I'm happy to see I'm right in the middle of it. I hole up in a house, and a moment later spot someone outside the window. I crouch in the bedroom, holding my gun on the door. He's very careful: opening the door and then backing off, but he gets impatient and tries to breach the room. I put him down. He's got lots of gear, including extra ammo.
The circle begins shrinking. I can see poison gas in the distance, but I'm still close to the center of the safe zone so I have time to move carefully. Shots ring out in the distance: the remaining players are all getting closer together. The circle shrinks again: it's centered on the radio tower at the top of a mountain. As I head toward it, I see a police car driving up the path. A cargo plane flies over and drops a crate at the top of the mountain. There's a lot of gunfire from up there, too.
Nice talking to you
Shots ring out from behind me, and I spin and shoot someone further down the hill. Nearing a ridge, I creep toward the line of smoke left by the airdrop. Someone's there and we fire at the same moment. He hits me, but I kill him. "I hope you die of AIDS" he yells into his mic as I walk by his corpse. I don't bother with the crate: it seems like a deathtrap, and I still have plenty of ammo. I keep climbing.
King of the mountain
Verrrry close to the top, now. I'm nervous. I'm creeping. I see movement, and trade fire with someone at the top of the hill. He ducks behind the rise. I creep closer. He pops up and shoots again. This time he gets me. "Aw, that sucks so bad for you," he says. "Good job, though." I actually do feel as if I've done a good job. I've placed 12th, my best outing by far.
This was a lot of fun! My heart was really pounding near the end. Battle Royale adds what my time in H1Z1 has been lacking: giving a crap about whether I live or die. There's tension and excitement, not over winning a prize, but from the simple idea that your next step could be your last.
PS: The mystery bag contained a shirt.