Ahead of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ official 1.0 release launch on Dec. 20, PC players have the chance to get their first taste of the game’s new desert map, Miramar, on their test servers last night.
We spent an hour running around the desert, leaving behind the wide, open grassy spaces of the game’s original map and discovering what dangers lie in the desert. We immediately noticed some welcome changes to the PUBG formula that we’ve grown accustomed to over the last few months.
AN UPDATED UI
Immediately upon loading the game, you’ll notice that PUBG has gotten a fresh coat paint. One of the biggest changes is the new lobby. The dimly lit room of the past is gone, and instead, you and your teammates will now be hanging out in a small field from the Miramar map. It’s a small difference, but the change in color does make the game feel refreshed, even if the overall tone is still a bit monochromatic.
As you dig through the menus, you’ll also notice a newly design system for customizing your character and sorting through your gear. Again, the change is slight, but the updated inventory system is a welcome change. Even the readying system has been updated to visually show which players are ready, causing less confusion as you and your squad prepare to drop into the desert.
PUBG’S DESERT MAP, MIRAMAR
It’s funny saying that a desert can feel fresh and vibrant, but I immediately felt a rush of excitement dropping into Miramar for the first time. A handful of design decisions really help the desert landscape feel alive and totally different than what we’re used to.
As you fly over Miramar, you’ll notice the inclusion of areas that seem like cities, as opposed to the sparse towns found across PUBG’s first map, Erangel. Streets wind around a collection of buildings that come in various shapes, sizes and colors. Storefronts feature unique signage, which help them become more recognizable at a distance. And while these changes help Miramar feel radically different from Erangel, the design of these new cities have an additional benefit outside updated aesthetics.
The color and varied shape of the architecture is going to help players better define their surroundings during tense team fights. An issue with Erangel was a handful of repeated building designs which caused confusion when trying to call out landmarks. It appears that this will be less of an issue in the more colorful and varied Miramar.
Another update in design choices is the use of vertical space. Miramar has replaced the larger hills and valleys of the game’s first map with more condensed architecture, which has varying degrees of height between them. On paper, this change seems small. In practice, it means that vectors of attack feel like they could be coming from more angles than ever before.
That’s an exciting change for the formula. By just shortening the distance between buildings and including structures of varying height, the game manages to have a totally different atmosphere. Even in our short playthrough this morning, what was once a simple jog in between buildings felt more tense because enemy fire could be coming from in front, behind and — now more likely than before — above me.
To account for the new ways you’re going to engage with enemies, the test server also includes a much requested feature: vaulting.
VAULTING IN PUBG FEELS GREAT
With the addition of vaulting, you no longer have to feel a sense of dread as you run toward a fence, low wall or open window that you may not be able to jump over or through. The newly added ability to easily hop over gates, jump through open windows or vault on top of a storage containers makes the moment-to-moment gameplay feel so much smoother.
In our short time with the new map, we found a handful of areas that benefited from vaulting. Crafty players will find small sniper nests to hide in that are now much easier to get to. Teams can swarm enemies hiding in a house with a bit more stealth by jumping through open windows instead of opening doors. And the overall landscape of the game feels more like a creative playground, just by knowing you could vault over a low wall to get the drop on someone — or, in our case, accidentally leave yourself open to enemy fire.
None of the main changes heading into PUBG’s 1.0 release are all that dramatic. But taken as a whole, they are small additions that make the grand experience of the game feel tighter. The newly redesigned UI delivers a fresh coat of paint on an otherwise murky first attempt. Miramar offers a handful of design changes that help make the game feel new by offering more density and vertical space to play with. And the simple act of being able to cleanly vault over objects makes moving through the game less of a struggle and adds a layer of smoothness that was never there before.