PUBG Mobile is a Far More Hilarious Battle Royale Experience

The blue circle is at my back. I zip between trees on a motorcycle, keeping my eye on the hill up ahead. I could hunker down there and take shots on the other players below. With only 30 people left, this hill was bound to provide an effective place to hide out. I slam on the gas and go full speed towards the crest. As I approach, a man with a shotgun starts sending slugs in my direction. This is my moment.

 
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I serpentine up the remainder of the hill, ramp up over the top and leap from my bike. Immediately, shots came from every direction and I am gunned down in an instant. The man with the shotgun approaches my body, likely trying to loot either my weapons or my motorcycle, but he is killed before he can make it. In succession, three or four players attempt to loot my corpse only to be gunned down again. And again. And again. The carnage filling up my “Nice Try” screen is almost comical, and yet the players keep running in without cover intent on looting this pile of bodies. This isn’t the standards of PUBG that players have come to know. This is PUBG Mobile.

When I heard about the release of PUBG on iOS and Android, I was obviously skeptical. The game hardly runs on Xbox One, and the controls straddle the line between unique and obtuse, but the port is surprisingly competent. If, like me, you lack a suitable PC or Xbox, then PUBG Mobile is a totally worthy substitute once you get used to the intricacies. The on-screen controls are intuitive enough, and PUBG Corp. has optimized the game with a slew of quality-of-life improvements that I wish were present in the other versions. For example, players will automatically pick up vests, helmets, and ammo and attachments for weapons you have equipped. Likewise, guns you pick up are automatically loaded and switched to automatic firing, and rare loot is far more readily available. 

The game seems more interested in the combat aspects of PUBG as opposed to the looting, but these seemingly minor changes work to create a game that differs in feel from the original. Additionally, the prevalence of players who frankly seem to have no idea what this game is or what is going on adds a chaotic bend to the normal sneaking and sleuthing present in the PC and Xbox versions. If the tactical bend of PUBG made you feel like a contestant in The Hunger Games, then PUBG Mobile feels like you’re in The Purge.

The first half of any match on PUBG Mobile makes me feel like I’m playing on easy mode. The virtual controls seem to be rather difficult for non-gamers to grapple with, and it shows in firefights. I have never been so calm walking through an open field in PUBG, because frankly I know that 80% of my competition can’t aim for shit. 

In my most recent match, I got 15 kills by lazily strolling towards the center of the circle and taking shots at whoever decided to try and take me out. I’d hear gunshots from behind me, turn around to see a guy 100 meters away, and slowly strafe from side-to-side lining up my shot as their bullets whizzed by. Another instance saw a player in a car trying to run me down. As their vehicle bounded down the hill to flatten me, they over-corrected and ended up doing donuts in an almost perfect circle around me as I unloaded a clip into their windshield. 

Battlegrounds is successful because it created an intense experience built around a loot system that never quite made you feel comfortable, but PUBG Mobile seems far more interested in driving encounters between players. In just about every match, I manage to score one of the game’s rare weapons, and every other player seems to equipped with either a SCAR-L or a DP-28. My most recent match saw me with the latter, training a 4x scope on a bridge leading to the military island. One by one, the other players wandered in like lemmings from the bridge, almost always on foot. The game legitimately started to feel unfair as I racked up 13 kills from players who didn’t even get a second to react to my shots. It began to feel like not everyone was playing the same game, now that any Joe-Shmoe with an iPhone can jump in now and know what it’s like to be beaten to death while trying to find a pistol. 

It’s uncommon to find such a solid mobile port of one of last year’s best games, and it’s downright hilarious that the game is so massively different from the original simply because of its player-base. Video games are difficult to get used to, especially games as layered as PUBG, but the mobile version provides a unique opportunity right now for new players to get to know the game before jumping into the console or PC versions. On the other hand, if you want to know what it’s like to kill a man with a frying pan as he unsuccessfully tries to vault out a window, then it’s pretty great for that too.