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PUBG Mobile



So last night I played my first game of PUBG Mobile - and survived long enough to reach #34 and made 3 kills. (And I probably would have done better if the game hadn't glitched and not auto-reloaded my AR.)

I'm old enough to have played Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM; but not Quake because I'd stepped off the upgrade treadmill. Multiplayer shooters also didn't interest me as I didn't have the time to sink into playing the games to get good enough not to be cannon fodder. So why am I playing PUBG Mobile?

  1. It's free to play and so far real money just gets you cosmetic items. 1
  2. The point of the game is not to see how many other players you can kill, but to see how long you can survive.

So the point of the game isn't based simply on how good you are with the in-game guns, but somewhat whether you can avoid combat entirely. And I don't think that's the mindset of many players, who are too used to playing other games where the objective is to kill your opponents. That's not to say being able to take out someone with a well-placed headshot isn't a skill to develop - but trying to go toe-to-toe with every other player is a losing strategy.

So what did I think of PUBG Mobile (played on my son's Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7)? Fun, although a little frustrating. First, it looks like many of the menu UIs expect a 16:9 display, so there are some strange overlaps and glitches - although this doesn't seem to be a problem in game. Some text occasionally is almost too small to read, again probably expecting a screen more than 1024x768. Graphically the game is impressive - it's frankly amazing given the age and capabilities of the tablet.

The frustration comes with the controls. Admittedly creating touch controls for a first/third person shooter is going to be difficult. The developer somehow has to put the functionality of a mouse+keyboard or dual analog stick joypad onscreen without obscuring the screen with controls & the players hands. And maybe some of the frustration is because this was my first game and I was trying to hold the tablet rather than placing it on a table. But I would love to be able to use my son's NES30 Pro controller so I could have the precision of dual analog sticks.

The main problem is with the turn / look function. The onscreen joystick does a decent job handling the forward / back / strafe movement (although I wish the sprint-lock was a little closer) but you're supposed to swipe on the rest of the screen to turn - which doesn't seem to work as well. Going in and out of buildings and rooms was frustrating. This also made combat more difficult, although part of the issue was I was trying to use the same hand to look & fire - I need to remember there's a fire button on the left side of the screen as well.

I do like some of the UI tweaks which have been made to the mobile version (e.g. shot source indication on the mini-map, auto-pickup / equip). They've managed to put a lot of info onscreen and make the controls otherwise easy to use and understand.

So for my first game I did the following, most of which I think helped me succeed:

  1. Got out of the plane early (near Severny), spotted a small cluster of buildings and dove straight down for them. The idea is to increase the amount of time for looting before the first play zone shrink. I also wanted to try to avoid early confrontation if possible by not going for one of the well known "high level loot" locations. Unfortunately I did end up getting into a early firefight.
  2. Aim down the sights! I'm fairly certain the reason I won my firefights, several against better equipped players) was because I actually aimed.
  3. Use cover! Again one of the reasons I probably won a couple of my firefights is I was behind cover. In one case I took defeated a player armed with an AR with a shotgun because I hid behind my vehicle.

Stuff I need to do better next game:

  1. Use healing after a firefight! I might have survived the last one longer but I hadn't healed up from my previous encounters.
  2. Reload! The game was auto reloading, and then it stopped and I didn't think to tap the button.
  3. Auto pickup ain't perfect. I probably would have been better with a pistol and a shotgun rather than two shotguns.

Anyone else playing PUBG Mobile?

1 I think PUBG missed an excellent monetization opportunity. Keep the free to play idea - but when playing for free you don't get to select your character name (it's set to PU#<random number>), your character skin (again randomized - this game you're a Chinese chick with long blonde hair), etc. But for a token micropayment (subscription?) you can pick your character name, skin, and are included in any ranking boards etc.


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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!


OMG I aced my second game of PUBG Mobile.


