Written by Andrew Busch // Edited by Drew Beyer // Images courtesy of PUBG Corp.
With over 20 million copies sold while still in early access plus winning best multiplayer game at this year’s Game Awards, expectations for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are reaching astronomical levels as the game creeps towards its official release. Slotted for December 20th, PUBG’s 1.0 patch promises many improvements ranging from sound design to vaulting mechanics that will help modernize the sometimes crude 3rd person shooter. Yet the main reason the update has gamers on the edge of their seats is that it comes with the game’s first new map, which the developer says will be bigger and more detailed than its predecessor.
PUBG Corp debuted the trailer for this new map, a desert area called Miramar, last Thursday night during the game awards and announced that the map would go live on the game’s test server at midnight. This perfectly calculated marketing move sent players— myself included— rushing to our steam libraries so we could be the first to brave the sands. I was dying to know if Battlegrounds could recreate the same addictive magic of the initial map in the new setting. And for a game that added only a handful of weapons during eight months of early access, an entirely new map was a huge deal.
And after going hands-on with Miramar, I definitely have some reservations about PUBG Corp’s newest addition to PUBG. While the map changes the scenery and adds some exciting new towns to explore, it feels a bit too empty and expansive even with a hundred players per match. Ninety percent of the map is covered in sprawling desert with nothing for cover besides the land’s natural changes in elevation. Not only does this lead to frustration when you can’t seem to get the high ground before all those other assholes with their 8x scopes, but it also takes focus away from some of the map’s more intriguing areas. Specifically, the coast of Miramar features five islands that players can plunder for loot which often go ignored as the play area continually constricts towards the center. In fact, out of my dozens of matches on the new map the zone has only fallen on the outside islands once.
Despite my reservations, Miramar ultimately feels like a step in the right direction for Battlegrounds with its increased level of details and sense of immersion. The differences between the generous number of towns dotted around Miramar impress me more than the first map’s towns did. Each seems less like the copy-paste settlements of Erangle due to the new building types and even a couple of unique structures. For example, you can fight for your life inside a Luchador ring in El Pozo, while Pecado has a huge casino and a large arena brimming with loot. A few other highlights include a graveyard, the hulking structures of a water treatment plant, and even an abandoned prison to explore and keep you coming back for more. Each of these new additions prove that PUBG Corp designed Miramar with its own unique character, a successful move that gives this new map more longevity than its predecessor.
The slight adjustments and tweaks to the gameplay on the test server furthers PUBG Corp’s commitment to improving the game, as the mechanics are still steadily improving. The most notable addition is the new vaulting mechanic. It’s a relief to not have to run around low walls or fences now. The freedom to go over instead of around objects opens up opportunities for new combat tactics. However, the system as currently implemented is far from perfect and you will sometimes still find yourself jumping into walls instead of over them.
Another nice change is the added ability for passengers in vehicles to use bandages or take boosters. It just makes sense that passengers should be able to do more than shoot and lean out of windows. On the other hand, the added kill-cam system mechanic does not even pretend to work correctly. Most of the time when you choose to watch your death you will see the enemy that killed you shooting into the sky or a nearby wall to land their kill. If you are anything like myself I’m sure that the words, “broken fucking game” have escaped from your mouth in some combination while stomping across the battlegrounds. But just like everything we have seen from PUBG’s previous updates, these things will get better over time.
As it stands from the test server, PUBG 1.0 is a mixed bag of the good and the ugly. Battleground’s newest map provides to players even more hours of intense action in a new and improved setting. The details in its new towns and unique buildings give the map character that was sorely missing from the copy-paste feel of its original map. However, the empty void created by the desert instills a lingering hollowness that takes away from even some of the most exciting areas of the map. In a similar vein, the game’s added vaulting mechanic enables some new strategies, yet other times it’s frustratingly clunky. But if you are a fan of the game or regularly play with friends, this latest update might be exactly what you are looking for to spice things up on the battlegrounds this holiday season.
Check out Miramar’s debut trailer here: