Field and Goemon might be losers in the real world. In the hallowed online battleground game Project Battle Royale, though, they are...also losers. But this round is different. Seriously. This is the round of destiny.
The rules are simple. 100 players plunge out of a plane onto the virtual battlefield. 98 of them will exit in a body bag. The winning duo must survive an onslaught of guns, grenades and in-game glitches. Also, the ceaseless threat of the Blue Wall of Death, and the RNG gods, and a crumbling post-apocalyptic island where no dilapidated building is safe.
Guns will be modded. Enemies will be shot. Loot will be looted. Survivors will be shot again. Old friendships will be tested. New ones will be forged atop crates and corpses. Maybe it’s not the win, maybe it’s the friends you make along the way. Nah, that’s loser talk, it’s all about the win.
A gamelit novel inspired by battle royale games like PUBG and Fortnite.
The seats of the plane were packed tighter than a twelve pack of Mountain Dew. The air transport sat four to a row with an aisle that split them down the middle. Goemon and I ended up somewhere in the middle, but positioning did not matter so much. Passengers on this ride had the power to leave whenever they wanted.
The cabin lights did little more than stop people from bumping into each other. It might have been nice to use the downtime to check the gear on the other players, to see who was spending their allowance on skins and who was saving up to buy a crate and a key. The lurch of the plane and the overall darkness made it too difficult, though. I just focused on the map and the flightpath of the transport instead.READ MORE
The cargo airliner appeared in the bottom left corner of the popped-up screen that was the map. It appeared to be headed at an almost exactly 45-degree angle across the map to the northwest. This meant nearly all of the First Island map was open for business- we could jump out and parachute far enough to make it anywhere. We called it First Island because it was the first island in the game and the real name was impossible to pronounce. In a few seconds, the plane would be over land.
The players onboard screamed and howled at each other in anticipation. The sound barely reached above the roar of the engines. Half the crowd failed to form words due to the sheer excitement, or possibly, stupidity. Some shouted general obscenities about each other’s moms, or proclamations like “China number one!” More tried to bait players into dropping at a high population area like Big Town- “Meet me at Big Town or you don’t have any balls,” was the preferred method of communicating that sentiment. The rest, including Goemon and I, sat mostly silent, contemplating and planning the round by ourselves.
“Where do you wanna drop?” I asked.
“I don’t know. The Spot?” Goemon said.
“We always hit The Spot. What if we mix it up?”
“Sure, why not? We can’t do any worse than this streak.”
“Alright. Here!” I said and placed a marker on the map for Goemon to see.
“Atlantis, huh? Risky, but I guess it’s not Big City or Gun Range. I like it.”
Amidst the yammering of players and the engines’ wail, the cargo door of the plane opened up to let in some fresh air. Players began to leap out the back of the plane, most of them likely headed to Windy Harbor below. Sometimes dropping with the a huge group off the plane was good for a laugh. The problem was you usually end up with nothing but a crowbar to go along with some shotgun shells without the actual shotgun. Meanwhile, everyone else already has a fully-kitted M4 trained on your uncovered head and the round is over as soon as it began.
About a third of the plane had emptied out the back and the marker on the map approached fast. “Let’s do this!” I yelled upon leaping out the back of the plane. Rather than take in the sights, I angled my body like a bullet straight down in order to maximize freefall speed. It worked in old secret agent spy movies and it worked here too. When I got oriented enough I looked back up for Goemon, who was not there.
“Where in the world are you going?” I screamed through the wind into the comlink.
“What? Oh, right,” Goemon said calmly. I could see nothing but his displayed name in the distance. I opened the map and saw my partner had missed the drop point. Not by much, just a measly few thousand feet.
“Great, guess I’m going to get there first,” I said while closing the map. Of course, that was wishful thinking. The parachutes of players who had dropped a few seconds sooner opened beneath me and filled the horizon. I would be the first of the duo to get there, sure, but I would be far from the first player to arrive at Atlantis.
To land in the middle of the city was suicide. First off, every building in the town had at least one window facing toward the center. This meant already equipped players just had to peek out of their respective houses for a free kill there first. Then there was the issue of a distinct lack of any serviceable weapons in the middle. To top it all off, the water ran deepest in the center, too. This caused a real issue with trying to actually move, and moving was a crucial part when it came to avoiding bullets.
My parachute deployed automatically once I fell close enough to ground level. With only a few seconds left before touching down, I tried to pinpoint where the closest threats would land. I counted six right off the bat, but had to stop when I realized where my landing trajectory was headed. The center of Atlantis, the big barrel of fish, sat right beneath. I banked left as fast as possible and smashed through the window of a building. It was not the most graceful landing, but it was better than ending up in that swamp.
Even though everyone else in the city knew where I was thanks to the crack of the shattered window, I opened the map one more time and marked the building for Goemon’s sake.
“Try and land on the roof here, hurry. There’s like ten people in this city. This was a terrible idea,” I said.
“Alright, just stay alive,” Goemon responded.
In the distance, the low burst of gunshots declared the official start of the round. It was always amazing how some players managed to not just land so quickly, but find, equip, load, and fire their weapons, too. At least the shots were far off- probably closer to Windy Harbor or The Big City- instead of in my humble home.
Speaking of a humble home, the first floor of my chosen building just so happened to be about three feet underwater. If there was any loot to pick up, I could not see it through the waist-high muck and did not want to waste any more time playing scrap diver. The first floor was a loss, but that was fine. There were two more floors to check just up the stairs.
Another duo was kind enough to tell me that they knew exactly where I was by launching hot lead through the broken window. They might have missed my body, but the jolt was enough to kick my heart into overdrive already. I ducked beneath the window and watched more bullets whiz overhead. Judging by the angle and the sound, they must be on the top floor across the way- better than being right outside the door.
“I picked a real bad house,” I said, just before taking a deep breath and bolting up the stairs. I checked my torso for a leak, but everything appeared intact for the moment.
“I’m about to land. Which building are you in?” Goemon said.
“The map! Look at the map!”
“The top building or the bottom building?”
Goemon landed on the roof of what he presumed to be the top building. Unfortunately, it was not the one currently occupied by me.
“You picked the wrong one!” I yelled.
“Oh, you meant the bottom one,” Goemon replied. “Holy smokes, there’s a ton of people here.” He was scampering around the rooftop.
“I told you. Just find a gun and get over here, this house sucks, I’ve got nothing.”
“There’s...there’s someone up here with me.”
“Get out of there!”
“No time. I’m gonna have to get my hands dirty.”COLLAPSE