Believe the hype. You may be, as I was, dismissing this Early Access shooter as a Hunger Games simulator or simply ignoring it because it looks like a lot of work. On the latter, you’d be absolutely right.

But oh man, is it worth it. Hit the jump to see what you’ve been missing out on, and if PUBG is in fact the right game for you.

It’s brutal

PUBG is really the ultimate “git gud” game. I see your Dark Souls, and I laugh at your reloads and respawns.

You can spend 30 minutes finding the sweetest loot to carry you all the way into the late game, and get taken out a kilometer away by some dude with a sniper rifle you never even saw. You can parachute out your plane, land half-naked in a field and get your face removed by a shotgun the moment you set foot in a nearby house.

Unlike Dark Souls, and its ilk, where you fight the same enemy over and over again in the same situation, the world of PUBG is so vast with so many variables that it’s damn near impossible to repeat a scenario in order to improve it. In CS:GO I can practice entering the same B bomb site from the same point round after round with enemies in similar places, but in PUBG you may only have one or two big conflicts in the game.

One of them might be people firing at you while you drive a boat around, or an ultra-long-range battle across mountaintops with scoped weapons. Or a fistfight on the roof of a building. Or a shotgun duel on some stairs. The only way to get better is a whole lot of experience, and you’ll have to get used to getting rekt for a while until you figure your shit out.

It’s absurdly realistic

Imagine a game that simulates an actual Battle Royale. You get dropped on an island, with nothing, and have to outlast everybody else. There aren’t any rules, or consideration of what’s “fair”. Here’s an island full of weapons and items, good luck.

It turns out guns don’t miraculously have unlimited bullets tucked away inside them – you have to find boxes of ammo for your weapons, and it has to be the right ammo. It’s entirely possible to find a sweet gun and have no ammo to put into it.

It’s entirely possible that you’re running around with a crossbow while the owner of footsteps you hear next door has already picked up two assault rifles.

Or you might be stuck trying to hit them with a frying pan.

Cars run out of fuel. If their tyres get shot out, you can’t drive them (well). If you fire a large gun, people absolutely will hear it a kilometer away. If you don’t have any attachments for it, the recoil will be unwieldy.

I thought learning recoil control in CS:GO was hard, until I played PUBG and had to account for the distance my bullet would travel. This means that depending on how far away an enemy is, you’ll need to shoot in front of them if they’re running. Or above them to account for bullet drop. This all depends on the muzzle velocity of the particular weapon you’re using as well. Yeah.

Using a scope isn’t as easy as simply putting your crosshair over someone; if the enemy is far away you may need to adjust the sights to account for the greater distance. Hell, you may be getting gunned down by someone with an 8x scope and you’re still rocking ironsights. There’s no equal opportunity here – what you have to work with is what you have. This means adjusting to your strengths and weaknesses in any given game, and also killing enemies to steal their sweet stuff.

It never holds your hand

Yeah all that stuff I’ve mentioned so far? The game tells you exactly none of that. You literally just have to figure this all out for yourself – the game drops you on the island and then is done with you.

There’s no tutorial, no guide. Like in the gaming days of old, knowledge is passed from player to player, and you learn everything you need to know to survive in a sort of trial by fire. This isn’t a game that you play every now and then or as a brief distraction. This is the kind of game you sink your teeth into, unlocking its secrets and improving your skills on a competitive playing field.

The stakes have never been higher

The permadeath in this game is what makes it so beautiful. One misstep, one angle not checked, one careless firing of your weapon that alerts enemies to your location can be your undoing. All the effort you’ve put in is gone in an instant, and your ass is sent packing back to the lobby. Your game is done.

This affects the experience in a lot of interesting ways. It makes the game extremely tense, and I have come damn close to shitting myself when getting shot out of nowhere. It forces you to play strategically – none of this “let’s just do this dumbass thing and see what happens”. I mean you can do that, but then you’ll see exactly what happens.

This is what happens.

It also makes killing somebody else extremely satisfying. Getting a single kill in this game feels amazing, as you know you’ve just ended somebody’s game. The ultimate nerdstomp. As for winning, well – that’s a feeling that’s unmatched.

The game strikes a great balance here. Because you’re on an island with a hundred other people, you don’t go in expecting to win. Making it to the top 20 or top 10 feels satisfying. A game where you won a couple of good fights is satisfying. The whole experience reaches its climax in about 40 minutes (assuming you made it right to the very end), which makes an early-ish death disappointing, but not really upsetting or aggravating. It is, quite simply, a regular part of the game.

I found this to be a unique experience, and a great one. In League of Legends or CS:GO you expect to win about half of your games, and the losses can be frustrating and drawn out aggravations. Here a win can be incredibly elusive, and getting killed ends your game instantly and mercifully, sending you back to lobby to queue up another one.

The whole thing is high stakes without being frustrating, every kill matters but every loss doesn’t linger.

It’s only getting bigger

This is absolutely the next big online competitive title. The e-sports events are in their infancy but are extremely promising and entertaining, and the game is posting concurrent player counts in Early Access that are outstripping the big dog DotA 2.

Start now, and when all your friends are playing you’ll be able to show off your elite bullet drop skills.

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