PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, is known to many as the game that truly launched the Battle Royale genre. While other battle royale games have captured players’ attention in the U.S., PUBG remains popular internationally, at least in part due to is ease of accessibility on mobile platforms.
The Genesis of PUBG
In playing this game, it’s important to understand its genesis. Most games rely on years of assets and development from a large company. But the credit for PUBG largely belongs to a single person — PlayerUnknown — who developed the concept based on his ARMA 2 mod DayZ: Battle Royale.
That means that from the beginning, PUBG could never be as flashy as games like Fortnite. When PUBG started, it simply didn’t have the means or resources to become that technologically sound. Of course, as Twitch streamers began to play it, PUBG became tremendously popular, and the rest is history. The Epic Games staff even once cited PUBG as the inspiration for Fortnite: Battle Royale (which eventually resulted in a lawsuit).
Today, there are countless games in the battle royale arena, but it’s unlikely any of them would exist without PUBG. This military-style simulator allows a player to loot buildings and destroy opponents while a series of damaging circles forces players closer together until only one person or team survives.
With the influx of battle royale games that have recently hit the market, it’s almost hard to go back in time to try to understand how PUBG caused so much hype pre-Fortnite. While a player new to the battle royale genre might find it slower paced, it has its fanbase in a niche audience. People who switch to PUBG are typically those who find other battle royale games too fast-paced — and they’re a rare breed. But that’s why PUBG players are often diehards.
Newer players can load into a training mode, but for anyone who has played a battle royale game before, the basics are fairly straightforward: Drop in, get the best loot, kill enemies, and be the last player or team to survive.
Over the last few years, it’s been a bit of race for creators of new battle royale games to see what they can do to make their games different from others. PUBG has multiple maps, which adds some much-needed variety in a game where looting and map movement can take significantly longer than it does in competing games. In fact, everything in this game seems to move a bit slower, including load times, character speeds and gunfights.
Looting is a much longer process than in other battle royale games, as buildings are bigger, with more levels and more intricacies. Players can spend much more time attempting to find an ideal loadout, since there are dozens of attachments they can use to customize any gun.
On the plus side, this means there is a variety of loot — and tons of storage space in backpacks to hold it. Players can choose from extended magazines and other attachments, but they won’t attach automatically as they do in games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 | Blackout or Apex Legends.
But even with all the time spent looting, the game can be over in an instant. Typically, this happens the moment an enemy creeps around the corner, surprising the player and grenading them to death. As in all BR games, a player can get mowed down by someone with an AR out of nowhere.
The mechanics in PUBG don’t flow as smoothly as they do in some of the newer additions to the BR genre, but there’s still plenty to love. Boosts can come in the form of energy drinks and pain pills, a nod to a dose of humor in this pseudo-realistic backdrop. In fact, there’s even the option to club someone to death with a frying pan, which at one point was subject to a bug that made it the most powerful weapon in the game. PUBG’s development team is well aware that any gamer fan base loves an Easter egg or two. Furthermore, a player has the option to switch from first-person to third-person view, and to lean to the left and right — options that aren’t available in most BR games.
While perhaps not ideal, it’s possible to play PUBG on a phone or iPad and still perform fairly well. This is because, for all of its nuance, it’s a very easy game to grasp.
Even at this stage in development, PUBG players can expect some level of glitchiness or visual errors. For instance, in a recent game, dropping in a popular zone created visual errors that made it impossible to figure out where the buildings were until several seconds after I landed. And knowing where the buildings are is extremely important in this game.
Overall, PUBG is essentially a look into the bare bones of the battle royale genre. Regardless of which BR game a person has chosen to play, it’s important to understand it has its roots in PUBG. Whether you are a fan of the slow-paced style or prefer something more fast-paced and kill-heavy, it’s important to see PUBG for what it is: the start of something bigger than itself that’s built up a hardcore, dedicated fanbase.