Reviews

PUBG on the Xbox. Winner, Winner chicken dinner?

In a shocking twist to the beginning of this review, my first encounter with PUBG was on the PC. Aha! You may be thinking, you’ve been tricked; deceived, cheated even! Friends and fellow gamers, let me put those raised eyebrows to rest.

It is just simply impossible to talk about PUBG on the Xbox one alone, given the biblical success of the franchise in the short time since its inception. I could go on and on about how the franchise came to be and its incestuous family like Day-Z, Arma etc.  However, at the time of writing this, other than PC, PUBG is currently only available on the Xbox one. PS4 users your time will come, mobile users, have fun with that “gaming” (sarcasm intended).

Ok, Xbox. It will never be as powerful as a PC. That’s not PC snobbery, it’s just fact and I’ve been a PC gamer from birth. Seriously, DOOM from the mother’s womb is far more entertaining than it sounds, and it rhymes. Without this power behind the Xbox, you’re going to get some limitations, rendering is a constant issue even for the Xbox One X.

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The moment you land into your place of choice, Pochinki personally(yes I am a sadist), you immediately realise the limitations of the console. Buildings will take a good few seconds to come into focus and if you are fortunate to land on a roof, you get to see PUBG’s take on Trinity’s famous high kick from the Matrix. Rendering time is cut down by a fraction on the X, but in this game, time is everything. A 10 second wait for a building to come into focus might as well be an hour, whilst the guy next door loots to his heart’s content, rubbing his hands gleefully.

So you’re looted, booted and are carrying more pills than Heisenberg and Jesse Pinkman on a drug run. You’ve met up with your friends but wait! What is this? A round plane figure whose boundary consists of points equidistant from a fixed point, yes, the circle. Bringer of the storm, the wave, the big blue electrical thingy in the sky. All designed to kill you for your lack of time keeping. The circle can be your friend or your worst enemy. Never mind players, they get angry and you can feed off that anger, but the circle? It has no feelings, it has no remorse, no emotion of any kind. In any case, as the circle becomes smaller and smaller it affects your adrenaline and desire for survival, more on that later.

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Unless you are in Xbox party chat ready to hurl abuse at your comrades, Ryan, there is no open world chat. So, for Xbox One users looking to emulate those amazing instances of sheer human generosity or bizarreness on the PC through the use of voice, it just won’t happen. It’s a shame on this one because those are what I would consider some of the gemstone moments of PUBG or in fact any of its cousins, to be able to play out your own ‘Walking Dead’ style of scenarios, meeting strangers you can’t fully trust each has its potential own rewards.

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On the subject of rewards. Battle points or BP are the in-game currency of choice. It works on a simple basis; do a lot of damage, get a lot of kills, get a chicken dinner and boom you’ve snagged a nice 1,200 BP (my highest score to date, don’t judge) which can be used for clothing. This is great, it means no matter how long you’ve been playing, when you drop into Pochinki your fresh meat for everyone, all be it, better dressed meat. There is always a sense of satisfaction ending one of these guys/gals because it means I get to steal their shoes, we’ve all done it and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. The problem with BP is that when you buy crates, just like on PC, the price goes up each time. It’s a little disproportionate and it only becomes more of a kick in the proverbial when you realise each box contains the same selection of loot from different styles. This has been brought up with the developers and there is talk of lowering the bracket of BP for Xbox users.  

Where PUBG excels for the Xbox is in its gameplay. Ignore the limitations of the console and embrace it – you will have more fun that way. Juggling the circle, resources, team mates and enemies is a constant. You need to keep a cool head, and, if you are like me, have watched one too many war movies and think you’re in a really messed up version of Apocalypse now, it’s quite easy to lose yourself, I could tell you stories my friends…horrible stories…the horror.

Use your wits! Everyone is on the same playing field, knowing the terrain goes a long way and is only improved when this knowledge pays off in a number of kills and more loot. Top tip, get on a bridge and play The Black Knight from Monty Python, its highly rewarding and you may only get away with a flesh wound. Play with a surround sound system or headset, there are few feelings as nerve shaking when you think you are alone in a house only to hear footsteps from upstairs and the sound of an extended quick draw magazine being loaded into an M416, with a suppressor, 4x scope, tactical stock and vertical fore grip…damn that is sexy.

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All these sensations become super-heightened in Solo or 1-man squad. Looking for a challenge? 1-man squad is it! Though you may find yourself yearning for some company whilst running through the wheat fields of Gatka. Politics jokes, I got em! I have a BA in Politics and that was well worth the 3 years of study. Make no mistake, you will have your ‘off days’. Loot is understandably random and there are plenty of PUBGM (Players Unknown Battlegrounds Monday) moments that will just make you want to pull out your hair or watch the Transformers movie the one in Tokyo with the dinosaur which I never remember because it was so uninterestingly long and awful. Honestly, I can’t even think which one is more torture.

This is where squads come into their own as you may find your squad mates revelling in the disbelief of looting an entire town only to walk away with a pump action shotgun, a few cans of energy drink and a backpack of disappointment. But hey, misery loves company!

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Fortunately, it’s all uphill from here. PUBG on the Xbox is an ongoing development, patch notes are frequent and updates likewise. Since arriving in December 2017 Xbox users have seen fixes of bugs and graphical improvements, which have made the game more stable and prettier to look at. It’s a breath of fresh air, unlike some AAA games where studios release a product which should be finished, here’s looking at you Assassin’s Creed Unity. Bugs can be rampant and it just takes the Mickey Mouse out of your wallet. At least with PUBG, the developers know of the challenge, we know it too and it’s great to see the game mature as we continue playing.

Make no mistake, Xbox PUBG cannot compete on a technical level to its PC bigger brother. However, in terms of gameplay I say they are one in the same. When the circle is as tight as a nun’s backside and there are only a handful of players left. The feeling is electric! The slightest movement can cost you dearly and you will beat yourself up for a mistake you should not have made. The sheer exhilaration of winning a chicken dinner in a standoff that can only be rivalled to a Western gives a shot of awesomeness that is rarely replicated in gaming. If you are on the Xbox One and you have a group of trusted friends, get onto PUBG, test that friendship – Ryan. And go get yourself some chicken, winner, winner.

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