After several months of impressing every gamer and their dog over on the PC side of the pond, it’s finally time to battle it out in one of the year’s biggest shooters on Xbox One. The hugely popular PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS has long been anticipated for its console release, and with the game finally arriving in the Xbox One Game Preview Program I got down to business with the huge 100-player multiplayer shooter. Here are my thoughts of the first few hours in the battleground.
For anyone who’s been living under a rock for the past several months, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) is the latest Battle Royale Shooter (and arguably the biggest) to throw players into huge multiplayer battles in a fight to the death in a bid to crown one man – or one man and his team – the champions of the battleground. It’s fair to say that whilst we’ve had many games come through the Xbox Game Preview Program since its initiation, PUBG is possibly one of the most anticipated games ever to finally launch in the program.
It’s been breaking records over on the PC for the past few months, but even now there are many unsure as to whether it would be a game that would be able to transition smoothly to console.
After spending several hours running, scavenging, shooting, hiding and surviving, my thoughts have been confirmed. And to answer the questions of the many doubters… Yes.. PUBG is a perfect fit for the console experience.
Before we get into things though, let’s get the issues out of the way.
First of all, it’s well worth noting that being in the Xbox Game Preview Program, PUBG was never going to arrive completely issue free and polished to perfection, and although I certainly never experienced anything remotely game breaking during my time with the game, it must be said that the Xbox One version doesn’t match the smooth performance seen by its PC counterpart. At present, draw distances are in need of improvement, the visuals aren’t exactly reminiscent of the realistic Let’s Plays seen over the past few months, and the game is probably running about as smooth as a car on an asphalt track right now.
But whilst these are all issues that are certainly quite noticeable early on, none of them do anything to truly take away from the core experience of the game, and for me, whilst visuals are an important part of the game – who doesn’t enjoy impressive visuals? – they will never be as important as the general gameplay of any game I get stuck into.
With that in mind, if you’ve been hoping to jump into PUBG on the back of any video seen on the wide web, then you’re probably best delaying that purchase until the full release rolls around in 2018. If however you’ve come to PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS for an enjoyable MMO Battle Royale adventure filled with intense and hair raising moments, then even in these early stages this is a title you should probably consider adding to your collection.
Even with the issues present within, the current build of PUBG is one hell of a shooter.
Upon starting the game players have a few different options. First up is Play, and as the name suggests, this option provides the game mode options for you to get stuck in to. There are three in total: Solo, Duo and Squad.
Solo is the place I first started and given that this was my first time playing PUBG on any platform, I thought it was probably best to get myself used to the game first before trying to drag an unknown squad mate into the firing line with me.
The first game was a pretty swift affair, and after getting past what I can only guess is the loading area, in which everyone seems to group together whilst the game loads and fills the remaining slots in order to punch each other in the head for no real reason, I found myself in the back of an un-named aircraft – that between me and you is definitely a C-130 Hercules aircraft – before preparing to jump out onto the humongous map below.
Unfortunately, after landing in my chosen area it only took a matter of seconds before I’d found myself a shotgun, realised I didn’t know any of the controls or indeed how to load it, and then ended up torn to pieces by an angry individual with a trigger-happy finger, spraying a machine gun in my general direction.
In PUBG death is the end, there are no respawns, so if you find yourself on the end of a mistimed run and land in a pile on the floor due to enemy fire, there really is no-one to blame except yourself. It is a truly hardcore experience if ever there was one.
Of course, finding the controls to actually master play isn’t all too challenging on paper, but with the need to enter menus whilst in-game proving to be a difficult task due to the online nature of the game, I ended up turning to a trusty google guide for the controls to point out just where I was going wrong. After all, finding a place to lay low, before hitting up on the controls is always an option, but with loot to find and enemies to kill, and the infamous wall closing in on survivors at timed intervals making the map smaller, that hardly seemed like an option that would result in a lengthy run. When you get used to things however, the controls aren’t all too bad. Things feel pretty natural and although they aren’t your usual third/first person shooter controls and will likely take a little getting used to, they work perfectly well with the Xbox One Controller, giving off a clever tactical feeling thanks to the need to manually reload weapons by holding down X – that command got me killed first game, note it down!
