After several years of losing market share to Fortnite, Apex Legends and Call of Duty Warzone, Krafton finally abandoned the buy-2-play business model and relaunched PUBG: Battlegrounds as a free-2-play title.
While this came too late to reclaim the top spot in the genre, it has resulted in PUBG: Battlegrounds again becoming a contender for the throne, with Apex Legends and PUBG: Battlegrounds frequently exchanging places as the second most played battle royale title.
In July 2021 PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds, more commonly known as PUBG for much of its life, officially rebranded itself as PUBG: Battlegrounds, which doesn’t make much sense considering that the BG in PUBG already stood for Battle Grounds, indicating that no one at Krafton saw an issue with renaming their flagship title to PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds: BattleGrounds.
This curious marketing choice did not affect the game or its fortunes, likely a huge part of why Krafton did not feel the need to revert this cringe-inducing mistake.
I reviewed PUBG: Battlegrounds on a PC that can maintain a stable 200 fps average at 1080p on ultra settings; however, due to playing most competitive titles at 120/144 fps, I opted to cap the frame rate at 120 fps for this.
Despite having so much headroom (40% of my potential fps unused), I encountered some truly astonishing framerate drops, which saw fps at times drop as low as 35 on certain maps for no apparent reason when larger and more graphically intensive locations on other maps did not cause more than 1 fps drop in even the most intense firefight.
Out of curiosity, I lowered the visuals to the lowest preset. I saw no performance increase whatsoever, leading me to believe whatever is wrong with PUBG: Battlegrounds occurs at a server level, a theory reinforced by the terrible packet loss (4-12%) I experienced when playing on a 500 Mbps connection with incredibly low latency.
While my PC and internet speed has improved drastically since PUBG: Battlegrounds originally launched into early access, the performance of PUBG: Battlegrounds has barely improved in the same time frame, resulting in substandard performance across a variety of PC builds.
Curiously the console builds perform much better, and while there are occasional bouts of server instability, as a whole, PUBG: Battlegrounds plays much better on 9th-generation consoles than on PC, despite being limited to a lower fps and having less powerful hardware to work with.
PUBG: Battlegrounds is six years old, and that is a huge landmark for any game, let alone one in the highly competitive causal competitive market; however, if Krafton wishes PUBG: Battlegrounds to remain relevant for another six years, serious changes must be made, as while PUBG: Battlegrounds was ahead of its time in 2017, six years later it is one of the least interesting titles in the genre and one that I and many other don’t get excited about anymore.
While Fortnite has made several mistakes along the way, and some seasons have been better (or worse) than others, Epic Games is not afraid of trying something new, which has resulted in Fortnite retaining a huge amount of hype as it heads towards its 6th birthday, unlike PUBG: Battlegrounds which rarely excites anyone due to the bland uniformity of its seasonal updates, and a general lack of direction from its developer.
If not for the effects of the sunken cost fallacy, PUBG: Battlegrounds would not even be a contender for most active battle royale, and while it remains very active, it is doubtful that PUBG: Battlegrounds could attract the same size audience if launching today for the first time, with the majority of its core player base continuing to play only due to the size (and value) of their inventories more than anything else.
I want to be excited about PUBG: Battlegrounds again, but unless Krafton can blow it out of the water in 2023 with a series of back-to-back updates that overhaul core gameplay mechanics and the new player experience (like their roadmap indicates), 2023 will likely be the last year that PUBG: Battlegrounds remains a contender for the Battle Royale throne.
While PUBG: Battlegrounds is not alone in “showing a little skin, ” the marketing department’s focus on scantily clad/suggestively poised female characters feels like something right out of the early 2010s when compared to the marketing of other titles in the genre feels downright archaic.
Admittedly PUBG: Battlegrounds is not the worst offender. Even Fortnite has begun introducing more characters who show considerably more skin than at launch; this is a poor choice and will only be looked at in a worse light as time passes.
While many of PUBG: Battleground’s limited-time modes have gone the way of the dodo, the introduction of casual mode is a great way to introduce new players to the game by setting 12 players (in either solo, duo, trio or squad mode) against 88 bots, ensuring that all but the unluckiest of players have a chance of making it into the final 25.
Like most modern live service titles, PUBG has enjoyed more than a few crossovers, from Mission Impossion to Dragon Ball; unfortunately for fans of PUBG: Battlegrounds, the majority of these crossovers only appeared on PUBG Mobile, a curious and frankly bad decision on the part of the developer, with PUBG: Battlegrounds already struggling to generate hype as it enters its 7th full year of operation.
PUBG: Battleground is not a bad game, but it certainly is a mediocre one, with almost every aspect of the game, from gunplay to visuals being of mediocre quality; when coupled with non-intuitive controls and poor server performance, PUBG: Battleground feels like an early access game that is at the start of its journey and not the result of 7 years development.
While PUBG: Battleground does offer a wide selection of maps, weapons and vehicles, none of them is particularly well made or interesting to interact with, something the developer has promised to address in 2023, with an emphasis being placed on remastering older content to make it more palatable for a modern gaming audience, something that is not only very welcome but long overdue.
PUBG: Battlegrounds is a battle royale video game developed and published by KRAFTON, Inc, it was released on 23 March 2017 and it is Free-2-Play.
PUBG: Battlegrounds is available on the following platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
PUBG: Battlegrounds remains in active development, and the developers have laid out a comprehensive roadmap for 2023, which focuses on making PUBG: Battlegrounds fit in better with the rest of the genre, something which has not been the case for a long time, with PUBG: Battlegrounds having assumed the role of a cantankerous uncle since the launch Fortnite Battle Royale, Apex Legends, and more recently Call of Duty Warzone 1 & 2.
While we do not know how many people play PUBG: Battlegrounds across all platforms, the Steam community peak at around 400k players daily, which edges closer to 600k following a major update.
Assuming the console community is doing equally well, it’s not a stretch to assume that PUBG: Battlegrounds has around 4M daily active users across all time zones and platforms.
PUBG: Battlegrounds is very much alive on all platforms, and while it is not quite as large as Fortnite, it is comparable, with an estimated 818k players logging in at peak times across all platforms.
PUBG: Battlegrounds supports:
Cross Platform Support exists between consoles only, and the PC Community is limited to crossplay between the Steam and Epic Game Store.
PUBG: Battlegrounds offers the following matchmaking options:
The PUBG: Battlegrounds in-game store sells:
The following peripherals are officially supported:
PUBG: Battlegrounds is rated PEGI 16+ and contains the following:
PUBG: Battlegrounds is a decent game, and the developers still have time to turn it around, but compared to the rest of the genre, it is showing its age, and without major changes, 2023 could be the last year that PUBG: Battlegrounds remains relevant, despite being likely to remain in one form or another for the remainder of the decade.
While I cannot recommend PUBG: Battleground in its present state, I am fully confident that the developer has the time and resources to turn it around and that by the end of 2024, PUBG: Battleground will be a much better game that I and many others will happily recommend.