So last night I played my first game of PUBG Mobile - and survived long enough to reach #34 and made 3 kills. (And I probably would have done better if the game hadn't glitched and not auto-reloaded my AR.)
I'm old enough to have played Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM; but not Quake because I'd stepped off the upgrade treadmill. Multiplayer shooters also didn't interest me as I didn't have the time to sink into playing the games to get good enough not to be cannon fodder. So why am I playing PUBG Mobile?
- It's free to play and so far real money just gets you cosmetic items. 1
- The point of the game is not to see how many other players you can kill, but to see how long you can survive.
So the point of the game isn't based simply on how good you are with the in-game guns, but somewhat whether you can avoid combat entirely. And I don't think that's the mindset of many players, who are too used to playing other games where the objective is to kill your opponents. That's not to say being able to take out someone with a well-placed headshot isn't a skill to develop - but trying to go toe-to-toe with every other player is a losing strategy.
So what did I think of PUBG Mobile (played on my son's Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7)? Fun, although a little frustrating. First, it looks like many of the menu UIs expect a 16:9 display, so there are some strange overlaps and glitches - although this doesn't seem to be a problem in game. Some text occasionally is almost too small to read, again probably expecting a screen more than 1024x768. Graphically the game is impressive - it's frankly amazing given the age and capabilities of the tablet.
The frustration comes with the controls. Admittedly creating touch controls for a first/third person shooter is going to be difficult. The developer somehow has to put the functionality of a mouse+keyboard or dual analog stick joypad onscreen without obscuring the screen with controls & the players hands. And maybe some of the frustration is because this was my first game and I was trying to hold the tablet rather than placing it on a table. But I would love to be able to use my son's NES30 Pro controller so I could have the precision of dual analog sticks.
The main problem is with the turn / look function. The onscreen joystick does a decent job handling the forward / back / strafe movement (although I wish the sprint-lock was a little closer) but you're supposed to swipe on the rest of the screen to turn - which doesn't seem to work as well. Going in and out of buildings and rooms was frustrating. This also made combat more difficult, although part of the issue was I was trying to use the same hand to look & fire - I need to remember there's a fire button on the left side of the screen as well.
I do like some of the UI tweaks which have been made to the mobile version (e.g. shot source indication on the mini-map, auto-pickup / equip). They've managed to put a lot of info onscreen and make the controls otherwise easy to use and understand.
So for my first game I did the following, most of which I think helped me succeed:
- Got out of the plane early (near Severny), spotted a small cluster of buildings and dove straight down for them. The idea is to increase the amount of time for looting before the first play zone shrink. I also wanted to try to avoid early confrontation if possible by not going for one of the well known "high level loot" locations. Unfortunately I did end up getting into a early firefight.
- Aim down the sights! I'm fairly certain the reason I won my firefights, several against better equipped players) was because I actually aimed.
- Use cover! Again one of the reasons I probably won a couple of my firefights is I was behind cover. In one case I took defeated a player armed with an AR with a shotgun because I hid behind my vehicle.
Stuff I need to do better next game:
- Use healing after a firefight! I might have survived the last one longer but I hadn't healed up from my previous encounters.
- Reload! The game was auto reloading, and then it stopped and I didn't think to tap the button.
- Auto pickup ain't perfect. I probably would have been better with a pistol and a shotgun rather than two shotguns.
Anyone else playing PUBG Mobile?
1 I think PUBG missed an excellent monetization opportunity. Keep the free to play idea - but when playing for free you don't get to select your character name (it's set to PU#<random number>), your character skin (again randomized - this game you're a Chinese chick with long blonde hair), etc. But for a token micropayment (subscription?) you can pick your character name, skin, and are included in any ranking boards etc.