PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a Train Wreck on the Xbox One
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) has been the smash gaming hit of 2017, demonstrating that issues like balance, bug-free gameplay, and more than one map to play on aren’t particularly important to the modern gamer. Given its inexplicable popularity, Microsoft’s announcement of an Xbox One exclusive made waves, as console players clamored for the right to scamper around causing havoc and suffering the existential pain of controlling a poorly animated marionette on stilts.
Eurogamer has done a complete workup on PUBG on both the Xbox One and Xbox One X, and the results are honestly pretty terrible. Some textures in-game are of PS2-era quality, the plane deployment frame rate drops to 12-15fps, shadows and plant life pop-in badly, and according to Eurogamer, input lag also feels off, either because of an improperly defined dead zone in the controls, or because of yet more problems with the game code. Eurogamer writes, “In terms of first impressions, PUBG is borderline horrendous — an assault of low quality artwork, jarring pop-in and disappointing performance.”
Texture detail and resolution are vastly improved on the Xbox One X, but it’s not clear if these settings are user-controllable. There’s a non-functional menu buried in the game (available if you hit “O” to bring up options). The visual settings are a mix of “Very Low” settings for the Xbox One, though some features, like ambient occlusion, are implemented at this setting when they aren’t on the PC.
The Xbox One X offers a set of features that’s broadly comparable with the PC’s medium settings, but with a few additional features tossed in. The 4K render target and higher texture detail help with the overall presentation, but the fact that both platforms struggle in many areas to maintain a 30fps cap is difficult to swallow. Frame rates tend to drop in odd places, like when opening a bathroom door, as opposed to when firefighting in the open world. To be clear, these kinds of drops occur as well, but the frame rate droop isn’t clearly linked to any specific event happening in-game. The Xbox One’s average frame rate is 25.6fps, while the Xbox One X manages 27.6. The overall quality of the presentation is decidedly lacking, despite assistance from Microsoft, and Eurogamer recommends looking elsewhere (like Fortnite) if you want a Battle Royale game right now.
Also, for the record: While multiplayer FPS games aren’t generally my thing, I’ve got nothing against the category. What I do dislike is the way so many games now treat gamers as if they’re unpaid beta testers who literally pay to debug a given product. Obviously nobody makes anybody pay for PUBG, but I find it’s fundamentally disrespectful.