First Impression: PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (or PUBG for short) just released a month ago, but it’s already taken the gaming community by storm. You can’t open a video game news or streaming service without encountering the game. Honestly I haven’t seen this much coverage of an early access title since DayZ first released. I decided to see what all the fuss is about, so I grabbed a gun and joined the fray.

The Map

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The map’s fairly big, probably about the size of Fallout 3’s if I had to guess. The terrain is surprising well put together too, with few issues existing. I haven’t fallen through the map or any buildings, and I’ve only gotten stuck once after jumping into a rocky shoreline.

The battleground starts out fairly large, but constantly shrinks to encourage player encounters. There are also “Red Zones” that discourage camping, dropping air strikes on those that do. However, these are a bit inconsistent, as I’ve left a Red Zone just to have another instantly appear at my new location. But with a few tweaks I believe the map mechanics will be solid.

Guns and Gear

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When it comes to guns, PUBG has you covered. There are currently 17 guns to choose from, including shotguns, rifles, and even grenades. The arsenal has a pretty good library so far, with more guns releasing in the future. Most weapons are customizable, allowing greater control. You can add grips, scopes, and other accessories to improve a gun’s performance. The only real problem is finding gun accessories before others do, but I suppose you can always loot it from their bodies too.

As far as balance is concerned, most guns behave as you would expect. You can’t “run and gun” while maintaining accuracy nor are you able to snipe without the proper accessories; which is fine by me. I honestly prefer realism in games. My only concern comes with the addition of scopes. Simply put, the game spawns too many scopes. This prompts most people to camp, making combat slow.

Apparel for your character can be obtained from chests. These chests can be either earned by playing the game or bought through micro-transactions at release. They don’t contain any guns, so don’t worry about “Pay2Win”. The gear you get are simple things like masks, pants, and jackets. Right now there is limited gear selection, something I hope changes in the future.

Gameplay

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Considering the game is in alpha it runs surprisingly well. There is a little lag and a few frame issues, but they are minor. There’s really nothing game breaking about the current build. Among all the alpha games I’ve played this might be the most stable.

There are really only two ways to play PUBG: camp or hunt players. When I first started I chose the coward’s route. I grabbed the nearest gun and ran into a bathroom, waiting for someone to open the door. While this wasn’t very exciting, you do have heart pounding moments when enemies are near you. You can easily finish in the top 20 by camping, but it’s not very satisfying. Thankfully the game does have some mechanics in place to prevent this, but I wish they would go a little further to discourage it.

I eventually had my “man up” moment, thanks to my wife chiding me. I must admit, she was right. Hunting others is much more exciting and can create some interesting situations. One of my favorite things to do is sneak up on a player and yell “Happy birthday!”. This usually startles them enough for me to gun them down easily. Honestly, I recommend playing offensively. You may die faster, but you will go out with a bang.

Upcoming Content

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White it’s hard to judge a game on unreleased content, it is important to at least mention it. Most planned updates will fix current issues, while new features will be implemented. Climbing/vaulting, controller support, and better physics are among some of the great additions planned.

But the content patch I’m looking forward to the most is the modding update. That’s right, modding. The developers plan to add the ability for the community to add mods to the game, including new game modes. This is huge, as I’m not aware of any other survival game that has added mod support. Whether or not they actually implement the update remains to be seen.

I wish they would go further though, adding in even more content. I’d love to see more combat zones, with different settings and weather hazards. Most survival games only focus on one, which becomes boring. I’d also love to see some sort of crafting system. Maybe turn a shirt into a bandage or make trip wire grenades. I think it would give the game more depth, but it can’t be over complicated either. Furthermore, gun spawns need to be more restricted, only appearing in appropriate areas. Military gear shouldn’t be near civilian houses nor should you be able to find explosives at a gas station.

Final Thoughts

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If you are considering this game I have two pieces of advice for you. First, do not expect to win every game, or even half of them. If you do you will quickly become disappointed and you won’t enjoy it. Second, bring some friends! PUBG allows you to form squads of up to four people, which only makes the experience better. This completely changes the game and obviously increases your chance at victory.

Overall PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is an insanely fun game, even if it is in alpha. The game is decently balanced and only contains minor bugs, with more content to be released in the future. There are still some features I would like to see, but overall I give the game a solid B. I have high hopes for PUBG, and I expect it will only get better. At the time of this writing I am nearly 20 hours in, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Duninn.

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