This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 50 October 2017.

In recent times there has been a new phrase in gaming that injects both fear and fervour in equal measure – Early Access. Essentially you get to pay a fee to become a game’s beta tester. You could of course simply wait for the (in many cases) free to play release that follows a bit later, but with Early Access, you’re already ahead of the pack by the time that happens.

Another new phrase and genre that’s taking favour in gaming is ‘Battle Royale’. It all (kind of) started with DayZ: Battle Royale and has led to one of 2017’s most popular (Early Access) titles – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – or PUBG if you feel the need to shorten things.

What you’re faced with in PUBG is an online-only last-man-standing shooter that can be played solo, as a duo or as a team. Whichever option you decide on, the game launches with up to 100 unarmed combatants flying in to the combat arena that is actually an island of over 60km². Cannily selecting the right time to deploy via parachute is part of the game’s overriding strategy. Heading to terra firma early could see you bag some all-important weapons early but may also leave you with quite a hike (or a drive if you secure a vehicle) on your hands as the world (literally) starts closing in around you.

The game ensures that the time spent in each match (generally no more than 30 minutes) forces engagement by reducing the combat space randomly. Should you be too busy looting and exploring, there is every chance you will find yourself outside of this magic shield and slowly drained of life. As the combat area reduces and the combatants killed off, the game’s tension heightens and results in some of the most heart-pounding and exhilarating multiplayer moments I have ever experienced.

The game also emphasises in-game risk-and-reward. Starting only with your cosmetically customisable character, you need to weigh up when to engage and when to use stealth. Weapons are randomly generated in buildings around the map, or you could loot the body of a dead opponent or even take the chance at one of the hotly contested supply drops. While you start with nothing, you can acquire a fairly hefty arsenal and armour, with the weapons being upgradeable via a number of attachments.

If violent confrontation isn’t exactly your thing (although you wouldn’t really be considering PUBG if you are a pacifist), a pretty workable tactic is to sit back and watch others take each other out and stroll in near the end to claim a pretty cheap victory. I wouldn’t recommend it but if it’s all about winning, people will do the ugliest things to achieve that.

For a game in Early Access, PUBG is pretty complete already. It all looks pretty decent thanks to the Unreal Engine 4 and I suspect that with some further spit-and-polish should really shine on its full release. For now, jump in and get ahead of the pack.

Score: 7/10
Available for: PC
Distributed by: Digital distribution



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