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Why CS:GO Danger Zone is better than PUBG



Valve decided to make CS:GO free to play and at the same time add a battle royale mode "Danger Zone". This is great for me as I was looking for a way to scratch my PUBG itch on my 27" iMac rather than playing PUBG on phones.

But IMHO Danger Zone is better than PUBG because it is only 16 players on a correspondingly smaller map. This leads to quicker, more intense gameplay and shorter games.

With PUBG, I typically spent the first third of the match (10-15 minutes) looting up, the second third traversing the map or camping depending upon where I am relative to the zone, and only the last third actively looking for conflict with the remaining players. Danger Zone basically trims down the experience, speeding it up and pushing the game into the conflict interval very quickly.

Other players may "drop hot" and thus spend the beginning of their PUBG game simultaneously looting and in conflict. Even those players should enjoy Danger Zone as it ensures all players are relatively close. They could even select a drop point specifically near other players. The tablet map also makes it more difficult for players to camp & hide.

The other game design decisions (e.g. money, buy menu & delivery drone, loot in cases, map showing player occupied hexes, drop point selection & how ammo works) can all be learned and tactics modified or developed. None of them make the game unplayable. (And I believe some are even shared by other Battle Royale games, like Ring of Elysium.) Even the lack of lean, crawl & vault aren't deal breakers. And while I've heard complaints that the Source engine is showing it's age and the map is unremarkable, I don't find DZ to be lacking in either case.

Obviously Danger Zone isn't for everyone. There is no third person perspective, so players who like to peek corners are out of luck. "Skins" also don't include the player model, so players who like to play as team mascots or naughty nurses are SOL.

The one place I do believe DZ could improve is with the matchmaking process. Currently it appears the game requires all 16 players to Accept before the "waiting room" is started. If even one player doesn't click the Accept button before the 20 second countdown, all players are put back to the matchmaking process. (If a player disconnects after the waiting room has started, the game still continues.) IMHO this is stupid and results in a lot of delays. My suggestion is to start the "waiting room" if a minimum number of players have accepted (e.g. 12). Then while those players are preloading the assets and playing a 2 minute deathmatch, the matchmaker selects other waiting players to fill the game. If they click Accept, they are put straight into the waiting room. Once 16 players are in the waiting room, or after 2 minutes, the main game begins.


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Valve has tweaked the matchmaking so only 14 players have to Accept before the waiting room starts. I don't think it tries to backfill players who don't accept or disconnect in the waiting room, so (single player) matches tend to have less than 16 people.


A loot heatmap has been created (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2018/12/21/csgo-danger-zone-blacksite-map-best-locations-where-to-land-best-loot/) and the good news / bad news is my favorite landing spot, Tourist, is one of the "hotspots" - so I might have more competition for it in the future. As I fast-rope down I try to spot boxes etc to decide whether to land on the roof of the big building or swing closer to the plywood bridge onto the adjacent roof. From there I circle through the buildings, checking rooms etc before ending up on the ground to make a final pass along the boardwalk before going back to the northern building.


From a game design perspective, I'm really impressed by how balanced DZ is. The loot & buy mechanic means players aren't starting the game with ARs and sniper rifles - and even if they have an SMG it doesn't have a lot of ammo. Rifles only really come into play later in the game when they can be obtained from supply drops - and they have even less ammo. The size of the map (400m x 400m) largely negates the lack of scopes as most engagements are less than 100m.


The one questionable part of the game is the missile / bombing zone. I just haven't seen it have an impact on gameplay (other than being an auditory distraction). The missiles are part of the danger zone expansion rather than being like a PUBG redzone. From a story perspective they deliver whatever makes up the danger zone. But for the most part they don't land in hexes which aren't part of the danger zone already so they have little gameplay impact.

