22 August 2018: One of the long-standing demands of PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds (PUBG) players is about to be addressed with the launch of a training mode, enabling players to try out guns, vehicles and even parachute landings on a special 2x2km map.
The map will include three gun ranges - 400m, 800m, and 1km - so that players can practice on their sniping skills. And the ranges will have both standing and moving targets to aim for.
The map is intended for 5-20 players and will also include on- and off-road vehicle tracks, including stunt ramps, for players to famiarise themselves with the idiosyncrasies and handling characteristics of PUBG's somewhat crap vehicles.
The map itself looks like its set somewhere close to the Miramar peninsular.
"We wanted to go beyond what players were asking for, so we didn't want the map to be just a shooting range, but an open, living map where players can test a variety of skills to their heart's content," said PUBG senior designer Dave Osei.
He continued: "The map is broken up into different sections; short and long range combat, vehicle races, jump skills, vaulting, vehicle ramps etcetera.
"Each one of these sections represent a gameplay situation players may become involved in during normal gameplay. You can freely move around the map to practice whichever skill you like."
The training mode and its associated map should land in the next major update early next month.
It is being developed as part of the company's somewhat belated Fix PUBG campaign. That is intended to make good some of the games many flaws, as well as to respond more directly to player complaints.
8 August 2018: The latest update to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) lands on players' PCs today, bringing variable weather to the Erangel and Miramar maps among a host of improvements.
These improvements will include some small changes to the maps, including the river banks of Erangel and extra cover around the Sosnovka Military base.
The update will also make long-promised changes to hit boxes, which will mean that if a bullet destined for a vulnerable body part hits a flailing arm first, for example, at the moment that is where the hit will be registered. After the update, damage will be applied to the higher-damage body part.
"This penetration system works for the head, torso, and waist only. If a bullet penetrates the fore arm, but no vulnerable body part is behind it, only the forearm damage will be applied," explained the company in a Steam Community posting. The bullet will penetrate according to its ballistic curve.
The changes to the weather, though, will no doubt shake-up gameplay even more.
On Erangel, ‘overcast' has been added, while on Miramar, in addition to an ‘overcast' weather setting, players can also enjoy the pleasure of a Miramar sunset. Overcast weather might mean rain - which adds further aural challenges - or fog.
Dynamic weather had been a feature of Erangel early on in the game's development, but was removed when it was fully launched in November last year.
In addition, some improvements to the map have been made, including extra features to the river edge to make it more interesting, frankly, and additional clusters of houses on Erangel. The area surrounding Sosnovka Military Base will sprout some trees for additional cover.
On Miramar, more dirt roads have been added and some slopes chiselled off to make it easier to get around. However, some of the cliff faces and other annoying features preventing players from moving from islands to mainland (and vice versa) have not been altered.
In terms of playability, PUBG Corp has made it a bit quicker and easier to swap and change items, with the ability to strip a weapon of its attachments with one click, for example, and you can now exit a vehicle with a sprint so you can get out of the line of fire that bit quicker.
Also, while ‘what is dead may never die', dead team members in a duo or squad game will now be able to stick pins in maps to give them something to do after getting whacked in the first minute.
In addition, a number of miscellaneous changes have also been made, including optimisations that should improve frame rates, and improvements to server performance - a perennial complaint among PUBG players.
7 July 2018: The latest update to Player Unknown's Battlegrounds has hit live servers with the introduction of a new ‘event' on Sanhok involving ten teams of five players.
The event this weekend will see teams of players land equipped with a shotgun, pistol, frag grenade and a pack of bandages, with care packages containing either a sniper rifle or designated marksman rifle (DMR) landing every one minute, 10 seconds.
The ‘war mode' fights will take place on a random subset of the Sanhok map, with players racking up three points for a kill and one point for a ‘knock'. Players that get whacked can drop in planes flying by every 30 seconds. The first team to 200 points claims the chicken dinner. If no team reaches that tally in 15 minutes the team with the most points wins.
The event coincides with a new 6.6GB update that includes some tidy-ups to Sanhok, such as rockier rocks and mossier ruins. A number of minor fixes have also been thrown in and the update also lands with an update to the BattlEye cheat detection tool.
However, the introduction of the new Sanhok map, which is smaller and more action-packed the games first two maps - Erangal and Miramar - hasn't helped to permanently increase player numbers, despite price cuts of up to 50 per cent in recent sales on Steam, Fanatical and Green Man Gaming.
