PUBG – what makes it so enjoyable?

It’s hard to not keep writing about PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, even though I have so much else to play and talk about, PUBG is always beckoning for just a couple more games.

I can’t quite pinpoint the appeal, or why this holds so much more of my attention that Fortnite Battle Royale did, but it does.  It’s definitely flawed, but regardless, it’s like they managed to capture lightning in a bottle.

For all of the disconnects, the rubber banding and drops in framerate, I would still rather go back to this over and over, than anything else in my library at the moment.   Perhaps the “rough around the edges” approach has an allure, or perhaps it’s simply because they have nailed the core game so perfectly, that the flaws pale in comparison to overall experience.

Sound matters

One thing that I’ve harked on about for a while now is the benefits of having a headset.  This couldn’t be more true than when playing PUBG.  Honestly, the sound design is really really good.

Last night, I walked into what I thought was an empty building, only to hear a shotgun shell land on the floor……I knew immediately that someone else was there.

Footsteps, doors opening, distant gunshots, flies.  Everything is so well tuned to building atmosphere, giving you the audible information you need at all times.  Nothing quite sets the fear in, like hearing a door open downstairs in a building you’re looting.  The heart just starts to pound.

Sure, the vehicles can be loud, and the air drop aeroplane is ridiculously loud, but other than that, the sound design is perfect, and this game practically requires a headset.

It does get a little too immersive at times, though.  Playing solo, and hearing nothing, only to be crept-up on, has made me jump more times than I’d like to admit.

Others really do make it better

I was of the impression that the definitive experience was playing solo.  I love playing solo, and the thought of you vs 100 really gives you some motivation.  It’s great, I’ll never not enjoy it, even when I’m miles out of the circle and the fog is coming for me.  Every game is different, and I have myself to blame for anything stupid.

Playing in duos with someone you know is infinitely better. Talking tactics, sharing gear, both going prone when in a field whilst a car goes by.  It builds a team dynamic that very few games seem to be able to do, in my experience.  The communication and having someone to have your back is really appealing.

Better still, although perhaps not quite so serious (to me anyway), is playing with a squad of friends.  It can be like wrangling cats, trying to get everyone to a similar landing point, getting everyone gear etc, but when everyone is on the ground, chatting, having a laugh, it really adds another level to the depth of your fight for survival.

Even dying in PUBG ends up being fine, because you then spectate your teammates, and it’s as engaging as actually playing.  Granted, my advice may be worthless, and I can only see what they see, but it can be invaluable to have that extra set of eyes helping out.  You’re still part of the team and participating, and that never seems to become dull.

The team decision to “go sexy” (shirtless) started out as a joke, but now, if we’re in a squad, we have our uniform.  I do worry about those nipples when skydiving though…….

Beauty in the blemishes

I think most of the appeal comes down to the fact that there are basically no rules.  You land, you do whatever you want and you do whatever you can to survive.  It’s simple, and sometimes that freedom, within the confines of the map and ever moving circle, is appealing.

It’s a sandbox, and we all love sandboxes!

The best thing, is that we can all see it improving, and we perhaps all feel like we’re pathfinders, helping shape the game for it’s full release.  We know it can be rough and sometimes ropey, but we know it’ll be better, and that change will come from our feedback and playing it.

Maybe we like it because it’s not perfect, and it isn’t polished to a sheen?  Is anything in life that shiny?

We all know that this game will be mimicked and perhaps even improved upon by other developers, but I don’t know that they’ll ever truly capture the experience the way the PUBG seems to do with ease.

Maybe it’s not worth thinking too much about?  Just play it, and play it with friends.  It’s one of the most fun online gaming experiences on Xbox One right now, enjoy.

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