PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Review (Early Access)

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Review (Early Access)

Find out why Battlegrounds is the best battle royale game yet.

JesseCecchetto by JesseCecchetto on Apr 21, 2017 @ 02:35 PM
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PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is the newest battle royale game to hit the market. It launched on March 23rd, and in under a month, it's become a fan-favorited battle royale game. The community seems to have come to a consensus that Battlegrounds is the best battle royale game yet, and the numbers tend to resonate with that statement. Just three days after the initial launch of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Bluehole studios raked in $11 million dollars, and since then, they have sold over $1 million copies and counting. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has taken the community by storm, and it continues to sit on the Steam top seller list. 

Battlegrounds offers a unique battle royale experience that other games in the genre such as H1Z1 King Of The Kill and The Culling simply can't match. Veterans of the genre and rookies alike have come together to crown Battlegrounds as the best of its kind. Like all hype, you have to be cautious and educated. Relying simply on hype to make a purchase is definitely a recipe for disappointment, especially with early access games. I hope by the end of this article, you have enough information to make an informed decision on whether or not PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is for you, or even worth it in its current state. Since Battlegrounds is in early access, this will be a Review in progress as I intend to revisit the game upon full release and re-review it. Until then, I will be breaking down the hype of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and really digging deep into why it's so popular, and if it's worth it or not. I will be judging its graphics, audio and overall gameplay experience.



The Battle Royale Genre

First things first, you need to know what exactly a battle royale game is. If you're not familiar with the term battle royale, then you're part of the majority. Battle royale games are not very mainstream at the moment, and they are definitely not one of the more common video game genres. Battle royale games can also be described as deathmatch survival games or massively multiplayer online survival games, but the most common term is battle royale. The easiest comparison to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and other battle royale games is The Hunger Games. Battle royale games follow basically the same formula as The Hunger Games where players are dropped into an arena, in which they fight to the death until only one player or one team remains.

Every battle royale game tends to have unique features that set itself apart from the competition. Certain games have crafting, vehicles, or just a creative and interesting environment. Battle royale games like The Culling focus on crafting and skill based melee combat, while a game like Survival Of The Fittest focuses on taming powerful dinosaurs to aid you in combat. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, on the other hand, has a heavy focus on realistic military combat, with no crafting involved whatsoever. It's most similar to H1Z1 King Of The Kill and for good reason since they both share the same creator.

Battle royale games are quickly gaining in popularity since the concept is relatively easy to understand and grasp, and the gameplay offers a huge amount of replayability. More than anything, you need to understand that battle royale games are competitive....very competitive. They are virtually built for Esports competitions and to achieve success in them, you must be determined, patient and dedicated. Victory is not easily obtained, especially in PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds. As much fun as battle royale games can be, they can dish out an equal amount of disappointment, frustration, and brutal punishment. If you have a history of rage quitting, then battle royale games might not be the best for you. But being the lone survivor out of 100 different players is unlike any other feeling I've felt in a video game, and it never gets old.

Battle royale games aren't for the feint of heart, but if you have the skill, the patience and the bravery required to take on this heavily competitive genre, then you may just achieve the victory and riches beyond your wildest dreams. Okay, I may be exaggerating a wee bit. There may not be any riches involved per say, but definitely a huge amount of satisfaction and maybe even a pat on the back from friends or family. 

Graphics

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Like most early access games, Battlegrounds definitely has its fair share of bugs, glitches, and overall performance issues. Poor optimization is definitely something that Battlegrounds suffers from, and it affects how the game looks and performs overall. I could comfortably run the game at low settings, and even at its bare minimum settings, the game still looks pretty good. If you have a good enough computer to run Battlegrounds at high or even Ultra settings, it looks incredibly good, especially for a game in early access. Considering that Battlegrounds has probably the largest map out of any battle royale game on the market, there is a pretty impressive amount of detail, and while it isn't the highlight of the game, it's definitely greatly appreciated.

While many AAA titles draw players interest because of their gorgeous graphics and sheer beauty, Battlegrounds doesn't focus on graphics, but more so the overall gameplay experience. Certain games definitely entice players with their graphics, and while this could be the case for Battlegrounds, it definitely isn't one of the main selling points. Battlegrounds definitely looks great, especially for a smaller development team and only 9 months of work, but it's more of a bonus than an actual reason to buy the game.

Even if Battlegrounds looked its best at low settings, I would still play it just because it offers such a unique and fun gameplay experience. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds: come for the competitive gunplay, and stay for the gorgeous view. In all seriousness, Battlegrounds is definitely a visually pleasant game, and it's only bound to look better as time goes by. The main issue is that your level of enjoyment in Battlegrounds, regarding the graphics, is totally dependent on the power of your computer. If you have a very high-end computer, you can afford to enjoy the game's high settings without sacrificing performance. But if you're like me, performance is definitely way more important than graphics when its comes to achieving victory.

