Posted on 03 Aug 2017 by Kyle Johnson

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds

The Defence

Developer: Bluehole Inc.
Publisher: Bluehole Inc.
Genre: Action, Shooter
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: (EA) 23 Mar 2017

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i3 3.6 GHz
AMD FX 3.5 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 660
AMD Radeon HD 7850
HDD: 30 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Partial
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+

Early Access State

Despite the high barrier to new players, and the rather poor optimization, and the server issues, and the occasional crashes, and the upcoming paid crates, I still can’t stop playing it. PUBG is by no means a stable experience, sometimes requiring queueing up for three to four matches before we all actually enter the lobby, but once the game loads and we all set our feet on the ground, it’s easy to play for hours at a time. In the face of so many negatives, these bugs and a lack of polish might sink any other Early Access game, but not PUBG.

“Heads up, enemy mans ahead.” We scan the ridgeline for movement, focusing between tall evergreens and rock outcroppings. Then, we see shuffling. “150 degrees, probably 400 meters away. Go for it.” First one shot, then two more. All four of us are peering through our sights, trying to land a good hit. Suddenly, the wheat field around us explodes in gunfire. Blood, bullets and smoke wafts over the formerly serene fields, turning into a miasma of warfare. The skirmish is over as soon as it starts, leaving six dead, and the survivors bleeding from more places they can count.

This is Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. From the extremely tense firefights to the quiet sprints across vaguely Russian farmland, PUBG has it all. Boasting some of the highest highs I’ve ever felt in gaming, its meteoric rise to stardom, along with its namesake developer, is no surprise. With still several months to go in Steam’s Early Access program, PUBG still has room to grow too, with at least two more full-fledged maps to come, along with hundreds of cosmetics and more guns to pick from.

Who says you can't be fashionable in wartime?

At its core however, PUBG is purely a 100-man deathmatch. Inspired by the 2000 pulp film Battle Royale, players parachute out of a burning plane over the island of Erangel, attempting to fine guns, protection, and healing items. It’s a slow-burning experience, far more tactical than Daybreak’s H1Z1, and more rewarding, too. Combat takes place in both first and third-person modes, with exclusively first-person servers coming in the next few days.

Eschewing all the survival elements from DayZ or any other survival game-turned-deathmatch, firefights are quick, necessary, and nerve-wracking. If you get jumped by someone with better positioning, there’s a brief frantic period as you attempt to pinpoint the crackling gunfire, until either you get brained, or you return fire. Clearing houses also becomes an exercise in caution and careful listening, as you train your ear for the shuffle of footsteps, and carefully peer around corners and through doorways.

Playing solo is by far the most challenging, as without the extra pairs of eyes, you must scan the horizon for any moving pixels by yourself. Solo play is also arguably slower and more reserved, as with a squad of four, I’ve found I’m more likely to load up into a vehicle and charge into battle than wait and observe.

Even if you die, deaths are quick and relatively painless, though heartbreak at coming in second may be another form of pain. Queuing up for another match is easy, and with the playerbase peaking at nearly 300,000 during the busy hours, finding a match is almost instantaneous. After every match, you earn points based on placement, kills and amount of damage dealt. These points can be spent on crates which contain a wide variety of cosmetics, some of which can be sold for several dollars. Cosmetics can be mostly ignored once in-game, as your swanky neon-red shirt can be easy to spot against the default green and brown landscape of Erangel.

Never before has a chicken dinner tasted so sweet.

If all this seems deceptively simple, it’s really not. There’s a very steep hill to initially overcome, one that can take 30-40 hours to surmount. I know a number of people that have bounced off of PUBG, and I can’t say that I blame them. Bluehole makes no attempt to hide the fact that it is still in development, and dying over and over again to someone you can’t see or find doesn’t make for a fun game. Currently, there’s no tutorial for new players, so people looking into the game either have to suffer through the first few hours of losses, or rely on their friends to teach them.

Perhaps the word-of-mouth is what contributes so much to PUBG‘s success. It regularly sits atop the most-viewed games on Twitch, and more anecdotally, leads to a chain of people playing the game, at least on my friends list anyway. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that Brendan “Playerunknown” Greene has created something truly special, a game that rivals even Minecraft for wildfire-like popularity. It may still have room to grow, but in the meantime, I’ll see you on Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds.

Comments (3)

Posts: 133
Simon Sirmenis
Posted 05 Aug 2017, 15:35
Well I decided to take a plunge and got it yesterday. Just played my second match and I can only say I'm shaking. It was very intense and I just want to have more of it. I just don't want to do it alone.

Posts: 348
L Coulsen
Posted 04 Aug 2017, 11:24
I...don't really understand all the hype. I really don't get it. I don't think it's a bad game, don't get me wrong. Quite the opposite, I simply don't understand why people are wetting their pants so much

Posts: 37
Posted 04 Aug 2017, 13:46
Same here. I mean, i'm glad people are enjoying games that much. But this just seems so like such a weird concept to me. But then again, i hate PvP games. So that might explain it.