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PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS review

July 19, 2017 — by Mithun "Barbarian_Monkey" Mohandas0

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PCReview

PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS review

July 19, 2017 — by Mithun "Barbarian_Monkey" Mohandas0

Loot - Scoot - Shoot

Heard of Battle Royale, the movie? Nope? Hunger Games? Sure, because you’re a filthy casual. Survival games have been around for a really long time but these Battle Royale type games have only recently gained a lot of attention and in particular because of their marketing strategies on Twitch. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS a.k.a. PUBG is the hottest thing in that particular genre as of writing this. With humble beginnings as a mod for popular video games like H1Z1 and ARMA 3, BATTLEGROUNDS started off as BATTLE ROYALE GAMES. Yep, the creator Brendan “PLAYERUNKNOWN” Greene named the mod to reflect exactly what it was, a rendition of the cult favourite Japanese survival movie – BATTLE ROYALE. Something that the Hunger Games so blatantly ripped off.

The premise

You start off on an island along with up to 100 players who’re all in the same state as you, buck naked with absolutely no armour or weapons. Soon enough you are air-dropped onto an even bigger island which is pockmarked with long abandoned buildings, underground bunkers, military bases and quaint towns. Maybe not so quaint given that each building in that town is loaded with assault rifles and semi-automatic machine guns. This is the loot stage. You have 5 minutes to grab the closest weapon you can find and be on the ready to kill off others who’re doing the exact same thing. Perhaps you’ll get lucky and land an AKM with a nice 8x scope and stability mods or perhaps you’ll end up getting shot dead before you can even scuttle your parachute and hit the ground.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Let’s say you’ve found a couple of weapons and armour. You’ll soon be asked to head over to the marked area before the timer expires. This is the scoot and shoot stage. There’s a killer field that soon begins to hone in on the island in a circle. This circle, is where all the action happens. The circle reduces in diameter every couple of minutes till there’s nothing but a small patch of land left towards the end of the game. Inside the circle, you’re safe from the killer field but so is every other player, and they all have guns just like you. Some have better gear and are more suited to blow your brains out from across the map, while some are ripe for picking. Remember, the weak have no place on the island. There are different strategies towards getting kills, you can either hover around the boundary of the circle and snipe the stragglers as they come running towards the circle of you can hightail it to the centre of the circle and play it safe by camping till the crowd whittled itself down. Both work fine.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

You rinse repeat and move from circle to circle till there are few players left and then battle it out till the winner is crowned. The prize? A sumptuous chicken dinner, of course.

Gameplay

Every match is different with PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS. The map is fixed, the textures, the buildings and everything about the map remain the same. The difference is brought about by the initial path along which the players are air-dropped which is random, and then the weapon spawns are random. Same can be said for the vehicles as well.

Moreover, the killer field circle is chosen at random within the previous circle. So if you did gear up and run right to the centre of the first circle with the intention to camp till the end of the game, then you’re gravely mistaken, the next circle might very well be completely outside your safe zone.

Every now and then, there’s a care package that gets airdropped onto the map with some of the best loot that the game can provide. Obviously, everyone else can see where the care package is landing and so, getting to the care package is one of the most riskiest moves but also the most rewarding. Each match lasts around 35-40 minutes, that’s about the time it takes for the killer field to completely encompass the island and as the circle grows smaller, its intensity grows that much more powerful.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

It’s this ever shrinking field that brings out your inner survival instinct, your playstyle changes as more and more players get taken out. It goes from the callous attitude one has in every other unlimited respawn FPS to being outright paranoid. So much that you’re guaranteed to hear each and every footstep in your surrounding and even the slightest sound of a leaf hitting the ground. You immediately start checking your corners, moving around in a crouched manner, checking each building through the windows for inhabitants before breaking in to gather loot.

Towards the end of the match when there are just a few players left inside a circle that’s smaller than your school’s backyard is the most adrenaline fueled moment. Everything that happens from then on is purely instinctual, you’ll most probably end up with a few bullets in your back as there’s always someone better than you.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Or, if you’ve completely lucked out, got everything right from the get go and have managed to avert the attention of everyone else, then you’ll end up with this …

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

Graphics

Since the game is in early access, it’s one of the most unoptimised games out there. Unlike the early days of the game when it started out as a mod of ARMA3, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is not based on Bohemia Interactive’s Real Virtuality 4 engine. Rather PUBG uses Unreal 4 engine. And despite the use of such a well-rounded and matured game engine, PUBG takes way too much graphics resources. The game had quite a few issues with framerates during the Alpha dates but those have been largely fixed.

