Bush Royale – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Review

Aerial view in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

The story of the nonsensical defmatch variation of DayZ, which overnight became the most discussed and beloved game by the masses, even without leaving early access, is worth telling to little developers before bedtime. Because only in fairy tales does it happen that you go from rags to riches in less than six months, and at the release, all the main princes of the gaming industry are already dancing with you, rhythmically stomping the unforgettable “Dota” into the ground. With harsh life realities, such miracles are usually incompatible.

Although in reality there is no magic in the success of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, if you don’t consider clever marketing through Twitch-zombification and a conscious choice of a niche without obvious competition as such. Among battle royales, kings of the hill, and other hungry games, there are only dead souls, among which it is not so difficult to stand out. It is enough, who would have thought, not to abandon your project at the first build. Well, and smile at a couple of streamers in the process, of course.

Our Korean Cinderella is forgiven for everything precisely because she is playable and supported, that is, she is the only one. Even though the coveted version 1.0 is infinitely far from being a finished product, there is simply nothing else like a normal game in this genre.

Frostbite in game
Intense shootout on the road

For those who have been absent and are now puzzled about what is being talked about, let me explain. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG for short) is about large-scale “Last Man Standing” battles. In each match, around 100 people are dropped onto an island, but only one must remain alive. In the case of team modes, the concept of the last survivor extends to the whole squad, but the essence remains the same: you are always outnumbered. In the vast expanses of the game map, everyone wants to take a bite out of your throat, and your task is to protect that throat.

The simple rules are supplemented by two “buts.” Firstly, you need to find equipment on your own. Participants start practically naked, and they acquire weapons, armor, and medical supplies on-site by searching the surroundings for randomly generated loot. Certain locations, of course, are more generously showered with goodies by the almighty Random, so it’s quite easy to determine the comfortable risk level for yourself at the initial stage.

For example, on some remote farm, hardly anyone will bother you, but the equipment there will most likely be mediocre. You want everything at once – head to the military base, fight with another dozen fearless Robinsons for the right to wear the best helmet in the game and fill your backpack with medkits. You can even ride around on crates falling from the sky with unique guns and enjoy the intense attention of half the server. Entertainment is provided for all whims.

Taking flight in PUBG

However, sooner or later, they will still force you out of the shadows. Another local feature is the dynamic game zone, relentlessly shrinking at a random point on the island. PUBG, like a tough shepherd, gradually herds the bloodthirsty herd of players into a tight circle, harshly punishing the “latecomers,” and literally pushes the survivors head-on for the decisive confrontation. In other words, it impeccably regulates the pace within a single session.

This was enough to turn a banal “survival game” into a meaningful, dynamic, and tactical concept. If the two-hour gathering of canned food in DayZ was permeated with some impenetrable fatalism, here we have a clearly organized structure – with a clearly defined end goal, like in competitive disciplines like Counter-Strike, and freedom of action in the style of those survival games.

Every match in PUBG consists of a series of split-second decisions. Should you try your luck in a dangerous area or land away from all the action? What is more convenient: a submachine gun or a sniper rifle? Is it worth staying behind the zone? Is it worth stealing a treacherously noisy “Uazik” from under someone else’s window? Where to enter, where to go, who to shoot, and whether to shoot at all – you have to make choices so often that often it’s not even a choice at all, but a reflex impulse that generates a dozen new problems.

And new problems are always very, very cool.

Aiming down the sights

It’s cool because synchronously with you, there are more than 90 hot-headed people making (un)thought-out decisions. In an ecosystem where a significant portion of what happens is left to chance, a hundred tactical geniuses are the most powerful generator of user situations that one can imagine.

There are no games of the “came, saw, conquered” type here, at some stage something extraordinary always happens. It happens that you came, didn’t see, but still won because the enemy forgot to enter the zone. It happens that you probably wouldn’t have come at all if it weren’t for the poor guy on a motorcycle who crashed nearby. There are dull brawls on the outskirts of a port town and full-scale assaults on settlements. Sniper duels and corridor shootouts. Hide and seek in booths and ambushes on the roads. Comedy happens, followed by a real thriller, when for two or three minutes you forget to blink, scanning for the last enemy among the trees.

In such scenes, “PUBG” is particularly strong. They are captivating, diverse, ubiquitous, and, returning to the secrets of success, suspiciously compatible with streaming. It’s so easy to cut your adventures into highlights that even any average person will understand without the need to explain the context.

The final countdown

Warm-up with voice chat is reminiscent of school hallways before an assembly.

Sometimes, unfortunately, you have to pay for variety. The role of a loser is also reserved for the number generator, and when it falls to you, all you can do is grit your teeth and endure the blows of fate. In some matches, there may be no chance at all, because within a two-kilometer radius, not a single weapon and/or transport has spawned. In others, it’s because the zone favors campers who occupy the only house in the area for 30 minutes.

It’s especially pleasant when a guy in a jacket runs through a wall and treats you to a fatal dose of lead from an invisible weapon. This is a failure of a much more frustrating kind – technical failure.

Revelation of the century: the early access game still feels like an early access game. Bluehole, of course, didn’t want to miss their own deadline, but the release stamp on the current PUBG build is also, you know, a kind of incompetence.

Everything that can go wrong usually still goes wrong. From regular server delays to controls, disconnects and noticeable input lag – the list of diseases not only does not decrease, but also replenishes with each patch. Not to mention the fact that the game slows down on almost any system.

And this is not to mention the fact that shooters are now suitable for esports, where you can get stuck in textures.

A loot bug's discovery
The dreaded prison encounter

The game simply wasn’t finished. Even in such banal things as ergonomics and interface design, it still takes up much more space than it should, and the visual range, which was hastily adorned with tear-inducing ENB filters of contrast and sharpness. Some of the existing functions (hello, zeroing!) don’t work at all. If any other company did this, they would have long been roasted at the stake of the Inquisition.

Well, what’s the point of arguing, it’s useless: before us is the biggest phenomenon of the past year and, most likely, not the last event of the current year. The most susceptible part of our editorial team plays PUBG more often than they would like to admit, and that says something. Most likely, despite all its shortcomings, it’s a good game. Surprisingly captivating and original.

But as for the long-awaited genre benchmark – no, not at all. There will be better ones, and soon.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
PC, Xbox One
Action, Multiplayer
Bluehole, Inc.
Bluehole, Inc.
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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