The other night, I jumped into a game of PUBG with some friends. We hopped into the same Discord server so we could all chat to each other, even though we had eight players and PUBG squads have a limit of four.
But no matter. Both teams searched for a game separately, and continued on our merry ways. And then about fifteen minutes in, things started to get a little awkward.
Running down a hill, I saw three people make their way to a blue house in the centre of a field. I surveyed the situation with my 4X scope, letting the first player scoot past, before slowly lining up a shot at the second and third member of the group, the most isolated.
“One’s hit, he’s hit. He’s gone behind a wall on the left hand side,” I said over the microphone.
Being the furthest forward, and having the longest scope, I had the best view of the action. My squad slowly filtered down the hill, getting themselves in range of the blue house. By this point it was just a series of intermittent pops: the sound you hear in Battlegrounds when assault rifles are going off in the distance.
At this point, my squad is looking into two sets of windows in this blue house. There’s a small wall that acts as a ring running along the perimeter of the building. Most of us have gone prone in the small amount of foliage and cover on the hill. Some shade is available, but not much.
We really needed to kill the three as they ran across the open plains. They were doing the same thing as us – fleeing to the playzone.
After about a minute of trading isolated hits, I broke away from the rest of my squad to curl further around to the left. I was still on the hill, in the shade, but I wanted a better angle on the two I’d tagged running into the building. It’s usually not a bad idea to increase your angles of attack, when playing in a squad or even if you’re just trying to catch an enemy unawares.
It’s at this point things get a little weird. My squad’s talking as per normal; I’m communicating every small movement I can see. But the trading of gunfire has become oddly … uniform.
Seemingly from nowhere, I start taking damage. I can hear that it’s coming from the blue house, but it’s nowhere I can see. Is it from the perimeter? An angle in the window I didn’t check properly?
I communicate on the mic that I’m taking hits, and the rate of gunfire increases. Not from my team, however. They don’t have a bead on the enemies who, only moments ago, were hauled up in the house with seemingly nowhere to go.
I take one hit too many and go down. A few shots later and I’m out for the count.
At that point, someone else on the Discord channel pipes up.
“Hey … wait. Hang on. Are we in the same fucking game?”
Oh my God.
As my fiancee remembered, we’d been hunting our friends for five full minutes. “As the match progressed I think we all got locked onto our own #SquadGoals and the other voices became a bit of a blur. I think that’s how it happened, because we weren’t really listening to each other,” she said.
You can, of course, see whether you’re in the same server or not. We actually tried to team up the game prior. When you connect to a server, there’s a number at the bottom centre of the screen that refers to the server you’re on. It’s a mix of letters and numbers displayed next to the version number for the game. Got the same code as your friends? You’re in the same server.
But having tried that once and failed, everyone forgot about it completely – until, of course, I was taken out of the game. Bastards.
To their credit, Team Blue House bailed out and joined my comrades on the hill. “For the next 20 minutes, the most common thing heard on chat, besides laughter, was ‘WHOA IT’S ME IT’S ME IT’S ME IT’S ME’,” Rick, another member of my former squad, recalled.
So naturally we teamed up and made it to the final circle. GOOD JOB MURDER SQUAD
— Jason Imms ???????????????? (@jasonimms) June 26, 2017
Justice prevailed in the end, though. Neither team ended up making it to the final two alive, preventing any awkward Hunger Games-style pacts from being forged. Not that it matters though: Battlegrounds is more about the journey than the chicken dinner.