So, where are we landing this time guys? Sound familiar? Of course it does, because whether you’ve played it or not, there’s very little chance you haven’t at least heard of PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (aka PUBG), the largely popular Battle Royale game that has been breaking records since arriving on Xbox One Game Preview some months ago.
Now though, after many updates, many changes, and many months of waiting, PUBG is finally breaking out of its Xbox Preview Program phase with update 1.0 bringing the full release of one of gaming’s most popular titles. But just how good, or bad, is PUBG on Xbox One?
When it originally landed on Xbox One, PUBG showed a lot of potential. It was rather fun to play, rather unique, the map was huge, the objective was simple, loot was plentiful and there was definitely a sense of that addictive one-more-go gameplay about it. Unfortunately, it was rare to go a full game without at least experiencing one of the many bugs or glitches that would often ruin the full engagement of the battle. Sadly, the 1.0 release doesn’t seem to have eradicated all of those experience dashing bugs, but at least you can enjoy it more now and it is certainly a lot more stable than it was. With its gameplay still as inexplicably fun as ever, PUBG looks to be here to keep our attention for a little longer.
Joining the game via the 1.0 update and the many fixes and changes is also a new 4x4km map Sanhok – one that is significantly smaller than the usual 8×8 offerings that have been in Preview. This is now one of multiple maps that have arrived in the game since it first arrived on Xbox One but despite its smaller scale, it’s still very much a classic PUBG map; it’s quiet, it’s tense and it’s deadly. That’s essentially the entire experience of PUBG all over though, and with hundreds upon hundreds of players coming back on a regular basis, the battle has never been so fierce.
But what is Battlegrounds? Well, in it, you take on the role of PUBG guy – a nameless and mildly customisable man, or woman, who has no particular skills or abilities. There are no upgrades, there is no skill tree and no way to make yourself any better than any other player out there, at least not from the starting point anyway. Your job – after selecting whether you want to play Solo, Duo, in a Squad or Solo against other squads – is to pick an area on the map that you find yourself randomly thrown into. After jumping from the plane carrying you and all other 99 competitors, you’ll need to land, scavenge and survive until you are the last man standing.
As you can probably guess, this is a lot harder than you’d expect. The maps are large, there are huge open environments and other areas that are full of trees, bushes, buildings and rivers which players can use to hide themselves from others. The map is also littered with vehicles – both functional and non-working – a whole host of weapons, attachments and all manner of other wonderful things to help you survive. The issue is the fact that all other players – or those not in your squad should you be playing duo or squads – are the enemy, with all vying for that coveted last-man standing title – or the Winner, Winner, Chicken-Dinner as it’s known in PUBG.
There’s no real tactic to winning either. This isn’t a game in-which practice will really help make you perfect, as you’ll also need to rely on a ton of luck too; something which surprisingly helps make it all so enticing.
One very important gameplay feature of PUBG is that items aren’t in the same place every game, ensuring things are kept fresh every single time. This means scavenging is a vital part of play every time your feet finally hit the ground, and if you hope to have any chance of surviving long enough to put in an attempt to win you’ll make good use of anything you find.
What makes things even more pressing is that from the very start of the game players must avoid an impending blue-wall-of-doom that decreases the size of the play area every few minutes, forcing players to move in towards a specific-yet-random area which. This means scavenging isn’t something you can spend a long time doing, so you have to do it well, and you have to do it quickly. Getting caught the wrong side of the blue-wall will mean watching your health-bar diminish at a scary rate.
Should you happen to have things going well however, you may well find yourself with some decent weapons, and health and clothing items – allowing you to think that you’ll be in with a good chance of closing in on a top 10 spot. It is usually here where you’ll find things becoming incredibly tense as at this point in the game, the circle area of play will have been reduced to a minimal size, and every remaining player has either had the skill of taking out numerous other to get to this point or has found a touch of good luck and/or clever hiding spots. Either way they’ll all be hoping for a chance of that win and you’re just another number preventing it. So, what do you do? You remain silent, you remain vigilant and you remain a nervous wreck until you inevitably die. It is this combination of things that ensures PUBG is by far one of the best and most refreshing gameplay experiences available.
Whether PUBG is a game you’ll enjoy or not though will likely depend on your patience as despite being a third/first-person shooter, you’ll find that the majority of the time spent in each match will be used carefully, avoiding other players and silently moving across the map, with a good game lasting anything up to half an hour in length. In this time, you’ll probably spend at least 50% of it scavenging and running, whilst potentially being shot and killed at any time.
For those that are up for the challenge PUBG is a fantastic game. Sure it still has bugs, some of which are completely irritating, such as sometimes being unable to revive your downed team-mates when playing in the first-person perspective mode, as well as other simpler ones like vehicles getting stuck, glitching items or weapons being unable to be picked up, but generally the bugs and glitches that remain aren’t game breaking. It’s not great to see them present at all in a fully released game, but they aren’t prominent enough to prevent a thoroughly enjoyable gameplay experience.
Of course with this now being the full version of the game, we finally have the opportunity to earn achievements – something which only helps add to the draw of what is already a highly repayable game. There is also the chance for players to get new cosmetic items via in-game crates by spending earned BP (Battle Points) or by purchasing G-Coins with real money. Fortunately, cosmetics are purely that – cosmetic – and have no impact whatsoever on player skills, abilities or performance. Should you so wish you can avoid them entirely and simply gain new items by levelling up, but it’s nice to see the option there for those who are into that sort of thing.
PUBG may have been sat in Preview for many a month, but it has arrived as a full release to instantly become one of the most addictive games you can play. From start to finish it’s a thrilling and fun adventure that has more tension than you’ll find in almost any other game. Whether you’re looking for a new online experience to play solo or with a group of friends, this is one you should be playing in 2018.
Now get out there and grab yourself a Chicken Dinner!