Well, it’s finally here. The battle royale behemoth that kicked everything off has dropped on Sony’s powerhouse console, after almost a year since it arrived on the Xbox One. Many naysayers wrote the experience off entirely after the shocking state that it hit Microsoft’s premium machine, but I was optimistic that it could arrive in an at least playable condition.
PUBG on Xbox One is certainly no chicken dinner, more like microwave dinner for one while your cat plots to kill you in your sleep. If you can find the jewel of a game at its core –the same one that has enchanted millions upon millions of players on PC– you’re a more forgiving person than I am and all the power to you. For me, however, the damage has been done and the hype train has one less passenger.
So expectations were low.
However, so far, things aren’t as bad as expected. For starters, that horrendous texture pop-in found on the Xbox release isn’t nearly as noticeable this time around. Buildings look like buildings upon landing, and the furniture within looks how it should. Enemies can be spotted with relative ease, and the shooting mechanics are as solid as you’d like.
Everything still looks like dirt, though. Sure, that’s on account of the ‘realistic’ aesthetic that everybody loves to praise PUBG for, but it’s just so ugly to look at. Call me a child, but I’d favour Fortnite’s colourful palette over this selection of browns and greys any day of the week. It doesn’t help that texture loading is still very much an issue (though by this point, it’s probably more of a feature), and pop-in still occurs constantly when falling from the sky. The frame-rate seems to remain at least semi-constant, though, which is always an asset.
Also, the game’s audio needs some serious tweaking. Bugs aside, like how the plane has no accompanying sound on squad mode, everything is just tricky to pinpoint, and player positioning isn’t nearly as precise as PUBG’s colourful clone. It might seem like I’m coming at it with a strong bias towards Fortnite, but it’s hard not to compare the two when Fortnite overtook PUBG in popularity long ago.
However, from a gameplay perspective, there’s definitely some strengths that give this battle royale iteration a leg-up over the competition. Three huge maps and an assortment of vehicles means that even in my handful of hours with the game, I’ve not come across the same area twice. There’s also a healthy offering of weapons, though the poorly designed menus makes comparing stats tricky. This is very much an experience that’s designed for PC and aggressively dragged across to a controller, so expect some pushback as you try to learn the inconvenient controls.
All-in-all, so far I’m whelmed. I’m not blown away by the game, but I am pleasantly surprised that it runs far better than I’d initially expected. Gradually mastering the controls is a satisfying experience, and I feel like I’m slowly edging towards my first chicken dinner. I plan on sticking with PUBG at least until the new year, in which time I imagine I might grow to either love or hate its garish chunkiness. Only time will tell, but expect a full review sometime soon.