Since early this morning, around 5AM CST, my phone was instantly blowing up with the news regarding the official release of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds having launched on mobile devices here in the states. As part of the news having broke, I was one of those that instantly headed over to Google Play and proceeded to download Tencent and PUBG Corps’ latest endeavor into the world of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds with PUBG Mobile.
Surprisingly enough, PUBG Mobile plays rather well, much better than I had expected on a mobile device. It has even had a few nice little implementations that would make life seem a bit easier on both the PC and Xbox One versions of the game. These features include an auto-equip system upon picking up an item that attachments you’ve retrieved are compatible with and even an auto pick-up system for items on the floor. While the latter of the two is rather useful, I did find that disabling this made life a bit easier than I had expected.
But to really talk about the game, we need to break this hands-on impression write-up down into multiple sections for the sake of discussion as there is a lot to discuss. First up, graphics and performance.
Graphics and Performance – Damn… PUBG Mobile is beautiful.
When playing games on mobile, things can always be a bit awkward. First, graphics aren’t always the best. We’re well aware of this due to the hardware limitations that phones may have. Some are great for mobile gaming, others are okay for mobile gaming, and the rest? Well, the rest we don’t mention at all. For companies such as Samsung, Apple, Acer, and Razer, this is great news thanks to their phones that bleed some of the mobile hardware on the market.
With the release of PUBG Mobile now we have a chance to see a game that will demand a lot out of our hardware, so-much-so that we may even see some users fold their phones in half due to overheating and or poor hardware manufacturing. Truth be told, PUBG Mobile is absolutely gorgeous. Let alone does it look great, minus some of the floor clutter such as tables, chairs, debris, and the likes, the game still has a beautiful, beautiful look to it.
While shadows, particle effects, and the draw distance have certainly changed, it doesn’t go without saying that performance on this game is solid. Having tested it on both a Samsung S7 Edge and a Samsung Tab S2, it’s easy to say that PUBG Mobile is actually a rather well-designed game as the use of Unreal Engine 4 does seem to utilize dynamic resolution to allow for the best experience possible. Framerates, according to Samsung’s game tools, stayed at a steady 45-50 frames per second, an impressive feat for both mobile devices, one being a cellphone and the other being a dedicated tablet.
While performance and graphics are key, I can happily say that the graphics aren’t bothersome, and actually come off as the game seems to be equivalent to the PC versions low settings, but again, without the world clutter being strewn about. But the bigger question comes into play, how well does the game handle? It is a mobile title after all.
It controls like a mobile game, right? Not really, so let’s talk about this.
When you play a mobile game, you’re probably guessing that the controls are going to suck, they handle poorly, and you were probably better off playing a console or PC variant of the game. Well, in ways, you’re completely right, but when you’re on the go and you really have a hankering for a quick game of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, you probably aren’t going to have any other way to do so. Luckily for you, that’s where this game comes in.
PUBG Mobile actually handles surprisingly well. Controls for running, looking, navigating menus, all of it comes off as well rounded. Running about is easier than you’d expect as a digital on-screen control will help you move about, even giving you the ability to auto-run after a few solid seconds. Aiming is also quite easy as you have almost the entire screen to use. Navigating your inventory itself is easily done. All you have to do is click your backpack, scroll through your items in order to view them, and even drag and drop the ones you want to where you want it to be. If you want to dispose of it, simply drag it to the right side of the screen where the trashcan mark is.
Outside of inventory management and moving, combat itself is also rather easy to enjoy and doesn’t come off as hard to learn by any means. To play the game, players will have to adjust to several things. Strafing and aiming in this game is not an easy task at first. Instead, it’s about patience, timing, and learning when to just strafe side to side versus going for killer headshots and body shots. The same can be said for any interaction within the game. It’s all a major learning process and fortunately, the controls are easily learned if you take the necessary time to learn them.
The only downside here is for those of you who own Bluetooth controllers. They don’t work at all, don’t expect them to either due to how this game is programmed. While there could surely be a chance of this happening in a future update, it’s not something you’ll want to hold your breath for. After all, the game runs fine, plays fine, and it’s actually quite enjoyable despite the downgrade and graphics.
Even the games driving controls are quite easy to learn while playing, just don’t expect to be running people over with ease. No one really falls for it, which actually does make it a bit harder than you would imagine. Your controls for driving are up and down buttons for forward and reverse and left/right buttons for, well, you guessed it, steering left or right.
Just don’t expect to master the controls rather easily, they are a bit hard and the fact there’s no boosting makes it even harder to get around from time to time.
Sound, voice chat, the likes. Do they work?
Surprisingly not, PUBG Mobile doesn’t hold back any of its punches. The audio in the game is just as high end as its PC and Xbox One counterparts. The audio itself is top-notch. Gunshots ring out in different directions, just as one would assume, but as do atmospheric sounds such as the ocean shores of Engel, and even the sounds of vehicles moving about in the distance.
If you decide to use a headset, you can actually hear their footsteps moving about in nearby buildings, behind nearby walls and even in the floors below you if they enter your building. However, there is one minor irritation that may arise from the current system in play. If you do decide to use voice chat, do take note that muting and unmuting you voice chat does cause small audio cutouts.
Minus the minor audio bug and cutouts, the existence of a functioning voice chat is actually rather well received and a much-needed feature for one such mobile game. Luckily, voice chat does work quite well and does not see any form of distortion or interference. Rather, it’s clean, crisp sounding, much as you would expect from applications such as Discord (which still makes a better alternative for those wondering). But it doesn’t mean ignore using the voice chat at all.
Unfortunately, it’s strongly recommended that you do use voice chat, especially if you do plan on playing in a squad, which means it may be hard to listen for nearby enemies or the likes due to audio feedback coming through your friends’ microphones unless they use earbuds or a headset.
Is it really free-to-play and is it worth playing?
Yes. Yes, and yes it’s completely free-to-play. However, it does seem they already have a path cleared out to make a monetization model much like PC has. Upside here? It doesn’t seem like it’ll happen anytime soon since this game is very noticeable in a beta stage and could be in it for quite some time.
But the best part is? It’s actually a worthwhile endeavor for fans who have yet to REALLY give PUBG a try. Just remember, not everything from the PC or console version made it over. There are even features from the mobile version I’d love to see make its way over to the other versions. But for now? I’ll settle with PUBG Mobile when I don’t have a PC or Xbox One near.
Let’s face it. PUBG Mobile is a solid game. It delivers a PUBG-like experience we’ve yet to have anywhere else and has even given us a bit of hope to see it eventually land on the Nintendo Switch. While we certainly aren’t crossing our fingers on the latter, we do have a lot of hope for PUBG and really hope to see it gain even more popularity with the recent release of PUBG Mobile.
Even then, Fortnite: Battle Royale is going to remain a force to be reckoned with and we honestly can’t wait to see the two mobile versions trade some serious blows in the upcoming months. Even then, PUBG Mobile is a solid experience, one that exceeds our expectations and even delivers a beyond satisfying experience on mobile devices. Let us just hope we see those downloads exceed the one million mark and continue growing as the game’s release opens up to all of the PUBG fans around the world.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.