Thursday, 1 February 2018

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) XboX One ★★★☆☆

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, (PUBG), is a game type that was inevitable, sooner or later. It just needed the right people to get it done. All hail the mod community. Brendan “Player Unknown” Greene, who is credited for creating the fairly popular ARMA 2 mod DayZ: Battle Royale and worked as a consultant on H1Z1 was recruited by Bluehole, a studio headed by Chang-han Kim to further develop upon his idea that was clearly heavily inspired by films like, the highly regarded, Battle Royale.

PUBG drops you onto a massive island, with up to 99 other players. Where you decide to land is all part of the strategy. Once on the ground, with just the clothes on your back, you then have to go in search of the randomly placed weapons and items, to give you an advantage... or at least a fighting chance against everyone else. All of whom are doing the same. The random nature of this can work for or against you. If you land in an area with poor item spawns and you’ll struggle to defend yourself. Land in a highly populated area and everyone will scrabble for weapons and the gunfights will end as fast as they'd started.

A big part of the draw to the game is the unease of the unknowing. Every search of a new house, you never know if you'll find a shiny new weapon to use, a backpack to carry more items, health, some armour... or someone camping out inside the bathtub, patiently waiting for unsuspecting scavengers, like yourself.

A danger zone keeps everyone on the move, so bathtub person can't just camp for the duration of the game. Every few minutes the Blue Zone closes in, forcing everyone to keep moving and inevitably forcing them closer together. This helps to build tense situations. Running around out in the open is worrying as you have no idea who, if anyone, can see you. Enter a house and it becomes a more personal and close combat situation. Often with people in bathtubs.

PUBG makes exceptionally good use of sound design. You'll hear telling pops off in the distance between combating rivals. Listen well enough and you'll hear the shuffle of enemy footsteps, on their approach, to give you time to work out where they are and react accordingly.

While the game holds its fun, especially when playing and coordinating with friends on a team, being on a console comes with its drawbacks. Several updates in and the game is clearly an unfinished "Early Access / Preview Program" product that still requires a lot of work to bring it up to a reasonable standard to make it worthy of its price of entry. Xbox one's frame rate is inadmissible, dropping between 15 - 25 fps and the Xbox one X doesn't fair much better, usually around the 20 - 30 fps range. This doesn't help when the controls, that are designed for an accuracy that's not possible with a gamepad in the first place, are fighting against you due to an inconsistent refresh rate and is in much need of an adjustment to help balance the lack of a mouse and keyboard. I'm not just saying this as a PC elitist, it really is that bad. As you and an adversary fire frantically around each other until one of you is either dead or out of ammo.

You'll also be tipped off whenever someone is close by, in an area you're passing, by the sudden judder in the netcode. Like a glitch in The Matrix but without the black cat. If you're travelling at speed, over distance, you can be killed by terrain or buildings that haven't fully loaded in yet. While this makes for funny glitches, in hindsight, the buggyness of PUBG will get you killed more than you deserve to be.

Maybe wait on Bluehole to fix some of the bugs and glitches, and add in a few more things to do. Currently the Xbox One version only has the one map (making the games pluralised title a lie) and only the one game type. If you have the ability to play the pc version, instead, do that. (It’s still buggy and lacks enough content to keep anyone playing for a good length of time though). This port's not really winning any chicken dinners, just yet.

Bry Wyatt 

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