Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (known as PUBG) is a massively multiplayer battle royale style game created by PUBG Corporation and published by Bluehole. The title developed by Brendan Greene was released for Windows and Xbox One in 2017, Android, iOS, and Playstation 4 in 2018 and Google Stadia in 2020.
The company that published the renowned installation had already made its mark in the world of video games, having also launched The Exiled Realm of Arborea (TERA). On the other hand, PUBG was not originally intended as a standalone game, but as a beta multiplayer of ARMA 3, a recognized open-world release of war simulation.
Profits don’t lie
Commercially, this installment was a success. During the early access stage on Steam, it raised US$11 million in its first three days. Also, by the end of that month, it reached a maximum of almost 90,000 active players and a revenue of US$34 million. In this way, PUBG surpassed other giants in the market such as Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and was placed in the top 10 best selling games in a month. By the end of 2017, after its launch, it reached the amount of US$900 million, with more than 30 million copies sold.
Like almost all contemporary releases, Greene added microtransactions to the game, used to buy loot boxes. Similarly, in that year a controversy was circulating Star Wars: Battlefront 2. Some players were abusing loot box purchases to gain unfair in-game advantages. This alerted PUBG fans, who quickly expressed their concerns to the company. In response to this, the developers stated that the contents of these boxes would be uniquely aesthetic, giving their supporters some tranquillity.
One year later, the company released a free-to-play version for mobile devices called PUBG Mobile. It broke records in downloads with more than 300 billion in 2018 and surpassed direct competitors such as Fortnite, reaching $1.5 billion in 2019.
The calm before the storm
At the beginning of the game, the user can be alone or with a group of a maximum of 3 allies, who will form a team. They are transferred to a lobby where they wait for the 100 slots that each map provides to be covered. In it, they can practice, shoot, and be shot at will, since this does not entail any punishment. Besides, most neophyte players can take advantage of this opportunity to switch between third and first-person modes and see which one suits them best.
When all the contenders are gathered, they appear inside various planes, where they have to decide strategically when to jump out of it. By doing so, each character can move in the air to better position themselves where they want to fall. Similarly, fundamental attention must be paid to opening the parachute at the right time, thus avoiding hitting the ground and losing.
Once on the ground, the real game begins. From this point, the 100 competitors (or those who have survived the landing) will fall into a wide map of generally about 8×8 kilometers. On it, they will quickly have to look for equipment around the area, since they arrive at the territory without any kind of weapons. Then, they must fight a duel where the last surviving player or team will be proclaimed the winner.
The players also face an additional threat. At the beginning of every match, the maps are enclosed within a blue circular wall, the inside of which is called the Safe Zone. Every so often, the game emits messages that this safe area will shrink, forcing competitors to move in with it and get progressively closer with each other. Those who are trapped outside the area it covers will gradually lose life until they die.
This playing style enables its players to plan different approaches to the game to survive. On the one hand, many begin in the most dangerous area with the highest concentration of opponents, but in case of survival, it provides the best weaponry. On the other hand, others take a much more spectator role and start the game by hiding and trying to collect what they can, while the enemies eliminate each other.
At the end of the fight, the player receives a bonus of game currency depending on his statistics, such as survival time and killings. With this bonus, the player can buy aesthetic items to customize the character or their weapons, among other things.
Weapons for all tastes
The weaponry that the players have at their disposal in the game is very varied. Among its squads, PUBG houses six different types of submachine guns, ten assault rifles, six marksman’s rifles, four sniper rifles, six pistols, four shotguns, and two special weapons: the crossbow and the flare gun. Explosive weapons also play an important role, where among variations of grenades, mines, and C4, there are seven different types of these. Finally, 4 weapons can be used from close range, such as a machete and even a frying pan.
Also, the users have many other resources besides their weaponry. As they explore the different locations on each map they can find healing items, equipment, armor, and even vehicles with which they can run over enemies.
Realistic graphics that separate it from the competition
This installment uses as a graphic engine Unreal Engine 4. This tool was finished in 2008 and was declared free to use in 2015. It is known to be used in other big games like Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dead By Daylight, or We Happy Few. The graphics of the adventure seeks to be as realistic as possible. The developers decided to take advantage of the full potential of the engine by showing wide terrains with a great depth of field.
The colors of the title are a bit boring and depending on the map, even excessively opaque. Far from being a disadvantage, this is an intentional decision of the developers, that together with the mechanics of the game, are referred to a more mature audience. With this distinct made, they managed to retain their fans in the face of Fortnite’s growing popularity. Another was the case of Dota 2, whose excellent graphics were surpassed by the cartoonish tone of the League of Legends, which has almost identical gameplay.
Each map, a new experience
Considering that one of these was temporarily removed from the game, PUBG has five different maps. It should be noted that not only are they random, but the weather conditions can vary during the game, becoming dark, storms appearing, or even fog.
Surrounded by some towns and even cities, the first map of the release was Erangel, with an extension of 8×8 kilometers. It is also surrounded by several strategic points for its residents. In the largest city, one can find the highest amount of weapons, in the warehouses, armor, and provisions, and in the forests, the opportunity to ambush enemies.
In Miramar, on the other hand, the cities are much larger and are surrounded by desert mountains. This map is much more open and forces the player to move since there are no trees to hide.
In Sanhok, the battles increase even more and the encounters are much more recurrent. This happens because unlike the previous ones, this map located in the jungle has a dimension of 4×4. However, the best strategy to survive is to hide, something much more accessible than in other maps due to the scarcity of cities and a great number of trees.
Vikendi’s theme is winter. The scenario is separated by three islands and several bridges connecting them, always invaded by a great amount of snow that covers all the player’s view. Although this terrain was removed from the game with the arrival of the last map, it was reinstated in a patch in April 2020.
Karakin, the most recent map to date, achieves merit for being the most active and fast-paced gameplay in the title. With a limit of 64 players and a city enclosed by rocky and arid terrain, the dimensions of the same are only 2×2, so their matches are usually short.
Servers, upgrades and new modes
Normally the game servers work properly. Connection problems to the server occur mostly in crowded periods such as 10 pm, but this is still in exceptional cases. For wider connectivity, the title has 10 servers. They are located in South America (São Paulo), North America (Ohio), Aws Ireland Region, Aws London Region, Oceania (Sydney), Korea, Singapore, Japan and Europe (EU Servers located in Servers.com)
On the other hand, PUBG is a franchise where its regular updates are usually to correct bugs. Likewise, at the beginning of each season, the patches substantially change the game experience, constantly optimizing it. Besides, Greene is a very active developer in the community. In 2017, for example, a user created a custom zombie mod that quickly gained popularity. The developer, aware of this, adapted it and re-launched it in the game in an official way, adding new weapons to complement it.
In short, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a game that not only made the battle royale popular again but also overcame the competition. The title was renewed the few times it had to and gave its fans the same essence it had since day one. With the constant feedback Brendan Greene receives and the right changes he made for the seventh season, this game gives more and more signs that it will continue to grow.