Red Zones Are Putting PUBG’s Creator At Odds With Players

Red Zones Are Putting PUBG’s Creator At Odds With Players

Red zones, randomly occurring mortar hells, have been in PUBG since the beginning, but they have never been particularly popular with players. To many, they represent death by randomness, rather than skill. Recently, Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene came to the feature’s defence, and now players are pushing back harder than ever.

Red zones are small mortar bombardment zones that appear at random on PUBG maps. If one appears in your vicinity, it’s generally a cue to book it. During any given play session, your odds of ending up in one are pretty low, but many players still find them infuriating because, when the bombs do start dropping, there’s a chance you’ll die due to random happenstance, rather than competition.

Given that PUBG has taken on a reputation as the hardcore, pseudo-realistic battle royale game (compared to Fortnite‘s cotton candy funtime shenanigans, at least), some players would like to see red zones disappear altogether.

Greene, however, defended them in an interview with Eurogamer, noting that they also provide a tactical advantage to players who can manoeuvre under cover before unceremoniously going kaboom.

“People say there’s no reason to it, but it provides audio cover,” he said, referring to the fact that it’s basically impossible to track someone via the sounds they’re making while everything’s exploding. “And really, you shouldn’t be dying to the red zone. If you’re dying to the red zone then, I’m sorry but you’re not a very good player.”

He noted, too, that battles taking place within a red zone immediately gain an element of tension not present in other PUBG fights. He conceded, however, that the dev team might still consider removing red zones “if there is an outpouring of hate” towards them.

PUBG‘s forums and subreddit – admittedly populated by the game’s most vocal players and not necessarily the general player base – are now overrun with thread after thread after thread of people disputing Greene’s claim that dying to a random event makes you a bad player.

Even popular streamer Shroud, widely considered to be one of PUBG‘s best players, weighed in.

“Fuck yeah, Brendan Greene,” he said sarcastically during a recent stream. “You know how many times I’ve died in the red zone? Guess I’m fucking shit at this game.”

Others have suggested potential changes or improvements to red zones, like visible shadows that telegraph where bombs are going to drop. There have also been calls to dial back the frequency of red zones on Savage, a still-in-testing map whose small size makes red zones an extra-annoying hazard.

At this point, red zones exemplify PUBG‘s struggle to carve out a solid identity, as well as players’ efforts to assign it one that doesn’t necessarily fit. Is it the most hardcore skill-based battle royale game, or is excitement – even if it’s the product of randomness, rather than a crazy fight – priority number one? And can a battle royale game even be entirely skill-based, given the RNG elements that pervade the genre?

As Compete‘s Eric Van Allen pointed out over the weekend, hazards and events can give battle royale maps exciting new complexions. Whether that means bike races in Radical Heights or monsters that make my trypophobia go wild in The Hunt: Showdown, there’s a lot to be said for spicing things up every once in a while.

There’s also the fact that many deaths in PUBG – even when the red zone is a million miles away – are functionally random. Sometimes you get headshotted by a rando. Sometimes the circle closes in a way that ruins your day. Those deaths might feel less inevitable than a mortar to the noggin, but randomness is not incongruous with PUBG.

Like it or not, it’s a pillar of the game.

PUBG‘s problem in this case, I think, is one of expectations. As Eric pointed out, PUBG‘s maps are mostly apathetic toward players’ existence, except when red zones suddenly happen. Those moments are jarring. They feel at odds with the game’s often placid pace, if not the broader randomness of matches.

Perhaps the key is a to take red zones out of regular games and add a separate map or mode where events and hazards are the point. That way, everybody wins. Or well, technically one person still wins, but everybody else at least has fun dying.


  • I’ve got about 500 hours played in PUGB, and I have literally never died to a red zone. Even if it appears with you dead centre in the middle of it, you can get a vehicle and haul ass out of it, or get to cover. Not super difficult. Forces some funny hectic battles of people rushing to huts etc, which I like too

    • Agreed. You get a lot of warning and you’re completely safe undercover.

      And if you’ve got the guts, you can also dash through the barrage to get an advantage over the people who went around or to ground.

