Reviews - Updated on April 14, 2022

Video game developers, like any other creators of products for the masses, are sensitive to the desires of the market and follow this or that popular trend. Right now, we can observe the birth of a new trend – session action movies in the battle royale genre. The number of various crafts on the theme “Only one will remain” is growing every day, and soon there will be even more of them. Why? The answer can be obtained by looking at the frighteningly rapid growth in popularity of one of the representatives of this young genre – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds from Bluehole. A high position in the top sellers of Steam for several weeks and a million copies sold in less than a month after the release in Early Access are no joke. While indie game enthusiasts and industry mastodons are gearing up to take on a new genre by chasing PUBG, you can take a closer look at this amazing game.

It is better for beginners to land where the probability of meeting the enemy is extremely small.

Natural selection

The very concept of Battle Royale, or “Royal Battle”, comes from sports, in particular wrestling. In battles with this name, not two opponents fight in the ring, as usual, but a whole crowd – until there is only one winner. But, of course, most people know this phrase thanks to the book by the Japanese writer Koushun Takami, published in 1999. Japanese culture in general and literature in particular is a rather specific thing (and Battle Royale was no exception), but the story of a group of schoolchildren who find themselves on a small island and are forced to kill each other has fallen in love with the public in many countries. The novel turned out to be a bestseller, an equally popular film was shot based on it, and the concept of “Royal Battle” has since become associated precisely with a brutal slaughter for survival, and not at all with another fun wrestling show.

Of course, Takami wasn’t the only one exploiting the ‘Only one will survive’ theme. Similar plots were used both before the publication of the book by the Japanese author (“Running Man”), and after (“The Hunger Games”). However, in video games, the setting, so attractive for online battles, somehow did not take root, except for the Last Man Standing mode in some multiplayer shooters (for example, in Unreal Tournament).

As is often the case, custom modification opened the way for a new genre. Even more than that – a mod created for a mod. First there was Battle Royale for DayZ (since ArmA 2), then this mode was transferred to the alpha version of ArmA 3, and in the end there was a separate part of H1Z1 called King of the Kill. A certain Brendan Greene, known under the pseudonym PlayerUnknown, had a hand in everything. If he made mods for ArmA and DayZ on his own, then in the case of H1Z1 he acted only as a consultant when Sony Online Entertainment decided to license his idea to create his own “Royal Battle” in his “survival simulator”.

Apparently, this was not enough for Green – in the middle of last year, he announced the start of the development of a separate game dedicated to the Battle Royale mode. It didn’t take long to think about the name of the future hit: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – apparently, so that no one would forget who came up with it all.

Unfortunately, while you have to choose between performance and a beautiful picture. The choice, as is usually the case in online shooters, is not in favor of the latter option.

Island of bad luck

The classic rules of the Battle Royale are simple and understandable to anyone: everyone starts on an equal footing, there are only two ways to leave the battle for survival – either by dying or by becoming the only winner. PUBG does not introduce any cardinal changes to the time-tested formula, but, of course, there are some nuances.

A deadly contest takes place on an archipelago of two islands abandoned by the inhabitants. Apparently, as a tribute to the original source, the buildings and the terrain resemble a typical post-Soviet landscape. You can often find inscriptions in Cyrillic, and the names of settlements on the map, such as Pochinki or Sosnovka Island, are another confirmation that such a setting is still in vogue abroad. The map is rather large – eight square kilometers, it has several towns and villages, a military base on a small island, as well as many other interesting and secluded places.

All players (and there are usually a little less than a hundred of them in one session) parachute from a plane flying at high altitude. Where to land – everyone decides for himself, since the flight can be controlled a little before and after the opening of the dome. Someone decides to land in the forest so as not to collide with anyone, while someone, on the contrary, jumps into the thick of things. As a rule, various settlements serve as attractive starting points – in PUBG, useful “loot” (weapons and equipment) can only be found in or near houses. Each participant literally leaves the plane empty-handed, but with due luck, you can properly arm yourself immediately after landing.

There are enough murder weapons and various devices, as well as other things useful in such a difficult matter as the struggle for survival. Pistols, machine guns, rifles, shotguns, edged weapons, bulletproof vests and backpacks, grenades of various types, medicines, clothing, which, by the way, is needed not only for decorative purposes – sometimes it helps to disguise itself on the ground. Each “barrel” can be modified – attach a scope, an enlarged magazine or an additional handle.

In PUBG, unlike the progenitor mod, you can provide yourself with everything you need within a couple of minutes – if you’re lucky, then in the very first house there will be a backpack, without which you won’t carry much, and a decent weapon with enough ammo. If luck turned away, it’s okay – there will be enough “loot” on the map for everyone. For those who are especially impatient, there is also transport – motorcycles, buggies, cars and even motor boats.

