Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is somewhat of a phenomenon in the gaming sphere, rapidly rising to fame in the PC world and smashing numerous records along the way. It sold faster than Minecraft and holds the record for the most amount of concurrent online players on Steam (a cool 2 million at its peak), beating out the likes of DOTA2 and GTAV despite still being in Early Access. So there was much anticipation among Xbox owners when it was announced that this mammoth title would make its way to the Xbox One (and more importantly, not to the PS4). As a lifelong console peasant my interest was piqued, and I graciously thanked my PC master race overlords for their generous gift and bowed deeply many times. With a copy of this vaunted title gripped tightly in my clumsy hands so twisted and deformed from years of holding a primitive controller, I took a deep breath; I was about to become part of the PUBG phenomenon.
Wait, what the hell is this?
Then… I played it, and I am now convinced that PUBG is some sort of sick joke aimed at humble console folk. As bland as a hessian sack filled with dry Weet-Bix and as janky as a toothless old man rattling a pillow case full of rusty door knobs, PUBG is an undercooked technical mess that I failed to glean even the smallest amount of enjoyment from, despite my best efforts. Not one iota of whatever spurred millions to play this game on PC seems to have made its way to consoles. Either that or I’m taking crazy pills.
PUBG’s premise is fairly simple, and at its heart kind of clever. Basically up to 100 players jump out of a plane as it flies over a sprawling map and scramble to scavenge weapons and supplies and have at it in a battle royale scenario. As the match progresses a large circle gradually diminishes in size; find yourself outside the circle and you’ll die. The objective: be the last man standing. It’s a solid core concept, but it’s the last thing about this title that I would consider solid in its current state.
It’s hard to fully describe just how bad PUBG looks and plays on Xbox One, but it’s my job to try. The world itself is a washed-out muddy mess of textures that look like they were created by a drunk five year old with only the crayons that no other kids wanted to use at their disposal. Despite the extreme roughness of these textures they pop in with alarming frequency, and more often than not only when you’re close enough to them actually see the lines of code. The frame rate dips wildly into what feels like single digits, and in fact this is one of the premier impressions the game is keen to impart on you as the initial plane ride in stutters horrendously.
98% of the map looks like this
Given how low-fi the general visuals are, it’s a mystery as to why the game struggles so arduously to not run like a three-legged dog. The draw distance is also incredibly limited meaning it is impossible to make out distinct objects (or players for that matter) from more than a few feet away, but none of it succeeds to lift the game’s woeful technical performance. Throwing fuel on the fire is the fact that there are currently no local Australian servers (the closest at time of writing has a nondescript title of ‘Asia’), so expect a healthy dose of lag and ping spikes to spice things up too.
Whether it be scrolling through the opening menu, managing your inventory, picking up objects or even just opening a humble door, the controls are extremely unresponsive; there is zero fluidity to anything you do in PUBG’s world. This lack of fluidity extends to the shooting mechanics, which due to the low frame rate and poor visual feedback means you won’t really be sure whether you’re hitting your target or not.
The only way to win the game is not to play at all
Perhaps there’s something about PUBG’s core spirit that I simply don’t get, but there is no arguing against the fact that on Xbox One it is a borderline unplayable travesty. Until some serious technical issues have been addressed there is very little about this title to recommend. Avoid with extreme prejudice.