See also: The trouble with... online gaming
27 June 2018: PUBG Corporation, the company behind PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), has dropped its legal action against Epic Games over Fortnite.
PUBG Corp had complained that Epic's popular Fortnite Battle Royale game infringed PUBG's own copyrights in the Battle Royale gaming genre, filing a legal case in South Korea at the end of May (see next page).
Those claims, however, were widely derided, and helped to turn PUBG reviews on Steam from "Mixed" to "Mostly Negative", while player numbers have dropped off from a peak of around 3.2 million in January to lows of 1.2 million in early June.
While numbers have since increased to around 1.6 million, following an update introducing a smaller, faster-moving map, free-to-play Fortnite has not only become wildly more popular, but is also making more money - $318 million in May, according to Epic - simply from the sale of cosmetics.
PUBG, in contrast, retails at £26.99, although it is currently on sale for as low as £17.99, and the introduction of loot boxes bearing cosmetics was one of the factors that put many players off.
The decision was revealed after PUBG Corp delivered a ‘letter of withdrawal' to Epic Games on Monday.
It's not clear, according to Bloomberg, whether a settlement has been agreed or whether PUBG simply backed down.
However, the ties between the two companies almost certainly complicated matters: PUBG uses Epic's Unreal Engine to make its game work, while China's Tencent has a minority stake in both companies, and developed the Android mobile port of PUBG.
While both games are based on the same Battle Royale idea, they are very different, with Fortnite offering a more cartoon-like aesthetic with building mechanics, while PUBG delivers a grittier realism with weapons based on real-life guns.
22 June 2018: PUBG's newest map, Sanhok, has landed today in a 12.2GB update as the company behind the game looks to reverse a massive fall in the number of players with aggressive price cuts.
Sanhok will form part of a major update, which will also include a new ‘event pass' - at a price of £7.49 - and coincides with a Steam sale intended to drum-up interest among new players.
The Sanhok map is around one-quarter of the size of Miramar, and is intended to provide a faster and more intense Battle Royale game compared to Erangel and Miramar.
In addition, players can reach a much wider proportion of the map from the plane, and the bluezone is not only slower and can be outrun, but dynamic, moving based on the number of players remaining. Weather makes a welcome return and can change dynamically.
On Sanhok, too, newbies will be thrown-in among seasoned players, rather than match-making players according to their ratings, and decent weapons - assault rifles and the like - will be more abundant.
However, the update also removes the ability to choose maps, a decision that has provoked adverse reaction among the game's most vocal players.
The company justified the removal of map choice by claiming that it will improve match-making times, with player numbers now split among three maps; single player, duos or squads; and in terms of first-person or third person perspective.
Instead, players will be able to choose between Erangel and Miramar, on the one hand, or Sanhok, on the other. A new map coming later this year is intended to come in between Sanhok and Miramar in size.
The new event pass, meanwhile, is unlikely to do anything to pique new interest in PUBG - introduced as a means to enable players to get their hands on guaranteed "premium loot", rather than wedging up for what normally turns out to be a crate of unwanted junk.
The update comes as PUBG has been battling a precipitous fall in player numbers since the game's peak in January, when it achieved a daily player count of 3.2 million on Steam, making it the most popular game ever on the PC gaming platform.
Player numbers have fallen particularly sharply since the last update amid complaints that the developers don't listen to players, and haven't done enough to iron-out glitches and combat cheating.
In addition, Battle Royale rival, free-to-play Fortnite, has not only overtaken PUBG in popularity but left it trailing, while a string of other Battle Royale games have also nibbled away at the player base.
And the company has done itself no favours, either, by taking legal action against Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, claiming that Fortnite breaches PUBG's intellectual copyright.
PUBG Corporation's claim has not only been widely derided, but has driven a slew of negative reviews on Steam, shifting it into "Mostly Negative" territory - a label normally reserved for the most catastrophically bad games on Steam.
15 June 2018: Sanhok, the forthcoming minimap on PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), will do away with match-making based on skill and instead throw-in newbies with veteran players.
The reason, the company claims, is to speed-up matchmaking times and to make the Sanhok map more riotous and chaotic for all players. However, while ‘career stats' will be recorded, performances on Sanhok won't affect players in terms of matchmaking.
The game is also set to tweak its approach to map selection, back-tracking somewhat on earlier promises in a bid to keep matchmaking queue times manageable.
"We've decided that we can't support individual map selection for more than two maps," write the developers in their latest update.
