PlayerUnknown’s Battle Ground is the most recent of games to take Twitch by storm. Constant praise from friends lead me to try the game for myself and after understanding the mechanics and progression, wow. PUBG is the synthesis of the battle royal gaming genre.
The concept is simple; 100 players enter an island from the same plane (ejecting at their choosing) and the final squad, duo or lone wolf wins. The map is large and as time marches on the play zone shrinks in circular intervals. Once you have safely landed with your parachute the mad dash begins for weapons armor and health resources. Scavenging is a primary focus to success in PUBG, but this success can still be thwarted by well executed strategy and mechanics. As the play zone shrinks and your odds of encountering other players increases, tension builds up as you prepare your final arsenal for the last circles of the play zone. The weapons hold a familiar setup in a way that gameplay becomes iconic and intuitive with inventory slots for a melee weapon, a pistol and two main guns whether it’s the classic mid-long range assault rifle, the close to mid-range submachine gun, the I’m in your face shotgun or the I’ll shoot you across the map sniper rifle combat plays out naturally. Time between play zone shrinking is ample, but with each new circle your travel time is shortened, so in the beginning you are given time to find a vehicle to traverse the island and loot, but by the end your focus has shifted to surviving and besting other players. Vehicles have a speed-safety ratio where the more speed your vehicle has (for example the crash and burn motorcycle) the easier it is to crash or be vulnerable to bullets. The overall gameplay is well balanced between items and execution leaving players craving to become better at the game, to understand more of the map, and create unique tactics.
The visual style is a generic modern age war with the art direction reaching for realistic looking characters, terrains, weapons and vehicles, but slightly falling flat with simple designs and models. However, the terrains are natural while having clever intentionality. Naturally built mountains, farmlands and rivers feel as though they were stripped from the real world while at the same time the landscape presents itself as a clever game mechanic with the importance of high ground and the vulnerability of fields etc. Cosmetics in game are limited, but do serve to distinguish characters and potentially better hide a player in tall grass with camouflage. Overall the visual style is generic, but there is not a single portion or model in the game that sticks out as being unnatural.
As all great shooters, well placed audio makes interactions further engaging and decides confrontations with other players; PUBG holds no exception with their phenomenal audio cues. The proportion from distance to sound is impeccable for the scope audio presents. Gunshots and vehicles are heard off in the distance, so overtime the distance and direction of enemy sound allows you to react with the world in new ways. Each weapon also makes a unique sound leaving a listening skill gap for those with keen ears willing to identify a certain shot or reload they may hear. The audio is designed building off predecessors in the shooter genre to make listening as engaging and skill forming as combat.
The great downside PUBG currently has is as of 09/21/2017 the game is poorly optimized. I am fortunate enough to have a higher end gaming pc, but I have played with friends who have midrange rigs and they struggle from steady frame rates, to having textures and buildings load in, and the game crashing at seemingly random moments. This is a minor complaint since the game is in early access and is very likely to become optimized overtime. With that said the game is excellent the slow build up and cultivation of weapons and gear as you edge towards the final showdown is something so enjoyable, so tense and adrenaline pumping that after every match your temptation to continue playing grows fondly in hopes of lasting further in the next match. I look forward to see what the developers have in store as new weapons, environment and ways to interact with the world are released into what alreadyis anamazing unfinished product.