Miramar, unlike Erangel, stands out as built for the game as it is rather than in anticipation of what it might be. It encourages and carries over some of the best practices of the old map, but isn’t afraid throw some major changes in too. The patch notes for the map release alone don’t account for how radically this game is changed, so here is my 40 hours of insight on the matter.
Structurally, Miramar isn’t unfamiliar to those who’ve had a few hundred drops in Erangel. There are cities scattered across the map, some of which might be more desirable due to the freedom they give you to easily access the first circle. Doing so will often mean dealing with some close-quarters engagements, firing at windows across a street or storming a building with a shotgun.
With those similarities in mind, those who love a good deathmatch style game in School will be pleased to know that the villa Hacienda del Patron exists. It has a similar interior construction as arms surrounding a courtyard and a few stairwells that provide access to upper floors. Also, it holds an equivalent situation on the map. There’s also a nearby city that isn’t likely to get involved in the conflict there. It even has a ‘pool building’ equivalent to a secondary building just a short sprint away.
A number of cities populate the edges of the map. This encourages players to put themselves at the risk of being caught ‘in the blue’ with the benefit of more exclusive looting areas. Besides that, there’s a quite consistent spread of smaller collections of buildings where you might chance upon some useful mid-game looting, or hold out as a fortress in the late-game.
Do pay heed to the circle and try to keep a vehicle handy.
Between these cities lie a number of hills and plains where you may find yourself engaging at longer-distance combat. While the ballistics system has been reworked (according to the November patch notes), snipers and DMRs (such as the Mini-14 or the SKS) feel more hard-hitting than ever at long range. Assault rifles are as trusty as they’ve ever been and it’s worthwhile taking the shot at someone on a hill even if you don’t have good optics. That said, a lack of telescopic sights start to matter less if you can sneak your way into the final circles.
No matter where you are on the map, there is both a spaciousness and a verticality unmatched by anywhere in Erangel.
Of the cities, the best example of this is clearly Los Leones. At the moment, it is the biggest city in PUBG. You often have ten, sometimes twenty people drop here, but there’s a decent chance of you never even seeing them. Not only are there a lot of buildings, there is a lot more space between those buildings. You cross wide streets and run down alleys to get to the next looting spot. Doing so feels vulnerable. It is.
Nobody is ever in the third-story window of the building you expect them to be in. That’s because every building could be the building somebody is waiting in. From the top of a construction site you might rain bullets down on the roof of some shops, and you, in turn, might start taking fire from the nearby hill. There are so many angles, with so much more visibility, and no more iron bars across windows for the sole purpose of messing up your shot.
This liberation of positioning has its own challenges. No longer are you spending as much time opening two doors as moving between two houses. There’s construction sites, factories, warehouses, apartments, long shop-blocks, churches and more structures larger than what you might be used to.
A couple of these might have as much loot as an old block of six side-by-side two-story houses. But, it’s immediately noticeable how much more spread out that loot actually is. Looting a whole building almost always means moving back and forth between rooms and going up and down stairs. You might spend minutes vaulting up and down before you find your first helmet, backpack or vest.
This means a different attitude to loot in general. Georgiapol, Yasnaya Polyana or even the clear-cut sections of Pochinki make clean mathematical grids of loot spawns. I would find myself looting in a robotic state. When it’s the ten thousandth time I’ve been in this copy-pasted house you lose the haste and the desperation looting used to have. Without paying attention I could move room to room in the most efficient paths to loot as much as possible. This meant that when it came time to leave it could be a shock to find myself under-equipped. Nothing’s fair about getting a poor RNG roll two dozen times a minute.
The sparseness I mentioned earlier goes some way to bring interest back into the process of looting. I’m holding onto lonely magazines in hopes of finding a gun to use them. I’m choosing to hold this foregrip instead of that barrel attachment because the foregrip could go on a wider range of things. Instead of cursing the undesirables, I find I’m thanking them for being there for me when I need them.
You have to take what you get, but keep looting long enough and you’ll find what you’re looking for.
The new guns added to the game are a perfect example of the kind of kit that you’re glad to find and just as glad to replace.
The Sawn-off Shotgun is therapeutic. One of the death sentences for panicked players with the pump-action or the over-under shotguns is the surprising degree of accuracy they have. Those shotguns do land most of their pellets quite central to where they’re aimed. In other words, when you open a door and someone’s right there, that spread isn’t going to fix the fact that you’re aiming past their right shoulder. The Sawn-off has that brilliant videogamey shotgun spread that makes it easy to hit and hard to kill unless they’re right in front of you. Fortunately, that’s exactly where you’d want them to be when you use this gun. Otherwise, you’d be toast. Fitting into the pistol slot, it’s a convenient excuse to carry a shotgun into the final circle with you.
