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PUBG on Xbox One X is rockier than expected (update)

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Frame rate is the biggest compromise

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds - man and motorcycle at sunset PUBG Corp./Bluehole

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds has launched on Microsoft’s Game Preview program, which means that it’s a work in progress. What players make of that designation is going to depend on their expectations, and whether they played the game on PC.

Playing the game on an Xbox One X connected to a 4K display, for me, showed a graphical improvement from the experience on my middling gaming PC running a GeForce GTX 970 graphics card. But be prepared for a shock if you’re used to playing games like Call of Duty: World War II that have been optimized for the Xbox One X, as PUBG is less graphically polished and consistent in terms of performance than its console competition.

Those are apples-and-oranges comparisons, and Microsoft has clearly spent time communicating the in-progress nature of the game to players, but it’s still going to be fascinating to see how players respond to the game’s current state.

The frame rate is sluggish at the beginning of each match, but it improves once you’ve dropped into battle. There is never a time where the game’s performance feels locked at a solid frame rate, however, which can be frustrating on a system that is billed as the most powerful console on the market.

Making PUBG run on the Xbox One platform at all, complete with its elegant new control scheme, had to have been a challenge. The game’s performance on the Xbox One X at launch shows that this isn’t a problem that can be solved by raw power alone, and the game will hopefully continue to be optimized in order to reliably achieve better performance.

Just like the PC version of the game, there’s rarely anything happening on the screen visually that feels like it justifies the game’s sluggishness. The large outdoor environments and tracked ballistics aren’t as immediately impressive as the giant monsters or robots from competing shooters, but there’s a lot going on with the game under the hood with what seems like a minimal amount of optimization.

That all being said, playing the game on the Xbox One X is a delight if you have your expectations managed properly. It feels like you’re playing on a high-end PC, and the HDR support is a nice visual advantage.

You will be able to tell the difference in terms in resolution and visuals if you go from the standard Xbox One to the Xbox One X, but it’s a shame we might have to wait a bit longer to get the sort of performance most players will expect from the game.

I had plenty of fun in my first few matches once I got over the initial disappointment about the game’s performance, however. This is a version of PUBG that retains what makes the game so interesting while making smart adjustments for console controls. We can only hope it will get better as time goes on.

Update: Digital Foundry has weighed in on the Xbox One version of PUBG, and the site’s verdict is pretty damning. Two members of the Digital Foundry team noted that the game makes a very poor first impression, with “absolutely dreadful” frame rates below at 20 fps or even lower in the starting zone and the airplane segment. Once you parachute in and touch down, the frame rate does reach 30 fps, but it frequently drops below that mark — well below, if you’re not playing on an Xbox One X. Check out Digital Foundry’s full assessment below.