PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG)'s stratospheric rise in popularity on PC and console has been curious, in particular because of its $30 cost of entry—a fact that sets it apart from its popular, free-to-play rival Fortnite Battle Royale. For at least a few days, however, that barrier is (for the most part) going away… if you are willing to play PUBG on Xbox One.
The console's "early access" version of the 100-person, massive-arena shooter is currently free to download and play so long as you are an Xbox Live Gold subscriber. (If you do not pay for Xbox Live Gold and are interested, now might be a good time to dig out one of the many 48-hour and 7-day trials packed into Xbox game boxes.) The game's "Free Gold Weekend" promotion runs from today, April 19, until 11:59pm ET on Sunday, April 22.
In some ways, this mostly-free version doesn't offer an ideal way to get to know the popular shooter. We defer to the frame rate analysis gurus at Digital Foundry, who took a hard look in March at what had and hadn't improved for the console version in its first three months. In short: the game is fun, but the performance issues don't help.
Even to this day, PUBG's Xbox issues with varying frame rates persist on both vanilla consoles and the Xbox One X. That's a particularly hard sell when Fortnite Battle Royale offers comparable 100-player combat on the same consoles with its own locked 60 frames-per-second performance.
Still, the more precise combat and larger-screen interface do make the hobbled Xbox One version an ultimately more engaging option than the game's free-to-play version on tablets and smartphones (though that one is impressive in its own right). And if you and some online-gaming friends want to see if the performance issues are tolerable enough to accommodate your own squad-combat fun, this weekend is as good a time as any to find out. Plus, PUBG Corp. promises that any unlocks and progress made during the free weekend will carry over should you eventually pay for the full game.