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Stuff I've learned:

  • Loot drop locations are set, but loot at a location is completely random (including no loot) - therefore early looting success is a function of how many locations you hit
  • If you find a SMG / shotgun box and don't have a melee weapon, order a knife then drop the tablet (G) in an open area and continue looting.
  • When going for a airdrop, order ammo before you get to the airdrop
  • While height does give an advantage when attacking, it also makes you more visible and harder to duck behind cover.
  • Don't walk the beach - enemies at the top of the cliff have a huge advantage and easy cover.
  • Set walk to Toggle so you don't have to keep holding shift (and get annoyed when shift-Tab brings up the community until I disabled it) - just don't forget to go back to run when you get in a firefight.
  • Don't set explosive charges near the red zone - especially if is moving or about to move (as the red zone will set them off)
  • It is often better to use a pistol found on the ground (P2000 or Glock-18) rather than one from a box as you can then get extra ammo from other pistols on the ground.
  • Once you have the basic load-out (pistol, melee, armor), there is little need to open more small boxes as you're a sitting duck while you're opening the box.
  • Headshots matter! They are worth 4 body shots. Better to control your aim than spray and waste ammo.
  • Armor helps, but full health is just as important - use that medi-shot, it might be the difference between dying and killing. You start with 120 health and the medi-shot adds 50. So if you're at 90, you're already at 75% health.
  • Watch where other players are landing to determine directions you may be attacked from, locations which will have been looted and locations which might not be looted.
  • Knowledge (of other players' locations) is power. Being able to shoot first gives a big advantage. So after obtaining a basic load-out, start walking so you can move without being heard and maybe camp a house so you can watch without being seen.
  • Breaching charges (and other explosives and the Zeus x27) can be used to open big boxes.
  • You can swing while dropping, although the rope will swing you back. For really far swings, swing away then toward your target. You can also press & hold the use key to unlatch early, but you will take normal fall damage. Look at the ground while dropping to spot crates, boxes, turrets and even cash and unboxed pistols (once you're close enough). For big boxes, buy a knife when you hit the ground and head for it first.
  • Don't forget to reload after picking up ammo. Having to reload during a firefight is usually fatal.
  • Add ammo to pistols rather than shotguns - you'll seldom run out of shotgun ammo. Or leave the ammo until you finish looting in case you get an SMG.
  • Drones hate trying to drop at the water tower (nor is the loot worth the climb). Drones will also drop the box on the roof above you and boxes can tumble down hills or over ledges, so be aware of where you are when your delivery arrives.
  • When you get shot - unless the guy is in front of you - run for cover! Bonus marks if you manage to use a medi-shot while you're running away. After you've taken cover & healed, then starting thinking about how you can go from being the hunted to being the hunter. Just remember that your enemy likely knows where you are, so peeking out the way you came is probably the wrong idea.
  • After the initial looting phase, walk over loot boxes and check your six before opening them. I've killed several players because they were looking at the loot on the ground rather than me sneaking up behind them.
  • The blast radius for C4 and exploding safes appear on the tablet map - even those you didn't trigger. Running to an exploded safe is also often a good way to find an easy target.
  • Shotgun crates are twice the height of SMG crates - but breaking them makes them harder for other players to find them.
  • Drones start at the opposite side of the island. So don't bother chasing an inbound drone. OTOH if you spot a loaded drone headed towards the coast you can usually follow it to find an easy target.
  • Unless you have an upgrade or just ordered something, swap for the tablet from the enemy you killed - they might have ordered something. Upgraded tablets will also have a colored dot, matching the color of the upgrade card.
  • It's very easy to "tunnel vision" on the tablet and not see the enemy in front of you. Without the upgrade, the tablet only shows the hexes players are in. Each hex is a good sized area so you need to use your eyes & ears to find your enemies. And unless they are your high value targets, the tablet doesn't show whether there is another player in your hex. That being said, the tablet is useful in determining which hexes don't have players, whether there are players in nearby hexes, and where the danger zone will advance to.
  • Turrets are a pain - especially when they spawn outside of the containers. Unless you're desperate for ammo, it's usually better to avoid them. They can also let you know when another player has stumbled into their view.
  • Reload and med immediately after a firefight before looting the body.
  • Drop location selection: you can either select early to get a location with more possible loot locations (and possibly have multiple nearby opponents) or select late and have fewer options on where to land. What you should never do is let the timer expire as then you will be assigned a random location (solo) or excluded from the match (duo / trio).
  • Your initial $500 isn't much, but it's enough for a knife, armor or a pistol (if you're really unlucky). I often order a knife if I spot a crate when dropping or armor if I didn't find any during my initial looting.

For people coming from other BR games:

  • Walking is silent - although you may still make noise when jumping / falling, picking up & dropping, reloading, etc.
  • You can climb through windows by crouch jumping. Sometimes you will get the timing right and not get slowed, but most times it's quicker to use the door (but noisier).
  • Boarded over doors and windows cannot be opened. Explosions go through walls.
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