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

We would certainly have appreciated a more granular control over the graphics settings to tune things better to our machines. We tried the game out on an NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti, AMD RX 470 and a GTX 750. Only the GTX 980 Ti was capable of running the game on ultra settings and that too with an FPS cap imposed by the devs. You can remove the FPS cap by editing a game file but the devs have been handing out bans willy nilly, so we stuck to what the game’s UI had to offer.

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

Another important thing that we believe should be included is an FOV slider. While in the open grounds the FOV hardly matters but inside closed spaces it gets really cumbersome while looting the entire place. After getting used to so many games with a much wider FOV, PUBG almost feels unnatural.

Co-op gameplay

You’d think the co-op mode would feel the same as that from ARMA but Bluehole has gone and changed things up considerably. We believe it’s for the better. The UI is simple so there’s less time spent configuring your gear while looting. The mini-map allows for marker placement so that all squadmates can co-ordinate movement and attack strategies. Especially when you’re air-dropping onto the map and need to decide where to make landfall.

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

There’s less planning and strategy in PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS compared to ARMA3. It’s generally a bunch of approaches that you’d mark on the map, everything else requires a mic. If you don’t have one, then your squad is going to have a really bad time.

Glitch galore

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS Has quite a few glitches and most of them end up being ridiculously funny rather than frustrating, although there are quite a few frustrating ones in the mix as well. The most common is that of vehicles getting flung across the map or straight up when they go over a minor bump or even a leaf. We’ve seen numerous incidences of a vehicle speeding across the open ground to completely vanish out of sight, only to be spotted half a kilometer up in the air before tumbling down and killing all the occupants.

The pan is also another such controversial object which is practically invulnerable. You can melee one-hit players with the pan even if they’re wearing a helmet while every other melee weapon takes more than one hit. However, the pan is better utilised if kept as the inactive weapon i.e. you equip it but let it remain on your person. That one butt cheek that it covers will be invulnerable from the most powerful weapon in the game.

And if you’ve got some mean ninjutsu skills then you can close the distance between you and the enemy with just the pan.

Then there are the frustrating glitches. Getting out of a moving vehicle will give you an ample amount of “fall damage” which more often than not, gets you killed. Even if your squad mate lightly bumps into you with a vehicle, you should expect to lose half your life. The worst glitch/bug/pain-point is the desync issue. As the player count increases (which is during the initial few minutes of the game) and the distance to the server increases, your hit registration goes completely bonkers. Yes, we are talking about lag but in this case there’s no compensation mechanism. Take Team Fortress 2 as an example, if you are sniping in TF2 with a server ping of 100-150, you’ll still get headshots because the server figures out where the enemy was standing at the point of firing your weapon and then calculates to see if the enemy should’ve been hit. In PUBG, even if your ping is low but the player count is high, you’ll never hit your opponent. And we’re talking melee combat here. Which is why you should avoid any fisticuffs towards the initial stages and just hunt for a SMG or shotgun which has a wide spread. ‘

There are other glitches which aren’t as bad as the ones we’ve mentioned here such as the vaulting (over walls) mechanism. Hopefully, as the game exits beta towards the end of this year or early 2018, these issues should be fixed.

Why is PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS so popular?

Twitch Streamers. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS owes its popularity to the partnership program run by Bluehole which gives Twitch Streamers access to exclusive features and the ability to host their own servers. Which resulted in a lot of them streaming PUBG a lot more than the other games.

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

Also, Brendan Greene who’s behind PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS also made the same mod for H1Z1: King of the Kill (KotK) which has been quite popular with streamers so they were only too happy to try out another game by Brendan Greene. In comparison, KotK is more of an arcade game while PUBG leans more towards the simulation types.

MOAR!
Developer – Bluehole
Publisher – Bluehole
Platforms – PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Price – Rs. 999

Verdict

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is all about the multiplayer like every other Battle Royale game. It doesn’t even matter whether this game gets a single player campaign at this point because it has proven that the multiplayer is more than enough to sell the game. To sell four million copies within the first three months! Aside from the few pesky glitches, PUBG brings out that survival instinct in you as you eke your way towards a sumptuous chicken dinner. With each session having enough random elements to keep the game fresh we see PUBG remaining in the limelight for a considerable period of time. All you need are a couple of more maps down the line (a new desert map has already been announced) and a lot more focus on the optimisation part. Now, excuse us, if you will. A chicken dinner awaits!

PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS review
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Mithun "Barbarian_Monkey" Mohandas

Deep in the suburban jungle roams the only member of the mystical species, Barbarianicus Ass-kick-us. This super awesome creature carries with it the answers to none of life's mysteries. Then what on earth could be so awesome about him? Being able to binge-game for countless hours and exercise remarkable restraint over his penchant for sarcasm around members of lesser species are just some of qualities that make him likeable...really likeable. xD

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