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Celebrating PUBG: Battlegrounds' new Rondo map with production director Taehyun Kim

In-game production director Taehyun Kim explains the new Rondo map and PUBG's enduring success
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PUBG might not be the hottest game on social media, and it rarely gets a mention at annual award shows, but as of right now PUBG: Battlegrounds is the third most popular game on Steam, trailing behind Valve giants Counter-Strike 2 and Dota 2. And that’s just PC – PUBG still has a large audience on console as well as mobile, and if you add all of those players up, it’s one of the most popular live-service games in the world, even after six years on the market.

PUBG perseveres and manages to consistently outdo legendary games like GTA Online, Team Fortress 2, and even 2023’s Game of the Year Baldur’s Gate 3. That’s partially thanks to the new Rondo map, and the suite of new features that are being added to the game, including new vehicles and weapons. To celebrate the game’s sixth anniversary, we spoke with PUBG’s in-game production director Taehyun Kim.

“We’re always trying to offer something new and visually different with every map.” Kim tells GLHF. “Our last map was inspired by Texas in the US and this time we wanted to develop a map with an East Asian feel. We’ve designed Rondo so that it has both a modern city full of sophisticated buildings, and places with older, traditional beauty. We hope our fans across the world will enjoy it.”

Taehyun Kim at PUBG Studios.

Taehyun Kim at PUBG Studios.

PUBG’s Rondo Roadmap let players know what to expect in the coming months, with Emergency Cover Flares dropping in January 2024, which players on Reddit celebrated. Reddit user arnolds_left_bycep says: “Definitely gonna need that deployable cover since there is not much cover in these wide open fields.”

The Rondo map has pushed players out of their comfort zones, an intentional design decision from the developers. “We intended to create generally flat terrain to make it easy to move around. The unique cliffs and ground cliffs on open fields will provide a new type of gameplay different from what you have experienced in the fields of previous maps,” Kim explains. “Cliff-centred gameplay used to be available only when there is a tall building nearby, but Rondo allows players to have the same experience even in the open fields.”

PUBG Battlegrounds Dragunov user in a sandstorm.

Big guns, bigger maps.

Players have some issues with early circles being too small though, and while changes may come in the near future, Rondo was designed with these things in mind. “Rondo has more variables compared to other maps,” Kim says. “For example, the additional starting planes can cause the majority of players to drop early, resulting in more frequent early engagements, and at times, there might not be any safe havens in the outskirts for looting. Alternatively, players could be evenly distributed across the map, introducing unpredictability to the match.”

Six years on, and PUBG: Battlegrounds is still going strong, with more plans for collaborations and in-game celebrations in the future. But PUBG Studios and Krafton aren’t solely focusing on the battle royale game: Project Black Budget is in development, and when we asked, Kim simply told us “Project Black Budget is an extraction shooter being developed by PUBG Studios with the aim for a release in the second half of 2024.” Thanks, Kim.

PUBG has developed a unique sense of identity over time.

PUBG has developed a unique sense of identity over time.

It might be flying under your radar right now, but PUBG: Battlegrounds is still one of the most popular live-service games available to play right now on any platform – and save for Nintendo Switch, we really do mean any platform. If you’re looking for one of the most challenging and unique shooters on the market with a huge player base, then PUBG: Battlegrounds is waiting for you to dive in.