What's Wrong With PUBG
Recently PLAYERUNKOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (aka PUBG) has taken gaming market by a storm, beating Dota2 and CSGO on the 24-hour player count on the leaderboard with a whopping 2.4 million peak player counts. Just to put this number into perspective, Dota2, the former leader on the board currently has around 700 thousand player counts, and it just received one of its biggest new patches with 2 new heroes added to the game. So, if you haven’t heard of PUBG, either you are not a gamer or you have been living under a rock this whole time.
I can keep going on and on about the statistics, but I believe I have made my point. Just to be clear, I love PUBG so much that I dedicate my entire Friday night to play PUBG every week. But recently I found myself having problem continue playing this game due to frustration and burnout. There are so many problems with this game at its current stage and I want to talk about some of these problems I found most mind bothering.
Cheaters, Here They Are, Stronger Than Ever
Of all things, cheaters (aka hackers) frustrate me the most. There are so many cheaters in this game right now, some blatantly cheating while the rest trying to hide whatever addons or scripts they are using. It is safe to say every single game I played in the last two months has at least one cheater in game. According to a twit from PUBG developer, they are banning about 10k players every day with the most players banned in 24 hours at 24k. To think about it, there are only 2million players playing every day! The worst part is, there is no replay system to help players to identify if someone is cheating. Even for myself, when I get utterly destroyed by another player, I always assume that player is cheating rather and admitting I got outplayed. This brings so much negativity to my gameplay and discourages me from continue playing.
Cheater Compilation by YouTuber Pan PUBG
I believe this is an issue most players have experienced but only the elite players know and will talk about it. I will say it straight up: PUBG hit detection is atrocious. The reason is that PUBG uses client-side hit detection system rather than server-side detection. This means that your game client decides whether your bullets hit your target. As another piece of fact, PUBG has a server tick rate of 20, which means the server transfers data like players’ locations 20 times every second. In order to smoothen the gameplay and fill the gaps between two data transferring, your game client makes a prediction about where the other players will. In this way, what you see on your screen will be consistent with what the server thinks has happened.
Well, this is true until someone shows up with some internet latency. As we know your client predicts other players’ location base on their current locations and directions of movement until their next locations are updated. When a lag spike hits, the server cannot update for an extra-long period of time, making your client’s prediction inconsistent with the reality. As a result, when new data finally received your end, there might be a huge gap between what’s on your screen and what’s registered on the server. Moreover, PUBG client doesn’t instantly adjust to this gap, and instead, from my personal experience, simply ignores a lot of this issue to make the game smooth and immersive. So, if you fire a bullet at your target at this unfortunate moment, you might see your bullet went straight into your target’s head making an explosion of blood, but in reality your target is still healthy as a horse.
The same problem happens when you are getting shot at. When someone with lag spikes shoots at you, in his version of the reality, things happen with a delay. For instance, you are under fire and trying to sprint to a cover. You holster your weapons and run for your life. Lucky for you, the gunner has bad aim so you made it to the cover. But just as you are about the draw your weapons, you are suddenly dead behind the cover and game tells you the other guy headshot you, leaving you with a chest full of anger and frustration. What happens is that the other player sees your movement perfectly because your data is uploaded in sync. So for that player, your on screen location is your exact location before the lag spike hits. When the lag spike hits, his data transferring temporally paused, but due to the client-side hit detection, he is still able to shoot you can make the client send hit registration to the server. So when the lag spike ends, his client start sending data to the server saying how many times he hit you. Too bad now the server thinks you are dead.
Extreme Example of Client Detection Fault by YouTuber CommanderRoot
There were several attempts to make PUBG a competitive game such as the Gamescom Invitational and PUBG 2017 Invitational. I believe the game mechanism is mature enough for competitive gameplay in terms of consistency and skill cap. This means that the game itself is worth thousands of hours to master like a fine instrument. More skilled players will always have an edge in almost any situation. So I’m not going to cover any details about game balancing and competitive gaming viability because so many more experienced players have talked about them. My concern is about spectatorship for PUBG as an esport. Anyone played PUBG before knows the thrill of hunting and blood rush of unexpected engagements. PUBG thrives on building anticipation and stimulate fight and flight responses. That’s PUBG game pace doesn’t feel slow even though most players might not interact with others 95% of their gameplay. You literally cannot let your guard down the moment you landed on the battleground because you do not know if there is someone hiding in the next corner you turn. However, when you are watching a competitive esport, your attention is divided onto several players and you are much less engaged with each individual player you spectate. With 100 players in a game, it is impossible to keep track of what’s happening unless you focus on one player. Even if you watch competitive PBUG games like you are watching your favorite streamers, you still won’t get the full experience. This is because, in a competition, players play for the win instead of showmanship. Most winning teams in competitive PUBG won’t have many kills and tried to kill the other teams with the least casualty. As a spectator, you might not want to watch the team you are cheer for camps in a compound for 20minutes trying to ambush other players.
Another problem with competitive PUBG is that the objective of this game, which is to outlast other players, is not a meaningful measurement of skills in this game. Obviously, the best survival strategy is to avoid any frontal assault or even combat at all. This by itself already neglect the possibility of PUBG becoming a serious competitive sport because you cannot have a competitive sport discourages player interactions. Also having 25 teams competing at the same time without giving them an even ground is not a good method to determine the best team in the competition. The current map is way too big and too random for a fair competition. The best team might be eliminated early in the competition simply because they happened to get caught in a crossfire or they got very unlucky weapon spawn. And finally, at the current stage of competitive PUBG, it is really hard to prevent match-fixing and teaming in competition. Two competitive teams from the same nation can identify each other in a competition and work together to secure win for one team. All these issues in the competitive PUBG prevent it from becoming an esport.
Good Day For Camping
PUBG is a incredibly fun game to play. I have wasted so much of my youth and spare time on this game and have so much great memories. It is even more surprising to see this game became such a huge success. However, behind the incredible growth of player base, I sense an even sharper player decline approaching if the game keeps going down the current direction. I hope the devs can fix some if not all of these issues so this game can have a long and great future, and also those cosmetic I collected so far can preserve their value.