The missive continues: "This is because map selection creates an essentially exponential increase in the number of total separate queues when combined with other queue options like party size and perspective. That means the matchmaking pool gets split into many small sections, making it nearly impossible to put together a match in at least some of those queues."
While the game currently features just two maps, those options are sliced into two in terms of whether the player wants to play in third-person or first-person mode, and those two groups are then sliced three ways: solo, duo and squad (with single players pitting themselves against squads also needing to be fitted in to squad games).
PUBG's typical daily player numbers have dropped from a peak of just over 3.2 million in January, just a month after it came out of early access, to 1.5 million or fewer in the past week.
In order to better manage queue times, therefore, the developers will revoke the separate choices for Erangal and Miramar, which were only introduced in April, and instead provide players with a straight choice between ‘Battle Royale' (Erangal or Miramar) or ‘Mini Royale' (Sanhok).
"At least for now, we're going to launch Sanhok as its own queue, with Miramar and Erangel bundled together in a separate queue. That means that in the new UI, you'll be able to queue up for Sanhok by itself, or Erangel + Miramar together. Choosing both queues means you'll randomly be dropped into one of the three maps currently in the game."
However, the company revealed at the E3 trade show this week that it is working on further maps for PUBG, including one that will be around midway in size between Erangal and Sanhok to provide more variation for players.
8 June 2018: The latest PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) event has become available for download today, and will be a War Mode where a lethal hit will mean instant death.
The new event will involve three teams of ten players and is set within a compact, static safe zone on Erangel. Every player will be dropped-in armed with a Kar98 rifle replete with a 4X scope, a handgun, a solitary frag grenade, and a ghillie suit.
In other words, one pop in the head from a Kar98 and combatants will be on the next plane, respawning to drop-in once again until the game is over.
The first team to reach 150 points will be declared the winner. The event is now live and will run until 7am BST on Monday morning.
To celebrate the British summer, perhaps, the weather will be rainy, providing a welcome change in terms of visual and sound effects to mix things up a bit, especially in the absence of the red zone. There won't be any planes dropping 'care' packages, either.
Only Europe and North American servers will get both first-person and third-person gameplay, with the rest of the world having to make do with third-person.
On the Experimental Server, the Sanhok map has returned for another spot of testing and will be around until Monday.
PUBG Corp has finally got round to rolling out its anti-cheat mechanism on the Experimental Server, which can't come too soon for many players.
And if it proves successful at stamping out cheating once it's fully rolled out, complainants may have to face the fact that they're just not very good.
30 May 2018: The next update to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) will feature an in-house developed anti-cheat mechanism, improved character model rendering, more refined netcode - a longstanding player demand - and more responsive server performance of objects, such as items and doors.
The changes are primarily intended to improve game performance and to address complaints of a continuing high level of cheating, while also delivering a slew of tweaks and gameplay changes.
The company has released relatively little information about the anti-cheat mechanism, including whether it will replace or complement BattleEye, but it will announce itself to players with a pop-up after the game has been updated.
It will also come with a choice of ‘compatibility' mode and ‘security' mode, which leaves it open to question over how deeply it will affect underlying PC processes, as well as anti-virus and other security software running in the background.
In terms of changes to gameplay, throwables - frag grenades, smoke grenades, Molotov cocktails and stun grenades - are set for a significant shake-up.
Stun grenades are being beefed up. They will not only affect vision, but also sound, and visual animations - hands over eyes - will indicate to attackers whether their stun grenade has been effective or not.
Frag grenades will get improved range and damage: lethal within 3.5 metres, moderately damaging within the next five metres and dealing out "low damage" over the next 1.5 metres.
And Molotovs should get more interesting. First, their area of effect will be increased and, now, the flames will spread along wooden surfaces indoors (as, indeed, you'd expect in real life). On top of that, more than one will have a compounding effect, enabling flames to spread further.
Players will also get a new gun to play with. The M24 sniper rifle is being taken out of the 'care package' and being made available to anyone who can find one.
The aim, according to PUBG Corp, is to provide an alternative to the Kar98 for hardcore, long-range sniping. However, damage will be reduced from 88 to 79 to compensate for its increased availability and, perhaps, to give the rest of us a fighting chance.
The changes will be implemented at 3am, British Summer Time (BST) on Thursday 31 May.
