Fortnites biggest rival finally comes to PlayStation 4 but has it ended up late to its own party?
Almost two years after its debut, PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds has finally arrived on PlayStation 4. This delay, of course, was due to an exclusivity deal with Microsoft, meaning that up until now the game has only been available on PC, Xbox One, and mobile. With that deal having just expired the trigger was immediately pulled on this PlayStation 4 port, but it may be a case of too little, too late.
If this is your first contact with PUBG, the world-beating shooter that took the industry by storm in 2017, you may not get what all the fuss is about. After all, in the time it has taken for PUBG to touch down on PlayStation 4 much of the spotlight has shifted to Fortnite and other Battle Royale games such as H1Z1 and Realm Royale. It took a while for them to react, but now we are also seeing some of the genres biggest players encroach on PUBGs turf, with Call Of Dutys Blackout mode proving wildly successful and DICE currently putting the finishing touches on Battlefield Vs Firestorm.
But PUBG was first to the punch: a pioneer born from an ArmA III mod that has arguably changed the landscape of modern gaming. For those yet to dip their toes into the Battle Royale craze, its fairly easy to wrap your head around. A large number of players (typically 100) drop onto a large map, scavenging for weapons, armour, and other equipment with the last surviving combatant taking home the top prize. The highly coveted, purely metaphorical, chicken dinner
Despite its rampant popularity, PUBGs style of Battle Royale isnt for everyone. The time it takes to play a match from that initial airdrop to the final intense showdown can take the best part of 30 minutes. Due to the sheer scale of PUBGs maps, theres a good chance that in some of these matches youll aimlessly wander for several minutes at a time without even seeing another player. Its a game of patience and really doesnt lend itself to the run n gun action fans of Call Of Duty and Battlefield have come to expect, especially on console.
Theres a layer of complexity to PUBGs combat you just dont get in most shooters, whether its the ability to toggle between third and first person view, shoulder-swap, peek, or even adjust zeroing distance. Although you can still be effective with the trusty left trigger to aim, right trigger to shooter approach thats really only scratching the surface.
PUBG gives you the tools to tailor your playstyle further, something thats rarely seen beyond ArmA and other niche military sims. However, on PlayStation 4, these complexities are also somewhat of a burden. You can tell PUBG was originally designed for the mouse and keyboard, and not for Sonys DualShock, as evidenced through its clunky inventory system and button layouts.
This version of PUBG isnt launching with a beta or early access tag and although there are definitely compromises it isnt too far behind its PC counterpart in terms of content. All three of the current maps are here, including Erangel, the sandy shanties of Miramar, and the dense jungles of Sanhok. At launch, you can either play solo or in a squad of up to four, be they friends or strangers. PUBGs updated progression system also makes the jump with daily and weekly challenges, rewarding you with loot boxes and some in-game currency to spend on cosmetics.
But even when running on PS4 Pro, this version of the game really isnt much of a looker. In fact its ugly; downright, early last gen ugly. As you airdrop into a match, buildings and other terrain can take a good several seconds to pop in and things dont get any better as your boots hit the ground. There are garish textures, flaky foliage, and lighting effects that are all over the place, underlining just how inferior this port is compared to the PC original, at least in terms of visual fidelity.
PUBGs boring art direction does little to help. Aside from some of the character models and weapons, its a grim looking game, lacking any sort of vibrance or flare – boasting a bland and deeply unappealing patchwork of assets chucked about barren, featureless maps. In the months after launch, the developers have tried to inject some character into the game via cosmetic items but these do nothing to mask PUBGs overriding dullness.
If not for the distinct style of action there would be nothing here to prop PUBG up against its competitors. That may sound fairly harsh when you consider how instrumental this game has been in bringing Battle Royale to the masses, but its the truth. While PUBG is still a decent online shooter it has continued to languish and lose ground to other, far more interesting alternatives.
In Short: A no-thrills PlayStation 4 port that has most of what youd want from PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds but in a much uglier, watered down package.
Pros: Interesting sim-like shooting mechanics and well-rounded core gameplay; allowing for tense, tactical gunfights.
Cons: Visuals are wildly inconsistent, from shockingly poor to passable. Poorly optimised console controls and menus. PUBG as a whole is starting to feel old hat.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, iOS, and Android
Publisher: PUBG Corporation
Developer: PUBG Corporation
Release Date: 7th December 2018
Age Rating: 16
By Jim Hargreaves