[UPDATE: PUBG has added first-person servers that allow groups, no longer limiting the mode to just solo and duo play.]
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has seen a staggering success so far. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds pits nearly 100 players against one another in a massive free-for-all. PC Gamers on Steam showed this was the type of game they’d been hoping for by quickly helping PUBG overtake GTA 5 and Fallout 4 near the top of Steam’s ranking for highest concurrent users, with 481,291 players at one time. It has over 6 million copies sold, and all of this popularity is in spite of the game still being in Early Access.
The game is far from finished and has a heap of kinks that won’t go unnoticed by players. While not every little bug is worth noting, here are some key things PUBG still needs to add or fix before it leaves Early Access.
First-person mode flaws
Gamers who are serious about shooters waited a long time for a dedicated first-person mode in PUBG, but so far it only supports solo and duo play, and it lacks polish. An FOV slider was added, but indoor environments can still feel claustrophobic, since players have to go right up next to doors to open them.
Some map objects, walls, and windows are also too high up to be seen through or over while in first-person mode, showing that they may have been designed with only the higher third-person camera in mind. Also, sometimes shots in first person don’t go quite where the player is looking — if aiming just above an object, the bullet can hit that object instead of the intended target.
High magnification scopes for weapons in PUBG offer players a significant advantage not only because they enable them to fight at greatest distances, but also because they simply let them see farther. Factor in the scarcity of these attachments, and they become a true prize to find while looting.
Sprinkling binoculars around the map or offering them as a starting item would help level the playing field somewhat. Binoculars would give scope-less players a chance to spot and avoid distant enemies, yet the value of rare 8x and 15x scopes for long-range sniping would remain.
No vaulting or climbing
PUBG has a massive island for players to explore and wage war on, and there are more maps coming, ut it can be hard to get around the battleground without the ability to vault. Escaping through windows and even hopping over knee-high fences can prove difficult, and numerous crouch-jumping tutorials on YouTube attempt to help players better traverse the map.
Bluehole Studios showed off vaulting and climbing at E3 this year, but the feature didn’t make it into the delayed July patch. The game desperately needs this feature, and the sooner it makes its way into Early Access, the better it should be when the game gets its full release.
Currently, PUBG allows players three aiming modes in both first- and third-person game modes. By default, players will have a loose aim, holding the right mouse button will tighten their aim somewhat, and clicking the right mouse button once will aim down their weapon sights.
Some games lack this middle level of tightened aim, and a lot of players may be uncomfortable adjusting to this way of bringing up the proper weapon sights. In third-person, the middle level of tightened aim gives players a way to focus on their target a little more accurately without having to switch to first-person, but in first person, it may not feel so useful. Giving players a way to decide how they want to switch between aim types should help improve players’ comfort with the gunplay.
PUBG features the tactical ability to lean around corners, peeking enemies while exposing the least amount of your character, but it lacks an ability many third-person games have: swapping shoulders.
As it is, the third-person camera sits up and to the right of the player. This allows for easily checking around corners when they’re on the players’s right side. If a player tightens their aim, they can switch the camera over to their left shoulder to help peek around a left corner. Pressing Shift and Q or E will even let a player select the shoulder to look over first when focusing their aim.
What’s missing is the ability to keep the camera on the left side when a player isn’t aiming. Since tightening your aim in the game slows your character’s movement, the lack of a shoulder swap forces players to choose between better visibility and better movement.
There’s no clear reason not to include this feature, and it will make players coming from other third-person shooters like Metal Gear Solid V and Splinter Cell: Black List more comfortable with the controls.
Optimizations for smoother gameplay
It’s not as big an issue that PUBG is currently lacking optimization, since it is in Early Access, but it’s definitely something Bluehole Studios needs to tackle before releasing the finished game. Right now, even powerful gaming computers can struggle to offer consistently smooth gameplay. Frame rates dip frequently, and lowering settings in the graphics menu doesn’t necessarily improve the frame rates by much.
This is especially important for players that aren’t running the game on the latest and greatest hardware. The game has high-quality imagery, but with poor performance on even $1,000 gaming rigs, it’s hard to enjoy the scenery with stuttering and sudden spikes in frame rates.
Detailed graphics settings
For players trying to eke out every last bit of performance from their machine to get the greatest competitive edge, the current graphics settings in PUBG may leave a lot to be desired.
For one, PC gamers are likely used to seeing clearly defined options when it comes to anti-aliasing, so PUBG’s “Low” and “Ultra” won’t help a gamer know if their running MSAAx2 or TXAAx4. Since there are pros and cons to each anti-aliasing type, it would be helpful for PUBG to let players know which was being selected.
Settings like Foliage and View Distance also lack clear information about how the different levels affect what’s seen in the game. Players should be clearly told if these settings will reduce quality of whats seen or if they reduce the draw distance of objects.
Limited player animations
Bluehole recently added an animation for drinking an energy drink, and it showed off some new combat animations coming to the game, but it could still use more.
— PLAYERUNKNOWN (@PLAYERUNKNOWN) July 31, 2017
Players still teleport when entering and exiting vehicles, which could upset a player who carefully lined up a shot on someone trying to flee in a car. This also reduces immersion, especially when a knocked out player simply teleports out of a vehicle. An animation for players exiting the airplane and removing their parachutes at the beginning of the game could also improve immersion.
Troubles with terrain
Players and the map don’t always interact in the most realistic or predictable way. Some rocky places in the PUBG map can quickly get a player stuck, unable to escape and forced to wait for an enemy or the blue circle to come around and finish them off.
Players running around the map can also experience downhill jogs turning into free falls. Though the player still appears to be touching the ground in these cases, the falling animation comes on and they slide down the hill until landing, and sometimes take serious damage.
Interactions with the level geometry can also be troublesome when players are prone. Aiming works a little bit different for players lying on the ground, and being on ground that isn’t level can result in a jittery camera that makes it impossible to aim.
One of the worst and most obvious cases of poor terrain interactions shows up when driving a vehicle in PUBG. Random map geometry can snag a car and bring it to an immediate halt or swerve it off course. And in severe cases, cars can do a complete flip while driving on seemingly smooth ground. While it’s good for a laugh, competitive players won’t laugh long if that flipped car was supposed to save them from the blue circle.
The anticlimactic win
When someone wins that sweet “chicken dinner” that PUBG rewards the last player or team, the game immediately ends. It’s a rather lackluster ending to what can be a suspenseful final battle.
While kill cams throughout PUBG would likely thrill players, they wouldn’t work well in group matches, where dead players could then tell teammates where a hidden enemy killed them from. Still, for the final kill of the game, a kill cam would be a great way to show the player who died and the player who won how the last moments unfolded. Bluehole Studios appears to be working on a match playback feature but it’s not clear if it will also work as a kill cam right when the match finishes.
Addressing all of these issues in Early Access will help round out the game and ensure everything works when the game gets its final release and reaches PS4 and Xbox One, where it will have to address new issues related to cross-play.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is out now for PC in early access, with a release for PS4 and Xbox One expected in late 2017.