PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on needs work
One of the PC gaming sensations of 2017, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, now has a mobile version. Or at least, it does on the Chinese App Store.
While it’s an officially endorsed version of the all-conquering PUBG with the same basic content, it’s actually been completely rebuilt by a different developer.
We’ve been offering our views on this early release of the game over the past few days.
Earlier today, I list five things that PUBG on mobile gets right. Now it’s time to look at a few things that this ambitious Battle Royale experience gets wrong.
Touchscreen < mouse and keyboard
It’s an obvious point to make, but as functional as PUBG mobile’s touchscreen controls are, they’re still touchscreen controls. The experience is way, way short of playing on a control pad, let alone playing with a mouse and keyboard.
This isn’t really a knock against the developer of PUBG mobile – this just isn’t the optimal way to play FPS games. The very best attempt at a mobile online FPS is Guns of Booms, but that’s a way more fast-paced, streamlined affair than PUBG.
The developer has done well to get as many of this complex game’s controls into this mobile version – you can crouch, lie prone, lean, and rotate the view around your avatar. But this has inevitably resulted in a rather unwieldy experience.
Sure, you can live with it and attain some form of fluidity with it, and the fact that everyone’s in the same boat is a great leveler. But it’s still a compromised experience.
Aiming isn’t quite there
This one’s related to the first point, but it deserves a special mention. Aiming and shooting simply doesn’t feel fluid enough in PUBG mobile.
Again, this is an issue almost every mobile FPS faces. But PUBG is a game that revolves around precise aiming over extended distances, so the issue is way more pronounced here.
You’ll find yourself hip-firing way more in this mobile version than you would in the other versions, which means a lot more wasted bullets. But even then, aiming, shooting and strafing all at the same time – a core FPS technique – is impossible.
Successful aiming down the sights, meanwhile, requires you to aim with one thumb and shoot with the other, removing mobility.
It would have been nice to have a 3D Touch option here, so you could pull the trigger by pressing firmly on the screen whilst aiming – something that would have worked on the iPhone 6S and up.
It looks a bit rough
This one might sound a little churlish given what a sprawling, ambitious game PUBG is. There aren’t many mobile games that give you such a huge map to play on with up to 100 concurrent players, after all.
Indeed, the developers of the original game have struggled to get the game running fluidly on the Xbox One X, which is the fastest home console on the market.
Still, there’s no escaping the fact that PUBG mobile looks a bit rough. Some of the textures are extremely basic, while shadows range from simple to downright shonky. Just drive a boat under one of the bridges and wince at the results.
I can understand that the developer probably wanted to get the game running fluidly even on older iPhones and iPads. But in that case, how about a little extra special sauce for iPhone X and iPhone 8 owners? These are phones with extremely powerful processors and stonking GPUs, after all.
When you think about other ambitious console-quality mobile games of recent months in GRID Autosport, The Witness, and Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition, PUBG mobile’s visuals seem a little underwhelming.
It’s really hard to read the map in the endgame
If you get right to the very end of the game, the playing circle gets extremely small. On mobile, it gets smaller than the player’s icon, making it all but impossible to see where it is.
This has cost me at least one game in a 1v1 face-off situation, as I found myself snagged in the dead zone when it was at its deadliest. The other player just happened to be in the right spot, so won almost by default.
There’s a zoom function on the expanded map (as pictured above), but it’s not powerful enough come endgame. I would suggest that the maps needs to switch to a much closer view as standard for these final crunch moments.
No desert map
Towards the end of 2017, PUBG on the PC received its second map – a beautiful desert-themed map named Miramar. Players are still figuring out whether this is indeed up to the standard of the original Erangel map, but the simple provision of an alternative gave the game a whole new lease of life.
If anything, Miramar is more sprawling than Erangel, with greater extremes in elevation, bigger buildings, and more nooks and crannies to hide in.
It’s a shame, then, that Miramar didn’t find its way into PUBG mobile at launch. Hopefully in the near future, eh Tencent?
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