I had heard of PUBG from a friend who knew about how good the PC version was. He was very excited to hear that it was coming to Xbox. Not having a good PC to run any game, I was naturally unaware of the PC version and just rolled my eyes at his over excitement of some Fortnite-est game. I figured that when it was released, it would be a fad. Already my general online gaming friends have long forgotten about Call of Duty: World War 2, and for me, the glory days of Online Multiplayer was gone. After a couple of weeks, this ‘Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds’ would be brushed aside for whatever was the next flavour of the week. So I did not purchase this right away.
£25 was a bit of a steep price for some apparent throwaway game. Especially since the game is labelled as a preview, which normally means that no matter how bad and buggy the game is, the developers and the committed fans could use this as some kind of excuse, since the game is technically “unfinished”.
I had previously played the game previews of ‘Ark: Survival Evolved’ and “These Happy Few” and neither of them I liked.
And so with that, I sacked off PUBG.
But then something strange happened. Everyone on my friend’s list was playing it… and playing it constantly! There were floods of messages regarding it on Wasapp, and at nights out my friends were just discussing it. As the time rattled on, the game continue to be a hit and I thought that if I didn’t get it now, then I was going to miss out. So I craved and bought it.
Immediately I regretted. Everyone’s first impression of PUBG is; bad. The graphics are a little dated, such as the foliaged textures, the game frequently crashes, there are numerous bugs and glitches, as well as assets, like buildings and loot, not popping until later. Some of these issues have been addressed over time with patches and updates, but sometimes the game still crashes or kicks someone in your team out. But even that can’t help against the fact that the controls are just fucking dog. There is one button to get in a car and a different button to get out, as well as pressing one stick in to change the camera over one shoulder, and the other stick to change it over! It was all just bad designs that are so much more suited for a PC, which makes it feel like a straight port with no changes whatsoever. Toggling through the menus, in the heat of a battle, is an absolute bastard.
Also you find yourself being almost instantly killed depending where you landed, or being killed by a shot from god knows where, and not to mention there are loot crates (yeah, okay they are cosmetic stuff for your character, but they are fucking rubbish since you spend all your points to unlock a pair of boots, but you have your character barefoot so as to not make so much noise when moving about).
I felt like I done a wrong one purchasing it and just thrown £25 down the drain.
The game itself is a battle royal style game where 100 people are flown over the top of an enormous map (and the map itself is absolutely huge. There is only one map so far, but the PC version has a second and it won’t be long before it is added to this game as well), and must jump out whenever they see fit. The players can either be on their own or in a group between 2 and 4 (either randoms or friends).
Now you touch down with nothing and must procure all your weapons, attachments, healing items, and other equipment from wherever you can scavenge. Nearly every house and building has various rooms and these rooms contain a small pile of ammo, weapons, or other such stuff, that you have to quickly pick up and prepare yourself. You will spend the rest of the game (depending where you land) trying to stay within the zone as, after a while, the map is slowly getting smaller, pulling players together for a final showdown. Eventually the map is so small that there is nowhere to hide and, if you have prepared yourself enough for the final battle, you will be killed.
Everyone is after that ‘Chick Dinner’ (which is a phrase that pops up if you or your team manage to come first – Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner), and so when you get close to the end of the game, it turns into a chaotic free-for-all.
The zone changes every time, as does the loot you find and the route of the plane at the beginning of the game. So this, plus the fact that unpredictability of the enemy, makes the nearly every game completely different from the last.
As with all Online Multiplayer games, I was enjoying the social aspect of it. Playing with a group of up to 4 friends and mucking around together, having laughs and jokes over the headset, is always a blast regardless of what we are playing, and since the prime days of Call of Duty (CoD:4 to Black Ops 2), I seem to have lost touch with online games, so it was nice to be spending a few evenings/hours playing with a couple of mates.
However, over these sessions I started to… well not ‘git gud’ per-say, but instead learn how to play the game. I learned sections of the map, where not to drop, where the loot is, how long the zone takes to come in, what attachments were important to equip, what to look out for (such as already opened doors on both the outside and the inside of a building), and what to listen out for (footsteps on the floors above, distant gunshots, and vehicles nearby). And after a while I was actually having a really good time.
I am currently trying to play through Assassin’s Creed: Origins, however, every time I get online, someone invites me to a game where there are three people waiting for a fourth to join them. They are already playing, but a team of three is nothing compared to a team of four on PUBG, and the thought of playing in a full squad begins to fill me with excitement, causing me to quit out of AC:O and jump straight into PUBG to join them.
I am actually thinking of playing offline (or appearing offline) so I can actually make a dent in AC:O, as I cannot seem to get on it!
The main reason is that playing with a group of friends on PUBG is just great. You work together, picking your landing place, each taking individual buildings, discussing and picking up what you find inside to trade amongst yourselves, keeping an eye and ear out for one another, and covering or scouting ahead once you are tooled up, just makes for some great tactical moments that immerse you into the game. You know that there are a hell of a lot of other players on the map and they could be anywhere. There could be a guy lying in the grass up ahead, or a team waiting in ambush in the building you and your team have already decided to head towards, so you need to be on your toes.