- Increased frag grenade damage and effective range;
- Frags previously had to be within 2.6m of player models to deal lethal damage. They now deal lethal damage within 3.5m, moderate damage from 3.5m through 8.5m, and low damage from 8.5m through 10m;
- The maximum effective range of stun grenade has been increased to 20m;
- Depending on distance from the explosion, the direct effect can blind the player for a maximum of 5.5 seconds, and a minimum of one second (when 20m away);
- Depending on distance from the explosion, the indirect effect can blind the player for a maximum of three seconds;
- Characters blinded by a stun grenade now cover their faces. This is a new animation;
- Spectators are now also blinded when spectating someone hit with a stun grenade;
- Stun grenades will now briefly blind and deafen the thrower if they explode behind their back when cooked;
- You'll now be unable to ADS while blinded;
- Molotov cocktails now have new effects and their damage has been increased;
- Molotovs can now deal indirect damage and burn damage (as damage over time), depending on whether or not you're standing directly in the flames. If you're in the flames you'll take both types of damage;
- Indirect damage (taken when standing in the flames) has been increased from 10 to 12.5 damage per second;
- After catching fire, players will take burn damage as damage over time (10 damage per second) for a total of four seconds;
- You'll now be unable to ADS while taking burn damage;
- Flames now spread further along wooden surfaces in houses;
- Flames from Molotovs spread further if another Molotov is thrown on top of the flames;
- A new animation has been added for character models who are suffering burn damage. They'll attempt to pat out the flames using their hands.
Weapons and attachments balance
- Reduced vertical and horizontal recoil of the SCAR-L;
- Decreased basic damage of the M24 from 88 to 79;
- M24 will no longer dropped in care package. It spawns in the world;
- The tactical stock and cheek pad are now less effective at improving recoil recovery rate. It now improves ADS speed;
- Light grip no longer affects weapon basic recoil control or recoil recovery speed;
- Light grip now decreases first shot/single shot recoil by about 15%. Animation kick reduction has been changed to 20% (from 30%);
- To make the Vector a little easier to find, we've increased its spawn rate at the expense of the spawn rate of the UMP-9 (overall SMG spawn rate remains the same);
- Increased world spawn rate of DMRs.
User interface/user experience
- Added a UI message showing when healing items can't be used;
- Average swimming distance has been added to player stats, on the career screen.
New anti-cheat tech
- We've added a new anti-cheat solution, developed in-house at PUBG Corp;
- Expect to see a new popup when you start the client;
- It'd be more helpful for us if you run the anti-cheat tool using Security Mode, but if that gives you problems, please choose Compatibility Mode.
- We've improved the character model rendering process to prevent some small frame drop issues;
- We've optimized character movement and animation while skydiving to improve framerate when multiple players are nearby;
- We've made some improvements to our network code to reduce network latency;
- We've increased the speed at which the server transfers data about objects (items, doors, fences) to address the fact that sometimes items spawn in late after players parachute in;
- We've improved some inefficient processes with the way the server updates certain frames on vehicles and character models. This should resolve resolve some abnormal physics affecting vehicles.
- You can now toggle the new HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function) sound feature in the options menu (for opponent's gunshot sounds only). The feature, which simulates fully three dimensional sound even for two-channel stereo headphones, was explained in greater detail in our dev blog last week;
- Reduced the volume of the care package airplane.
- The total rating points gained/lost per match has been increased, to better define the skill difference between players.
- Fixed some issues causing abnormal collisions in spots on Erangel and Miramar;
- Characters should no longer get stuck while vaulting in particular spots around Erangel;
- Fixed an issues allowing characters to pass through objects in certain locations on Miramar;
- Improved the accuracy of the throwing trajectory indicator for stun grenades;
- Fixed a visual glitch in the inventory screen that occurred when attaching a choke to the sawed-off;
- Fixed an issue that was resulting in some strange collisions if players ever jumped on top of a vehicle which had players in it;
- Scope zeroing on the crossbow is no longer incorrectly enabled and set to an incorrect value by default;
- Fixed an issue causing stun grenades to appear to bounce around for while after breaking a window;
- Fixed an issue where the cheek pad's vertical recoil control attribute was excluded in in-game tooltip;
- Fixed an issue which prevented the cheek pad from adding 10% vertical recoil recovery when attached to the SLR;
- Fixed an issue when hip-firing for an extended duration, the gun would appear to be lowered;
- Fixed an issue that caused the effect from stun grenades to appear differently depending on graphical settings.
Next page: PUBG files suit against Epic over claims of Fortnite copyright infringement, and PUBG Corp promises to listen to players
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