Enjoying a first-person shooter on a mobile device with touch controls only is often like playing snooker with a piece of string, but with proper calibration and some real training (that usually requires a lot of patience) games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite are looking to turn many into mobile gamers. Players are finding themselves getting somewhat used to the idea of controlling these games with one single proper button, and after two or three weeks with the iOS version of PUBG Mobile, we can say that we've also gotten used to this fact, and even rather enjoyed our time.
Before we start proper, we'd like to make clear that this review will just be about how the game has transferred over to the mobile sphere. The game itself has been reviewed in its entirety here, which details the main principles, but this is all about taking to the mobile devices to see whether it can replicate that success.
Just like Fortnite: Battle Royale for iOS, PUBG Mobile isn't a dumbed-down, smaller port of the PC title. It's not a tiny little micro-version of the world we have enjoyed the past year on 'bigger' formats like PC and Xbox One, but instead it's the entire, full-blown experience with all its bells and whistles. For that alone we all need to salute Brendan Greene and the developers, as this can't have been a small feat.
On the screen sits one big semi-transparent circle in the lower left corner than controls your movement, while on the right side of the screen there's a bullet icon which makes you fire your weapon. To look around you need to place your thumb above this bullet-icon and jerk it around without accidentally nudging the button if you don't want to shoot precious rounds right into the big old nothingness, blow your cover, and alert other gamers. The basic principles of mobile shooting, then.
In the beginning, as stated earlier, we were almost crying from frustration while playing this since it demands more precision than Fortnite, and is considerably harder to control than the PC and Xbox versions of the game, as you'd expect. But as with everything, times heals all wounds, and after our first three hours we started to get the hang of it. Basically, even though you only face bots for the first four hours with Playerunknown's Battlegrounds on mobile, we still found ourselves having a blast... even if we didn't finish first one single time.
The premise is the same as always - 100 players jump out of an aircraft, dive as quickly as they possibly can to the ground, and when reaching the surface they go scavenging for a gun (or guns) before getting violently slaughtered by other players who apparently found guns way faster than you. We enjoyed Playerunknown's Battlegrounds and have been really hooked on the game on our iPhone X for the simple reason that it's accessible, easy to play, and addictive. The fact that all 100 players are going after the same very goal of surviving the longest and the fact that the map shrinks after every two minutes of play to force campers to come out in the open is a great foundation for some really exciting gunplay, and that transfers unscathed to the mobile edition.
There are some minor issues that we want to address though. The frame-rate, for instance, isn't perfect, and not nearly as good as in Fortnite for iOS (we played it on the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X). For technically-minded people this will definitely be a hitch, just like the aiming might be, which seems a little harder here because of the perspective and the layout of the controls.
Besides these minor issues, PUBG Mobile takes the successful formula of the original PC version and moves it successfully to mobile devices. We had a blast with the game despite some early struggles with the controls, and we quickly found ourselves just as addicted to surviving as we had been a year ago. It's big, grand, detailed, contains tons of content, and isn't riddled with paywalls or all those pixelated, horrible commercials other games have every 33 seconds of play. This is great, period.