The plane started in the NE corner of the map headed south, so I jumped out almost as soon as I could and headed for Stalber - and no-one else did so I was able to loot in peace. I picked up a helmet & armor and a couple of rifles. No scopes unfortunately, but a great start none the less.


Then I lucked out again by being in the first safe zone. So I camped out in one of the guard towers and watched for anyone coming up the hill (unlikely, but possible) or sneaking up behind me (again, unlikely but possible).


As each timer expired I checked the map and thanked my lucky stars that I was still in the safe zone. I strained my ears listening for footsteps and gunfire, but all I heard was my heartbeat thumping in my headphones (sounding like footsteps...).


Eventually my luck ran out and I had to head downhill. I headed towards where I'd seen some air drops land and got into my first firefight. To my shock (they were hiding behind a bush) I made my first kill. But there was no time to waste, it was on to the safe zone.


At this point there were less than 6 players left in the game. Unfortunately, there wasn't much cover other than a few trees. I made another kill after I reached the air drop crate (which didn't have much other than a medkit). Then I realized there were only 2 players left - me and someone else!


The play areas were shrinking quickly. After exchanging shots with my adversary, I dashed for the next safe zone and put the death wall to my back and started watching downhill. It seemed like forever - the safe zone wasn't that big. Might the death zone make the final kill?


Nope, sound to my left. I swung around and started laying down full-auto fire, trying to get my shots on target. And that was all it took - my first PUBG Mobile win.

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Played a third game last night, and got to #3 again with 3 kills.


The plane started out south of the map, flying over the western tip of Sosnovka Island. I jumped out and dove straight down to the buildings near the DN crossroads for some quick looting. This time I wasn't going to be able to camp in place as I was outside the safe zone. It probably wouldn't have been a good idea anyway - too many other players in the neighborhood. I killed one from a balcony, then sprinted for the hills.


This game I spend a lot of time running away from gunfire. Sure I could have stopped and tried for another kill, but the name of the game is survival. Most players seem to have difficulty hitting a stationary target at medium range - a moving target at long range is just wasting ammo. So unless the attacker is between me and my destination, I'm going to ignore them and keep running. (Although I might change direction slightly so they have to lead their shots.) I eliminated another player as I made may way to the church overlooking Pochinki.


Again, as the play area contracted I made for an air drop. Even if I couldn't get some good loot, it seems to land in the future safe zone. Another player seemed to have the same idea, but I spotted him and chalked up my third kill.


Then I was in the final three, although not in a particularly good position. However, my opponents seem to have discovered an exploit as they were driving around in the damage area, seemingly without taking damage or dying. I died just outside the safe zone as I was crab walking to it ahead of the death wall. I'm not sure what killed me, whether it was the death wall, or one of the other players running me down or shooting me. Unfortunately PUBG Mobile doesn't provide a replay or spectating mode so I wasn't able to see how the match turned out.

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Game #4 - 3 kills & 11th place


Realized if I dropped a marker on the map the line would show me which side of the map the plane was entering from.


This time I bailed out basically as early as I could (although it might be better to wait a second or too) and ended up at the Quarry, which gave me some good loot and my first kill.


Again I wasn't in the safe zone, so had to run towards Pochinki, where I holed up in some buildings.


There has been some talk that PUBG Mobile has bots, particularly at the lower levels. People say they don't act like real players. My suspicion is they are noobs, probably playing on devices with smaller screens. However, while I was holed up I had an encounter which makes me wonder.


I was inside a small outbuilding (with the door closed) and I heard footsteps outside. The "player" made several passes then started walking back and forth in the area nearby. I eventually engaged and killed them, but my opponent's behaviour was definitely non-player like.


An aggressive player would have tried to engage me by either charging the door or shooting through the windows. A passive player would have departed after realizing I was there. (Although I was inside the building, I suspect I could be seen through the windows - particularly in third person.) A noob probably would have stumbled in the door.


Again, the new play zone wasn't near me so I had to make another run across open country. I stopped to loot a house, then got shot at as I tried to leave. This time my opponent charged the building and I killed them. A second shot rang out as I went to loot the body, so I left by the side door and started running.


