After a few days of teasing, PUBG Corp has properly unveiled the battle royale's new map, Paramo, which as you may have noticed is a bit of a departure from the normal battlefields. You can also hop into it now, as both Paramo and Season 9 are now available on PC test servers.
Paramo is PUBG's smallest map, at 3x3km, presumably inspiring a fast-paced bloodbath for the 64 players dropped into it. Within the small package, however, are a lot more quirks than you'll be used to. Its landmarks will change between matches, with whole buildings and complexes you've just shot your way through potentially vanishing and appearing in a different location the next time you jump in. Then there's the volcano to worry about, which leaks out streams of lava that, naturally, will make it difficult to get around on-foot or even in your vehicle.
If the lava and other players don't get you, the area outside the blue zone will work hard to rectify that, doing more damage compared to PUBG's other maps. You can also get killed off instantly if you linger too long outside the play zone, which you're now able to leave at great risk. If you're playing with some buds, they can rapidly rescue you with a critical response kit, which only takes a second to revive a downed player.
In the trailer released earlier in the week, we saw a helicopter with a big cargo crate being shot down, and it wasn't just a cinematic flourish. Support helicopters drop players onto Paramo and then, during the match, fly around carrying cargo across the map. If you shoot them, you can get access to their cargo before they escape the play area. It's a bit like supply drops or the loot train, but with players getting more control over where the loot appears. Expect the helicopters and their cargo to be hotly contested.
There's also a mystery at the heart of Paramo, which is connected to the Fountain of Youth. Yeah, PUBG's lore is getting weird. The first step, presumably, is getting a secret room key, which PUBG Corp isn't telling us anything about, aside from that it can be discovered while looting.
You can jump right into a Paramo match, as it's separate from the regular matchmaking pool. It's a 'seasonal match' that comes with specific rules, like no bots and not counting towards your career stats. It will remain as a seasonal match just for Season 9, when presumably it will be popped into the regular rotation.
While Paramo is the highlight, Season 9 also comes with a new ranked solo queue, a new ranked season, a weapon balance update for the Beryl M762 and the SLR, and a new currency, G-Coins. The arrival of G-Coins means you have to buy this new currency in bulk rather than making individual cash purchases whenever you want to grab something. There's also a new pass with Paramo-themed items to unlock. This is a shorter season than normal, running for only two months, so you'll only need to get to level 50 to receive all the rewards.
If you'd rather wait until the kinks have been worked out, Season 9 is hitting live servers on October 21. In the meantime, give the patch notes a read.