First Impressions: PUBG on Xbox Exceeds (Low) Expectations

When I first heard that PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) was coming to Xbox, I was excited.

Mainly because I'd always wanted to try out the game but, unfortunately, don't have a solid gaming PC to try it on. Porting the game to Xbox would mean that I'd get to try out the battle royale experience for myself, even if it wasn't on the original platform.

My boyfriend and I are lucky enough to both have Xbox One consoles (an original and a new Xbox One X), so we could play together in the duo queue as soon as we finished eating dinner. We also both have 4k TVs to play on, so while the original Xbox One doesn't even support 4k, it helped me to see what graphical issues that actual game had, as opposed to just limits thanks to my setup.

Going In With Reasonable Expectations

I think that a lot of people were going into PUBG's Xbox release expecting something close to a finished product. After all, the PC version of the game is set to finally leave its Early Access status on December 20. However, the Xbox version isn't at the same point in development as its PC counterpart. Even Nico Bihary, Microsoft's executive producer for the game's port to Xbox, said that the experience would be about six months behind at launch. It's even clearly stated in the Microsoft store that the game is part of its Game Preview program, meaning that it's not a fully-realized, ready for the shelves game.

 Getting a Chicken Dinner with zero kills is definitely possible.

Getting a Chicken Dinner with zero kills is definitely possible.

On the game's official release day, reviews of the port seemed to be mixed. I saw several outlets that praised the game's controls and affirmed how fun the game still is, despite the technical issues, while other outlets said that you should by all means not waste your money because the issues made it just that terrible. After reading these reviews, I went into my first game expecting a decent amount of lag and texture popping that would just kill any fun that I might otherwise experience. I was fully prepared to play a few rounds, then decide to give it a break and grind some Overwatch winter loot boxes instead.

Surprisingly Enjoyable Gameplay

What I experienced was a game that exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations. Right off the bat, I was surprised by how quickly we were able to get put into a match. That's probably because I've grown used to Overwatch's matchmaking times, which span anywhere from one to five minutes. PUBG, on the other hand, got us into a duo match in just a few seconds.

I was playing on the original Xbox One, which was supposedly the console that would give such a subpar experience that it'd be infuriating. However, while the graphics were definitely much lower than what you'd expect from a released game like Call of Duty or Battlefield, they aren't so terrible that it distracts from the gameplay. It's still very easy to spot another person running across the map or find resources, the two most important parts of the game.

Watching Digital Foundry's side-by-side comparison of the game on Xbox One vs. Xbox One X, I can say that my experience on the original Xbox One was very different. While the graphics look about the same, the game's actual performance ran much smoother for me than it did in their video. Any stuttering or lag was minimal and usually only happened toward the beginning of a match, which is understandable. Loading 100 different actual players into a single game on a massive map takes a lot of power.

Might Just Be Me

Having never played the PC version of PUBG might be a big key as to why the technical issues don't seem to bother me as much as some other people. I've watched let's plays from Polygon's Awful Squad and muyskerm and Markiplier, so I know what the game looks like on PC, however, I've never actually experienced it for myself.

My boyfriend, who also has never played the PC version, had a good time as well, albeit he struggled a little with the controls. The number of times I heard, "Ah! Wrong button!" while we were playing made me laugh a little. But that's just the learning curve for any new game, isn't it? I found myself hitting B instead of A a lot, but that's mainly because I was playing a lot of Battle Chef Brigade on the Nintendo Switch last month, whose buttons are flipped from the Xbox.

Overall, for someone who hasn't played the game and understands that the game is essentially still in pre-release, PUBG's Xbox port is a fun experience, especially if you're playing with someone else. The port is the same price as the Early Access version on Steam ($29.99), which is fair considering both are developmental releases of a game that has become insanely popular. Even in its pre-release stage, PUBG has rocked 2017 and now, I can finally understand why.