PlayerUnknown's BATTLEGROUNDS' Erangel, the map that arguably kickstarted the battle royale craze, is finally getting a much-needed facelift and mechanical overhaul later this summer. PUBG is one of the most successful battle royale titles of all time, although the game has recently fallen on harder times with the subsequent successes of the now much more popular Fortnite and, to a lesser extent, Apex Legends, too.
PUBG has also been openly criticized about the decisions being made behind the scenes of the game, especially those regarding skins and other cosmetic items usually purchased through microtransactions. The infamous Suicide Squad collaboration from last year raised the ire of many a player for the frankly ridiculous cost of some simple cosmetic costumes, and the game's marketplace on Steam has gone through several iterations of comedic inflation on sought-after items. That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but PUBG also has been losing ground when it comes to pure play, with many believing Fortnite to be a more enjoyable experience while Apex Legends has more refined and skill-intensive mechanics. Where once there was a clear niche PUBG occupied, now the game's identity has begun to waver.
Perhaps a long-overdue revamp of the game's original map will help entice players back, even if it's for nostalgia's sake. A new version of PUBG's first map, Erangel, has been in the works since March of this year, and developer PUBG Corp released a video earlier today showcasing the progress that's been made. It's less noticeable than its counterparts because PUBG has always had a more realistic presentation, but there are some clear graphical updates that make the map much more visually appealing, even if it does suffer from the traditional browns, greens, and greys aesthetic that many apocalypse-inspired shooters embrace.
On top of the new scenery, terrain, and building styles, Erangel has been vitally reworked on the inside, too, a much more appealing prospect for veteran PUBG players. The developer has made fully-researched changes to loot, from drop rates to design, to make sure the map plays out in a more modern way. PUBG Corp is also tinkering with how the Blue Zone constricts players in an effort to better reflect what the company has described as "emerging playstyles and tactics," though essentially that just refers to the game's competitive meta. The changes will be made on a test server first, and PUBG streamers will predominately occupy those games, both to advertise the changes and get valuable feedback. The update to Erangel proper will arrive on both consoles and PC later this summer.
PUBG is getting up there in age for a battle royale title, especially given the speed with which the market for these games fluctuates. Revisiting some old magic isn't a bad idea, but it does seem to ignore the much deeper problem of needing a fundamental design change to keep up with the games that PUBG inspired. Those titles have the benefit of fixing what PUBG did sub-optimally and innovating, and with so many iterations of that, now it's PUBG's turn to see if it can turn back the clock and refresh the game enough to become a stalwart of battle royale streaming once more.