So, here we finally are! PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is – without question – the biggest game in the world right now, so Microsoft’s current console exclusivity for the title is obviously a big deal. Equally without question is that the PC game is notorious for its work-in-progress visuals and wobbly performance. With that in mind, some might say that it’s somewhat miraculous that any playable version of PUBG is possible on a console right now. From another perspective though, what’s clear is that the current build of the game is a long way short of the standards expected from a polished console release.
Since Bluehole announced that PUBG would be coming to Xbox One, I was very excited. I have access to a really good gaming PC and have played PUBG on there to which I thoroughly enjoyed, but for me, I’m a console kinda gal and enjoy nothing more than relaxing on my sofa with controller in hand. Without further ado let me talk you through some of my personal experience with this game on the day of launch…
*This review is in-progress as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is currently available through the Xbox Preview Program and is a work in progress due to see updates as development progresses.
PUBG on Xbox One starts up promisingly enough with a decent, attractive front-end, but once you’ve moved on from character creation to your first in-game lobby, you’re instantly besieged by low resolution textures that seem to be failing to stream in properly. The initial sequence on the plane that starts off every round is particularly conspicuous: as you parachute toward the ground and see sharp buildings laid atop the Vaseline-smeared landscape, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at a ‘90s flight simulator, not one of 2017’s hottest games but it improves once you’ve dropped into battle. There is never a time where the game’s performance feels locked at a solid frame rate, however, which can be frustrating. I found the parachuting smooth and easy enough to navigate although it was a tad on the sensitive side while rocking down to my desired destination.
When I finally got to a house that I wanted to loot, this is where some issues lay. LAG! And quite a lot of it. Trying to open a door meant it being shut in my face numerous amounts of times given that I was spamming “X” in pure frustration! The Xbox controls do multiple things in PUBG, so it really can take a lot of time and practice for your fingers to learn the Irish jig that you’ll need to master otherwise, “The gas” will be taking you down in a matter of minutes. Let’s take a quick look at the control layout –
After I spent some time looting (Why is there so many bloody pistols!?) I immediately went on the prowl for a vehicle. I found driving the most enjoyable aspect of traveling around the map, well that and it’s not as easy for others to shoot you in the ass while you throw yourself on the ground panicking “Where did that shot come from?!”. I drove with relative ease and even saw two guys running up a nearby mountain where I quickly stepped on the gas to promptly ran them both over! (Shout out to Carmageddon for helping me acquire this skill in the good ol’ days)
Some pretty big problems came when I saw a duo team running across a wide open field, sniper in my hand ready to pop some heads, but only to be greeted with another case of “The Lags”. One second they were right in front of me and the next they were at least 10/15 feet further along. This kept happening frequently hence having to retire my sniper and eventually even trying to shoot anyone that wasn’t just a few feet in front of me. PUBG’s frame rate is capped at 30 fps, a target it often misses. In general, frame rates on the One X were 5 to 10 fps higher than the One. However, on the One X frame rates were often in the lower 20’s with the vanilla One dropping below 20 frequently. To make matters worse, performance was chaotic with frame rates changing moment-to-moment for reasons that were often unclear.
This is a very touchy subject and I want to keep as open and realistic as possible here. The graphics on PC have never really been amazing even on high settings but as most gamers keep it on low settings anyway, the graphics in PUBG are never going to be that great. As mentioned earlier during my plane trip onto the map, it looks pretty terrible! The draw distance is the one thing I had issues with as at times you really can’t see what it is you are going towards until you are coming close to it.
PUBG is a freewheeling, nail-biting, intense, multiplayer first-person shooter. It’s not – and was never intended to be – a graphics showcase. As expected, graphics are markedly better on the One X than the vanilla One. However, on the One X, the graphics are just okay. On the original Xbox One, they range from below average to terrible. You will be able to tell the difference in terms in resolution and visuals if you go from the standard Xbox One to the Xbox One X, but it’s a shame we might have to wait a bit longer to get the sort of performance most players will expect from the game.
PUBG can be obnoxiously loud when on the start island with people running around hyper, shooting everything they can find and also the plane can be a little noisy, but this has come down a lot since a fix was made for the PC version, so I’m glad they have implemented that on the Xbox. All in all, the sound is decent and you get to hear the most important things like nearby vehicles and the direction of gunshots.
PUBG performed poorly when it first appeared on the PC, but the team behind it has worked diligently to improve the game. It still has issues, but it’s much better than it was at the beginning, so based on that history, I expect the same will happen with the Xbox. Improvement may even happen faster than it did on PC because Microsoft’s Advanced Technology Group and The Coalition (the Gears of War 4 developers) are working with the PUBG Corporation to improve PUBG on the Xbox One.
While PUBG is likely to get better, it’s not very good now, especially on the vanilla One and this was, in truth to be expected. The root of the problem is that this is a game that was designed solely with PCs in mind, and rather than adapt the game for console use the developers just tried to create a straight port, with as few changes as possible. Which is how you end up with badly un-optimised controls and interface. And yet I still enjoyed every minute while the game was working, and would recommend it to anyone as long as they understand that this is not a finished product. On a side note, I do hope Bluehole take a long hard look at, in my opinion, the best multiplayer I have played in a long time and that’s Fortnite. Fortnite show developers how a game is properly made with constant updates, fixes and they have their ears firmly open to the needs of the players. I really do hope that PUBG can follow suit as it has the potential to be a really amazing game on the Xbox one.
As this is in Early access and an unfinished game, I will soley rate it on what I have played so far and obviously write another review when it is completed with (hopefully) all the issues ironed out. On that note….
I give PlayerUnknown’s Battleground a “needs a lot of work” 5/10 Thumb Culture Silver Award