Microsoft and developer The PUBG Corporation are making good on a promise to launch the battle-royale shooter PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on Xbox One before the end of the year. The last-person-standing competitive game launches tomorrow into the Game Preview program for unfinished products on the Xbox Store for $30. I just spent a few hours with it, and I think that the intense, frightening encounters have survived the adaptation. That’s going to make for an excellent console experience … once The PUBG Corp is able to do something about the framerate.
I’ve spent more than 400 hours with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on the PC. So I bring a lot of baggage with me to the first console release, but I repeatedly found that this version has a adapted the complex controls for a gamepad in a clever way. One of the big things here is that most buttons have multiple functions depending on if you tap or do a long press. For example, if you tap the right bumper, you’ll toggle between first and third person. If you hold the same right bumper, you’ll have the option to look all around you while continuing to run in a different direction. Or on the D-pad, you can press down to cycle through your health items, but you can hold down to use them.
The developers have crammed so many functions into the gamepad that you would expect to feel overwhelmed. That isn’t my experience. After only a handful of matches, everything started to feel intuitive. I’m already at a point where I hope that other developers borrow some of these ideas for their controller configurations.
I still don’t know how to do some things in PUBG on Xbox One, but I’m confident that The PUBG Corp has managed to get almost everything into the game. And that means that this is the complete experience. I had a moment where I heard someone nearby, was able to spot them running through a house, and realized that they were coming for me. It was horrifying and exhilarating. I fired a weapon and got a few shots in before my opponent retreated back behind the house. I quickly switched to my revolver, chased them down, and took them out with a bullet to the torso.
So, yeah, this is still PUBG.
But it is also PUBG in terms of its optimization and performance. The PUBG Corp has said that the game runs at 30 frames per second on Xbox One and Xbox One X … but it seems like it runs well below that a lot of the time. In my video above, you can see the choppiness. And that makes for a significantly worse experience than a PC … well, than a PC that can run PUBG at 60 frames per second or higher.
This affects gameplay. The stutter makes it difficult to aim, and it can make it unclear how fast you’re traveling in a vehicle. I’ve also found that characters are difficult to control when you’re getting around 20 frames per second. I’ll walk by a door, and my character will get stuck on the wall because the stepping animation carried me just a tiny bit further than I realized. It’s frustrating.
At the same time, PUBG on Xbox One hasn’t even launched yet. It’ll launch at 9 p.m. Pacific tonight, and when it does, you can only get it from the Game Preview program. That means that it isn’t finished yet, and I would take that as a warning. PUBG needs a lot more time in the oven on Microsoft’s console — even the more powerful Xbox One X struggles to get a solid 30 frames per second. So bare that in mind before rushing out to buy it tonight. This game is going to end up running a lot better on the Xbox One platform, but that’s going to take time. And if you buy it now, you are absolutely paying to help them test a beta.
Of course, I say that, but I had a hard time stopping to write this, so if you ignore my warning, you’ll probably end up having a great time anyway. That’s especially true if you have never touched the PC version and Fortnite is a bit too simple for you.