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Other than high requirements, Battlegrounds suffers from rendering issues with lower end computers. Time and time again I've parachuted into the game, only to be faced with un-rendered buildings, either completely transparent or playdough looking. When faced with this issue, you are forced to wait for the buildings to render before you're able to enter them, and considering getting a gun as fast as possible is the main goal when entering a game, this rendering bug can often lead to an early death. Bluehole studios is aware of this bug, and they are working on fixing it, but as of now, it's a prevalent issue in many players games.

Audio

Since Battlegrounds is a highly competitive, strategic shooter game, proper audio is crucial to the gameplay experience. Player's have to carefully pay attention to sounds in Battlegrounds in order to stay one step ahead of the competition. For instance, footsteps play a crucial part in stealth, and crouching/crawling can allow you to sneak up on opponents due to quieter footsteps. Having a good headset and listening carefully to footsteps can be a huge advantage, especially when playing in buildings.

Other than footsteps, players need to listen for the sound of car engines and even planes in order to avoid players and find loot drops. The sound design in Battlegrounds is superb, from the sound of gunfire to the sound of a giant plane flying over your head. The sound of rain, wind, and water can change the playing field, making it harder to hear your opponents. Players can use sound to their advantage, for example: waiting for a plane to fly overhead before storming in a building can act as cover since your enemies won't be able to hear anything.

While I have never shot a real firearm before, the gunfire and reloading sound design in Battlegrounds sounds very realistic and authentic. Players have to listen to gunfire in the distance to anticipate where players are located, as gunfire is loudest according to the direction you are facing. Battlegrounds definitely suffers from audio glitches. There have been times that I've been walking in a building and what should sound like boots on a hardwood floor sounds like I'm walking in a muddy swamp, and vice versa. Other times, the sound of a shell hitting a hard-surfaced floor can randomly happen, even if I'm in a grassy field with no firing happening whatsoever. But overall, the sound design in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds definitely matches its realistic gameplay, and besides a few glitches, it feels very authentic to a real military scenario.

Gameplay

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Finally, we've finished our vegetables and get to eat the steak. The real reason people are going nuts over PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is the gameplay. Battlegrounds offers a much more realistic and strategic battle royale experience compared to its competitors. Every action you make in the game has to be thought out very carefully since one simple mistake can cost you the game, and when it takes upwards of half an hour to win a game, you definitely don't want your hard work to be for nothing.

From the start of a match, you're thrown into a little sandbox loading map where you wait 1 minute for all 100 players to join the match before getting teleported into a plane. This version of basically a loading screen is a great interactive alternative to staring at a loading screen and it's often pretty entertaining since it allows you to pick up guns and get some practice shooting in as well as talk to the players you're about to fight against. Once the waiting is over, you're teleported into a giant military cargo plane that flies over the entire map at a fixed trajectory. From here, you can decide where you would like to drop.

Battlegrounds has a barrier system that shortens the playable area on the map as the game goes on. Players have to stay inside the circle to survive, and eventually, the circle gets so small you're usually resorted to hiding behind trees or rocks, looking for your enemy/s within a 100-meter radius. The initial circle/barrier doesn't appear till every player is on the ground, so you can never guess where you should be dropping on the map. Usually, the majority of players will jump towards large building complexes or at the beginning of the bailout period. These areas often turn into bloodbath's, but it's basically the equivalent of a high risk, high reward approach. You can also decide to jump right at the start of the plane trip, or at the very end in an attempt to fall in a less populated area, making it easier to get geared up and loot safely before running into players.

The map in Battlegrounds has vehicles in certain locations, which are a huge advantage when spawning far away from the initial circle, or when you've been caught behind the barrier and need to catch up the safe circle. Staying behind the barrier in Battleground for too long will kill you, so having a vehicle at your disposal allows you to take your time with looting.

As far as guns go, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has a fairly wide variety including pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles. Since the map is huge, most combat situations tend to take place from mid-long range, so having yourself a good scope such as a 4x or 8x can be an enormous advantage, especially when paired with a powerful sniper rifle. Battlegrounds features very realistic gunplay. Recoil can be a huge pain in the ass depending on your weapon of choice, and when firing from a distance, you have to carefully account for the distance you're shooting for, and lead your shots according to how your target is moving. There is a huge learning curve involved with Battlegrounds when it comes to shooting, and because of how difficult it is, getting a kill is always a very rewarding experience. 

Final Verdict

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Overall, between the initial parachuting experience, the realistic gun mechanics, the strategic elements, the enormous environment and sheer adrenaline filled combat, Battleground is unlike any other game in the battle royale genre or any other genre for that matter. Bluehole Studios has prior experience in the battle royale genre, and it definitely shows in PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds. They've managed to make without a doubt, the best battle royale game on the market, in around 9 months of development. With the amount of success they have already achieved, I have no doubt that Bluehole Studios has big plans for Battlegrounds in the near future.

After binge playing this game since its release, I'm fairly comfortable giving it a solid 7/10. If it wasn't for the game's extremely poor optimization and lack of content, I can comfortably say that It could have been a 9/10, and I'm sure that upon full release, it will reach that status. Since it's in early access, it's far from perfect, but even so, it's the best battle royale game I've ever played, and it's definitely my favorite game of 2017 so far. I have high hopes for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and I'll continue to play it through its exciting and promising development process.

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