PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
The Erangel is huge and varied. It's an instantly classic bit of design. PUBG Corp

Not since Call of Duty 4 has one game shaken up the shooter genre as radically as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. In their millions, players have turned away from the short-term gratification that has defined the genre's multiplayer offerings, in favour of slow-burning tension and hard-earned glories.

PUBG began life as a mod for DayZ, which itself is a mod based on Arma 2. Inspired by cult classic film Battle Royale and other survival games, PlayerUnknown himself (Brendan Greene) created a game that lifted its premise and helped spawn a new sub-genre.

In Battlegrounds, 100 players are dropped on to a huge map to gather the resources they'll need to survive by taking out and outlasting their opponents.

Over time, the safe area of the map shrinks, forcing players closer together and damaging those outside its electrified barrier.

The final surviving player or squad is the winner.

It's simple to understand and tough to master. Like the best games, PUBG is about learning from your mistakes.

Every defeat comes with a lesson. It takes one grenade to teach you that your squad shouldn't gather in too small an enclosed space, one quick, explosive death to realise there's no need to drive straight into an ongoing firefight unnecessarily,

Every match makes you a little better. That is, unless that defeat comes at the hands of the game itself.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is a janky-ass game. Even after its 1.0 release on PC, it has been ridden with glitches. Colliding vehicles still freak out, features of the map can still pop in suddenly before you and small bumps in the road can send a jeep barrelling.

When the game was in early access on PC (it still is on Xbox One) such niggles came with the territory, but despite their annoyance on paper - and often in practice - they continue to be part of its unlikely charm.

Battlegrounds is not a looker, it's not a tightly designed game on a technical level and failure hits you at any moment, but the game remains the biggest success story of recent years because it is conceptually perfect.

Greene and his ever-growing team at PUBG Corp have built a new genre that the whole industry is taking note of, and that's because it has offered an experience that is wildly different to what the most popular online shooters offer.

There's little tension in a Call of Duty game unless it comes down to the wire. In Battlegrounds tension builds slowly and informs every decision you make.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
A well-hidden sniper in a great position to take out a passing car. PUBG Corp

Upon landing there's a rush to get good items, and the busiest areas of the map will descend into chaos as the player count quickly tumbles into the 60s or 70s. When the majority of players are set, getting into the safe circle of play becomes a priority.

Depending on your positioning you may need a vehicle, but the search will eat into valuable time spent looting. You might be safer getting some wheels now, but if you're caught out later you won't be as prepared for a fight. Those in better positions need to pick destinations with ample potential for loot, or comfortable positions for sitting things out until the next safe area is presented.

Constantly players need to be calculating odds and thinking ahead - not just about what they need to do, but what others may be doing as well. The best place to be might be obvious to everyone, is it worth the risk heading there, or is there an unexpected alternative?

An element luck, bugs and the map's one hundred wildcards can ruin any player's best laid plans, creating the element of volatility in the world, an organic feeling that anything could happen at any moment that few games are able to create.

Erangel, PUBG's first of two maps, is the perfect setting for the action. It's roughly six square kilometres - enormous for a multiplayer game - but incredibly well-designed, making it easy to memorise.

There's a military base, ports, farms, a central town you'll often want to avoid, a hospital and school ripe with gear, towering buildings, abandoned prisons, forests, farmland, beaches and uneven terrain that creates natural cover.

Erangel is a masterful video game map that sustained the game's growing player base for months on end. Without it, PUBG would never have been so successful.

It's in the final minutes of a game that PUBG's tension builds to unbearable levels. Your player might be kitted out like Arnie in Commando and laying perfectly still like Arnie in Predator, but your heart is racing (like Arnie on horseback in True Lies).

You know there are four more players remaining, and you know they're very close by. Time and chance dictate who will be the first to break cover, skill determines the first and last to fall.

Our verdict
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
The enormity of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' success will have surprised even its developers. This is a shooter that didn't invent the Battle Royale genre in gaming, but which certainly perfected it to the point that it found a massive, massive audience. With more than 30 million copies sold, PUBG is a bona fide phenomenon with an influence that will be felt in the industry for years to come.