There have been more loot boxes added to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds in the last few months than actual content updates. Thankfully, some meaningful changes and updates are already being deployed.
If it wasn't for Fortnite coming in and stealing the spotlight from PUBG, we'd be stuck with a poorly optimized, gambling-focused battle royale game. Thankfully, Fortnite is here, forcing PUBG Corp and publisher/original developer Bluehole to take some action (and ideas). Over the last two months PUBG has added weekly events which players have fallen in love with, so much so there's a lot of demand to see some of these test modes become permanent. These events include shotgun-only modes to large team deathmatches and there's more on the way.
More importantly though, PUBG is finally getting a map selection, easily the most requested feature ever since the PC version got the Miramar map. The Xbox One version currently only has the original Erangel map but is getting Miramar next month. Details on how the map selector works and why it took so long can be found here. It's still being developed but is nearly complete so there's no time frame yet.
Before we get to that however, this week PUBG Corp unveiled details for Patch #11 coming to test servers soon. This includes a few bug fixes, an interface update for tracking the starting plane's flight path, and - you guessed it - a new paid-for loot boxes for weapon skins called the "Equinox Crate." In order to gamble on these crates, players must spend additional real money for a Weapon Skin Key and then hope for the best so they can get some value. Or just don't.
Map Selection and Savage Map Updates
The map selector is about to become more essential than ever since PUBG's third map, Codename: Savage, has already become playable on the new test client on Steam. We tried it out when it first released and while we enjoy the idea of a faster-paced option on a map that's one-quarter the sized of the other two, the mid-game is still slow and the map looked incredibly ugly and unfinished. PUBG Corp rushed it out to get early feedback and to have something to show for themselves other than weapon skin loot boxes.
Since then however, a team of its devs went to Thailand for some inspiration and are taking player feedback, their own ideas, and things they see into consideration for evolving this new map. That's the main benefit of getting Savage playable super early before it's really built out.
"You’ve heard us talk about open development a few times, but what does that really mean? For Codename: Savage it means we’re going to be building the map as you guys play it. We have months of work left to do; beyond refining the experience and making changes that impact balance, we also plan to add new vehicles, new weapons, and most exciting in our eyes are the new areas that we think will set this map apart from our first two."
Savage is going to get an underground cave system, something out of a NatGeo feature or Godzilla movie, and the devs are building it based on the real-world location of Phraya Nakhon Cave which means one of the rooftop cave entrances will be so big that players can parachute straight into it from the beginning of a match.
PUBG Short-Term Thinking?
Given the early access nature of the game at launch, the long period of slow updates as the primary focus shifted to gambling for loot boxes to sell on Steam for real money, it's seemed for a few months now that PUBG Corp was playing the short-term game. The rushed nature of the mobile and Xbox One versions of the games signify the company's obvious intention of letting the game spread as fast as possible before something else takes over, and Fortnite already did. And now they have an incomplete game with pissed off players who are moving over in droves.
And that issue is only going to become more prevalent later this year as we expect multiple Battle Royale games to start being announced and releasing in various forms. We already know that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V should have their own takes on Battle Royale, and that Ubisoft's Massive is likely developing one too. Every triple-A publisher must be, and when the big gaming companies come in with better looking, more feature-full, and better optimized battle royale titles - many of them attached to established franchises - PUBG is in trouble. Especially if they keep milking players for loot box money when these other new games may not have that. And that's good thing. PUBG isn't free-to-play like its current competition, so its microtransaction practices are slimey at best.
At least the new map's potential looks cool and there's talk of new vehicles (including an armored UAZ found in test files for an upcoming event) and weapons that we've seen so few of the last half-year.
Sources: PUBG Corp