“The game is broken!”
“The frame rate is so bad, I can’t even see!”
“What is with the textures!?”
“Something about high-end PC hardware being better than Xbox’s, the sky being blue and Sydney being hot during summer”
These are just some of the comments that have been said about PUBG on Xbox. While I can’t comment on those people’s personal experiences, I can give you my own thoughts, but first I want to talk about expectations real quick.
Expectations ebb and flow like crazy. It’s amazing what one game can get away with while another gets absolutely murdered while pretty much doing the exact same thing. Zelda Breath Of The Wild got ripped into for having bad graphics in handheld mode, while Undertale is constantly celebrated and those graphics are nothing to write home about. A lot of Twitch 'affiliate' streamers got chewed for having a sub button/promoting their sub button when Twitch are the ones taking 50% of the profits…the list could go on and on and on.
My point is, what people expect changes the perception, so I am a little surprised that PUBG on Xbox isn’t getting the credit it deserves. Not to mention that it wasn’t that long ago that everyone was rushing out to get a new CPU/GPU/entire PC just to be able to play it because it was so broken and to some degree I think it still needs work even on PC. For me, I have always loved the concept of the game and played it a lot since the beta on PC earlier this year, but due to me growing up with consoles and only getting my first PC last year, I never felt comfortable with the mouse and keyboard. I am not kidding when I say I got maybe 10 kills total since March this year because my brain/hand-eye coordination just isn’t used to being on the ball with the mouse and keyboard yet. That has all changed since PUBG launched just over a month ago.
Now, I am not claiming the game is perfect, far from it. It definitely needs work, but for a ‘game preview’ game I am pretty happy with it. Vaulting feels butter smooth and driving is infinitely better with a controller - I play a lot of racing games/sims so I hold driving controls to a high standard and I am so glad that I can finally pull off more technical manoeuvres in the vehicles. Shooting feels significantly more natural for me and I have gotten over 30 kills in the last two days across about 10 games, including duos and squads, which I am happy with.
Some quirks I have noticed is that the starting area textures are a bit funky, and the frame rate drops when you parachute from the plane and it takes a painstaking amount of time if you are trying to do a squad round with only 3 players while waiting for a random 4th to join, although this has been mitigated by allowing you to join a squad game with, less than 4 players. It definitely runs significantly smoother on the Xbox One X than the One S or original One. The One X has HDR and 4K support, textures load faster and look better, the draw distance is noticeably better and overall everything just feels more refined but that's to be expected from the flagship console.
The controller support on PC was atrocious and when I tried to use it, it created a number of issues for the game, namely just crashing it. The Xbox control scheme works very well in my opinion, with a learning curve of about 2 hours for me, I feel significantly more comfortable looking and equipping items now. LB/RB tab between mini menus, up and down selects your item, A equips, X picks up, Y drops, it’s all very smooth when you get the hang of it - especially if you are used to a controller. Aiming, movement and shooting took a little longer to get used to but I’m finding myself more and more confident with each game.
By default, from first or third person view, quickly tapping the left trigger once puts you into ADS (aim down sights) mode, while holding it just tightens the focus/aiming reticle but remains in whatever view you were in. Tapping RB switches from first to third person mode, while holding RB and moving the right joy stick allows you to check your surroundings without changing direction. When you are holding LT or in ADS mode, in either first or third person view, clicking the left or right stick (or in my case the left and right paddle under the Elite controller) you will lean in either direction respectively.
PUBG's best feature is the Duo/Squad playlist options. Solo is fun, but there are few games that cement team bonds like PUBG. The nature of it being so tense due to perma-death means you really have to be able to work together with your team, share resources and make sure you've always got each other covered. I play a lot of online team-based shooters like Gears of War, Halo, Rainbow Six and Overwatch, but none of these games carry the same kind of weight and tension that PUBG does when playing in a team. I think that PUBG is best played with others for no other reason than it creates high-intensity, shared-investment moments unlike any game I have played. Making it to the final few with your team, then getting picked off one by one only to have the last member of your team take out the remaining few and taking home the chicken dinner is just one of the uniquely exciting experiences that PUBG offers.
All in all, I think there is a lot that could be said about PUBG that make it seem like it's not a game that you want - bugs, frame rate drops, rubber banding etc etc - sure they are all there, but it's not a deal breaker for me. They are such small and infrequent problems for such a tremendously fun experience. There has already been so many patches and updates to the game since it's launch last month, I am genuinely impressed with the progress and fixes that have already been made and will be fully supporting the game on Xbox in every way I can. I would love to see this game become the poster-child for Early Access Games' success and go on to become one of the best shooters of this generation.
Some things I am looking forward to/would like to see are custom games being available and the ability to make playlists from those custom games. One example would be a custom 'Shotty/Snipers' game where there is a permanent circle, that starts in a smaller part of the map but doesn't shrink. There's a time limit, no respawns and the person with the most kills when the time runs out gets the chicken dinner. Another idea I would love is a "wheelman" game, where 50 teams of 2 are assigned a role, either driver or passenger with the goal of being the last team alive. You spawn near vehicles with a 30 second 'no damage' timer, frantically rush to grab a car and make a getaway. There would be a 'floor is lava' rule so you can't leave the car for long and each team starts with an assault rifle and a few grenades. This is all just me spitballing here, but the possibilities are endless, especially if the developers ever gave us a map editor, but that might be wishful thinking for now...
My final thoughts are, if you like tense shooters with awesome team based gameplay, then this is definitely up your alley. Solo players will also find a lot to be enjoyed here, but it definitely rewards those who prefer not to go it alone. For $34-$39AUD (depending on where you buy it from) I can't recommend this game enough. It's fast, intense, frustrating, brilliant, refreshing and above all, a lot of fun!
Thanks to Xbox Australia for sending me a copy of the game!