PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds incredible success story is hidden from no one. At this point in time, you’d have to be living under a rock to not know about the battle royale shooter that has well over 2 million concurrent players trying to survive against all odds. Although the game recently went out of early access and is now an officially released product, it will continue to develop further in the months to come.
PUBG’s elevator pitch is simple and intriguing: you, along with 99 other hostile players, parachute your way onto a 64 square kilometers large map via an aircraft. The map is populated with supplies, and your first order of business is to grab some as soon as possible. Once you’re down there, it’s every man and woman for themselves, and the last player standing wins. To ensure that players run into each other, the playing area is reduced over time via circular zones. Those who aren’t located within in the playing zone begin to have their health drained, and ultimately get taken out if they can’t make it into the zone in time. A typical match can take around 30 minutes.
Given the dynamic nature of the game, each match offers a unique experience with exciting and memorable moments. There are several procedural elements in play here, ranging from the flight path of the aircraft at the beginning to the location of the playable zone, as it shrinks smaller and smaller.
The placement of supplies on the map is random, though large locations such as the military base usually contain rare loot, such as a level 3 helmet that is more resistant to damage. Such areas are usually points of interest for other players, and hence they are riskier to explore. Vehicles also play an important role here. These include jeeps and motorcycles, and they allow you to cover larger distances in shorter periods. Therefore, they’re great for exploring areas relatively farther from the subsequent projected playing zone. On the flip side, the vehicles are loud when in motion, due to which they may attract attention from other hostile players.
There are no respawns in PUBG, due to which encounters can get extremely tense. This constant tension continues to elevate once you’re among the last few contestants and the zone radius is only a hundred or so meters. Once you’re taken out, you’re given the opportunity to spectate the game from the perspective of the remaining players. Alternatively, you can hop out and quickly begin another match.
In addition to the Russian-inspired Map Erangel, there is also a desert map called Miramar, which appears to be located in either Central America or Mexico. Given its uneven geometry, it differs greatly from the first map and offers a whole lot of vantage points for tactical advantage. For example, there are crater-like areas that a sniper can easily cover from an elevated distance. Exploring the area may lead to high level loot, but at the same time it’s risky to go enter such areas. This risk/reward element introduced in the Miramar map works really well with the game’s fundamental design philosophy.
In contrast to Erangel, it’s easy to see that the Miramar map has been developed with the new vaulting mechanic in mind. You’ll find plenty of overturned cabinets inside buildings to vault over. Some items are hidden across elevated platforms, and you need to use to the vault mechanic to reach them. There are fire stairs that lead to windows that you can vault through to breach a heavily guarded building. Therefore, the mechanic plays a role in the tactical strategies for both offense and defense.
PUBG can be played both in the first-person and third-person perspectives, and both come with their own advantages. You get finer control over your aim in first-person, especially if you’re using a precision-based weapon such as the sniper. Meanwhile, the third-person view gives you greater awareness of your surroundings.
Matches can be played solo, in a duo, or as a three player squad. Those who choose to play in a group have certain factors going in their favor. If your squad mates are still in the game, you don’t get taken out directly. Instead, you go in a downed state, from where you can be revived by one of your comrades. They also have the opportunity to exchange items with one another, such as ammo or health packs.
Loot boxes earned from matches unlock cosmetic items that bear no influence on gameplay. However, with the exception of a handful of them, these items are on the generic side of things and don’t offer much incentive to acquire loot boxes.
Although PUBG offers an intense and engaging experience in its current state, it still feels like an unfinished game due to certain technical issues. Animations aren’t fluid, hit detection is inconsistent, and there are occasions of rubberbanding during matches, where your character rapidly moves back and forth by a few meters. It’s all the more frustrating when it happens during an intense encounter. One can’t help but feel that the game was pushed past early access a little prematurely, and that it could’ve benefited from a few more months of development.
That said, PlayerUknown’s Battlegrounds offers an experience like no other multiplayer shooter out there. It has single-handedly made the battle royale formula accessible to a broader audience. While it may not have fully delivered on its potential, it’s certainly getting there.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Review (PC)
Game Reviewed on: PC
Game description: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is a multiplayer online battle royale game developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of Korean publisher Bluehole.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds offers an experience like no other multiplayer shooter. While it may not have fully delivered on its potential, it's certainly getting there.