PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLE GROUNDS
Hiding in a toilet for 20 minutes has never been so tense
A lot has changed since the launch of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It’s gone from the biggest game in the world to… well, not the biggest game in the world. Fortnite has hit the mainstream so hard, the mainstream is missing a few teeth and isn’t really sure what day it is. Every franchise under the sun seems to be adding a battle royale mode to the next title. And all the while, PUBG has been getting tweaked and improved.
So how does it shape up nine months down the line? Well, it’s had copious updates, added two new maps and a bunch of new weapons. It even has microtransactions now – but we’ll get to that in a minute. The result is a game that looks fairly similar to the title that launched with much fanfare in 2017. But the gameplay, controls and stability have been given a major upgrade.
Off the Sanhok
The biggest change for v1.0 is that addition of a new map – Sanhok. For a start, it’s just 4x4km, compared to
PUBG’s previous two maps, Erangel and Miramar, which are both 8x8km. But the player count remains the same. So there’ll still be 99 other bloodthirsty battlers parachuting onto the map around you, and that means you are far more likely to meet someone early in the match.
The good news is that it’s a weapons party, and everyone is invited. The drop rate seems to have been turned up a few notches on Sanhok, and as a result you’re far more likely to find a powerful assault or sniper rifle early on. That means matches on Sanhok are faster-paced, more deadly, and constantly thrilling. If you’re the kind of player who drops straight into the Military base on Erangel (or Tilted Towers in Fortnite), you’re bound to love it.
The downside is that, in some situations, the number of players in close proximity can cause some frame rate issues and the odd instance of lag. We didn’t experience this too often on any of the maps, but for serious players, it might spoil the otherwise heart-pumping experience.
However, for the most part PUBG Corp have done a great job of cutting down on the number of technical issues for the 1.0 release. We didn’t get dropped from a single game, not once did the game quit back to the dashboard (a common complaint from early Game Preview versions), and generally everything runs much more smoothly. Loading is also faster, and we rarely waited more than ten seconds to find a match.
However, pop-in is still an issue at times – especially during the initial drop – and some of the textures are frankly embarrassing on the original Xbox One. There’s clearly still work to be done; certain rocks wouldn’t look
out of place in Halo 1 on the original Xbox. Xbox One X is much improved, but you still couldn’t say that PUBG is a pretty game.
Then again, it’s not meant to be pretty. It’s about tense moments, fighting for position, deliberate movements and challenging shooting with realistically clunky weapons. It’s about the gameplay – and that’s better than ever.
Outside of the fast-and-frantic Sanhok, Miramar and Erangel offer a slower-paced experience. You’re likely to be doing a lot of running or driving to get across the map and into the circle, and if you don’t have a car, prepare to spend 80 per cent of your time sprinting with your head on a swivel. Does that sound fun? To be honest, even as we write it, it doesn’t. But, somehow, it is. There’s something about PUBG that keeps us coming back.
The controls have been tweaked constantly over the last nine months – there are still some odd choices, but for the most part, regular FPS players will be able to pick up the basics fast. Looting weapons, ammo and items is (still) fiddly, and you’ll often find yourself grabbing stuff you didn’t want or accidentally swapping your main gun for a crossbow. But we can’t think of an alternative weapons system – it’s at the core of PUBG’s balancing, and everyone is in the same boat. It’s just a case of practice makes perfect.
The other big addition to version 1.0 is the Event Pass. This Fortnite Battle Pass-style one-off purchase gives you challenges to complete throughout the season with cosmetic rewards for the ones you complete. You also earn a different kind of in-game cash simply by playing, which can be used to buy cosmetic crates. The Event Pass is entirely optional, offers no advantage over any other player, and isn’t even needed to unlock cosmetics. So… yeah. We aren’t sure if there’s much point in the Event Pass existing, but it’s there.
Ultimately, whether you like PUBG will depend on what kind of player you are. If you love tense, tactical shooters with bursts of frantic action, you’ll love it. If you prefer COD’s cinematic action, you’ll probably be turned off. But you’ll be missing out on some serious adrenalin kicks as you get down to the last few players and hear footsteps behind you…
“If you love tense, tactical shooters with bursts of action, you’ll love it”
left Finding a vehicle isn’t essential, but can give you a major advantage.
far left When it comes down to the final few players, holding your nerve is vital. Force them to make the first move!above Sanhok is small enough that you can see almost all of it from the plane. Things get frantic fast.