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9 things we want to see from PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Even in Early Access PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has overtaken Dota 2 to become the game on Steam with the most concurrent players: 1.3 million. PUBG has enjoyed a stunning ascent, bolstered by updates that have improved optimisation and fixed bugs as part of a roadmap to launch.  The developers are even looking weather, improved traversal systems and cross-platform support with aim-assist and fancy water tech. In light of all this progress we've updated our list of features we'd like to see in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

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Every PUBG round is a story, and I’d the game to capture that using data. I want to see a winner’s route through the map, with annotations for moments they got a kill. I’d like to know how far I’ve travelled in a game. I’d like to see who spent the most time stationary in a bush. I’d like heat maps showing the most contested parts of a map in a round. I’d like to look back at the landing points of every player on the map and see where players like to congregate after they jump out of the plane.

Optimization, optimization

Just as Battlegrounds entered Early Access, Bluehole released a roadmap of the progress they hoped to make with the battle royale shooter. Much of it was focused on optimization, and that's great. I think the game runs pretty darn well for a fresh Early Access title, but I'm looking forward to seeing the optimization dialed in over the coming months. Even looking at the larger cities on the map can result in some steep fps losses, and actually visiting those denser areas can turn the game into a slideshow.

As it is now, a lot of streamers I watch have their graphics settings turned down as low as they'll go to compensate for those optimization issues. That feels like a shame, since Battlegrounds is a really nice-looking game. I know optimization is a priority for Bluehole, and I'm hoping to keep seeing improvements as the weekly and monthly patches arrive. Updates since its Early Access launch have improved optimisation, but it still appears to be an issue for a number players.

Night mode

Adding a night mode to PUBG was something I saw suggested in our comments section, and I love it. With randomised rain and fog weather settings already used to obscure visibility on Erangel, imagine how tough fighting under the cover of darkness would be? And it'd be terrifying too—the sound of unidentified footfall closing in around you, vehicles revving over hillsides with their headlights cut, and the Red Zone briefly illuminating pockets of The Island with fire. Flash bangs would become essential for lighting up buildings, while thermal goggles and sniper scopes could be the rarest and most sought after loot drops.  

Melee mode

My recent quest playing for a bare-fisted PUBG chicken dinner ended in failure. And while I did eventually come second, it involved a lot hiding under bushes, beneath bridges and in abandoned toilets. It was a slog and although I'm not convinced an all-fists round would work, I do think a melee weapons-only bout could be great fun. Imagine spotting someone way off in the distance, but being forced to track them down one-on-one with a scythe—or instead of offing someone with a close range shotgun blast, being required to do so with a frying pan? Moreover, chasing four other survivors around in the last phase of the enclosing circle would be total chaos.

A killcam

It sort of stinks to be killed during a match, especially near the end when there are only a few players left, and not be able to spectate the end of it. I have a natural curiosity for how things will play out, perhaps in some respects driven by the desire to see my killer get his comeuppance (or, if he wins, at least to feel like I was killed by the best player). At the same time, I understand how spectator mode could be used for cheating. If you have a buddy in the same solo match, you could pass along information on enemy locations if you were allowed to just sit there watching.

At the very least, then, I'd love to see a killcam feature added. I'm often uncertain where my killer was when he dropped me, so a little replay, from the other player's perspective, would be helpful. It would help players learn from their mistakes if they could fully take in the circumstances of their deaths. Also, it could help to curb cheating or aimbotting or other exploits, providing some visual proof that someone was up to no good.

Spectator tools

The totalitarian governments in Battle Royale and The Hunger Games use the survival setup to quell youthful rebellion and political dissidence in their populations by broadcasting the bloodsport to every home. If only that was easier to do with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It’s eminently streamable, but the overall flow of a match is difficult to see. This might be a problem only a team of broadcasters will be able to solve, but I’d still like to be able to follow players around the map, skip to players with the most kills, and snap the camera to hotspots where firefights are breaking out. Chris is right about stream sniping being an issue, but the drama of a teense round of battle royale in PUBG deserves to be captured and celebrated beyond the game. 

Better directional sound

My biggest problem in Battlegrounds—apart from the fact that my aim isn't so great—is that when I'm fired at from a long distance away, I have a lot of difficulty telling where the shots are coming from. Bluehole posted recently about how the gunshot sounds work in Battlegrounds, but in my experience—and I've seen others saying the same—even though I know what the sounds mean, it's still very difficult to tell which direction they're coming from.

Many times I've taken cover from an assailant, only to continue to take fire because the assailant isn't where I think he is, based on the sound of the gunshots. And I've seen it happen in-game to players I've been firing on. Above, I nail a guy a few times, and he moves behind a tree, but he clearly thinks the sounds are coming from the left side of the screen. He tries to put a tree between us, but fails. While I'm happy he was wrong and that I was able to kill him, I've been in the exact same situation, and I know how frustrating it is.

Sound effects balance

This is really just a matter of tweaking things during Early Access, but right now the volume of certain sound effects feels a bit out of whack. I can hear footsteps if another player is in a house with me, but can barely hear the noise of them opening a door a few feet away, so door noises need to come up a bit in the mix. Occasionally, footsteps outside seem a bit too muffled, as I've been startled in the past to suddenly see another player sprint past—though at other times footsteps sound just fine and can be heard over long distances.

Rain, meanwhile: it's just a bummer. I appreciate that sounds can be muffled during a rainstorm—that's just nature. But rain currently feels overly noisy, and here's the real kicker: it just sucks to hear the sound of rain in a game for twenty solid minutes. I absolutely hated when it rained in DayZ: I would immediately leave the server and look for a sunnier one. It's just tiring to have to listen to that constant, inescapable noise while playing a game. (Though in life, I quite enjoy it.)

Better swimming

Admittedly, swimming is probably very difficult for someone wearing a motorcycle helmet and leather coat while carrying three guns and several grenades. If anything, perhaps swimming should be a lot harder than it is in Battlegrounds. 

It just sort of sucks, though: I feel like it takes forever to paddle across a river. I don't know if it's a strong current coded in the water or what, but it's already extremely punishing (and a little boring) to swim even a short distance. As someone who has wound up in the water more than once—usually due to poor driving or fleeing in panic—I wouldn't mind feeling a bit more like Michael Phelps and a bit less than Michael Caine.*

*No offense to meant Michael Caine. He may be a very strong swimmer. It's just that he's 84 is probably not as good a swimmer as Michael Phelps, and also I think he got eaten in the Jaws movie he was in.