So the time has finally arrived to sort the men from the mice. The hugely successful 100 man stealth battle royale has hit Xbox as a console exclusive title and should remain like that for the foreseeable future. PUBG has already gone on to sell over a staggering 1 million copies in the first 48 hours, which is an accomplishment in its own right. PlayerUnknown aka Brendan Greene – Creative Director at Bluehole Games – states that he has been working on the battle royale genre since way back during the days of ARMA 2 and H1Z1, and is glad to finally have his own version of the world he wanted to create. It’s worth pointing out that this game has a lot of work to come to it, hence why it is in Game Preview. It’s not polished and you will have a lot of issues but somewhere among the cloud is a silver lining, the game is incredibly fun. Even with the glitches and wall skips or constant lagging the game still manages to suck you back in to crash and blast your way to another chicken dinner.
Your main aim in the game is to survive and be the last one standing to receive your chicken dinner award and try to raise yourself up the leaderboard. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds starts up with a nice yet buggy UI (which sometimes has a mind of its own) and your in-game avatar standing menacingly in a battle zone. All the usual options are there, invert, aim sensitivity and region, you can even pick to play as a team of two (duo) or a group of four (squad). As I loaded the game I was introduced with a menu to change my in-game character. Wearing only a typical plain grey shirt and brown pants, this had to change.
My first intuition was to build my character on camouflage, so I matched my hair to the grass thinking this might work. Ok, clothing…oh! I have to unlock them with battle points which you earn the higher the rank you achieve in-game. Not to worry, I’ll get there. Eager to start a game I raced in but was unfortunately held up by the ‘spinning circle of death’. After about 5 minutes the game loaded and I was standing in what seemed like an abandoned airport, surrounded by tables and weapons. I raced over looking for something, working out how to pick things up and put them down (spamming the buttons in the process). After getting some quick practice and a few funny headshots in, the counter for the match began to tick down.
I was having too much fun to notice. Suddenly I was in a giant jumbo jet thinking “what’s going on?”. I noticed an eject action appear so I hit it, still not realizing what to do, to then jump out of the plane. Suddenly I was plummeting head first down to the ground, but soon noticed I wasn’t the only one around with my parachute out. As I glided down to ‘safety’ I began searching my surroundings. Before long I stumbled upon a pistol as well as some ammo, loaded up my weapon and frantically wondered what to do for the best. Do I hide? Do I look around? Do I run? I was a little overwhelmed and wondered what to do, so I just sat there like a stunned potato spinning in circles for a bit. I checked my inventory and then checked the map and noticed a parameter circle closing in. The circle appeared to be made of electricity, so I certainly wasn’t going there. I ran towards the middle of the circle hoping not to be collected by opponents or “the wall” (more on that below) which had by then stopped.
I then decided to check out the house directly in the middle of the circle to see what would happen. Not a great deal. Firefights in the distance got me to paranoid to leave the house, so I hid again. Noticing over time the wall is closing in around me, I looked at the total player count and was surprised, I was 12th left in the game. I thought that’s it, i’m going to see who is left, so I slowly crept through the front door and ‘Bang, Bang’ I was dead. My first run of PUBG wasn’t so bad, and is getting a lot easier with more practice. The Wall is the driving force behind the game and seems to be some sort of electric barrier which will cause you harm. It starts of fairly big and covers most the map but will soon shrink in circumference once the timer gets to a certain point, and if you’re not inside, well you better have picked up a health kit, energy drink or bandages to get you to the safe zone. Slowly by the end of the game it will bring all remaining players closer together for a brutal fight to the death, so stock those weapons people, stock them.
The map known as Erangel is the first and only map for the game, with a desert themed map known as Miramar soon to follow. The maps are riddled with farm houses, apartments, old military sites and cities to use to your advantage for cover and protection. Within these hiding places are weapons to loot. There is a wide variety of weapons starting out, usually with the sidearm 9mm pistol all the way up to the power house SCAR-L and M16. Players can find weapons that are scattered around these areas and also from drop packages that fall from the jumbo jet as it flies back and forth throughout the course of the game. Among the weapons you’ll find a lot of useful stuff to help you survive; body armor, helmets, coats and back packs – just to name a few. There are three ranks of clothing apparel ranging from one to three; one being low quality and not too resistant, and with three being strong quality and offers the most resistance to damage. Different scopes and weapon mounts may also be found to give you the upper hand in your upcoming confrontation.
The firefights can be pretty intense, so make sure you’re stocked up on health and ammo before exposing yourself, as it only takes a couple of hits (at best) before you’ll be worm food and sent back to the lobby. The Maps are huge, so getting around can be a problem if you’re not aware of what’s going on. Luckily there is transport in the form of army vans, boats, buggies and motorbikes to help get from point A to point B, but use with caution as they can be damaged and explode or are very loud and can often draw attention to yourself. It’s a great game and definitely appeals to many. Since PUBG is still in Game Preview it doesn’t look the best, but the foundations of the gameplay is definitely there, with almost unlimited action to expose yourselves to. If you’re a Chinese player you may be experiencing some advertisements. The low toggled graphics and the issues with the framerate does dampen the mood slightly and may see you throwing your controller around the room constantly, but with plenty of patience and perseverance you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of some damn fine finger licking chicken. This will in fact change when the game comes out of preview and should look amazing with the 4K and HDR content in place to make this one hell of a shooter experience. Sound is also rather good with correct gun shots echoing in the distance or the rumble of the bikes and buggies coming from over the hills, footsteps creeping up behind you for a stealthy kill or hearing a door slam in the house you’re hiding in.
PUBG definitely has a lot going for it. The devs at Bluehole have done an awesome job in bringing this shooter to life. Yes the game will crash and jerk around more then Peter Garett dancing on stage but don’t worry, the game will look better and play better soon. The Xbox One X version isn’t so bad, there are less crashes but it still has a handful of issues that need addressing. PUBG Corp just released information about the first Xbox One patch which should help the Xbox One and Xbox One S versions out with some noticeable improvements. PUBG In its current state is a streamers dream and has brought smiles around the world with some of the things this game can do, so enjoy them while you can (I wont spoil) because once it’s fixed, it will become way more serious. Think of this as a training session and have some fun with it, because I’m surely enjoying it. PUBG is scheduled for a full 2018 release date, at which point it will stumble out of game preview.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One X. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.