Complete set “full stuffing”. But it’s too early to rejoice – even such a set of equipment does not guarantee victory at all.

However, already a few seconds after the first of the paratroopers reach the ground, the counter of survivors begins to decrease rapidly. For the first few minutes, players who find themselves in densely populated areas kill each other cheerfully and provocatively – sometimes even hand-to-hand. After a while, the active shooting subsides. The losers are dead – the fun begins.

The struggle for valuable equipment is not the only way PUBG provokes the murder of his neighbor. In the end, you can always find a secluded place and sit there with some killer shotgun at the ready, guarding the next unlucky loot seeker. Or hide in a corner, waiting for everyone to scatter away, and then consider yourself relatively safe. But in this case, you can fight for victory for hours and days – the location, I remind you, is not at all small.

It was not there – the fact is that the so-called safe zone in the form of a circle randomly appears on the map of the island. From the outside, the second circle begins to move towards it, beyond which it is better not to be – damage to the health of each “violator” will be inflicted slowly but surely. When the larger circle merges with the inner circle, a short break is given, and a new safety zone appears in a random place inside the previous one. This happens until the circle “collapses” completely, and the speed of convergence of the outer zone and the damage outside it increase with each wave. In addition, small red zones appear and disappear from time to time, inside which shelling takes place – if there is no roof over your head, then it is better to run away from such an area to hell.

All this forces all players to go to the same area and limits the maximum time of one session. The narrower the circle, the more often fierce firefights break out – now they are already killing not for the sake of “loot”, but to eliminate a dangerous competitor. However, nothing prevents you from leaving this thankless job to others, trying to catch the eye of others as little as possible. On the third or fourth round, only the most successful, cunning and skillful remain. Finally, a bright finale – the battle of the last survivors on a small patch with a radius of several meters. A short fight, the outcome of which is impossible to predict – and only one, the best of the best, the winner of the “Royal Battle” remains alive.

Golden mean

So what’s behind the success of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds? There is no doubt that this success is a fact. The game, despite the “Early Access”, is very popular and continues to receive flattering reviews, and in terms of statistics it is rapidly catching up with the same H1Z1: King of the Kill. And it’s not just the appeal of the genre as such, because PUBG is far from the first in it.

The third person view greatly simplifies the game for those who managed to get into a good position by the end of the round.

It’s, as usual, in the details. No matter what you look at – at least a little, but the work of Brendan Green is ahead of competitors everywhere. There are bugs and shortcomings here, but in general, everything is done in good faith, and convenience is at the forefront: after launch, you press a single button, and after a minute or two you are already landing on the island, choosing a landing site. The interface is concise, but it looks quite nice, and most importantly, it does not interfere at all. The graphics are good, but for now, optimization does not give you the full enjoyment – the weakest point of the game at the moment. To feel comfortable and not suffer from low frame rates and loading, you have to twist the settings to a minimum.

Nevertheless, PUBG manages to give players a concentrated gameplay, weeding out everything unnecessary. There is a balance between realism and arcade: this is not ArmA, where the course of events is sometimes too leisurely, but not H1Z1 with all its simplifications.

There is a place for everything: tactical planning of your actions depending on the landing site, fast-paced battles for the right to own the very first supplies found, stealth and search for a hidden enemy, the need to both think and skillfully handle weapons. Often there are situations full of drama (however, various funny scenes are no less rare), and each fight makes you give all your best – and the closer to the finale, the more difficult and intense what is happening becomes. No wonder PUBG is so popular with streamers and their viewers: each game is a small story full of unique events.

Something similar could be found in DayZ, but here all this is compressed into those few tens of minutes that last one round, so you won’t get bored or relax – there’s simply no time.

Reaching first place is not at all easy, and each such victory is remembered for a long time, and even if a defeat can sometimes cause quite unambiguous feelings down the back, it’s still not such a disaster as it seems. Do not forget that the convenience of the player is in the first place: after a few seconds, you can try your luck again – there are enough people who want the same, thanks to which the new server is filled almost instantly.

An attempt to deceive an enemy seen nearby – if he is too lazy to check the UAZ, then I can easily shoot him in the back or simply avoid an unnecessary meeting.


Bluehole isn’t going to stay long in Early Access at all. The release is promised within six months, but for now the development is in full swing. Much is already in the game, such as team fights, and much more remains to be added, including new maps, even more weapons and equipment, highly customizable servers (say, only in first person), cheat protection, and, finally, the very optimization that is so lacking now.

In general, we have a very good sample of “Early Access”, which is already worthy of paying attention to it, despite all the controversial points. But be careful – the pursuit of the first place in the “Royal Battle” can drag out in earnest.

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