PUBG shatters world records

Battle Royale games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Fortnite are becoming so popular they may be the new future of gaming. This next generation of video games is the step before total VR immersion and some would say PUBG does it best.

In 2017, PUBG set seven Guinness World Records and nearly broke Steam with 3.1 million concurrent players. The previous highest was DOTA 2, which peaked at 1.29 million concurrent players a few years ago.

Minecraft survival mode started it all. In the beginning, when I first heard of the survival game genre, I thought it was a passing fad. Watching YouTube videos for Day-Z and H1Z1 seemed boring to be honest. Boy was I ever wrong.

Survival is actually pretty exciting.

The premise of the game is straightforward and simple. You and 99 other survivalists parachute onto an eight-square-kilometre island from an aircraft and choose to land almost anywhere on the map. The strategic side of PUBG begins right here when choosing a starting location. For the old school gamers who enjoyed Pilot Wings on the SNES, this beginning portion of the game will bring back fond memories.

After landing, the looting phase begins and players scramble to find weapons, armour, boost items and health kits. Loot is randomly generated each time the map loads so you never really know what kind of guns and ammo you are going to find—and it’s not scarce. It`s important to find a gun and ammo but after that you must find a backpack right away so you can begin to pack rat. There must be thousands of rooms in hundreds of houses, apartment buildings and facilities each door is like a little treasure chest to be discovered. Loot is everywhere in PUBG, just sometimes not the right loot you are looking for.

Ultimately, each looting session must give way to violent shootouts and desperate ambushes as the map shrinks in and damages everyone outside of the randomly generated circle. At this point, it becomes absolutely necessary to have good gun-handling skills and also the tactical awareness to know whether to hide, run or gun. Hunters and real life shooters will appreciate the realistic physics model that uses bullet drop and travel time that varies depending on the types of ammunition you are shooting. The semi-realism is refreshing and makes for some of the most intense PVP experiences that I have personally felt since playing Diablo II in Hardcore mode. I’m talking 130 beats per second pulse, sweating hands and actually forgetting to breathe kind of intense.

For the first 100 games, I had a jpeg image of the keybinds on my second monitor, just to be able to get the hang of the controls. It’s somewhat easy to forget in the sudden gunfights that happen. After finally getting the basics down, I started doing solo speed matches dropping into the heavy zones such as the Arena in Pecado, Prison, or La Hacienda. These are bloodbaths that rarely last long for me but great for gaining combat experience.

Dying can be very frustrating but at least it takes no time at all to get onto the next match and the search for fresh new loot and sweet gear combinations begins again.

I tested this game for 300 hours using an older GeForce 770 and I was able to run the game on medium settings no sweat. The graphics on PC version are very nice and seem next-gen to these ol’ eyeballs. Holding down alt and having a free look option is a small detail that puts us one step closer to virtual reality as an entry point. Driving vehicles is a very entertaining mini-game.  I think more updates could improve the sound. For example, no matter what surface you are breaking on, some vehicles make a rubber screeching sound, even on dirt.

Although PUBG has officially launched with 1.0 there are still some troubling problems that many users find problematic. Although Bluehole has banned more than 1.5 million accounts for cheating, the client-based system is vulnerable to hackers and exploits that is still noticeable. In my experience one out of 20 games will be lost due to a hacker instantly headshotting you across the map, which is just not acceptable. Game publisher PUBG Corp. has been banning more accounts recently and promising anti-cheat patches in the future to eliminate cheats. Another problem is the sloppy netcode, which favours high latency players. These factors may explain the 6/10 rating PUBG received on STEAM. Many users have complained about the lack of English speaking teammates because many of the players on the North American server do speak Chinese, but the game publisher says they will not region lock.

Despite these problems, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds remains a very special creation that awakened my passion for video games all over again. I recommend for anyone who likes FPS games.

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