I log in.

I didn’t really know what to expect, despite looking at game footage for hours and watching known streamers play for months, if not close to a year at this point. I know it’s not going to be necessarily easy. In fact, I’m probably going to be in for a world of unknown. I go through my stash, find 500,000 rubles, a few euros, and some American dollars. Why the different currencies? Some medical supplies. Light bleeding? Heavy bleeding?


Ah, there we are. The weapons. The instrument of any FPS. Some shotguns, rifles. What you’d expect. I knew there was basically no tutorial or anything to actually teach me the ins and outs of the game mechanics. I was okay with that. The game is meant to be indescribably difficult and unforgiving, almost to an unacceptable degree.


Roughly an hour later, I think I’m finally ready for my first raid. My anxiety starts spiking before I even choose my map.

Why am I so…afraid?

I’ve quite literally never felt truly scared of playing a video game before. I’ve played Resident Evil 1 when it first came out, and one of the more iconic parts of the game is when the dogs come jumping through the window and things just escalate hyper quick. I cried like the child I was when that happened. The suspense of Parasite Eve, the freaky nature of the older Alien games. None of that compared to how I felt here.

I check tasks, there seems to be one for a map called Customs. Huh, I thought Customs meant a custom made map by players or something. Well then. Let’s go there. I have a quest there that wants me to kill Scavs. Sounds easy enough since Scavs are usually A.I. until later on in a raid.

I finally have my loadout ready. An M4, Paca armor, some yellow healing thingy. This all looks okay. I make sure I have everything insured, and begin my first journey. I load in after about three minutes of waiting. Expected. Most battle royale adjacent games take a little bit to load. Weirdly enough, it adds to the suspense.

The countdown finishes, and I’m in.

Bright, clear sky. I see a red warehouse in front of me, a trailer park of sorts behind me. It’s dead quiet, almost barren feeling. I slowly make my way into the warehouse and look around a bit. I have a map on my second monitor to guide me through things, as there is no minimap in the game. I try to familiarize myself with the controls as I go. The typical FPS controls are there: R to reload, shift to sprint, spacebar to jump, etc. The unfamiliar ones took a while: Alt+T to check your magazine, B to change fire mode if applicable. There’s a lot. Almost overwhelmingly so, even for me.

I hear a shot, somewhat outside of the warehouse I crept my way into. I flinch IRL, try to find cover, and carefully yet frantically check and make sure my meds are hotkeyed and magazines are full. I hear steps move towards me, and I hear shouting in Russian. Is that a scav? I creep walk my way to the other side of the warehouse, see someone walking. I line up my shot and manage to get him.

It was a scav.

I run over and search through the loot. It felt like an eternity. The small ruffling sound effect and time it took to get through each slot was way more intense than I could have imagined. After all, I knew I was out in the open and any player (or A.I.!) could see me and end my run just like that.

I was completely immersed.

After 10 years—I mean seconds, I see all of the loot: a Scav Vest, an SKS, and some crackers. I grab it all and begin walking towards what appears to be an abandoned train, followed by a medium length bridge, lush with abandoned cars and a huge construction site ahead.

There are shots everywhere by this time.

At this point, I’m fighting with my own adrenaline more than the game. I make it across the bridge and into the construction site. I hear more Russian shouting. I know that this is A.I. by this time. Why would a player do it? I see one ahead of me, but I also hear a whizzing sound from the right of me. I quickly hide inside an unfinished construct with stairs, slowly peek out to where I saw the first scav. He’s not there. I try and peek to where I think someone shot at me from, nothing.

Uh oh.

I need to figure something out. A.I. scavs aren’t the most difficult, but they can absolutely wreck you if you aren’t careful. I quickly look around for a place I can cover to cover. If The Division taught me anything, it’s that moving cover to cover is one of the best things you can do when you don’t know where the problem is. I see an oil trailer thingy in the short distance. I heave my way there, a little low on stamina. The moment I get there, I see the scav that eluded me initially. Eyes squinted, I click frantically, no rhyme or reason to my aim. Those years of Overwatch and The Division and Warframe and all the other shooters I’ve played in my life would make you think I’d have some semblance of composure.


I’m still alive, but my arm has a light bleed. How did I fix that again? Oh right, this Car medical kit that I have. Okay, that’s done. I have a fracture too. Splint. Good. Let’s reload before I forget.

I hear another whizz from behind me. Then my other arm is out. I quickly wrap around and take cover. This has to be a player, right? I move slowly and hear running towards me. It was nice knowing me.

The running stops. I try and quickly assess. They’re either trying to sneak up slowly, or are waiting for me to make the move. There’s still another scav to worry about. How did they know I was here? I think about how I can escape, but as I do, walking ensues. I hear a gun noise, but it wasn’t a shot. Reloading?

I have to do it.

I run up, unload, and hope for the best.

I…got em?

I got em!

Quick, see what you get from their body and get out of there. What’s this…a dogtag? Level 9. An mp5 and some loose loot. and a salewa. Hey, I need that for a task! This is awesome! Maybe this isnt so bad after—


My heart skips about 10 beats. I think I died?

My screen fades to black.

I’m on the end raid screen.

[Head, Nape]

Let’s do this again.

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