|Platforms||Android 4.3+; iOS|
|Size||36 MB – client (1.6 GB)|
PUBG MOBILE is here and it means business. It has successfully set up the standard for the professional mobile gaming scene, making it comparable to others.
PUBG stands for Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, a battle royale survival shooter title that shook up the world. Millions of people bought a copy for themselves while the game was still in early access. Today, you can see up to 3 million people online, and despite a slight drop in popularity, it’s still one of the most played and watched games out there. Coming to mobile showed that even the casuals appreciate some hardcore, competitive play. Just look at the numbers. Over fifty million downloads! With its main competitor, Fortnite Battle Royale, this title opened up the doors of esports to mobile gamers! Now everyone has a fame making machine in their own pocket! Those little devices we used only for sending and receiving calls and messages, nowadays can be compared to full grown game consoles, thanks to installments like these.
Let us back off a little. What is PUBG, you may ask? It’s a game that puts you and 99 other lucky people in the same airplane, which flies over a deserted island. In a moment of your choosing, you jump off that plane, and land somewhere on the island, using a parachute. When you do land, the sole survival starts. Scavenge the area, searching for life-saving resources. Those include gear, vests, armor, helmets, camouflage clothing, weapons, ammo, weapon upgrades like scopes and ammo clips, health packs, bandages, pain killers and even some gasoline! While the blue field of deadly matter closes around you, keep an eye for other players trying to reach the same remaining ground of the playable area. As time passes by, it’ll come down to a tiny circle, where you’ll inevitably have to face other survivors in order to win and be the last one.
Tense is the word we’re looking for here. If PUBG was a movie, it would certainly be a thriller. One with a 15 minute long exposition until something actually happens. This may sound off-putting, but it’s the beauty of it. As you wander the abandoned houses and vast eerie fields, trying to decide will you crouch or stand up straight, or will you run with or without your weapon, gaining some safety or speed instead, you’ll feel truly vulnerable. If the enemy kills you, it’s game over. You’ll have to start collecting those energy drinks all over again. But, if you happen to be the one in the bush with a really powerful sniper and an 8x scope, headshoting the poor bastard who was going out of cover, for the air supply he saw land nearby, the feel of amazement is indescribable.
Being the last one standing is no piece of cake, so here are a few tips. You can have up to four weapons. Make good use of that. Do the math and the combinatorial choices on your own, but don’t just stack four weapons of the same type! Will it be a silent mid-range crossbow, heavy, strong but imprecise, loud and slow shotgun, or a frying pan that can block bullets? Collecting the gear you find around the map, or from crates that slain players drop, is automatic. That gives you the opportunity to do it quickly, without the need to contemplate too much. Have a whole chunk of your concentration invested in the playable area and the way it shrinks. If you’re in urge, even use a nearby car, presuming you have the fuel. But, remember, the engines are not stealth friendly – everyone will know where you are.
Now here’s a game that plants its visual characteristics into the core of the gameplay itself, becoming a mechanic on its own. The visuals are state-of-the-art when it comes to mobile gaming. The optimization is quite advanced too, so I had the chance to try out the game on my entry-level device. It did, however, eat up half of my battery for a single match and heated up my phone up to the temperature you can prepare dinner on. But if you have a strong pocket computer, this game should run and look as smooth as silk. I don’t think you’ll see more photorealistic graphics on phones any time soon.
So, now for the mechanic part I was referring to, a minute ago. If you have details set to the highest possible, you’ll have less difficulties to spot a camouflaged enemy lurking in the high grass. Same goes for the sound. Aside from the great quality of the effects, they are done in such a fashion that you can easily locate sounds. Especially if you use a pair of high quality headphones or a headset.
Controls, UI and the PC emulator version
The UI is conveniently made to make your screen as much visible as possible, since you’ll need to use both of your fingers all the time. Unless you own a gamepad, and if that’s the case, I strongly recommend using one. Movement controls are on the left, your weapons are at the bottom of the screen, in the middle, while the shooting, aiming, interaction and posture buttons are on the right. In the right upper corner you’ll find a mini map you can expand, and some communication options. Also, there’s an auto-sprint button over there. The upper middle part of the screen is reserved for a compass. It’s the best possible design, but it still feels not comfortable enough, and a bit clunky.
That’s why the developer, Tencent games came up with the idea to make an official PC emulator called the Tencent Gaming Buddy. Using it may provide a lot more control, a larger screen, but it does separate you in a different, unique bracket to compete with, which is fair. So you won’t meet either mobile, or PC players who have the full version. Although it is on a computer, it’s still an emulated version of the mobile title, so don’t expect the same results you get from the original, premium game. Instead, imagine a slower, less detailed and responsive PUBG on your PC, with occasional game-breaking bugs. But hey, it’s free and not so hardware dependent. I’ve managed to play on my 8 years old PC, on low settings, obviously.
Since the mobile version of the game is free, it’s no surprise that there are available purchases through the in-game shop. That’s the one and only downside of this masterpiece. It’s not strictly pay to win, since that would be a serious issue. All the gear you can buy in this shop is purely for cosmetic purposes. Yeah, you can buy camouflaged outfits, but that is just a slight advantage, not enumerable in any way. It’s just that being able to buy certain stuff somehow breaks the illusion of a fresh start, of helpless surviving, and the seriousness of that permadeath factor I was talking about earlier. Since this game relies heavily on your mind state, it could be demoralizing to see others play with such cool looking clothes and weapons. So, in a way, those products are a bit game changing, but not in the obvious way.
However, there are options. Instead of buying UC for real money (60 for 1.02$ and so on), you can earn free currencies by playing the game. For each match, you’ll be awarded experience and coins, called battle points (BP). They are used to buy one of the five crates available. Those contain random equipment. Clothes, hats, weapon skins and so on. And their price is doubled with each purchase. Then there are RP, royale points, which you get for subscribing to their special Royale Pass program. It grants you permission to compete in the ranked waters. Finally, you unlock new maps and modes by leveling up, earning experience. So, to summarize, everyone gets their piece of the cake, and can feel just a little bit special. Paying customers feel extra special. But, the problem is, the beauty of the harsh premise is gone thanks to this feature.
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