PUBG Update 7.1 will introduce bots to PUBG Console for the first time in the game's history in an attempt to give less skilled players a better shot at kills, and potentially even wins.
"While PUBG veterans continue to hone their skills and improve, we're seeing more often that many newer players are being eliminated early with no kills — and oftentimes with no damage dealt," PUBG community coordinator Andy Hall wrote on the game's subreddit.
"You've been telling us for a while that the widening skill gap is creating a more and more challenging environment for some of our players and we're now ready to talk about our plan to help this."
Bots will appear in all queue types, and the ratio of bots to human players will fluctuate based on the player skill level and matchmaking pool in each of the game's regions. They will shoot such that players should still be able to dodge shots to the same extent they can against human players, with accuracy decreasing over longer ranges.
Bots will loot according to the phase of the match, using shorter range weapons early and picking up sniper rifles and designated marksman rifles later in the match.
"We hope that introducing bots will help players get more shooting practice and kills, a higher average survival time, and maybe even that first exciting chicken dinner," Hall wrote. "Basically, the full battle royale experience."
Bots have long been a controversial topic among PUBG players, with many arguing they dilute and undercut the gameplay experience of emerging victorious over 99 other players. Early responses to Hall's Reddit post suggest that sentiment remains strong, with several players stating they now plan to uninstall PUBG and stop playing.
"I'm actually uninstalling as we speak because I know all my friends myself included don't like playing with bots," wrote commenter u/MessyShinguard.
"This is terrible," wrote another who goes by the handle u/heiddds. "If I wanted to shoot bots, I'd play an offline game."
PUBG Corp plans to iterate on the bot system using machine learning and player feedback. Whether that iteration could mean a walking back of the entire system remains to be seen.
PUBG Update 7.1 goes live Tuesday.