Patrick spent less time talking about the controls than the performance issues in his article but I’d argue the controls are the bigger issue. They’re a hot mess, and fighting against the controls made the game frustrating to play instead of fun.
You can find the whole control scheme here: https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2017/12/10/xbox-control-scheme-playerunknowns-battlegrounds/
Here are some of the highlights:
Tap LT to aim down sights, not hold. Holding LT only does a partial 3rd person zoom.
Pressing Y cycles through your three guns, so if you want to switch from your secondary gun to your primary, you need to switch twice in order to cycle through your pistol.
- Free look is bound to holding RB and moving the left stick, so you can only do it while stationary.
- The D-pad buttons cycle through grenades, fire modes, healing items, and there is a dedicated button for switching to the melee weapon.
- Despite having a number of functions bound to holding a button rather than pressing one, nothing seems to be bound to LB or clicking in the right stick.
Beyond these small, but fixable issues, I found navigating the inventory screen incredibly cumbersome - I spent a ton of time in a game repeatedly going in and dropping excess ammo because I couldn’t find a backpack, something that wouldn’t have been a big deal in the PC version. There wasn’t enough contrast to see where the cursor was and it would often move in unexpected ways as I was trying to configure attachments.
Then, possibly the worst thing about the controls was that the aiming didn’t feel good at all. I don’t expect aiming with a controller to feel as precise as using a mouse but I found it awfully hard to hit someone with a 4x scope - and funnily enough, it seemed they were having just as hard of a time hitting me. (We traded shots for a good 20-30 seconds before simultaneously giving up and running in opposite directions.) It’s hard to describe but the motion on the right stick didn’t feel right, like instead of having an acceleration curve in order to help with aiming precision as you push the stick more or less in a direction, it felt like the motion was fairly linear after you pushed past the dead zone. I didn’t spend much time aiming at other players though so I couldn’t test this enough to pinpoint exactly how it felt wrong. It also seems that there’s no aim assist whatsoever, which is to be expected with PUBG’s (and Arma’s) focus on simulation, and would probably be hard to do factoring in bullet drop and flight time, but gosh it sure does feel difficult to land a shot on anyone with a controller as-is.
It honestly feels like this game could benefit from reconsidering the design a bit to make it more friendly for a console environment, in order to simplify the controls, make the aiming feel better, and appeal to players who have become accustomed to how CoD, Destiny, and other traditionally popular console shooters feel. For instance, I’d be willing to see the inventory system reworked to have a limited capacity on each type of item rather than a single pool of inventory that every item contributes a certain amount of “weight” to. Each gun might allow you to carry one spare clip worth of ammo, and a level 1 backpack could increase this capacity to three spare clips, with more for higher level backpacks. You’d still want to have a way to drop specific items for your squadmates, but could spend less time messing around in such a screen as you couldn’t end up in a situation where having too much ammo meant that you couldn’t pick up a first aid kit. I also feel like having weapon/item wheels bound to LB or D-pad buttons would make switching weapons or using items in the heat of combat much more intuitive and conducive to muscle memory, rather than cycling through options with multiple button presses and reacting to what icon appears above your health bar. As for systems like switching firing modes or zeroing distance, I’d ask - are they really critical to the PUBG experience? I think anything should be on the table if cutting it would lead to a better experience for what is arguably a very different audience with different expectations.
At the end of the day, putting this out on Xbox in the state that it’s in, in an early access program and charging $30 feels like a weird choice to me. The first PC build was pretty rough around the edges - some would say the game still is - yet it still felt fun to play even with it’s issues. Maybe this is just my experience because I’ve already played it on PC, but this did not feel fun to play at all. I’m worried that a bunch of people will have a terrible first impression and feel like they got burned by their purchase. Going into early access first on Steam made sense at it was relatively unknown at that point, but now that they’ve sold 25 million(!!) copies, and presumably have funding and support from large companies like Microsoft and Tencent, I don’t think they needed to charge for this early build in order to fund additional development. By charging money now, I think they’ll end up pushing a bunch of people toward Fortnite which isn’t as popular, but has the benefit of being free and far more technically sound. Instead I think they would have been better served with a free public beta to establish a playerbase on console, better position themselves against Fortnite, and delay accepting money from people until the game is truly ready.