PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds became an overnight hit on PC earlier this year, with an outstanding take on player-versus-player (PvP) gameplay revolving around survival mechanics. After being thrown into an expansive arena with up to 99 other players, you'll be forced to fight to the death, while scavenging for resources and converging upon a single location.
After its success on PC, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has now been swooped up by Microsoft and is on track to hit Xbox One in the months ahead. Ambiguously marketed as a "console launch exclusive," the game is set to have some sort of exclusivity on the platform and is already shaping up to be the most anticipated releases this fall. And with the Xbox One X just around the corner, the promise of 4K support on the console should be an enticing feature at launch.
Gamescom 2017 recently took place in Germany, and we managed to get hands-on with an in-progress Xbox One build. Despite still running on PC hardware, we were told the build was indicative of the experience on Xbox One expected at launch. This was a great way to see how its controls are holding up during the transition.
For the most part, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds on Xbox One retains many of the core values seen in the PC version through its control scheme. Bluehole, the game's developer, did an exceptional job of condensing complex inputs down to the streamlined nature of a controller, without jeopardizing the flow of gameplay. Although some aspects of its controls can still be expected to change leading up to release, the current foundation for Xbox One is looking promising.
Rebuilding the basics
The basics of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds with a controller will be familiar to seasoned shooter veterans, with main inputs similar to those seen in major franchises. Movement and camera controls are bound to the sticks, triggers are used for firing or aiming, and basic actions are bound to the four lettered buttons. General movement and interactivity on Xbox One feel natural in its current state and should make the experience significantly easier for those more comfortable with thumbsticks for shooters.
There are some differences compared to your average shooter, however, which is a result of condensing PC controls down to a controller. One of the most outstanding of these is weapon reloading being mapped to the Y button, which frees up the X button for interacting with objects and doors. Although this is a relatively minor change, when almost every shooter uses X to reload this is an easy mix-up to make in the heat of combat.
Although controlling PUBG with an Xbox One controller takes some getting used to as an existing PC player, it's impressive that all core mechanics have made the transition. That being said, some functionality has clearly been crammed to fit across a controller, as seen with multiple actions bound to a single button.
It also appears that in its current state, there's little to no aim assist on the Xbox One version. Many shooters implement this strongly to overcome the inaccuracies of using a thumbstick, but due to the unrelenting nature of PUBG, this shouldn't be a huge surprise to see. There's a potential for heavier aim assist to be implemented prior to launch but its absence admittedly complements PUBG's pursuit for skill-based gameplay.
Gearing up for battle
One of our biggest concerns going into PUBG for Xbox One was its inventory and the cutbacks made for it to function with a controller. The pre-established drag-and-drop system has now been abandoned on Xbox One, with item management shortcuts bound to buttons instead. After opening the inventory with the "Menu" button, the right thumbstick can be used to navigate the on-screen item columns. Additionally, X can be used to equip or consume items, Y is used to drop, and holding Y will split a stack of items in half.
As a game that heavily revolves around scavenging for loot in a tense environment, the flow of its inventory is arguably even more crucial than in many role-playing titles. However, an impressive job has been made with its conversion to console, even without major changes to the overarching user interface. While similar titles built with console in mind may be better tailored for controllers, as a conversion from PC, significant strides have been made.
With PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds set to be one of the biggest Xbox One exclusives this fall, the efficiency of its transition has the potential to make or break its launch. As a game that relies so heavily on precision, the execution of its performance and controls will have a significant bearing on its success. Current builds of the game are showing promise and provided it's well optimized for Xbox One hardware, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds could find a new wave of success for its console debut.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds should hit Xbox One later this year, with specific enhancements to take advantage of Xbox One X.
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Is there any chance that this could become a Play Anywhere title now that Microsoft has taken over Xbox Development? I don't really see an issue as long as they allow you to filter matches by PC only, Xbox only, or merged. Assuming Bluehole wants to get this game in front of as many people as possible.
There's always a chance. But it would also depend on having the game in UWP which it most certainly isn't right now. Considering the 8.5 million and rising number of sales on PC already though I don't think Bluehole needs it. I've bought it on PC. And I'll buy it on Xbox. I wager a ton of other people will do the same.
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