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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds PS4 Review

The game that sparked a massive trend in gaming finally heads to PlayStation.

by William Schwartz
playerunknowns battlegrounds test server xbox PTS

At this point, it feels like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will forever feel somewhat unfinished and rough around the edges.  It’s a game that has much better made alternatives to it on the market, despite being one of the very first to blaze the trail of the Battle Royale fad.  PUBG Corp just doesn’t seem to have the technical skill with the engine they’re working with to make something that feels like a finished product, no matter whether they call the game early access or not.  PUBG was a lot of fun last year when it was in Early Access on the PC.  There was an acceptable level of underdeveloped features that came along with something that felt very different in the competitive shooter landscape.   You looked at it and said “this has potential,” it felt like something that the developers are going to be able to get right, given that they’ve taken in boatloads of cash since the game’s initial release.

Then the Early Access version launched on to consoles with a timed exclusive launch on the Xbox One.  When it launched, it was nearly unplayable for anyone that didn’t have an Xbox One X.  Regardless of which console you had, there were many months between updates and it just got to the point where I personally felt that the game wasn’t getting any better.  While PUBG Corp. has been busy trying to right the ship across all platforms, their competition has been refining their products.  The market has moved on without them and it really feels they’ve been left behind, whether that’s comparing PUBG to Fortnite or making a more apt comparison to Activision’s recently released Blackout Battle Royale mode that arrived with Black Ops 4.  Both of them are far superior in terms of the technical underpinnings for the game.  They just don’t have the issues that seem to persist for PUBG on consoles.

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Two years into this thing and PUBG still feels like an unpolished erratic mess of a game.  The console versions on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 both feel like a PC game that’s been shoehorned onto the platforms.  On the high-end Pro and X things feel and look a little better, but PUBG on consoles still leaves a lot to be desired.  So with the release of the PlayStation 4 version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds we decided to drop back in on the game to see what it looks and plays like on our PlayStation.  Since it had been a while since we’d played the console version I wanted to see if things have been improved or not and whether PUBG on PlayStation played or looked any different than the Xbox version.

From the last time I played the Xbox One version of the game on the Xbox One X, things do feel a little bit more optimized across the board.  For this review we went back to the Xbox One X version to look at it alongside the PS4 Pro version to to see if there were any significant performance differences to the untrained eye between these versions.  There really doesn’t feel like it. Both versions feel slightly better than I remember.  There’s less early game stuttering going on.  The frame rate feels a little bit more stable than the last time we played it.  There appear to be a lot less bugs and glitches.  This is a good thing considering this isn’t early access any more.  When we say less, we’re coming from a place where there were too many issues to count during console Early Access.  Unfortunately, PUBG on the PlayStation 4 still has many lingering issues that polished releases don’t have.  Their competition surely doesn’t.

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For what feels like a port from the Xbox One, every bug fix and issue that had been ironed out during the course of the Xbox early access period (see paid beta) should’ve been carried forward and it feels like it has been with the PS4 release.  There’s a lot more content in PUBG than there was earlier this year as well.  The Miramar and Sanhok Maps are a part of the rotation out of the gate, and the survival missions that earn you XP and Drops are included as well, so it does feel like a more complete package than it did on the Xbox One the last time I played it.  Multiple maps and something to strive for other than that chicken dinner do make things a little bit more interesting, I must admit.

Unfortunately, it’s when you drop in to the actual game on any of these maps do you realize that this isn’t and probably never will be a great game on consoles.  PUBG was developed for the PC and this feels like it’s about as good as it’s ever going to get.  It’s always going to be an erratic shooter that runs at 30fps under optimal conditions.  PUBG isn’t exactly a stellar technical experience on the PC, and the lack of technical expertise is amplified on the PlayStation 4.  This is due to the lack of raw power in the console when compared to PC and the lack of optimization for the PlayStation 4.  It just doesn’t hit the optimal visual fidelity and technical performance that is needed to make this game feel good when playing it.  Gunplay and movement feel about as good as you would expect from playing a game that was designed to be played with a mouse and keyboard.

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It doesn’t feel that great to play PUBG on consoles with a controller.  There are a lot of dead zone issues, movement feels sluggish, jumping is floaty.  Engagements always feel like they drop frames and if there are multiple players in an area there still seems to be some rubber banding going on.  There’s still a ton of texture pop-in when parachuting from the cargo plane at the start of the match and they still haven’t fixed the actual rendering of objects in the world when you land.  Many of the issues that made me put down PUBG on Xbox earlier this year are still there on the PlayStation.  Despite being more feature rich, the game still feels like it needs a lot of work on the technical end.

That’s not to say that PUBG isn’t fun.  It most certainly is.  Battle Royale is fun, and PUBG matches are still tense and action-packed even if the game is a more deliberate realistic affair when compared to its competition.   There’s certainly enough space in the Battle Royale pool for a game like PUBG.  While it’s in the same genre, it feels incredibly different than Fortnite.  While Blackout might be its closest competition now, even that game feels like PUBG-lite when it comes to the realism aspect.  So this is a game for certain types of players.  Regardless, there’s still some fun to be had in this game if neither Fortnite or Blackout are enjoyable to you.

It’s just that after all this time having been out on the Xbox One, we had hoped that some of the lingering issues that made us put the console version down in the first place would be fixed by now.   That’s just not the case, and it seems like PUBG is perfectly fine with being rough around the edges.  Perhaps in time we will see the game improve, but I’m not holding my breath any more.

The Verdict

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on the PlayStation 4 is a port of a bad version of a great concept.  Whether the developers have more console optimizations in store is yet to be seen.  If you’re ok with a game that is a little rough around the edges when it comes to gameplay and the technical aspects of it, there’s definitely a lot of fun to be had in this brand of Battle Royale.

"meh"
meh

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

  • Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC
  • Published By: PUBG Corporation
  • Developed By: PUBG Corporation
  • Genre: Battle Royale
  • US Release Date: December 7th, 2018
  • Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
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