It’s been nearly five years since PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) initially debuted on Steam, popularizing the concept of pitting 100 players against each other until only the best (or last) remain.
Since then, the original battle royale has been fighting for relevance against the several games it inspired, and it is only now that it has reduced its entry price and joined the ranks of its free-to-play competitors.
In some ways, PUBG has fallen behind newer and more imaginative battle royales now that the novelty has worn off, but its unique focus on huge zones and realistic simulation means it hasn’t lost its touch.
Survival in PUBG’s reasonably realistic open environment necessitates being far more stealthy and tactical than in, say, Fortnite’s run-and-gun style.
For example, you can employ a smokescreen to confuse a squad of hostile players pinning you down from a nearby ridge, or you might wait for a passing aircraft to drown out your footsteps so you can enter a house unobserved.
Firefights are frequently stressful and enjoyable, albeit the large range of firearms is clunkier to fire than other modern shooters (even when scopes and extended magazines have been added).
What PUBG has in terms of strategy, it lacks in terms of the “gun feel” that makes games like Call of Duty or Apex Legends so enjoyable to play. In third-person mode, weapons are more comfortable to wield, but they’re painfully inaccurate unless you switch to first-person or use aim down sights.
However, because mobility is clearly designed for third-person play, and you can peer behind corners without popping your head out, first-person mode seems lethargic, and the weapons suffer as a result.
PUBG’s emphasis on realistic bullet physics distinguishes it in an intriguing way, and it’s understandable that hitmakers are disabled by default because PUBG wants to give you as little information as possible to keep the fights as intense as possible. However, none of this implies it’s as polished as, say, Call of Duty: Warzone.
Playing in the third person is simply more enjoyable.
Third-person play simply feels better, and it appears to be because your player model is physically simulated in a similar way to a character from Grand Theft Auto 5 or Red Dead Redemption 2, with a bit more fluidity in movement — so you aren’t constantly tripping over yourself but still feel fragile.
It’s a difficult balance to strike, but when you switch to first-person mode, you’ll notice that you’re not playing a game designed specifically as a first-person shooter. In comparison to any real first-person shooter, especially Call of Duty or Battlefield, aiming down sights is also painfully slow.
Trying to play PUBG with a controller seems like a trip down clumsy memory lane; weapon shifting and reloading are unresponsive, the inventory system is difficult to navigate in critical circumstances, and aiming feels drifty and unreliable.
When you compare that to games like Fortnite and Apex Legends, which feel equally at home with controllers as they do with a keyboard and mouse, it’s not pretty.
Because PUBG is a keyboard and mouse game at its core, my PC experience has been significantly better than my PS5 experience — not to mention the graphics and performance difficulties that can occur on console.
If you approach terrain as a tactical playground, you may use it to your advantage.
Each of the seven distinct maps, including the Eastern European-inspired Erangel and the golden deserts of Miramar, is at least large enough to get lost in, and you’ll never see everything in one sitting before the shrinking survival zone that forces everyone together at the end of a match swallows the majority of the playable area.
They’re all spread out across a large advantage with a variety of outposts, settlements, and geographical elements like rivers and mountains that may be exploited if you approach it like a tactical playground.
It’s all beautiful to look at, but it also gives you options for surviving the approaching storm and avoiding (or ambushing) any potential assailants.
Moving over them may get boring if you and your team of up to four are without a vehicle – and even if you do, they’re not much fun to drive due to their terrible handling and awkward physics.
If your connection becomes shaky, you may lose control and crash into a wall, or you may accidently flip your vehicle and be unable to flip it back over.
Fortnite, on the other hand, embraces its physics flaws by providing bouncy vehicles, grappling hooks, jump pads, and other fun tools with which to express yourself.
PUBG, on the other hand, steers clear of them in favor of a clean-cut depiction of realism, yet because it struggles to achieve that realism in actuality, driving around becomes stiff and plain unenjoyable.
Because these bouts are much longer than a standard Apex Legends or Fortnite encounter, there can be a bit of empty air in between large parts of running, driving, bicycling, or even flying about.
However, the constant search for ammunition, body armor, and medical supplies to keep you in the fight is enough to keep the anxiety at bay.