  • The problem with PUBG and br in general is that there is a lot of rng. While certain games can take advantage of rng to make a fun little spanner in everyone’s works, a lot of the rng in PUBG including the red zone never improves someone’s game session. It is normally either slowing progression, killing you or taking away potential kills.

    Whenever mechanics are added to a game it should always question whether it is adding something or just taking away and the red circle most certainly adds nothing positive.

    • The RNG seemed to get worse around the time I stopped playing. I found the time before you needed to move into the blue was too short and often you simply could not find a basic set up.

      You can spend ages looting and get nothing good. Or randomly walk into a building and literally get everything you need.

  • It’s like Dean Hall with DayZ all over again. Spend so long telling players they’re wrong and you’re right, and watch them jump ship. After the ‘Nah, we invented Battle Royale’ thing, and establishment of PUBG CORPORATION (like, seriously?) this dude sounds like he’s so far up his own success story he really needs to come up for air and see why people are getting tired of PUBG, and Fortnite is gaining fans in droves.

    *I’m not a Fortnite fanner either, I spent a solid 5 months on PC PUBG and gave up after the hacker epidemic just got too ridiculous. Death by hacker in 80% of games and instead of addressing the issue of a self-fulfilling cheat/ban/rebuy cycle powered by the sale of in game items, he just calls everyone racist. And does nothing for several months.

  • Like BG said, I think they add interesting tactics when they happen in cities due to the sound cover they provide.

    The real issue is when they happen while you’re out in the open with zero cover.

    I’ve never died to them, but there have been a number of situations where I’ve been stuck in the red and could have.

  • I’ve probably only died to the redzone once or twice and both times I’d say I took the risk and it didn’t pay off. I don’t want them gone but it would be good if they were variable. Maybe if a redzone was like a hectic storm that decreased visibility or something

  • Maybe they can introduce gun katas into the game, so hardcore players can statistically work out the optimal solution to every firefight.

  • Makes the game more interesting on occasion. Forces people inside – sometimes into the same building.
    Covers your sound so you can storm someone boxing themselves in upstairs.
    Other times you see cars just driving as fast as they can out of the zone.
    It all adds a bit of flavour to the game in my opinion.

  • admittedly populated by the game’s most vocal players and not necessarily the general player base

    This. The volume of an opinion in gaming is not necessarily representative of it’s widespread support.

    Look at the comments on steam under patch notes for PUBG. People flood the comments with repeated ascii-art giant text demands. Thousands and thousands of individual comments but only covering one or two specific demands.

    Here is what that looks like:

    This swamps any attempt at genuine commenting about an issue or the patch, and amplifies the voices of a group who are willing to shut down any other conversation until their particular demands are met.

    Also, the repetition loop reinforces these ideas (ADD MAP SELECTION) and turns them into a kind of protest demand in a combative stance with the developer. If there are genuine problems (i.e. map selection will divide joining players in regions by number of maps and increase average wait times, and increase the number of hours during which nobody can get a game) then there is no space for debate or dialogue with the developer or the majority of the community. (ADD MAP SELECTION ADD MAP SELECTION etc…)

    The “biggest fans” of anything are often obnoxious and destructive to the very communities they want to lead.

  • Only time I ever was killed in a red zone was because someone shot me. I have a hard time believing they’re an issue with a lot of people.

  • I’ve died a few times to red zones, but its nowhere near enough that I feel its been all that detrimental to the game (hell, the chance of even being in the red zone when it starts is usually pretty small considering the what, 30 second heads up its coming).

    What I do love is being able to use a red zone to my advantage, covering an approach, or retreating under its cover. And in a game that is generally pretty stale in the amount of options you have, its all together necessary to give a bit of flavour.

  • i cant get over how many whingers play this game.
    boohoo get rid of red zone
    boohoo get rid of fog
    boohoo get rid of rain

    ffs, grow some balls and play with what you’re given, they are not features that break the game, they are features that make you adapt your play style.

  • If the only justification for keeping the redzone is the cover their noise gives then why not just leave their sound in the game and remove the actual damage. Redzones just slow the game play down with everyone hiding in buildings instead of fighting each other.

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