But I'd made a tactical error. I'd tarried too long at the house and so the damage barrier caught up to me around 600m from the safe zone. Fortunately I had a decent amount of health and reached the safe zone with a sliver of health left.


However, the new safe zone was already on my map and there wasn't much time before the damage barrier started to move again. So I kept running. I figured once I reached the new safe zone I'd stop and heal up.


I have to say my killer was good. I didn't even hear the shot before the game said I'd been killed. I would have liked to get another top ten, but I think I'm doing pretty well so far.


The one lesson this game did show is the need to stay well ahead of the damage barrier - and let it kill anyone shooting at you as you run away.

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Game #5 : 1 kill, 2nd place


I've noticed you can't actually jump out of the plane until the plane is well inland, which makes the coastal sites more difficult to reach.


This time I landed at the Plane Crash site and sprinted from there to the Shooting Range. While I was finding some good loot, it was more spread out. And before I found a gun someone else started shooting at me. I scrambled through the various targets on the range, using them for cover, then sprinted away. Not a good start.


I checked the map on the run and found a nearby house, which hadn't been looted, so I finally got the weapons I was lacking. A couple of firefights happened outside the house, but no-one came inside. Eventually I had to leave to get to the safe zone, but as I was coming around the house I was attacked, so I took careful aim and killed them instead.


Then it was back to sprinting. Better equipped but still running scared. I then spotted a UAZ (Jeep). Normally I don't bother with vehicles, but my recent experience with getting caught outside the safe zone made a vehicle sound like a better idea, especially since I was still a decent distance away from the safe zone.


I then realized the safe zone was on the south side of the river and the nearest bridge was west, at the edge of the play area. So I hit the road and blazed for the bridge before the blue wall started moving again. Once across the bridge, I spotted a few buildings with closed doors inside the safe zone. So I parked the UAZ and headed inside.


And there I camped. The house was inside the safe zone, although near the edge. I set myself up to try to cover the various entrances and waited, listening for footsteps, watching the map for each new safe zone, and listening to gunfire and seeing the player count go down.


Each new safe zone still included my hideout, so I continued to camp. I'm sure other player would put down this tactic, but I'm here to win, which means survive, which means not getting shot at if I can avoid it. But just when the number of players dropped to two, the new (very small) safe zone didn't include the houses, so I needed to make my exit.


So I opened the door and cautiously crab walked out to meet my opponent - completely missing the fact that I'd gotten turned around, so I was walking north straight into the damage zone instead of south towards the new safe zone. By the time I'd realized my mistake it was all over. I'm sure my opponent was as surprised by the bloodless win.


The funny thing is I'd set a pin on a nearby set of buildings which were also inside the penultimate play area. So if I'd simply looked at the mini-map or the compass at the top of the screen I would have realized I was heading in the wrong direction. But I somehow thought the door was south, and didn't check before marching to my self inflicted doom.

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I've played a few more games, but none of them were better than a top ten (and one was much worse). Unfortunately, PUBG Mobile only shows the aggregate numbers, not the results of each game. So unless I'm prepared to write down or share the results, that detail is gone after I exist the game over screen.


I have noticed the expertise of my opponents has increased (or at least fewer WTF moments) - so ranking is probably built into the matching system.


My son and I had a discussion of the possibility of PUBG Mobile having bots. My assertion was PUBG would be unlikely to spend additional development time creating bots simply to give new players an ego boost. However, I then realized they might have needed to create bots as part of their testing process (so they wouldn't need hundreds of human testers). In that case the question becomes whether the cost to run the bots can be justified or if bots are necessary to fill out the noob matches.


I need to spend some time looking at the various weapons so I can make better decisions for which I want to keep. I also wish I could tune the automatic pick-up. While there is some logic in not picking up items which you can't use (e.g. ammo or accessories for guns you aren't carrying) in the early game I want to grab everything because I don't know what I'll find later one. I also haven't had to not pick up stuff because I am out of space. Maybe I've been fortunate and found backpacks early.


