Now that the dust has settled and I’ve been able to put plenty of time into the new Danger Zone mode for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, I have some more thoughts.
For those not clued up what the fuss is, it's a little like Fortnite, PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) and a few others like that. You (or you and some friends) and everyone else drop into the map from the air, then it's a mad race to be the last person standing. Unlike Fortnite there's no building involved, the game itself is quite streamlined overall so it's closer to PUBG than anything else.
Valve are obviously a little late to the game here, although that’s not really such a big issue for me. I don’t honestly care about that train of thought. If a game or a new game mode is inspired by others, even if it comes out years later as long as it’s good that’s all that actually matters.
Compared to other Battle Royale games and modes, it’s quite small. For me, that’s not a point against it. It’s actually a point in its favour, as it means games aren’t so completely hectic and don’t take a long time to get through. You’re never far away from the action and that’s great, it keeps it quite intimate compared to the much bigger games that require a lot of running across the map. However, it’s not actually as small as you might think. There’s a few underground passages too, so Valve actually make good use of the space available.
Dropping into the zone is the strange part, with each player picking a place to drop on the map and everyone can see the area you’ve chosen. In comparison, other such games have players drop at a random location of their choosing, while they travel through the air aboard some sort of aircraft. Once it begins, each player drops from a single helicopter and as you look around you can see others dropping. It’s weird, but when you notice how close some people are it intensifies your adrenaline flow as you scavenge for supplies as soon as your boots touch the floor.
The map works in a similar way to other BR games, it's basically a standard that they all have maps that shrink somehow. In Danger Zone, this is true as well of course. Instead of some kind of storm like in Fortnite, here missiles come flying down from an offshore installation and once they explode an area of life and colour-sucking stuff (I've no idea what it's supposed to be) expands. I will admit, I'm a big fan of the expanding zone style in Danger Zone as it looks pretty good as you can see below:
The next major difference is the drone system, which is very unique and works surprisingly well. While you can find weapons across the map in various boxes and from airdrops in the later game, the game is built around this drone system. On top of that, it will also act as your menu to order in supplies using money you’ve found littered across the map and from taking down others.
When it comes to money, there’s multiple ways to get it. Not just money scattered across the map, you can also find bags full of it. You can also pick up a contract to kill a special target and rescue a hostage by taking them to a certain location revealed when you pick them up. The contract and hostage features feel a little odd though, they’re an interesting addition but they feel weirdly out of place compared to the rest of it. I’ve tried them both a few times, but since then I just don’t bother with them.
For those who think the drone system serves as nothing more than a different way to do a little shopping, think again. The drones buzz across the map independently, they’re pretty easy to spot and so they really do create some rather interesting situations. I remember one very clearly, as I sat on a roof with my eyes fixed on another player, I waited until they ran off to be clear of hostiles. I then purchased a weapon from my tablet and sat waiting, little did I know another player was coming over the hill behind me, naturally they spotted my drone and let it lead them directly to me and so I was promptly shot in the head. Lesson learned there.
Since the drones are loud and not particularly fast, they make the gameplay constantly interesting. It’s always a toss-up between getting supplies and hoping no one shoots it down or follows it, to following someone else's drone and setting up an ambush. Heck, you could order something yourself and throw your tablet down to set up your own proper ambush, since the drone follows the tablet and not you. Ready for you to pop out at a moment’s notice and BANG—welcome to pain town. A very different and exciting risk and reward feature.
Additionally, if you’re in a team and someone is having a hard time, you could order some supplies or a new weapon for them or allow you to give them your older weapon when you get your shiny new toy.
Not only that, the tablet you have is also your map. The game likes communicates with you, a lot. You always have an idea of the general area other players are in, with upgrades to the tablet you can also narrow that down even further. This really helps to keep the gameplay focused, since you know where to go but so does everyone else. It means someone can’t really hide for an entire game, it forces you to make decisions about where to go and what to do and I really like that about it.
As a bit of added randomness to Danger Zone, there's also a few automated turrets spread across the map. Destroying them can help you gain some ammo, but they can also catch you completely off guard and kill you dead. They can also be helpful to spot other players, if you hear one firing you know someone has recently been right in front of it.
There’s been some truly hilarious moments I’ve had while playing it. I didn’t realise just how large an area C4 explodes into, which caused an unfortunate death. If you’re fortunate enough to find a safe with explosives attached, you can arm them and hide while it ticks down. After learning about this (and dying hilariously to it), I was hopping along a rooftop when I came across another player who had armed it. They were hiding (poorly) and weren't exactly far away from it, so I happily got out the popcorn and sat back while they got sent flying—hah!
Another time, I ran towards an open door hoping to peek inside to find a new weapon and as I did so, I heard another player throw down an explosive device. I’m not entirely sure what kind of trap they were hoping for, perhaps they thought I was a lot closer when they hit the button. Like me, they obviously didn’t realise there's a slight delay on the explosion and the wide damage radius to it, as soon after their body came flying out the door into my arms. Thanks for the free money pal.
I could honestly go on for a while about all the amusing things that have happened, like the time I ran past someone getting shot from afar and their money fell down onto me while I was running below them, which allowed me to dart around a corner for cover and order a drone for a much better weapon—handy! Not sure the player who shot them will have been too impressed to run over and find no money, sucker!
I do have some requests for it though, as much as I love it I want to see more of it. I don’t honestly think Valve will sit on their hands with such a good base to expand from now.
Firstly, for a Battle Royale it’s quite small overall. I touched on that earlier, even though it’s a good point I think they could easily extend this gameplay to a slightly larger map with double the players without much of a fuss. I don’t think more than say 32 players would be needed, as that’s still quite a sweet spot. It does looks like at least one more map may be coming, if this Reddit post is an indication of Valve’s plans.
Let’s talk about ammo and the lack of it shall we? For a game that’s mostly about having a decent shoot-out, the amount of ammo you get is annoyingly scarce. I understand what Valve were going for, getting you to order in ammo with your drone, but even then there’s just not enough of it considering the cost of an ammo delivery. To make it worse, you can only pick up ammo if you have a weapon, so you can't store any for later. It doesn’t need a drastic increase, but something more than it has right now. The amount of times a firefight has turned into fisticuffs I've officially lost count on, given the melee is quite clumsy I would prefer not to.
On top of that, Valve have the ability to get a good modding community behind it. Think about it, what if you could run your own Danger Zone server? A lot of possibilities it could open up beyond what Valve have done officially. The game already supports dedicated servers, they have the Steam Workshop too, so it will be interesting to see if Valve allow it.
Finally, I think the game needs a bit more character to it. I want to see a lot more player customisation options, this is why games like Fortnite are so ridiculously popular. I'm not talking about adding a bunch of completely outlandish skins, but a little more personality wouldn't hurt as it's playing it a little too safe. I won't go into a tirade about the loot crate system which I'm not fond of in any game, but I do hope they do away with it eventually in favour of something nicer.
Overall, Danger Zone is a very good addition to Counter-Strike that I hope more players warm up to, it's certainly made me interested in the game as a whole once again. It has a lot to offer and hopefully it’s just the start of more to come. I understand it's not going to be for everyone but that won't stop me enjoying it and I shall continue to do so.
Find Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Steam, completely free to play.