PUBG MOBILE's first-ever exclusive map, Livik, has been the topic of much chatter in the game's community. It offers a more compact battleground built for a lower number of players and shorter-range encounters.

It's an interesting change of pace for a game that once sold itself on its sprawling, open-ended maps, and intense long-range firefights. And so we spoke with Anthony Crouts, Senior Director of Marketing at Tencent Games, to discuss the still-in-beta map, how it alters the PUBG experience in exciting new ways, and why exactly the team has gone in this direction.

At a time when battle royale maps are getting bigger and player counts are growing greater, it's interesting to see Livik go in the opposite direction. Is Livik trying to find a comfortable middle ground between the two versions, and do you find that there's a sizeable demand for more bite-sized, mobile-friendly play sessions?

When creating the first new map exclusive to PUBG MOBILE, we spent a lot of time focusing on understanding our player’s needs and desires. It’s incredibly important to our team to strike the perfect balance between presenting an authentic, uncompromised experience of PUBG on mobile devices, while at the same time, creating space for new and unique experiences that are optimized for a mobile player and device.

Our players love the PUBG MOBILE Arena modes as well as the 4v4 game modes, and this really showed us that there was a desire for quicker and more intense battles which Livik definitely provides! Our goal was to build something from the ground up that is, at its heart, not only a true representation of the core PUBG Battle Royale experience, but also represents best in class mobile gameplay.

The PUBG MOBILE team definitely hit the mark with this map and the response from our players has been fantastic! Players love Livik, and we’re committed to continually tweaking it over time based on their feedback. While our next map initiatives will be focused on more traditional PUBG content, we will also be innovating new experiences.

How do Livik's smaller scale and lower player count alter the core action to provide a fresh experience?

Reducing the size of a map isn’t a simple task because there are so many areas of the game it impacts. A core part of the Battle Royale experience is the loot->move->fight loop and with a smaller area there are less locations to drop. With too many players on the map at once, loot pressure and the number of players competing for limited resources and drop locations definitely impacts overall gameplay.

We wanted players to be able to make key strategic decisions inherent to Battle Royale gameplay, such as whether to hot drop into a prime loot location or drop somewhere more remote that offers a greater opportunity to prepare before battle. Similarly, some players like to work the edges of the blue zone, while others prefer to take a more central location, maximizing their chances for an optimal shift and placement. Through extensive testing and data collection we found the ideal balance based on the design for Livik, so players can continue to compete for Chicken Dinners utilizing a variety of strategies that work best for them.

Why were interactive environmental hazards introduced? How do they influence the pace and tactical depth of combat encounters? Has the team's focus shifted to offering finer details in more condensed environments?

Interactive environments in PUBG MOBILE are an area of gameplay that will continue to evolve over time. We closely monitored the response to destructible buildings in the Karakin Map and saw that players appreciated that more realistic elements of the environment could be impacted by their actions. It stands to reason that a rushing river would exert force on someone entering it and that this would in turn create interesting tactical moments and gameplay for our players. We will definitely continue to listen to our players’ feedback and evaluate how they engage with these features in-game. This information will be essential for us to determine how to best create new experiences in the future.

How has the game's arsenal been altered to suit the change in terrain and map size?

Livik introduced a new Designated Marksman Rifle, the Mk12, as well as the inclusion of the P90 submachine gun as an item in Battle Royale Mode for the first time in PUBG MOBILE. Although Livik is a smaller map, the scale definitely still allows for engagement at a variety of ranges and weapon availability runs the gamut. Success on Livik is all about versatility and adapting your loadout to match both your strategy and the area of the map in which you are engaging in battle.

Livik's setting arguably makes for PUBG MOBILE’s best-looking and most varied locale to date. What were some of the team's biggest inspirations when crafting the map?

When thinking about design considerations for a new map in PUBG MOBILE, the team wanted to create something that was realistic, presented a diversity of environments and had a great deal of natural beauty. The Nordic inspiration behind Livik definitely fit all those criteria and we love the results of our art team’s work. From the volcanic elements to the snow-covered hills to the lush green lowlands, we really feel they’ve captured the essence of this region. Even the flora is matched to the environment, with huge fields of purple flowers presenting not only a great deal of beauty but also an interesting strategic opportunity for players.

With Livik still in beta, what has the initial player response and feedback been like?

Initial player response has been overwhelmingly positive. While players are happy to share suggestions on various elements of the map where they would like to see changes, overall it has met and surpassed every expectation. By making sure that beta messaging is prominently displayed, we are promising our players to keep their feedback in mind as we continue to improve and evolve Livik to be worthy of our amazing community.

It's great to see Tencent continue to innovate with PUBG MOBILE, offering fresh experiences for on-the-go play while retaining what makes PUBG so incredibly special.

If you're yet to dive into the gorgeous Livik, you'll find PUBG MOBILE available for download now as a free-to-play game from over on the App Store and Google Play.