Gladiatorial combat and arena combat is more than a game in Pulse, it’s part of the lifestyle. Cities are built around a central arena, and smaller ones dot Pulse corptowns. Specialists called “stage hands” can convert almost any Pulse structure or area into an impromptu battlefield. Arena combat might involve dangerous terrain, hunter-killer robots, turrets, bio-monstrosities (up to and including retired Pulse executives, modified to nightmarish scale), and any number of tactical situations…rescue, hunt/escape, melee scrums, swimsuit modeling. Biomodifications are strongly encouraged, but not technically required.

In professional games, players can theoretically be resurrected with body copies and brain backups. At least if they’re worth resurrecting, or can afford the procedure. The rulebooks don’t really say whether fatalities will be resurrected, or can be resurrected, and there’s miles of difference. And in underworld matches, there’s even fewer safeties.