Because looting is random, you can strike big and find a strong gun or a set of tier three armor just around the corner, but there’s no way of knowing until you take the risk and go hunting for it.
Because of the large geographic size, there is always a cost to acting or not acting in PUBG. Will you cut across the open field to reach a nearby weapons cache and risk a sniper strike, or will you sneak between buildings and hope you find decent loot along the way?
Do you dart across the map, risking unwelcome attention, or do you sneak around the outskirts of the storm, waiting for other players to pick off one another before making your move? There are a lot of options, and making judgments that lead to the chicken dinner winner screen is always exciting.
Reaction of Microtransactions
Microtransactions in PUBG are in a format that is comparable to those of many other online games. There’s a digital store where you can buy everything from apparel to vehicle and weapon skins.
Each item costs a set amount of G Coins or, in some situations, a set amount of real-world money. G Coins are available for purchase directly from the store in quantities ranging from 510 for $4.99 to 11,200 for $99.99.
However, you’ll have to pay an extra $13 to activate Battlegrounds Plus+, which gives you permanent rewards like a 100 percent xp boost, access to Ranked play after reaching Survival Mastery level 80 in Normal mode, and the ability to host your own custom matches as well as show off your Chicken Dinner medals after a match.
If you don’t want to spend any more money on cosmetics, it’s also meant to come with 1300 G Coins, which is the same as the $13 you paid for the pass.
PUBG is also unique among its competitors in that Battlegrounds Plus+ is necessary to access the Ranked mode, which is a shame if you want to compete, but it makes sense as a potential disincentive for cheaters who would otherwise create new accounts on a daily basis.
It’s a minor price to pay to keep those jerks at bay if you want to go serious about PUBG.
Survivor Passes, which emerge in the store from time to time and focus on specific maps and objectives for a limited period, are also available. During that period, the only way to keep the rewards from that pass is to purchase it (typically for around 500 G Coins or $5) and then complete the objectives.
These Survivor Passes are a unique spin on the typical battle pass found in competing battle royale shooters, but they exist independently from the primary Survival and Weapons advancement tracks, both of which are accessible and provide rewards as you level up without costing you a penny.
Hacking has become a notable concern among PUBG members, however, I haven’t personally encountered anyone who has ruined my experience.
And, if you’re worried about how well it runs, rest assured that it does… at least on PC. Aside from the clumsy physics, I haven’t encountered any game-breaking issues.
And, while it appears that hacking has become a widespread problem among PUBG members, I didn’t personally encounter anyone who ruined my experience on either the PC or the PlayStation 5. However, if you’re playing on a nice PC, it’ll be a lot better.
I’ve been playing PUBG on a PC that can consistently deliver frames above 60fps at 3440 by 1440p resolution on high settings, and the game’s expansive landscapes and massive draw distances work incredibly well with the additional field of view.
On a PlayStation 5, PUBG is a difficult game to play. At long ranges, it’s difficult to differentiate other players, making the immensity of PUBG’s landscapes feel deserted.
Although there is a “Performance” mode that tries for a steady 60 frames per way at 1080p, the lack of 4K quality, limited draw distance, and imprecise controls make it difficult to play PUBG as designed.
You can only play with other PlayStation and Xbox players, putting PUBG behind its battle royale competitors in terms of PC and other platform cross-play.
If you get tired of skirmishing for survival in both solo and squad modes, PUBG doesn’t have much meat on its bones. There aren’t many custom maps, and the only other official Arcade mode is a mediocre Team Deathmatch that you can easily overlook.
That single-mode focus is comparable to Apex Legends, and although it’s nice that your primary option is fun for a long time, neither game compares to Fortnite’s variety.
It’s wonderful that you can always go into the dedicated Training mode and play with all of PUBG’s weapons and toys, even putting them to the test on a firing range, a race car circuit, and a fun “jump school” section where you can parachute in as many times as you like.
In fact, the new player experience does an excellent job of swiftly bringing you up to speed with a few required training matches against easy-to-target bots.
The military-sim gameplay popularized by games like ARMA and DayZ has been stripped down to its most exciting components and streamlined into quick and accessible rounds of pure, hassle-free, survival-based action in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
Despite the fact that each game begins in the same way, its astonishing ability to seem like a new, tense journey with each round has kept me coming back for hours.