When Bluehole first announced it was adding a new Event Mode to PUBG I curled my lip at the idea. If you’ve invested as much of your time into a game as I have with PUBG, it’s easy to fear change.
At its core the addition of this Event Mode feels like nothing more than an attempt to regain some of the ground PUBG has lost to Fortnite. Epic’s game has been running timed novelty events with great success for a while now, and its silly new modes resonate with the younger audience.
On the surface, imitating this formula to add some variety to PUBG seems like a good idea, especially if it helps win back players. To me, though, it just didn’t sit right; the idea of wacky game types seemed at odds with PUBG’s focus on realism.
Because of this, the first couple of timed events – 8 Player Squads and Flare Gun – passed me by. I had a little dabble, yes, but before long I was back playing the Classic Mode. Then over the weekend a new event named Tequila Sunrise launched – it lasted only 72 hours and it offered the most radical change to the PUBG’s core gameplay yet. Unsurprisingly I hated it at first, but that was before I forced myself to roleplay it like a cowboy in a western.
Set in Miramar, PUBG’s Mexican-flavoured map, the event limited the available weapons to shotguns and melee items only. As the largest, most open map in the game, Miramar is normally a sniper’s paradise so being thrown into the vast desert landscape with a close quarters load-out instantly felt at odds with the way the level design had conditioned me to behave.
Instead of scrabbling for scoped weapons and spreading out to engage enemies from afar, my team and I had to learn to act more like a traditional cowboy posse. This meant sticking close together and watching each others backs, especially as we moved through large towns where there was always a high chance of running into multiple enemy teams.
When we did come into contact with other posses the ensuing gunfights were often short and brutal. With no grenades to throw we’d trade fire from behind cover before moving as a group to overwhelm stragglers. This cacophony of shotgun blasts would undoubtably draw other roaming packs to our location and that, more often than not, resulted in a battlefield littered with crates.
Other times we’d find ourselves huddled together in buildings, defending the entrances and stairs from attackers. Moments like these made me think of the finale of the movie Young Guns, where the Regulators are pinned down in a house by Murphy and his men. Without scoped weapons there were no long shots through windows, just a test of patience that ended in a hail of buckshot as foe met foe in tight corridors and stairwells.
The lack of ranged weapons had another unexpected effect; it meant players could gather out in the open without having to worry about snipers taking them out from afar. This led to exhilarating moments I’d never experienced in PUBG before, where my team I were able to stand on hilltops and watch as multiple teams fought to the death in the distance.
My love of PUBG has always centred around the fact that each game plays out differently and that every encounter has the potential to become a cool war story to tell my friends. For that reason alone I didn’t think PUBG needed to mimic Fortnite’s gimmicky events – it’s exciting enough without them. But now, after living out my wild west fantasies in Tequila Sunrise, I realise I was wrong.
Taking the time to learn some new tactics and forcing myself to approach the game in a different way was an enlightening experience. I’m certain that not all future events will grab me the way Tequila Sunrise did, but so what if they don’t? They’ll be gone in a couple of days anyway.