In the same vein, the Winchester exists out of sympathy for anyone who’s ever died because the first gun they found was a Kar98. It uses .45 calibre rounds. Also, it manually loads up to eight bullets and takes no attachments. It is the most satisfying thing you could kill someone within a minute of landing with. It works because it has a far shorter wait between shots than the Kar98k, and it normally takes about two hits to down someone. They’ve made this gun better at distance by altering the irons, but this doesn’t fix visibility issues with bullet drop. Best thought of as a long-range pump-action shotgun, it’s something you’d want to swap for something else when the opportunity arises. If they add a slot for any optics, even a red-dot, this might be a solid option.
The new revolver, the R45 feels and sounds exceptionally powerful. It probably does about as much damage per bullet as the Tommy Gun which makes for a bit more punch than you’d expect. The old revolver was the same though, doing almost as much damage per shot as an AKM. The speed-load makes it a better find for the emergency situations early on.
To surmise: The new guns are somewhat undesirable but in the best possible way.
Slopes and peaks aren’t as smooth as they used to be. Lumps of earth used as defolades were one of the cornerstones of smart combat in open terrain back in Erangel. Atop any of Miramar’s many peaks and plateaus is an abundance of small blessings that will shield you from sight if you crouch into them. Having team-mates giving you suppressing fire can make your play here work. Remembering to grab grenades earlier can save your fight from becoming the drawn-out attrition that burns through your helmets and healing. It’s worth remembering that the smoke grenade is far better now. It provides a dense cloud around where the grenade itself lands rather than propelling all that smoke off to the wrong side.
The most significant change of all might be the removal of trees. Tree trunks have never made for the best cover, certainly. It’s the impact that trees had on visibility that made for the most reliable protection. At range, even with an 8x scope, it is always highly impressive to land a shot at a moving target that you can’t even see properly. Thick canopies provide a relatively safe route to the immediate vicinity of most compounds you might move on. Their safety blanket permits you to only worry about players on the same hill. Just as importantly, it’s nigh impossible to shoot from a forested area unless you’re at the edge of the treeline. It means that on Erangel you have fewer directions to worry about getting shot from.
The removal of that element means that there is no place in sight where you could be looking right at someone and not see them. With the help of a good scope and a bit of practice working out distances, it becomes viable to get a cheeky knockout at half a kilometre. With a flash hider or suppressor, you might get a second kill as a squad runs in circles having no idea where they’re getting hit from. Thus, they might have no idea where they should take cover. There’s fresh horror to the idea of being hit by a second team in the middle of a firefight in the open.
Think twice before veering off the road to cross a hill via motor. That roughness shows its teeth when you’re behind the wheel. Taking the wrong vehicle or braving the rugged path is a sure recipe for finding yourself upside down in a crevice, and then you’re going to have to walk. The new pickup trucks are hardy enough that if you know how to follow the easiest path down, you can make it over relatively without incident. What stands out to me as the best vehicle currently for driving over whatever you want (and damn the consequences) is the oft-disparaged two-seater buggy.
Like how the pickup replaces the UAZ, the ‘party-bus’ van replaces the Dacia. Being quite reliable on-road, the party bus reaches impressive speeds along flat ground. Right now, there’s some reluctance to use this vehicle because of its status as the worst off-road vehicle. I recommend taking that reputation in stride and boosting your way along Miramar’s highways to outpace the gunfire of any would-be ambushees. Failing that, the wide and tall nature of the party bus might make it the best vehicle to drift to a halt and use as effective cover in a firefight. (Those of you who doubt this strategy might benefit from watching some of the TSM final-circle plays in the IEM Oakland PUBG invitational)
Battlegrounds isn’t everyone’s game. The upcoming full release won’t change that. What Miramar does do is show the best side of PUBG. The variety, challenge, excitement and freedom that only kilometres of gamespace inhabited by other players can give. Longtime and new players alike have plenty of reason to be excited about the changes to the game hitting the live servers. Part of what makes Battlegrounds so successful is how each match is an opportunity to learn and improve. Here, veterans like me get to revisit the learning process.
That said, knowing every inch of Miramar won’t save anyone from messy disaster fights. Miramar makes for a wonderful place to have a few disasters of your own.
If you want to see more from Jade, you can follow her on Twitter @jade_kiwi.