Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) lit the world on fire in 2017. It sold millions before it even left Early Access on Steam, and kicked off the battle royale gaming craze we’re experiencing right now. Not too long ago this FPS juggernaut landed on mobile.
In PUBG you play as a mercenary who parachutes, along with up to 99 other players, onto an island. Once they land, players scavenge for weapons, ammo, armor, and other supplies in a last-man-standing death match. The game’s map starts large, but quickly shrinks as the electrical storm around the island collapses into progressively smaller circles, forcing players together as the game goes on.
It’s a simple concept with tons of room for complexity. You land on an island with 99 other people and only your fists. Find a gun and stay in the circle. Last one standing wins. Is it worth playing? That’s what we aim to find out in this PUBG Mobile review.
The Mobile version of PUBG has pretty much all the features of its PC counterpart, with a few exceptions. The game only offers PUBG’s original map, Erangel — an abandoned, vaguely Eastern European 8km x 8km island. Everything from the PC version of this map — from the abandoned military base to the burned out nuclear power plant — has made it to the Mobile version of the game.
The mobile version of PUBG has pretty much all the features of its PC counterpart.
All the weapons, gear, and vehicles available when PUBG first exited Early Access are here too. The guns it’s added since are absent, as is the game’s second map, Miramar.
The game is totally free. You can login as either a guest or with Facebook to play. Gameplay and daily login rewards will earn your account experience and battle points, which can be spent on crates which contain a random piece of clothing for your character. Unlike in the PC version, you don’t start with any available clothing, but getting at least a pair of pants doesn’t take too long.
The matchmaking works pretty quickly when queueing in squad, duo, or solo mode, though many of the options from the PC version are absent. Creating a private custom match doesn’t seem to be possible just yet. There’s a menu option for creating a “room,” but it appears to be for creating chat rooms, and also doesn’t seem to actually work yet.
I never had to wait long to be matched with a squad, though connection issues were pretty common. Every team I played with had at least one player disconnect at the outset of the game. I never ran into any connection issues when I played, but at least one teammate was unresponsive in most games.
The game has built-in voice chat, which works, though it feels like most players just use their phone’s speaker for a mic. If the mic is on the bottom of the phone, as is common, it can lead to some pretty annoying extra noise when players’ palms rub against it.
It’s all well and good if PUBG Mobile faithfully recreates the island’s geography and lets you use all the guns and drive all the cars of the original game, but if the controls aren’t up to the task, everything falls apart.
The game uses virtual joysticks for player movement and camera control, and a big button with a bullet on the right will shoot your gun. It’s a little clumsy at first, but actually feels pretty fluid after a few games.
It’s a little clumsy at first, but actually feels pretty fluid after a few games.
The game offers a few different control options to make everything feel a bit better and get rid of the awkwardness of hunting for buttons you can’t find by feel. A floating shoot button, which moves to wherever your thumb last touched, makes shooting as simple as tapping where your finger already is, rather than having to reorient your hand to reach the spot that fires the gun. Items are automatically picked up, sorted, and equipped in game, which cuts down on some tedious menu management. The game also offers gyroscopic control options, which I’ve never enjoyed, but some swear by.
Even with those options, the game still feels a little clumsy. That clumsiness actually impacts what kinds of tactics and gameplay are effective. In the PC version, snipers can be pretty dominant. Erangel is a pretty wide open map, there are long stretches of relatively even terrain dotted with hills. Finding a good vantage point to pick people off isn’t hard. The precision of a mouse and keyboard makes this even easier.
Fights in PUBG Mobile are more oriented around mid- and close-range engagements. It’s hard to hit people really consistently at a distance in this game. It’s even harder when accounting for bullet drop. Automatic weapons, as well as shotguns, with their wider reticles, seem especially potent here.