Pretty soon, you can be the last one standing on the Xbox One or Xbox One X. PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds (PUBG) debuts on Microsoft’s game consoles this fall, and it could be one of the most important titles in a relatively light season of exclusives for the software giant.
I got to play PUBG on an Xbox One X development machine at a preview event, and it was a lot of fun. And that confirmed to me that this could be a very important console exclusive during the all-important holiday selling season. It ran fine, and I saw no hiccups that could prevent it from being Redmond’s secret weapon in the console war.
Bluehole’s Battle Royale shooter has been on Steam Early Access since March on Windows, and it has been hugely popular, selling more than 10 million copies in six months. The Xbox One X will have Forza Motorsport 7 as its flagship game, but PUBG could very well fill a big hole in Microsoft’s slate this fall for players who favor multiplayer shooter games over racing titles.
For sure, Xbox One X players will be able to play games like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Origins, Activision’s Call of Duty: WWII, and Electronic Arts’ Star Wars Battlefront II on all platforms. But PUBG could help Microsoft distinguish itself from the pack.
In PUBG, up to 100 players can parachute into a big 8 kilometer by 8 kilometer world. They have to forage for weapons and other loot, and then fight for survival by being the lone survivor. Every few minutes, the size of the battleground shrinks, forcing the players into a smaller and smaller area. It forces conflict, until only one is left standing.
Based on Unreal Engine 4, the game has reasonably good graphics, and it owes its lineage to ARMA 2’s DayZ mode. Brendan Greene, known as PlayerUnknown, teamed up with South Korean developer Bluehole to create the game. They submitted it to ID@Xbox as a self-published game on the Xbox One, but Microsoft quickly elevated it beyond indie status as the game became more and more popular on the PC.
I haven’t played much of PUBG yet, so the console version could be quite appealing for me. In my first match, I landed in a fairly obscure place and started going into buildings looking for loot. I got a submachine gun and started moving toward the epicenter. I got the jump on one rival who was searching for goods, and I sneaked up on him. He turned around. I fired. I missed. He shot me. And I was out of the game, coming in 49th place.
In another round, I saw an open door and figured someone was inside. I went in, found a gun, and got into a close combat situation. He took me out and I was out again, without firing a shot. In a third match, it was pretty much the same. But I was itching to get back into the action. My time with the preview expired, but I enjoyed it. I’m betting a lot of other people, particularly those who are curious about it but haven’t tried it yet on the PC, will give it a try on the consoles.