This game is a janky mess and that may be part of it’s delight.
The last-man-standing shooter has been out on pc for several months in its early access form and it comes to Xbox One under the game preview program. That should have set the tone for what was to come but some put their expectations higher than they should have. Given all the issues the pc version had at launch I made the logical assumption that it would have similar, if not the same, issues when arriving on Xbox One. The forward looking hope is that, much like the pc development, many of the issues will be resolved in time with patches. My first two games of PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS were proof of problems in the game but were drastically different in how they played out.
The first game seemed doomed before it even began. The character creator was barely usable and I am now stuck with a character that looks nothing like what I would have wanted. The issues continued and worsened as I entered the match. As soon as I spawned on the game’s starting island there were noticeable frame drops and extreme input lag. Running around the area was problematic given that other players would just randomly form in front of you. At times I wasn’t sure if I stopped moving because my controls were not responding or if I had run into another player spawning.
As the match began the problems continued. While on the plane the audio was so choppy I wasn’t even sure what the sound was supposed to be. To get a way from that I jumped from the plane as soon as possible. That put me on the south side of the island and I settled on a small grouping of houses near the shore for my landing point, that was after all of the ground level objects drew in. When my parachute popped I found out just how bad my controls were lagging. There was almost no control of my descent at this point as my character helplessly drifted and my controls randomly responded. Instead of the group of houses, my landing point was a small beach at the bottom on a cliff well below the houses. To make matters worse there was no way to traverse the cliff. The only option became swimming west until there was a larger beach. This took almost all the time given for looting before the initial contraction of the playing circle.
Already running behind, I found an operable vehicle and drove to get my unarmed character within the circle before it closed in on me. Driving proved to be a problem with the control issues I was having and I proceeded to run into several trees. That was ok and I drove on aiming for several small structures just within the circle. I knew my end would come soon as I drove up to the building and another player began shooting in my direction. Rather than attempting to flee, I chose to run straight toward disaster and the other player. Up the stairs and into the room I went and I went in swinging. After landing a few punches in what was the most inelegant of dances, the other player got position on me and proceeded to make short order of me with his gun. My final place was approximately #67.
After a few hours, I decided to give the game another shot. Upon loading there was a remarkable difference in performance. Controls were working. Frames weren’t dropping. There still seemed to be an odd, washed out look to the screen but it wasn’t near as bad as the first game. We load into the plane and I make the jump. This time I pick a crop of houses slightly north of my previous destination, just to be sure I don’t encounter that cliff again. Before hitting the ground I notice another player descending near me but he and I must have had the same notion as we began to steer in opposite directions. Safely on the ground, it was time to start looting. Things weren’t looking good when I found one pistol, two shotguns, and tons of ammo. Determined not to give up, I pressed into other houses eventually collecting an SMG, then an assault rifle along with a vest and helmet. I was getting fortified.
After making my way house to house in my quest for loot I slowly found that the circle was drawing me back to where I started. At one point I saw a car dry by but they did stop. Then gun shots in the distance. The circle kept getting smaller. Quickly I found myself falling behind and briefly outside of the circle. I had to keep running. Steadily the play count diminished. Before I knew it the count was under twenty. I ran by two players in vehicles do a mock demolition derby. Certainly either of them could have mowed me down but I passed by unscathed. Then the count suddenly became ten and I thought to myself “Good run, pretty proud”.
For a moment a shack served as a haven but then the circle forced me out. While I was running from my shelter, away from the blue wall, I could hear gun shots all around. The player count was now four. I was still one of them. A tree was my only protection and I fell prone to hide my location. More gun shots, then even more as the circle closed in on all of us. To stay in the circle I tried to crawl around the tree but fate would not let me and I clipped into the tree. Worst case scenario in the given circumstances but I escaped after what was surely a few second but felt like an eternity. Somehow I became locked in first-person mode and not able to switch back to the third person view I had played in until this point.
To my left, another player. The player count dropped to three. From my prone position I made the decision to give away my position and take fire at the other player. Taking aim as he looked in another direction, likely looking for myself or the other surviving foe, I pulled my trigger. I pulled the trigger again. Headshot, my first kill. No time to celebrate, I had been wounded previously by the blue wall and needed to heal. As fast as I could I fumbled through the inventory for a medkit and applied it. Shots are fired but not by me. My opponent either has my location or is firing wildly. I cannot be sure of which. The circle contracts and I hear more shots fired. I try to move to see anything resembling another player. Three final shots fire and the victory screen displays.
Forlorn, I drop my hands still grasping at my controller and close my eyes. “It was a good run. One I may never be able to do again and never expected in the first place.”, I thought to myself. I open my eyes, lay the controller on my desk, and read the screen… it is my name showing as the victor. I had won the chicken dinner! In shear disbelief and astonishment I gazed at the screen. Then in a panic I tried to take a screen capture but in my state of excitement I couldn’t remember how. Grabbing my phone I took a picture of the screen. Trying again for a true screenshot I fumbled with my controller again this time succeeding and securing proof of my victory. With my heart pounding and my mind swimming I soaked in my victory.
The tension of playing and the euphoria of winning almost make all of the issues with the game seem forgivable. Even with that said, the game needs fixed. Dropped frames and washed out screens are no way to play any game. The first patch has already helped. One of the easily noticed fixes is the fact that the marker for your location is easier to find on the map. Steady improvements will help this game keep growing and the fact that it has already sold well over one million copies shows people want to play it.
When this game debuted I never thought I would want to play it. Yet here I am, all this time later, excited about it and wanting more. It’s not even about winning. As thrilling as that first chicken dinner was and the fact that I’d like more, it isn’t even why I want to keep playing. It is more about those moments of tension and strategy mixed in with dumb luck and circumstance that give the game life for me. Here is to PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS and all that it can be.
Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester
A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.