Battle Royale, eh. You can’t go far these days without seeing a bloody Battle Royale game. It’s a game mode that’s plagued the video game scene over the last year and it’s mainly down to PUBG. PUBG wasn’t the first Battle Royale game but it’s the one that gained the most popularity and paved the way for the likes of Fortnite, Realm Royale and more recently Call of Duty’s Blackout, to name a few.
If, for whatever reason, you aren’t familiar with the concept of a Battle Royale game here’s a quick breakdown. 100 players jump into a map, with nothing to hand. They land and scavenge for weapons and items whilst the area they’re playing in ever decreases in size. Players must kill one another until only one remains, thus making them the victor. PUBG laid the groundwork for this genre so, by proxy, follows this to a tee. PUBG can be played solo but there are also options to play as duos, and in squads. These are the exact same premise but you’ll instead be playing with a coop buddy or in a squad of four.
Being one of the original Battle Royale games, PUBG offers a raw experience. Everything is down to skilled gunplay and the game doesn’t rely on features such as building or casting spells. You land, you grab weapons, you shoot one another, you (hopefully) win. There are a variety of weapons in the game including shotguns, pistols, assault rifles and bolt action rifles, each of which can be upgraded with attachments found around the map. Standard rifles can be upgraded to sniper rifles by simply adding an 8x scope to them, for example. Other items such as armour, backpacks, medical supplies and throwables (smoke grenades, he grenades etc.) make up the rest of the game’s items.
The game also features vehicles and these are necessary for moving into the battle zone should you find yourself at the opposite side of the map. And the maps in this game are huge. Both Erangel and Miramar size up at 8x8km with Sanhok offering smaller 4x4km playground. Each of PUBGs maps also has its own unique style. Erangel, the original map, is set in Eastern Europe with a nice variety of green landscape, villages and small cities, alongside key points of interest such as a military base, school and hospital. Miramar houses a similar palate of POIs but situated in a desert setting. Sanhok is based within a jungle ripe with trees and old ruins which serve as perfect cover for sneaking up on your enemies. There’s a nice variety in the maps here but you can sometimes find yourself traipsing around for 20 minutes on the bigger maps without seeing another a player. Size isn’t everything (praise be!). If you prefer to play on a specific map then you’re shit out of luck because the game decides what map you’re playing on dependent on the lobby you land in.
But it’s when you get into the game that you notice just how aged PUBG really is. And that’s a strange thing to say about a game that’s barely two years old. Bland character models, low-res textures and an unpredictable frame rate are commonplace. The gameplay itself is fairly janky too. Picking up items isn’t quite as fluid as you’d hope and the same is true of opening doors to buildings. All of this equates to you losing valuable seconds during the beginning of a match. The inventory is also a tad cumbersome, especially when trying to quickly adjust your weapon’s load-out whilst taking cover from fire in a small shelter. The frame rate drop also rears its head when going into combat making close quarter interior battles a hot mess. Fortunately, fighting one another out in the open is a lot more fluid so this doesn’t completely ruin the experience.
PUBGs unlock system is solely based on the opening of loot crates or using premium in-game cash to purchase individual items. Loot crates can be earned by levelling up or by purchasing them using PUBGs secondary currency, a currency which is accrued after completing a match. As with most loot crate systems, you don’t know what you’ve got until you open the box. This can sometimes leave you feeling shortchanged after spending 2 hours to open a box only to have won a different coloured T-shirt or a new pair of boots. The fact that PUBG is filled with loot crates and premium currencies has always left me feeling uneasy, especially as the game itself comes with a £25 price tag. It’s not mega bucks but when games out there offers very similar experiences for free, it isn’t particularly great.
Whilst PUBG has only just made its debut on the PS4 it feels incredibly dated and not too dissimilar to the version that released on PC back in March 2017. However, PUBG is still a good example of a Battle Royale game, warts and all. You’ll still get that adrenaline surge when you’re in the top 5 and there’s no greater sense of feeling when finally winning a match. As with all these games, it’s more enjoyable with a group of friends but just don’t expect anything more than a basic Battle Royale experience. PUBGs downfall is, unfortunately, its late arrival to the PS4. There are better examples of Battle Royale games on the platform, some of which are free to play, so it makes it difficult to recommend PUBG. That said, if you’ve been itching to play the game and haven’t been able to do so due to the lack of owning a supported platform, you’ve finally got your chance to jump in.