Before Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds launched and all through its meteoric rise this year, Chris “Sacriel” Ball has been streaming it constantly to his fans on Twitch. So far, he’s racked up nearly 36 million views on the platform, serving up hot chicken dinners on the regular.
Back in March, the day after the game launched on Steam, we asked him to tell us why he made the decision to switch over to the game from DayZ, where he’d made a name for himself hunting bandits and campers at long range. This week we went back to get his feelings on how the game has evolved over the past year, and where it’s headed as it bears down on its formal 1.0 launch day on PC.
“PUBG is surprisingly complete,” Ball told Polygon. “There are a few bugs here and there which people complain about, but the majority of them are physics related which is always going to be an issue in a sandbox game. I'd pretty much consider the build I'm currently playing as good enough to be considered ‘done,’ though I look forward to more skins and maps.
“I don't think a label like early access or ‘done’ really matters when the core game experience is compelling and fun as [what] PUBG offers.”
The biggest improvements to come down the pipe, Ball said, has to do with PUBG Corporation’s decision to cater to high-level players like himself. The eight-times magnification scope, for instance, now has a variable zoom, which gives him more tactical flexibility with a single long gun. Additionally, the choice to allow squads to use medical items in a moving vehicle has improved the resilience of his teams.
Beyond that, there are dozens of tiny little improvements that make the game feel more balanced.
“Recently the game was updated to allow motorbike wheels to be shot out,” he said, “which is an interesting change as bikes were easily the most powerful vehicles in the game. Now they finally have a weakness.”
Perhaps the biggest single change is the new desert map, called Miramar. Ball has spent plenty of time with it, and he said that it requires a dramatically different set of skills.
“The new map’s main change is the massive amount of vertical play,” Ball said. “On the original map there are very few areas where someone can be firing from such a wide variety of heights. This means weapons like the VSS, which is an integrally suppressed 9 mm sniper rifle, and rifle/sniper suppressors themselves become incredibly powerful.
“When you’re being shot at, players have 10 times more potential firing positions to check when they are being engaged with a silent weapon. I find myself stalking with suppressed weapons and even keeping weapons like the crossbow which deal AWM levels of damage (one-shot headshots on a level 3 helmet) without revealing your position, it is very hard to punish a stealthy player on the new map which makes me love it even more.”
Battlegrounds recently launched on Xbox One, and so far it’s been a rocky start. The game is at least six months behind its counterpart on PC. But if you’re new to the game, Ball offered up a few tips.
Of course, always parachute out on a perpendicular line from the path of the plane to give yourself lots of room away from other players.
“Even if this may limit your looting options compared to some of the more loot intense areas,” Ball said, “it will allow new players to get familiar with the controls and movement and figure out what attachments go on which weapons.”
Should you find yourself among the final 20 or 30 players left alive in the final few circles, Ball said that holding your fire may be the best choice.
“In the late circle I feel that not shooting someone is as important as shooting someone,” he said. “Typically if you are the first to shoot in the final 10, the other nine (or eight, if you kill your target) all know where you are. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, as Sun Tsu said, and this is very true in PUBG.
“I routinely watch two or three people have a firefight and simply kill the winners to claim the victory. Once you have more experience under your belt you can start getting more and more aggressive.”