So last year I wrote a piece about the headcanon I derived for the scenarios presented in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (universally referred to as PUBG).
In a recent update to the game, the developers completely reworked the original map (Erangel) and after spending the last couple of weeks exploring it and being excited and awestruck by all the fancy new features and the pretty designs and everything, I feel like it’s time to write a review of “Erangel 2.0” (as it’s been dubbed) and make a reassessment of this headcanon.
I haven’t got around to making screenshots of the new map – there are squillions available if you do an image search though.
In my previous post, I discussed how I used the evidence in the maps to derive similar tales of a sudden psychoactive agent causing paranoia in the islands (or enclosed and walled-off desert region, in one case). Since I wrote that piece, a fourth map has been added (Vikendi – an Arctic Russian location with a space flight research centre and tourist locations such as a ski slope and a ruined castle). Vikendi certainly seems to share the features I referred to in the other maps, with the space base largely taking the place of the military bases on the other maps. Military presence is still very noticeable with military-style storage tents in various strategic locations around the map.
The reason I mention this before discussing Erangel 2.0 is that I feel the need to place the revamped map in a timeline context.
What Erangel 2.0 does for is give the impression of the different maps as being instalments in a horror movie franchise: Erangel 1.0 was the first movie, “PUBG”. Miramar could be “PUBG II: The Revenge”. Sanhok becomes “PUBG III: Jungle Winnowing”. Vikendi might be “PUBG IV: Battle For Space”.
(NB: Technically, Erangel 2.0 is Season 4 rather than 5 – because of the way the developers have structured things)
Erangel 2.0 is “PUBG V: Return to Erangel” and here’s why this formulation works for me:
Erangel 2.0 feels in many ways older than the original map – many of the locations seem like 20 to 30 years of decay and growth have gone by. Where I talked in my previous post about how it felt like whatever had happened took place only a day or two ago, and then the players’ characters are parachuted in to investigate (but become victim to the paranoia-gas).
So I started to think of this as being the same location, but maybe 20 or 30 years later. Just right for a “return to…” episode in a movie franchise. Somehow, the same menace that arose in the original movie has been reawakened.
One problem with this is that you also find ruined armoured vehicles, gun emplacements and trenches that weren’t int he original map. So to explain those, I need some kind of intervening story in the time between.
Thinking of that duration gap, one thing that occurred to me is that 30 years ago is roughly when the Soviet Union started to collapse. The presence of many NATO-standard weapons using the NATO 5.56 round, implies this happens after the collapse, not before, so let’s make it 25 ears ago, around 1994 (when NATO was involved in helping Russia and the former Soviet states dismantle their nuclear weapons systems). Sosnovka Military Base (a major location on the Erangel map) has some missile silos so this is very plausible.
So the original Erangel happened around 25 years ago. At some point after then, the islands of Erangel were re-militarised, with the gun placements and so on being introduced. This may have been an attempt to prevent another tragedy. A warehouse in the original map has been converted to a headquarters with a large relief map of Erangel at the centre, which implies an attempt to control and guard the land.
The vehicles and guns are corroded and decayed as well, so they have not been maintained well over the years. That means that the military presence didn’t last long, and for some reason a lot of equipment was abandoned. My guess is that there was a mass desertion for some reason. One problem that the Russians had in the mid 1990s was a huge economic crisis meaning they couldn’t pay their military. And maybe the reason for such a military presence on Erangel was forgotten. It’s a forgotten, far-off location with no obvious strategic value at that time, and the Russian government (then led by Boris Yeltsin) had plenty of other things to worry about. So maybe the soldiers deserted and made their way home. Maybe there were rumours about what had happened a few years before.
But now the rumours have incited new interest from terrorists: they want to revive the research and find a way to use the paranoia-gas as a weapon to attack their enemies. This time, our 100-strong team is sent in to find and stop the terrorists, not realising that the terrorists have already tried to test the gas, and it has gone horribly wrong – far more potent and widespread than intended and the terrorists have already killed each other. And now, the 100 warriors are also affected by the gas, and about to kill one another…
The terrorists are there to explain why there are still burning vehicles 25 years on from the original Erangel. There’s also an entire floor of one building in the Sosnovka Military Base that is ablaze on Erangel 2.0, which is new. My theory is therefore that this is where the terrorists were trying to isolate and recreate the paranoia-gas – an explosion caused its dispersal in an uncontrolled fashion.
And thus, we get “PUBG V: Return to Erangel”.
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If you want to see me doing this sort of exploration (and fighting!) live, please do Follow my Twitch channel, and watch and chat in the channel chat too! I mostly play PUBG but have a few other games I might play live occasionally.
(As Susan Calman puts it – “I’m a pacifist – therefore, I play video games to kill people.”)