The Battle Royale genre has seen some massive growth in the past year. I’m not going to go on about the history of it (I’d get it wrong), but the biggest, more modern iterations are undoubtedly Fortnite: Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).
Simply put, both are games where you get dropped on to an island, you need to scavenge for weapons and equipment, then you need to survive. 100 players drop into each game, and it’s you vs 99 people (unless you’re playing in squads, but you get the idea).
Are they the same game? Not at all. Sure, there was a massive fuss when Fortnite released it’s free-to-play multi-platform battle royale mode. It was borrowing heavily from PUBG and PUBG was THE dominant game in the genre, in fact was basically the only one.
I, for one wrote about Fortnite upon it’s release, and at the time had no means in which to play PUBG, so my frame of reference was minimal, and I got soaked up in the fun the Fortnite had to offer.
Then, PUBG was released on Xbox one in “game preview”, allowing for us to play an incomplete version on Xbox Live. Sure it had/has issues, but several weeks and several updates have seen it become a pretty decent version of the game, and one in which I’ve spent a great deal of time in.
I’ve got plenty of hours in both, and frankly, I really like them both for different reasons. They each have their own style and deliver the experience in pretty different ways. All the nonsense about one being “better” than the other, is just the standard fanboy diatribe, and should just be ignored.
My first ever battle royale game. I had no idea what the genre was like, and it was the first time I’ve ever played a game that got my heart racing as I saw myself drawing into the last 10 players alive. Man, what a rush!
Fortnite is a colourful, cartoony bundle of chaos. You drop onto the island from a flying bus, find a place to land, and then you’re off. Find weapons, find potions and traps.
There’s no weapon attachments, no additional items of clothing or individual parts of armour.
In many ways it’s a more streamlined, more aesthetically approachable game than PUBG. Eschewing the realism for a visual accessibility. It works. Hell, it clearly works really well, seeing record numbers of concurrent players and massive figures for downloads and hours played.
That isn’t to say there isn’t any depth. The building mechanics allow for quick construction of walls, floors, roofing and stairs and it creates a whole different style of play. Sure it was the crux of what initially set it apart, but whilst it still remains a definitive element, it isn’t the only thing that sets it apart anymore.
Yeah, it shares the core elements (Island, shrinking storm, landing on the Island, random weapons scattered about…), but this is a different game, and if anything it complements the offering of PUBG by being a little more light-hearted.
These days I jump in to Fortnite to see how it’s changed (the map now is a different place to what it was), and to maybe approach the game type with a little less intensity. It still gets intense, that’s the battle royale, but it just feels like a much more lighthearted endeavour.
Giving a hoot….
Fortnite Battle Royale is a massive success. Being free and multi-platform (PC, PS4 & Xbox One) certainly isn’t doing any harm, and the continual updates and improvements have seen the game go from a potential cartoony rip-off of PUBG, to an independent battle royale experience.
It might be free, but those updates and staff costs don’t come out of nowhere. As such you can buy in-game currency to the purchase cosmetic items. Honestly, it’s a decent trade. You can still earn the currency in-game, so you’re not forced to buy, but supporting Epic for their free-to-play game doesn’t seem that unreasonable, right?
A joy to play, everytime, with decent framrate, consistent graphical assets and a massive amount of support from Epic Games. Such a good game, and it’s deservedly making a name for itself. I really need to spend more hours here!
PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds (PUBG)
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve perhaps given PUBG more time than Fortnite as of late. Namely because I got caught up in the hype, and mostly because I wanted to get in on the ground-floor of a game being released exclusively to Xbox One (timed, I assume).
This is arguably the definitive original. The culmination of all the mods and efforts made in the past to create the Battle Royale genre as something people play as a stand-alone game.
A more “survival” focused game, with more realistic elements, and the all important vehicles. You find your weapons, then you find attachments to improve them. You need a helmet, and body armour, a back pack to carry all your findings. You’re scavenging and scrounging in a much different way to Fortnite.
It goes without saying that PUBG has had issues, and the initial disconnects during a round, the textures not popping in and the awful rubberbanding, have all been dealt with, or have seen significant improvement.
PUBG is a slower, more considered game. Each round feels a little more like you have something to prove. I don’t know why, but it just feels like a more serious take on the game type.
I play this game with more intent, I love the Erangel map (hoping for Miramar soon!), and having the option to travel on foot or by vehicle really open up your potential approach.
There’s no destructability (apart from doors), but there’s no need. You feel safe in a house……the walls won’t come off. You’re not safe, you’re just better hidden.
Looting is arguably more satisfying here, but all that it means is, you have more to lose when you die. There’s something to be said for laying prone in the grass with your gun all kitted out, including a decent scope, and slowly stalking folk, picking them off as the haplessly run past you.
Also giving a hoot….
Again, there are record numbers being banded about, decent support for the console version, and continual changes and improvements. There’s no arguing that PUBG is massive, and that’s great. More people to play against, more people to try and get that Chicken Dinner from.
Each round sees you earn Battle Points which can then be accrued and spent on crates, which are essentially lootboxes, giving you a random cosmetic item. That’s it. There’s no spending on micro transactions, there’s no pay to win. You buy it as it is and spend what you earn.
It’s a little rough around the edges (still in early access), but damn, it’s bloody fun.
Just have a good time, doing what you want
I don’t think it’s particularly enlightening to suggest that if you have fun doing something, you should just continue to do it.
However, the nonsense I read online from both camps of the games is ridiculous. Both games are excellent, one is even free. Competition in a market will mean that they both have to continually improve, which can only be a good thing for us, as a consumer, right?
I play both, and whilst its been a little more PUBG as of late, I’m really excited to go back to Fortnite and see what’s changed, and to see if my hours in PUBG have given me any kind of noticeably improved ability/skill (not looking good so far!).
It looks like battle royale games are here to stay, with the promise of others on their way. If they all offer a good experience with a different spin on the concept, then we’re all winners.
Here’s to having choices, and better yet, having fun!