Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds has been the rage for over a year as it broke records to become the biggest video game title in 2017 on PC. Although riddled with bugs and optimisation issues, the battle royale game successfully topped the charts. It recently made its way to Xbox and they have been enjoying a similar level of popularity too. Can they attain the same on the mobile platform? Having played PUBG Mobile for a few days, we believe it might. FPS games are best played with a keyboard and mouse. Considering the battle royale genre of games, there’s a lot going on other than simply shooting at your enemies. You have to loot items, drive vehicles, heal yourself, assist your teammates, exchange loot, use weapon attachments and while doing all of it, you need to survive. It would be natural to assume that it must be way difficult to bring all these controls to a touchscreen device. But PUBG Mobile has successfully incorporated all the functions and aspects of a battle royale game into a mobile game. In fact, they have actually introduced better controls for certain functions. Essentially, you will be able to experience the battle royale genre on your smartphone now. And the best of it all, the game is free. At least, for now with no in-app purchases.
You can play the game in the Guest mode or by logging in using your Facebook account. Do note, the stats and progress achieved in the Guest mode won’t be carried if you log in through Facebook later. After logging in, you can customise your character. You won’t be able to change your character unless you pay Bonus Points (BP) that you can earn in-game. Since this is a mobile game, you can earn BP through daily rewards, missions, events and from friends. We couldn’t find a store in the app where you could buy BP with real money. This is probably under works since these form of transactions are present on other mobile games. BP can be used to buy crates from the Supplies tab. The crates contain cosmetic items such as eyewear, pants, hats, shoes, etc. You can’t buy any form of abilities that will give you an advantage in the game.
Mobile games usually have a strong social aspect and PUBG incorporates them well. You can add friends either from your Facebook list or by searching using their usernames. Everyone who has logged into the game using Facebook will be listed in the tab. This tab will also show you player status whether they are in-game or not. You can send voice chats to your friends or inside chat rooms that can be created by anyone. Crews can be formed with your friends. We aren’t sure about this feature since all it does is create a team with a maximum capacity of 10. The PC version has a leaderboard that resets every month. They provide a detailed breakdown of statistics across different servers and modes. So, you can find your kill stats in the Asia server in the Solo mode individually. If you wish to see how you rank among your friends and the world, you should visit the Rank tab. This place does a great job of showing your rating across the servers and game modes as well. For those who want to keep their gameplay competitive, you should keep a close eye on this.
Global chat makes it easier to join other rooms for squads and duos or simply to speak to players in your server. For now, PUBG Mobile supports three servers including Asia, Europe and North America. Since the Asia server is the closest, we’d recommend that. Rooms can be created under modes. You can select either Duo or Squads and create a room. Then you can post a global chat to invite players out of your list to join you. To make it easier to learn the game, you can find instructions under the Tutorials tab.
Coming over to gameplay, it currently supports a single map (Erangel). We compared the locations in the mobile game with the PC version. The terrain was slightly different while the buildings and objects were scaled down. The number of objects have been drastically reduced throughout, even inside the houses. This reduces the stress on the rendering these details and makes up for a better experience. If you have a powerful phone, you can scale the frame rate and graphics. It’s up to you whether you want high framerate or detailed graphics or both.
While playing the game, the environment didn’t require much time to load. Shooting enemies become easy after a few rounds when you’ve become comfortable with the controls. Picking up loot has been improved in the game where higher level items are automatically replaced. So, if you’re wearing a level 2 helmet, if you come close to a level 3 helmet, it will automatically pick up the latter. You can disable this option under settings. At certain times, your level 3 armour might be damaged to a point where it’s almost useless. If automatic pick up is enabled, it won’t pick up a fresh level 2 armour. Another aspect that we liked is finer control over dropping items. In the PC version you have to press Ctrl and drag the items out of your inventory. You will get a pop-up to enter the amount or number of that item you need to drop. You enter the number and the same amount is dropped. This allows you to share loot among your teammates or drop a certain amount to accommodate new items. In the mobile version, you can hit the ‘partial’ button while dropping an item and it will give you a slider indicating the number. We would love this feature to make its way to the PC version as well. Oh, and vaulting is present in the mobile version.
The amount of customisability offered under settings is impressive as well. You can change your crosshair colour, enable or disable various options such aim assist, healing prompts, etc. Sensitivity and touch controls can also be changed according to your preferences. There are three predefined controls for movement and combat together. You can also find three different predefined controls for vehicle movement. Sensitivity allows you granular control over several aspects such as camera, ADS (aim down sight) and gyroscope. Or rather than scratching your head, you can select the three predefined sensitivity modes.
Most of us won the first time we played the game and found it a little suspicious. After reading about other’s experiences and reports, we realised that PUBG Mobile matches you with AI bots in the first match. As you progress, more real players are added to your game. It’s simple to spot real players in the game since they move around a lot and they will shoot at you. This is a great approach for newcomers so that they aren’t driven away with the difficulty of playing against real players. With a high enough profile ranking, we think that eventually, you will be able to play against 99 real players.
PUBG Mobile – Verdict
Playing PUBG on a smartphone was an overwhelming experience. They have been able to scale down brilliantly and keep the learning curve simple. In our Solo and Duos gameplay, we didn’t face any problems or bugs. Sometimes the animations inside the game seemed off like vaulting over broken walls and swimming. With the introduction of AI bots as opponents, players might just stick longer because of the high rewards and achievements they will be earning. Add to that the daily rewards and bonuses, PUBG Mobile should witness a healthy number of daily active users. Among all the battle royale games out there, this is the first one to make it to mobile devices. Fortnite is also on its way and we look forward to try it out soon.
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Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey
This ape-descended life form believed that coming down from the trees was a bad idea until he was introduced to video games. Has spent endless hours playing Prince of Persia, Hitman, Assassin's Creed, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life and Left 4 Dead. This makes it three sentences, Half-Life 3 confirmed.