If my gaming pile of shame had an opinion of my efforts of late it wouldn’t be too positive as the last few weeks have involved me playing a hell of a lot of the Xbox One version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). It seems to scratch an itch I thought I didn’t even have.
So when it was recently announced that the mobile version of the game was being rolled out to our region I couldn’t help myself and had to check it out and see if it could supplement my addiction. With Fortnite‘s popularity exploding and it’s own mobile versions out in the wild now the competition is going to be fierce in attracting gamers. With PUBG‘s reputation for buggy releases, having a bad mobile launch could seriously impact the game’s success.
Unlike the PC and Xbox One versions, this one is a freebie but you soon see why as new players start off with a lot less. Expect to spend your first few games running around in your underwear before you unlock enough loot crates to cover up. Battle points (BP) which are the in game currency for purchasing crates are given out regularly as are additional rewards for completing in game objectives as well as daily logins so if you want to play the game without having to spend a dollar this version might be a valid option.
In terms of gameplay, it’s still the same experience with players parachuting into the island before collecting loot and fighting to be the last player standing. The controls use the touchscreen to mimic most of the game’s options but there’s a nice touch with players automatically picking up items and reloading. Having these actions mostly automated (changes once you have filled your weapon and gear slots) keeps the pace up and avoids getting you hung up on navigating menus early in the game. Though this system is serviceable enough for mobile I still run into the problem of accidentally pressing screen buttons at the wrong time. No way am I going to prefer this over a big screen and my Xbox One controller.
In my first game I was able to get two kills in fairly easily which makes me think there’s a little bit of aim assistance thrown in with the touch controls. Turns out that it might more to it than that though with recent discussions suggesting there being bots in the game which is new to PUBG and something that the developers haven’t admitted to. I understand it to a degree because they want to get players addicted early, and giving them an early win can assist in that, but it does ultimately detract from the value of that first win. Getting your first chicken dinner is meant to be special, isn’t it?
Visually the game still looks enough like its bigger brother but has clearly been tailored for lower spec devices with geometry and level of detail settings dialled right down. The graphical shortcomings can be both a blessing and a curse as sometimes it can make players far easier to spot in urban areas but even more difficult to do so from a distance, especially when you are also playing this on a small screen. PC players are likely going to take a brief sniff of this mobile port but quickly turn back to their far superior version of the game.
Playing on my Google Pixel XL, the game recommended itself to run on the medium visual settings and at that level it holds up well enough with a modest frame rate. It looks like choosing the high settings enables shadows which might become a potential balance issue between players using different performance options. If you’ve played the game on other platforms shadows can be useful cover but here if you play against others who have it switched off its advantages are completely negated and you may not even realise it.
It’s by no means the definitive PUBG experience but it seems it runs solidly and for players wanting a taste of the game in small doses without making a larger investment it’s worth considering. In the end if you become addicted it might even convince you to invest in the PC or Xbox One versions. As for me… I’m not a fan of touch screen controls for shooters and burning through my phone’s battery charge for a few minutes of gaming doesn’t seem like a fair price to pay when I can get a better experience elsewhere.
PUBG Mobile is out now on iOS and Android.