PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Mobile review - Winner winner, chicken dinner?

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I'm prone in a wheat field, surrounded by bales, on the edge of a town where nothing seems to be moving. I've been on the island for 20 minutes. For the first 19 of those I didn't have any trousers or shoes on. I can only imagine the chafing on the soles of my shoes and my butt cheeks.

I've killed four people so far, scavenged their stores, and slipped away. Every sound ratchets up the tension, every warning that the safe zone is closing in sets my heart racing. I cross a river, desperate to get across before anyone spots me.

Across the way someone drives towards a crate. I take a few potshots, driving them out of their vehicle. They don't die. The safe zone closes. There's just two of us now. A game of cat and... oh crap I'm dead.

Unknown players

So this is PUBG mobile. And it's just that, a mobile version of the battle royale shooter that the whole world fell in love with. The core idea is the same, the action is the same, it's just that you're controlling it with buttons on a screen.

Is it perfect? Lord no. It suffers from the same glut of problems that pretty much every other shooter on the App Store does. It stutters, it sometimes chugs, and there are times when your fallible human fingers will slip onto the shoot button when you don't want them to.

But, and this is a big but, it's still a remarkable game. For all its janky style, there are few other games in the world that can push the tension up to 100 and keep pushing. Crawling around in your underwear while wearing an army helmet and a flack jacket might be ridiculous, but that's the point.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds iOS review screenshot

Because PUBG is the rough around the edges dick-about in the park of shooters. It's the mad game of paintball to other franchise's weekend of war recreation activities. Its fallibility is what makes it so engaging. Everyone is scrabbling around in their pants to start off with.

You're not supposed to feel like an elite killing machine, just some schmo dropped on an island with some other schmos, given nothing but a pat on the back and a parachute. For long parts of the game you're going to be hiding and holding your breath.

And this mobile version captures all of that. It might not work all the time, and sometimes you'll get shot in the head because you forgot that auto-sprint was on. But you'll jump in again, back to the island to play out your silly war fantasies and find some clothes.

Stand your battleground

PUBG on console and PC is, somehow, a great game. It might lose some of that in the transition to touchscreen, but that beating heart of tension and violence still manages to shine through, even when your fingers are obscuring the action.

But the keystone here, the thing that pushes PUBG mobile towards mobile brilliance, is the simple fact that you're always pulled back to its island, whether you've feasted on chicken the last time out, or you're still looking for your first poultry dinner.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Mobile review - Winner winner, chicken dinner?

Despite some shortcomings, PUBG is still an incredibly compelling experience on mobile
Harry Slater
Harry Slater
Harry used to be really good at Snake on the Nokia 5110. Apparently though, digital snake wrangling isn't a proper job, so now he writes words about games instead.