My second game of Solo however proved to be my best and luckiest yet, and is the one that really showed me just how intense the overall game can be when you go about it the right way.
With 100 players in each battle, winning means you’ve got to out-survive every other individual keen for that coveted top spot. That crowning achievement almost became a reality, but unfortunately a well-timed sniper shot was enough to down me as the circle got awkwardly close and I finished in a rather respectable 3rd position. Not bad for a second game, but more importantly it was this game that showed the true potential of this incredible shooter.
As I mentioned previously, the map in PUBG is absolutely huge. For anyone who’s played the other Battle Royale hit on Xbox One, Fortnite, PUBG feels like a monster, to the point you’ll often need to use the vehicles dotted around the land if you want to cover any serious ground. Landing in a position away from other players is key though in PUBG, as finding weapons and supplies to aid you in the rest of the match is what you’ll be averting all of your attention towards in the opening five minutes.
There are many items to find in the game, the majority of which are clothes that can aid in combat such as police vests, gas masks, combat trousers and much more. Weapons are obviously available and PUBG features things like marksman rifles, shotguns, machine guns, pistols, and melee weapons – I’m still yet to find that alluring frying pan!
There are also medicinal supplies and weapon attachments, but for the main part, protective clothing and a decent weapon is key. With the entire item placement regenerated each time a new game starts, you’re highly unlikely to find the same thing in the same place twice, so there’s a fair element of luck to be found in PUBG. There isn’t enough to ever make it come across as feeling unfair mind, but certainly enough to put the panic in if you enter your first few buildings and find nothing of any value.
For me though, an online partner felt like a good way to learn and so after a few games solo I opted in for some fine co-op action. Going duo however didn’t prove to be the most fruitful option, probably due to the fact that the random player I was paired with had no real intention of forming a team partnership. But if you have a lone friend to jump in with, there are plenty of reasons why this would be a fantastic mode to play.
The Duo mode works much in the same way as the four-player based Squad mode. Players enter the battle in a team and go on a run to eliminate every other individual not in your 2/4 player team in a bid to be last team standing. In this mode if you are eliminated, you still won’t be returning to that particular battle, but you aren’t considered a losing team until your last man has been knocked to the ground. That means those who find themselves carried by friends for their online shooting adventures will at least stand a chance of a top ten finish even if they fall at the first opponent.
For now, whilst the map available is indeed huge – as I’ve mentioned several times – there is only the one available so those hoping for variety will probably have to plan their jumps accordingly.
Other than the three different playstyle choices, PUBG doesn’t have any other modes available, but with such an intensive experience available within the core game, there is more than enough on offer to keep players interested in for some time. That is never more true than if you have a group of friends to take it the whole hog and go in for some tactical play.
PUBG is therefore currently quite bare. Sure, there is a customisation option for clothes that have been purchased through paid DLC, and a rather intriguing set of rewards that look uncomfortably like a loot-crate style option, but there isn’t really much to speak of. Of course, we are only looking at version 0.5.24 so there is a long way to go and many changes to come, but with the current game offering already proving to be an incredible experience of stealth, shooting and plenty of hiding, PUBG is already an impressive experience on the Xbox One and a game we should all be looking to get behind.
Whilst there are still some teething issues to be addressed, PUBG is nowhere near a disappointing addition to the Xbox One, with incredibly intense gameplay and some major fun to be had either as a solo player or as part of a team. It has all the ingredients to become a masterclass of MMO shooting on Xbox One. Whether you buy into the game now or wait for full release will probably be best suited to what you expect from an Xbox Game Preview title, but I for one will certainly be spending plenty of time with this addictive shooter in the coming months up to release
If you’re a fan of shooters, you’d be wise to take a look.