It’s the first ever TL;DR Games 12 Days of Game Awards. At the end of every calendar year the entire world likes to look back at the things they are passionate about, and decide what really stood out for them. Here at TL;DR, we are no different. We like to debate who is the best and hand out congratulations to the winner. Today, we’re handing out the award for the Best Early Access Game of 2017, and the winner probably won’t surprise you.
Best Early Access Game Nominees
Despite there being some very strong titles up for consideration, PUBG established itself as the king of this year’s early access category in a way that simply cannot be denied.
Best Early Access Game – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
It has been an incredible year for PUBG, by almost any metric. It smashed the all-time record for concurrent players on Steam, it sold by the absolute bucketful and, more than anything, it proved that the battle royale genre has legs.
Developed by Bluehole Studios, and helmed by Brendan Greene, the titular PlayerUnknown, the game provided players with that hard to quantify mix of challenge and fun that can be so hard for games to achieve. PUBG is all about dropping into a map with one hundred other players, and striving to be the last person, or team, alive. It is a simple premise, but the best games often are.
Players would find themselves scrambling from the offset, trying to track down guns, ammo, and supplies that might give them a better chance at winning. All the while they are painfully aware that the map is filled with other players that wish them harm, and that a single death would put them out of the match. The high stakes and difficult to predict flow of the game meant each round felt new and exciting. Lessons could be learned, and experiences could be used to inform future plans and decisions, but at the very heart of the game is an element of randomness, driven by in game player actions, that just set PUBG apart.
More than anything, the beating heart of the game is its player-base, and the inventive and sometimes downright idiotic things that they will do in the hunt for the win. We have seen the bridge ambush be developed and then refined. We have seen players ramping bikes and cars onto the roofs of houses occupied by enemies in efforts to surprise them. My personal favorite, though, has been the tactic of ambushing people from an overturned car. The best games are the ones that give the player a problem to solve, and then interfere as little as possible in their attempts to do so, and I feel PUBG has done an excellent job at this.
I also feel it is important to consider the sheer size of the impact the game has had on the gaming community. Forums and subreddits have been created and have attracted hundreds of thousands of users. New streamers have risen to the top of Twitch by playing it, and the game has already seen large scale attempts at esports events. This is not, typically, the level of impact that an early access game has.
Finally, more than anything, what I was looking for when I considered the nominees and cast my personal vote, was a game that had a brighter future, despite it’s success. It is very difficult to foresee a 2018 release meaning anything other than next year being PUBG’s year for the taking. I expect the game to continue to grow, and improve, at an ever-increasing rate. I think if you consider all these points, you will understand why it was so easy to make PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds our Best Early Access Game for 2017.