I prefer playing Playerunknown's Battlegrounds on my phone to playing it on my computer. The control scheme works well and it feels better optimized on my phone than it does on PC. The early rounds might be full of bots, but there’s real players in there too and it’s fun to duel with them while we both rapidly pound on our phones' touchscreens.
But some players have figured out how to use a mouse and keyboard to play PUBG Mobile. And playing a mobile shooter with a mouse is like playing in god mode. After watching videos on YouTube of players dominating mobile matches with the mouse, I had to try it myself. I spent my afternoon cheesing PUBG Mobile and it was so easy it felt like cheating. That’s because it is. It’s totally cheating and, long term, it’s going to ruin the game.
There’s many ways a willing user can upgrade their mobile PUBG experience. Players have installed the game on Chromebooks, paired Bluetooth devices to their phones, and run emulators on their PC to make the game run with a mouse and keyboard. After an afternoon spent cheesing Battlegrounds mobile in various ways, I’m here to tell you it’s easy to do and it’s totally cheating. Don’t do it.
The first thing I did was use Chromecast to run my phone’s audio and video on my 62-inch HDTV. I still controlled the game with my phone, but it was far easier to pinpoint distant targets with my TV serving as the monitor. I didn’t win the game, but I landed in the top five.
Next, I turned to one of the various Android emulators available online. In just a few minutes, I was playing PUBG Mobile with full mouse and keyboard support. It was grotesque. After three games, I’d landed 30 kills and two chicken dinners. My final confrontation was a pitched sniper battle where I and the other combatant took pot shots at each other from our sniper’s nest. I assume, though I don’t know, that the other player was also using a mouse and keyboard—he was literally the only other player I encountered that was any good.
I had a blast playing PUBG Mobile with a mouse, but it’s absolutely cheating. After my first game, I started to see other players as walking loot boxes. I wasn’t afraid of any of them and every encounter played out in one of a few ways. Either they’d spot me first, take a pot shot and miss giving me enough time to line up my shot and kill them, or I’d see them first and shoot them in the head. If I got into a firefight I could easily bunnyhop and fire, something that’s almost impossible to do with the touch controls.
Other gamers are having the same experience. “I played it [five] times on my rooted tablet and a mini USB powered up for mouse/keyboard input,” one player on Reddit said. “Won [five] games and realized that very soon once the process for doing that is commonplace that all mobile will be filled with people doing it.”
It’s a controversy the Xbox One PUBG community is also going through. On the Microsoft console it’s easy to setup a mouse and keyboard for the console version of the game, a fact that has angered some in the Xbox One Battlegrounds’ community. Its subreddit is full of threads of users begging for Developer Bluehole studio to do something about it.
In the land of touchscreen controls, the player using a mouse and keyboard is king. In a competitive game where the player with the best controls is going to win and policing those controls is all but impossible, it’s hard to imagine a world where the best mobile players aren’t using a mouse and keyboard.
Which is fucked up. PUBG Mobile is a blast, in part because everyone is using strange touchscreen controls. The gulf between those using a mouse and those using a touchscreen is huge, and it’s hard to see what developer Tencent Games can do to fix it.