Learning the map better is also something I need to work on. While there is a time advantage to exiting early and diving straight down, I might find more loot and fewer people if I try to get farther away from the path of the plane. I've been watching Mobius's videos and he makes some good points about remembering the path of the plane and staying away from it even later in the game. I am also seeing the value in having a vehicle in the early game.


I would love if there was some kind of practice mode so I could try out grenades outside of a match. Due to only having so much "free time" and because I'm having to borrow my son's tablet to play, I don't get to play that often.

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I installed PUBG Mobile on my work Pixel 2. The smaller screen (5") means less visible space around my fingers. The higher resolution (1920x1080) and medium level graphics doesn't make much of a difference as the finer detail is so much smaller. But now I can get my PUBG fix during lunch, although I need to bring in some headphones.


This game I coulda / woulda / shoulda won, but I could have lost just as easily. My early looting was quiet, but not very good as I only found a pair of shotguns and some basic armor. This game i tried to stay well ahead of the damage zone by moving towards the center of the new play zone early. I continued looting and upgraded to an AKM and a Vector and eventually scored a level 3 helmet (although I think I never found anything better than a level 1 vest). I also made one kill.


My first almost death occurred because I tarried too long at one point, not realizing how far away the next safe zone was and how little time there was before the play area started reducing. I covered about half of the distance before the blue wall caught up with me, and I barely made it into the safe zone with minimal health - after starting with near full health. Fortunately I didn't have to continue running to the next safe zone so I was able to stop and heal up (although only half way).


The safe zone straddled the river, with me on the south bank, near a bridge. I crawled to edge of the roadway, so if the safe zone moved to the other side of the river I could try to make a dash across. (Swimming might have been a better plan, but that would have pinned me to the riverbank and made it harder to move inland. But luck was with me and the safe zone collapsed onto my position and my side of the river.


I hadn't been taking any fire, so I suspected the other players hadn't seen me. So I stuck to the prone position and waited them out. Eventually I had to move to get in the next safe zone, so I shifted over near s blockhouse, with the blue wall directly behind me. It was down to me and one other player. But then disaster - the WiFi flaked out (which had happened before) and the game controls locked up. I move my view, but not shoot. I started mashing "buttons" as my opponent started coming towards me. It would have been an easy kill. But nothing worked and I was put out of my mercy.

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Played another game on the Pixel 2 and finished 3rd with 6 kills! I got four of those kills camping out in a shipping container near a compound which staying inside the safe zone until late in the game. Eventually I needed to move, which I did badly and got killed for it. My biggest mistake is I moved too early, before the play area started contracting. This meant I could be (and was) attacked from the rear. I also didn't choose a particularly good position inside the safe zone. While I had decent visibility of the area where I thought one of my opponents would be coming from, I had very little cover from any direction.


Playing on the smaller screen is definitely troublesome. In order not to block my view I find I am keeping my left (look / turn) hand near the left edge of the screen. But this has caused me on numerous occasions to accidentally hit the fire button, potentially alerting other players to my position. Often I don't realize I've fired, so I think I'm being fired upon. The smaller screen also means the "buttons" are smaller, which makes them more difficult to press in a panic situation. Being able to use a controller would definitely help with this problem.

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The recent update to PUBG Mobile fixed the iPhone 5s bug so I was able to give it a try on a 4" screen. While I wouldn't call it unplayable, the size of the screen really makes it difficult to play effectively both because:

  • the size and spacing of the controls makes them difficult to use
  • using the controls blocks the screen
  • low 1136 x 640 resolution and small size makes it difficult to see anything - the mini-map in particular
  • difficult to select weapons as they are close to the edge, which brings up the notification pull

Because I can play PUBG on larger devices I've deleted it. It's also a space hog. ~1GB for the game and you need another 1GB of free space for updates.

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