Impressions: PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds!

An exercise in frustration, or an amazing game with a great concept?

 

So PUBG is something I have been aware of for a few months but never got into for monetary and other reasons. I simply had too much to do. But yesterday, live on stream, I played my first few matches.

 

I had only seen sparse footage of the game, or real discussion about it beyond its influence on Twitch and gaming as a whole. I know the story behind its creation, but not much of the actual gameplay beyond what is, on paper at least, an amazing concept.

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Airdrop up to 100 players into a huge map. Have them scavenge for armour, weaponry, tools and upgrades to their equipment…and kill each other. As they do this, the play area shrinks. Fall outside of this, your health is drained. So you have 100 people being funnelled down into a smaller and smaller area, and the last man standing wins.

This is truly an excellent concept…on paper.

Personally the idea of only two maps is a bit disheartening, until you realise these maps are huge, and the high variance of the games means every play will be different. You’ll never have the same round twice. Almost.

 

The execution of this concept is what drives me to a mixed reaction to it.

There are primarily three scenarios for your time in PUBG:

You are not likely to have two matches play out the same, unless you are unfortunate enough to be airdropped in next to someone, or a few people, who quickly find weapons, and bang, you are out of there within two minutes.

That isn’t the most fun aspect of the game. If you get lucky and don’t die immediately (Great! You got lucky!) you now need to find weapons. You can spend a good while running through open spaces (And thus be an obvious target) between buildings that may or may not end up with you defending yourself. Or dying if someone is hiding in one. That can happen too.

Long and short, you can spend a long time not being able to actually partake in the core of the gameplay.

Finally, you can end up in the third scenario which plays one of two ways. You’ll either get¬†extremely fortunate and end up in semi-frequent bouts of combat and win, or die, or end up not finding anyone until the map shrinks and there are about 20 players left, and then come out on top…or die.

As shown above I made it to 7th place in a match…where I got two kills and spent a good 20 minutes sat in a house waiting for stuff to happen as the play area shrank and shrank, until I got blasted from the side.

This is easily the most fun part of the game. It’s high adrenaline, and goodness knows a grenade or gunshot with headphones on makes you leap out of your skin in what is a quiet world otherwise. Plus the knowledge that combat is inevitable and closing in on you is an amazing feeling.

This is where PUBG works best. Occasional combat instances, good luck finding weapons, and being able to play smart, assuming people don’t snipe you. Of course, you’ve got a 1 in 3 chance of your game even getting that far. More often than not, it feels like it won’t.

 

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Of course that’s just the game design. Visually the game can range from alright to almost N64 style in visual quality, even at full resolution, as sometimes models and textures are incredibly poor. Other times not, which is a weird inconsistency. Maybe this a downside of playing on “Medium” settings, while streaming.

It should be noted I had very few network related issues, even when streaming the game and hosting a Skype call at the same time. That much is very functional at least, which is mandatory for a multiplayer game.

In terms of controls, I used both a Dualshock 4, and Keyboard/Mouse.

Keyboard worked fine for what it is, everything is mercifully within reach, just as I have explained before however, it’s not the most comfortable solution for me as a player. The downside of using a controller means some features like underhanded throws and quick switching through weapons, aren’t available without sacrificing other things. It’s a prioritize what you need kind of situation.

Finally, aiming seems a little…weird. Guns have the appropriate kind of blowback, which means you won’t just fire in a straight line. But reviewing some “Death Cam” footage (It happened a lot), I can see players do have a hard time lining up shots or even getting them to connect. I don’t know if that’s a network thing of if the aiming is just slightly off, but it’s a strange oddity.

 

Overall I can say PUBG on PC is something to at least try out. On Xbox One, I don’t know as I can’t test that version, but from what I have seen it’s not as smooth an experience at the moment, compared to the now out of “Early Access” PC version.

But therein lies the problem: The idea of the game is amazing. It’s just luck as to whether it plays out in a way that you enjoy, or if it effectively ends with you in a boring scenario where nothing happens for a good while, or die immediately upon starting.

 

Thanks for reading this Impressions piece on PUBG! It was an interesting experience and you can bet I will be doing more like this in future! If you enjoyed this article or have your own thoughts on PUBG, let me know on social media or in the comments, and I will see you next time: Happy Gaming!

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