The wild success of the battle royale multiplayer phenomenon first began with the arrival of PlayerUknown’s Battlegrounds, commonly referred to as PUBG, on PC early last year. The game remained in an early access state for several months, and it was understood that due to its unfinished nature, there would be bugs and performance issues. It’s now been a whole year since its official launch on the PC and Xbox One, and since then the battle royale shooter genre has grown exponentially, not only due to PUBG but also competing for games that offer similar multiplayer experiences.
For the uninitiated, PUBG’s elevator pitch is simple yet 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.
The game’s arrival on the PS4 comes a year after its official launch on the PC and Xbox One. As such, this version benefits from improvements that the Xbox One version has received since then. In terms of performance and netcode optimization, things are a lot more stable compared to how they were during the launch period. You will still occasionally encounter some stuttering as well as the dreadful ‘rubberbanding’, where your character momentarily gets stuck in an involuntary back and forth movement. Moreover, there are plenty of bugs and glitches that have yet to be ironed out, such as erratic collision behavior with certain environmental objects when dropping from the parachute at the beginning of a match.
While there’s no doubt that rival battle royale games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 perform far better than PUBG does on consoles, the latter does have its own fair share of advantages over the competition. It’s the only battle royale game out there that lets you choose to play either in the third or first-person perspectives. As expected, both perspectives come with their own advantages, and being able to switch between them back and forth adds to its depth. You get finer control over your aim in first-person, especially if you’re using a precision-based weapon. Meanwhile, the third-person view gives you greater awareness of your surroundings. Also, while the other battle royale games are limited to a single map, PUBG offers 3 maps that are over 5 times their size. Bigger isn’t always better, of course, but in this case, it certainly helps to space out a 100 players and keep things less frantic until the last couple of minutes. PUBG takes a more realistic and grounded approach to combat, and it’s this element that lets it stand out as unique.
Speaking of maps, in addition to the abandoned Russian military island map Erangel and the desert map Miramar, a third map has also been added since we reviewed the PC version a year ago. This map is called Sanhok and is available in the PS4 version from the get-go. It’s set in the jungles and mountains of a humid Asian country. In January 2019, another map set in snowy regions called Vikendi is set for release. As an additional game mechanic, players will need to be careful about leaving footprints in the snow, which can allow others to track them down. If map variety is a consideration for deciding which battle royale game to invest time in, PUBG has a clear upper hand in this area in the here and now.
All in all, the PS4 launch of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is more stable than its launch on Xbox One. Both versions are currently in a similar state, where the gameplay works well when technical issues don’t hold it back. Despite not being the best performing or the most polished game in the genre today, PUBG is still distinct and varied enough for it to hold its own in a sea of battle royale clones.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is an online multiplayer battle royale game developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole.
Final Score - 8/10
The PS4 version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds stands toe to toe with its Xbox One counterpart, which means the game is often held back by technical issues and lack of polish. Despite that, it's still distinct and varied enough for it to hold its own in a sea of battle royale clones.