The Battle Royale genre has exploded in gaming recently, thanks in some part to the popularity of The Hunger Games and the hype surrounding the H1Z1 project, but a lot moreso due to the startling smash hit that is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, inspired by the 2000 Japanese Battle Royale book/movie sensation that started it all.
Enter Knives Out, one of four separate PUBG mobile clones by Chinese publisher NetEase Games, one of the most financially successful game companies in the world. Knives Out, available on Android and iOS, is the second-biggest hit of the publisher’s mass injection of PUBG clones into the market, second only to Rules of Survival.
Both games are interesting in that they currently offer premium game content free to play on mobile devices but currently have no real stage set for serious in-app purchases, which is the only way these games really make their money. (The coin currency and reward system is currently in place only for a few aesthetic items.)
It seems like NetEase is more concerned with the timing of the matter — flood the marketplace and snatch up the player base first, before worrying about the best way to monetize. Considering that Tencent is working on at least two official mobile versions of PUBG in partnership with PUBG Corporation, this probably isn’t a bad idea.
If you’re going to play either Rules of Survival or Knives Out, the best time to do it is now!
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re gunning to be the 1% in this battle to outrun, outgun, and outlive.
Remember your platform
You’re playing on mobile. Regardless of whether you’re on your phone or your iPad, the fact remains that you’re playing a skill-based game that relies on aim, concentration, and precision — a little more than you’d need to play your average game of Candy Crush.
If you’re in it for the long haul, make sure you’ve got the time to put in the effort. There’s no stop-and-go on these matches, so your regular morning commute may not be the place to play.
- Keep an AC outlet or portable phone chargerhandy, especially if you’re on an older device or getting low on battery. A game like Knives Out will guzzle that battery life like nobody’s business, and the games can get pretty long.
- Make sure you have a consistent signal because there is no offline or even partially offline mode for playing this game as there is in, say, FarmVille. If you’re on a commute like mine, you’ll barrel in and out of spotty data zones that may just be enough to kill you.
- Restart the game every few matches just to clear up your cache and keep things running as smoothly as you can. Remember, your hardware isn’t optimized for gameplay the way your PC or your console is and may take some coddling to get things playing right.
- Customize your controls. Some things that are highly intuitive when playing on console or keyboard and mouse come a little harder when using virtual controls, mostly because you don’t have real buttons to work with. Needing to move, turn, aim, and shoot all at once gets difficult if all you’ve got are two thumbs.This game is pretty good with helping you with controls, giving you the option of a left-hand shoot button as well as a right-hand shoot. You should take a look at the settings anyhow, which give you the option of making the combinations a little easier on you (e.g., the option to move, aim, shoot versus move, aim+shoot automatically).
What you’ll need
You’d think that the most important thing in this game is to get a good weapon in your hands and ammo to top it up with. And that’s true — you’re not going to make it very far if you go about it unarmed.
But what you’re really going to need if you want to make it to the very end are these three things:
- Body Armor
They’ll be especially helpful in giving you an edge on your opponents. There’s going to be a lot of waiting and a lot of moving around in this game, and there will be plenty of opportunities for your enemies to see you before you see them.
Give yourself enough time
This is especially important when it comes to moving; you can run, jump, crouch-walk, and go prone. As you can imagine, you’ll be a lot less visible if you’re not sprinting around (made easier by the fact that if you hold run for a while, it will auto-lock sprint for you), but this means that you’ll move a lot slower.
- Don’t run in high-traffic areas and/or near a group of buildings. Listen around you first for the sounds of footsteps or the chatter of gunfire, and try to hug the walls and stay crouched while you walk. It’s slow moving, so give yourself enough time to move this slowly towards the safe zone. You’ll be given a lead time warning right through the center of the screen when that zone will shrink.
- Use your minimap. Always refer to it so that you have a clear idea of where you are, where everything is (and therefore where others are likely to be), and how you are going to get from Point A to Point B. It will also show you whether or not you are getting close to danger zones.
Know what you want to pick up
I am a pack rat at heart, so games like this are hard on the “But what if I find x-y-z?” part of my anxious soul. I got over it.
After all, the point is that you have to be eminently, viciously practical to get anywhere in this game… and for a large part of it, doing well is simply staying out of sight while the first half get brutally murdered by getting too close to the action too soon.
But even with a backpack, you are a walking bundle of finite carrying capacity. It’s important to pick up what you need.
- Flashy clothes are probably a bad idea. As evidenced by the turkey hat I’m wearing in the above screenshot, I don’t always listen to my own advice. (Take heart in the fact that I swapped it out for a black baseball cap well before the end.) Now, if you choose to swap your clothes out for some funky stuff just lying around, well, it might not hurt your chances of winning all that much if you’re good at staying sneaky. Just know you’re a more noticeable target if someone spots a waving orange and red coxcomb bobbing about in a window.
- Don’t bother picking up ammo for a gun you don’t have. If you’re carrying a shotgun, there’s no point in picking up 9mm ammo. If you’ve already got two really good guns, don’t bother eyeing any more that you’ve found (you can only carry two). Prioritize which are more to your taste, but I would suggest that you’re going to want to err towards guns that will allow you to spray and pray a little more than precision (this applies more towards handguns than it does sniper rifles, mostly due to the context in how you use the two).
- Listen! If you’re going into a building to look for loot, there’s always a chance that there’s someone else that wants to do exactly the same thing. Always try and close the door behindyou, either to lure other players into a house you’ve already looted (and sit back and watch) or, if you’re inside, to give you a sound indication if someone is coming in after you. Listen for both gunfire and footsteps.
Play it safe and you’ll make it through to the very end. Then prepare for the big firefight. Good luck and have fun!