“If I survive, can I go home?” “Yes, but only if everyone else is dead.” While the concept of children going into battle to kill each other is horrendous, films like Battle Royale and The Hunger Games were wildly popular. So popular that mods cropped up all over the place creating battle royal scenarios in combat survival video games. The most famous of these video game mods spawned Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), one of the most popular online games on the planet. The game pits you and 99 other contestants against each other. You all land on an island with nothing but your underwear and maybe a t-shirt (if you’re lucky). The rules are simple. Survive and be inside the circle when the play area restricts. Last man standing wins.
For the longest time, PUBG was a PC only game. Then it came to the XBox. Now it’s finally mobile. And boy is it a treat to lay in bed and murder your friends and strangers alike. I downloaded the game as soon as it hit the Google Play Store and I’ve got the lowdown on how this mobile port is already one of the best mobile games out there.
1. Visual Fidelity for Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile
Ten years ago we were amazed when an Unreal Engine video could play on an iPad. Now we expect PS4 level video game graphics on our pocket-sized devices. And companies actually (mostly) deliver. PUBG is no different. While PUBG is still in early access, the graphics in the game are incredibly smooth. And if you have a powerful phone like the LG V20 or the Samsung Galaxy S9, you can run it at close to the polygon count of the original game.
Of course, the original game wasn’t the most detailed and glossy of all the games out there. But to accommodate 100 players and their machines, you can’t crank the graphics too high on your game or you’ll have players yelling “LAG!” like a curse word.
I keep the game at the Medium Graphics setting to keep the game running smoothly and my hands comfortable while playing. My V20 gets hot when I try to play on the highest setting and my ping goes up by ten milliseconds. At medium settings, the game looks a little dated. But you don’t notice this as you’re actually trying to survive the onslaught. So, in all reality, as long as the pixels aren’t too huge, graphical fidelity doesn’t really matter with PUBG mobile too much.
2. Lag in PUBG Mobile
When I saw that PUBG went mobile, my mind went directly to the net code. Could they pull off a shooter that plays well over most any network? I was doubtful.
My town isn’t the best place to test a game in 4G. For some reason the coverage is spotty. But playing on my wifi with 60 mb/s cable internet and on the Medium graphics settings, my ping averaged 50 milliseconds. At the highest setting, my ping went up to 100 milliseconds. For comparison, when I play Echo Arena on my Oculus Rift with decent hardware specs, I get about 30-60 milliseconds lag. Of course, there are a dozen factors that go into your ping, but PUBG’s net code surpassed my expectations and I experienced almost no lag while playing the game at medium settings.
3. Controls in PUBG Mobile
The game is still in early access mode, so playing the game right now should be viewed as such. But like any mobile game, the control scheme will always be hampered unless you can connect a Bluetooth controller to your phone or tablet. And currently PUBG Mobile does not let you do this. So, you’re stuck with the on-screen controls.
As far as on-screen controls go, this game isn’t bad. You have your basic movement controls on the left and right sides. But you also have your jump, prone, crouch, run, and shoot all crammed into the corner on the right side of the screen. Several times already I’ve given away my position by accidentally hitting the shoot or jump buttons while attempting to move the camera.
Now, one thing the developers did that I’ve not seen yet in any other game: they put a small trigger button just above and to the left of the movement stick. This allows you to move the camera and cross-hairs while simultaneously shooting. Players who master this will be able to best those who don’t. Without this feature, adjusting your aim while shooting is near impossible.
You can move the camera independently of the character’s heading by pressing an eye-shaped icon just below the map. Hold down the eye-icon to keep moving the camera.
(Quick tip: when you get inside the zone, drop to prone and use the eye-icon to ensure no enemies saw you or are sneaking up on you.)
4. Character Selection
The character selection is limited. But the PC version is just as limited. You can choose male or female body type with a few different looks. All of the characters look like they either lift obsessively or train for triathlons which makes sense if you know you’re getting dropped onto an island to try and survive 99 other crazed people with guns.
You can choose hair color and style. Again, this is limited to about five including a bald option. And really, unless you’re streaming (which takes work on your phone), what character model you pick doesn’t matter much. You’re only going to be staring at the back of their head for hours on end.
Everything Else is the Same
If you’re a fan of the PC version of the game and you are addicted like half the gaming community, then this game will hit the spot. You’ve got all the guns and accessories you need. The vehicles are all the same. The maps are familiar. And if you have stereo headphones (recommended), you can even hear your enemy come up behind you before they slit your throat.
PUBG Mobile is free for the time being. And it’s worth your phone’s power (which it will gulp in copious amounts). For more awesome video game reviews, check out more on TVOvermind.com.