Landing somewhere like one of the ‘cities’ on the map, or the military base in the south, will give you great loot, as you are more likely to find what you need easily (higher level helmet or armour, descent guns, better attachments, better healing kits), but a lot of people will be thinking the same thing, especially if the plane is flying over it. This means that you are in the thick of it, and if, as you are parachuting in, you can see other players falling beside you who are not on your team, then you know that you are in for a rush for the nearest weapon, reload it (as all the guns come unloaded), grab what you can and prepare yourself for an intense beginning that you are most likely not going to come out of.
If you do manage to survive and getaway, then it is a fantastic rush. Sometimes a member of your team (or even yourself) is killed too soon into the game, and so they are left spectating the rest of the game, which can last for up to 45 minutes! However, you can kick back and just be another set of eyes for whatever player you are watching, as thankfully party chat is allowed even if you are dead.
If you are dropped, then you have a limited time to crawl over to a team mate and be revived, however, if you are still in the crosshairs of the enemy, you are as good as dead. Being revived puts you on low health so you will need to heal up before you can continue. Healing takes about 10 seconds, and your armour will be a much lower value now that it has taken a few beats. You can never truly return to full health either unless you use certain types of healing items after achieving maximum health, as well as if you go down again then the time you have to be revived is reduced dramatically. So if you are shot down and revivied, then you will find yourself at a drastic disadvanatage to everyone else for the rest of the game.
Some games you will find the zone working in your favour as it centres around nearby, giving you more time to loot and prepare yourself. Very occasionally the zone will be brilliant for you and give you the clear advantage at the end of the game. And in other games the zone will be a complete bastard and you will need to spend the whole game running. If you are caught outside of it then you will lose health (more health depending how small the zone has become). This can sometimes ruin a game. If you get into a vehicle and drive around, either together or as a convoy, then you can get to a great area within the zone, but driving about makes so much noise that you are a massive moving target for everyone else. Cars now, thanks to an update, blow up easier, so it is always a risk travelling from A to B on wheels, especially if you need to get over a bridge. Bridges always have tolls (people lying in ambush waiting for others to cross), but sometimes this particular bridge is the only way to cross in order to stay out the zone.
On the one hand, the game is exactly the same every time. You drop in, tool up, move, fight, and either die or you eat that glorious chicken dinner, so if you are not interested in the repetitive of multiplayer games, then you will not enjoy this game, especially with the crashes, bugs and everything else that stops this game from gaining the extra robot score in this review. However, on the other hand, every game is completely different. Being caught outside of the zone, or changing where you land at the start can really mix up your play style as you adapt to your surroundings. You never know what is waiting for you and if you are not keeping a watchful eye, then you will most likely perish.
There is no real prize for winner other than the words popping up on screen. You are then shoved back into the lobby, the same with if you died and quit out (which is nice and easy to jump back into a new game, and thankfully you don’t need to wait and watch the rest of the match play out), as the real fun is had in the build up to that moment. I think you do receive some additional credits for how high in the game rank you came, which are then spent on cosmetic loot crates, but that in itself seems pointless, making victories nothing but bragging rights and conversation makers.
As the zone becomes smaller and smaller, the game becomes something else entirely. As you get to the final few people left alive, you feel your heart racing and your stomach clenching as the game’s intensity magnifies. You think that maybe you can win, and if you entire team are spectating, it is worse than being the last alive on Search and Destroy on Call of Duty.
Getting killed after coming so far can be discouraging, but making it into the top 10 is a victory in itself.
At this time, in a solo game I have only managed to come 7th, but this was ages ago before I learned the ways of PUBG, as I only play with friends and save the solo stuff for AC:O, however, I have managed to taste a chicken dinner in a team of four, although it was in no way my victory as I was snipered with about 20 people left in play, but my team went on to achieve victory, so at this time I am claiming that as a win for myself.
As with all Online Multiplayer games, PUBG is about the stories that you make along the way. Since you never know what you face when playing other players rather than algorithms in a scripted solo game, the stories of what occurs write themselves. Games are completely unpredictable and the one where you started out side of the zone and with nothing to your name, could easily be the one you somehow managed to scrape a chicken dinner. On the flip, the game where you were tooled up to the max with silences, 4x scopes, level 3 armour, and hundreds of bullets, could be the game where you are dropped the second you stepped into the seemingly empty farmhouse.
The game is by no means perfect. It is a taste of perfection. If all the other issues were not present and the graphics were updated, then we would be talking a five star game, once you managed to get your head around it and the buzz has taken hold of you.
Where it might seem that PUBG is just a flavour of the month and might soon be forgotten, this doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. I am going to continue to ride this wave of Online Multiplayer for as long as it will last, as it could just suddenly end when the next big thing comes out.