Birth of a new fad.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on PC
There are few games that have reached the enormous presence that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds did in 2017. Overtaking Counter Strike: Global Offensive and DOTA 2 as the most played game on Steam a few months after the early access started, Battlegrounds has reached a level of popularity in the PC gaming community that is rarely seen at all. However, with the recent release of the 1.0 version, how does PUBG hold up outside the confines of early access?
For the uninitiated, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a fresh take of the battle royale genre, seen previously with titles like H1Z1: King Of The Kill. As the match starts, you and the other 99 players choose when to parachute out of a plane that is flying over one of the two maps currently implemented in the game. Once you land, you must loot items from your environment to equip yourself to kill fellow players in a bid to be the last man standing on the map. This loot includes guns, armor, grenades, and backpacks to hold it all in as you go from compound to compound searching for airdrops to fight over or enemies to gun down.
The magic of PUBG is how every match is entirely different due to the factors that change from game to game. Whether it’s how lucky you are from the random loot spawns, what flight path the initial plane takes, or how aggressively you play, you will never have two identical matches. Speaking of loot, even with the random nature of it, the guns are balanced in a way that how well you do in a match is more reliant on skill than on the loot that you find. It is entirely possible for a player with just a pan or pistol to take out a fully armored player with an assault rifle and sniper. The best guns can be found in crates that progressively drop in random areas of the map throughout the match, making it a gamble to retrieve as players vie for control of the best loot, whether it be a gun like an LMG or sniper rifle, or a ghillie suit that can be used for stealth.
As you survive throughout a match, the playable area on the map shrinks and the hectic, intense nature of the game shows itself. The shrinking of the playable area is completely random, making camping not as reliable of a tactic because of the game’s unpredictability. Instead of feeling unfair, the game forces players to adapt throughout a match and make the best out of what the game gives them. First-time players in the ending minutes of a match will find their heart racing as they realize that true victory is only a few clicks away. Whether you even reach the end of a match, PUBG thrives off of the “just one more game” mentality, with matches taking as long as you are able to survive.
At this time, PUBG has two very different maps: Erangel and Miramar. Erangel is a forest-covered island while Miramar is a desolate desert. Each map has a plethora of weapons to find and use throughout the map, ranging from pistols to sniper rifles and everything in between. Gunplay is balanced and smooth; each individual gun handles differently and has unique qualities such as damage and effective range. Both the controls and UI are extremely refined, being able to switch from first to third-person or cycling between firing modes on weapons are as easy as just pushing a button. The loot system is intuitive with the easy to understand dragging and dropping, which also makes inventory management a breeze.
Any play style can result in a victory. Each map is a huge playground where many different things can happen, giving players an endless amount of avenues to choose from as they try to get that chicken dinner. For example, I usually tend to go to cities on the outskirts of the map in order to get loot while not being bothered by enemies, using the time to get looted up before I try to fight others. However, you could also secure a win by being gung ho in your play style by hopping on a vehicle and mowing down as many players as possible. Are you the kind of player who will only fight against others if they need to? Or will you go to the biggest and most popular cities and see how many kills you can get? The freedom that PUBG gives you as a player, coupled with the polished gameplay, produces a one of a kind experience that other developers will be attempting to replicate for years to come.
Even with all of this praise for PUBG, it does not come without its faults. Since the initial release on Steam, glitches have plagued the game, less now that there have been countless patches that have been implemented. Most of these bugs have been squashed throughout the early access period, but they do still show their ugly faces now and again. I personally encountered a bug on the 1.0 version, which had my motorcycle just blow up randomly while driving, immediately killing me and my teammate that was riding with me. Even with these showing themselves time to time, the developers at Bluehole have been doing a phenomenal job with fixing game-breaking bugs and glitches as well as optimizing the game to run well on a variety of different PC systems. As a result, the game runs at a much higher FPS and crashes are just about obsolete. It’s worth noting that the developers make a point of engaging with its community and player base as well – something that’s deeply appreciated for a pure multiplayer experience like this one.
One other misstep that Bluehole has taken with this game is not including any sort of tutorial in the game itself. This does steepen the learning curve, and the fact that no additions have been added to the game to explain itself more to players is astonishing. Even though there are hundreds of great tutorials out there on YouTube and other platforms, having to rely on third-party sources should not be something potential players need to rely on to completely understand what they are getting themselves into.
As with most multiplayer games, having people to play with brings much more to the table in terms of enjoyment and depth to the experience. Teamwork is a must to win in duo or squad games, communicating with your teammates as you traverse the varied environments. Firefights involving two or more teams is hectic fun, usually coming out of nowhere and ending as fast as they started. The feeling of winning, whether by yourself or with friends, is satisfying like no other.
Even with all of that being said, the game completely changes when you are going solo. Everything intensifies when you know that you are the only one that you can rely on, and that you have no one watching your back, consistently putting you in unscripted situations that make you feel like you are playing more of a horror game then a battle royale shooter. Because of the number of variables and the unpredictable nature of the game, anything could happen in any run of PUBG. In an industry filled with games that rely on grand set pieces such as helicopter crashes or big nuclear explosions, the unscripted nature of PUBG results in amazing moments like these that you will never forget.
It is obvious that the 1.0 release does not mean an end to content for the game, as creator Brendan Greene has said in interviews that the plan is to use this patch to build off of in future, potentially bringing modding support as well as fleshing out the custom games feature. One thing is for sure, as we look to the future for this powerhouse of a game, the sky is the limit.
Score: 4/5 – Great
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