The new Battle Royale genre of multiplayer game has quickly launched to the heights of popularity within only a single year. Out of which, two main contenders have risen to the top of the pile- Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite: Battle Royale. As with any fight for the top (especially in video games), the fanbases of both Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite: Battle Royale have been arguing incessantly over who should take the top spot. With this in mind, I am going to throw my hat into the collective ring and try to compare both games side-by-side and determine which is better and which is worse and where both games shine.
First up in the fight for dominance is Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). I figured it was pertinent to talk about PUBG first, largely because it was the game that really started this whole trend. PUBG was revealed in Early Access in March of 2017 and was not fully released until December of that same year. PUBG has one of the largest player-bases and some of the most popular streaming and YouTube personalities to date. Mainly because, as you get closer to that Chicken Dinner the dramatic tension for both players and viewers becomes astronomically high until you finally win and display your skill, or luck, to everyone watching or (more than likely) lose and sigh with a dejected “maybe next time.” The size of PUBG, both in the map and the number of other players, is part of what rocketed this game to the heights of popularity. You and 99 other people parachute from an airplane over a landmass a little under 8km x 8km and try to scavenge weapons and armor before someone else, who has already done so, finds you and shoots you, eliminating you from the game. PUBG forces all of the players to gather closer together by putting a force field ring around the edge of the map that slowly inches closer to a pre-determined center. If you stand outside of the force field you start to take damage that increases the smaller the circle gets. As I mentioned earlier, the tension that comes with the possibility of finding another player around any door and in any building is incredibly addicting and pushes you to keep playing even when you lose over and over and over again. However, due to the size of the map, more often than not, your entry into the game will be pretty quiet for the first few minutes. That is, unless you jump off of the plane as soon as you can with the 30 or 40 other players who make a point to be the first ones on the map. As you keep playing, you invariably get better (albeit incrementally) and will find yourself in the top 10 of a match over and over again until finally you just barely survive an encounter with the very last of the 100 players and claim the coveted “Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.” Oddly enough, even though there are 100 other players, most people I have talked to have won at least once in their time playing PUBG. People assume because there are 100 other players that your chance of winning is super low, but more often than not you just have to be better than maybe 1 to 4 people in order to win. PUBG is also a long game, more often than not you will find yourself running for a good five or more minutes without seeing a single soul, or you may stand up and immediately get shot in the head by someone a half kilometer away. On top of that, each match lasts for 30 minutes or more on average. Luckily, the vehicles allow for quicker movement at the cost of being visible to everyone and also making a ton of noise, but because the map is so large you will more often than not be forced to take a vehicle to get within the ever-closing force field. Once you finally outmatch 99 other players with a mix of cars, guns, and strategy you get sucked in for more and that desire to keep winning.
On the other side of the fence, Fortnite: Battle Royale came onto the scene in about July, gained wider adoption by August, and became a major competitor for PUBG late in the year. Fortnite has a distinctly different style than PUBG and is actually a completely different game with the “Battle Royale” mode composing only half of the full game. Fortnite is cartoony and a little silly, with Boogie Bombs (similar to the Groovitron from Ratchet and Clank) and oversized pick-axes to carve through buildings in your quest to out-gun and out-build your opponents. The map is roughly 3km x 3km in size, which makes it significantly smaller than PUBG, mainly due to the lack of vehicles to facilitate a larger map. At first glance, and even glances after that, Fortnite is a much more casual game. The bullet physics aren’t realistic, the weapon spray is outrageous and the strength of your bullets is determined by the rarity of your weapon and not as much by the type of weapon. All of the weapons and items you can pick up in Fortnite float off of the ground emitting a colored aura to indicate its rarity, contrasted to the realistic style of PUBG that has the guns and items littered on the floor of varying buildings. Fortnite is also much faster than PUBG, the 3km x 3km map means that almost every single building and outhouse either has someone in it or has been looted at one point before. This means that the gear you find at the beginning of the match is much more important than in PUBG. Due to the rarity system that the weapons have (going from White Common items all the way up to Orange Legendary items) if you are in a fire-fight with someone who has a purple rarity weapon and you are only equipped with a white or blue weapon, you are at a severe disadvantage. The rarity advantage speaks less of skill and more of the luck-of-the-draw, however, it also levels the playing field for players who are not as skilled against players that are. The other major aspect of Fortnite is a hold-over from the other half of the game, construction and destruction of buildings and objects. In Fortnite you can break down trees and buildings for resources and then repurpose them to build your own mini-forts as you travel through the map. The menu to build is super quick and easy to navigate, only having about 4 pieces to choose from, but the uses are almost infinite. Fortnite: Battle Royale is a much faster and more relaxed environment than PUBG but has the same elements that make it great.
PUBG is a more realistic, slower, and a down-to-earth style of a game while Fortnite is a much more cartoony, fast, and ridiculous type of game. Both share the same major gameplay elements, with Fortnite having a building system and PUBG having drivable vehicles. But after extensive play on both of the different games, I have to give the title of the better game to Fortnite. PUBG is so slow that more often than not I get bored half-way through a match and then end up dying from a person who had a huge draw-distance and could see me way before I could see him. The draw-distance difference between my computer and someone else’s really highlights that this game has another element that makes the game unfair and puts you at a disadvantage- your gaming rig. If you have a mid-range computer, like I do, then you just can’t see the same distances that someone else who has a high-end Titan X, liquid nitrogen powered computer. This problem may exist in Fortnite on PC but, seeing as how I only play it on PS4, I never have to worry in that someone else’s better hardware accounted for my loss. Also, the fact that Fortnite is playable on a controller means that everyone has worse aim than on PC. With a mouse, you can get that pixel perfect precision on a sniper, but on Fortnite you can’t get that same accuracy which means you usually have a chance to run away and hide without getting killed instantly resulting in longer fire-fights. The smaller map on Fortnite is also so much better when playing with friends because you can get in and out of matches very quickly and easily. Each game of PUBG lasts at least 30 minutes if you make it near the final 10, while contrarily Fortnite takes about 30 minutes max. Also, because the style of the game is so much more over-the-top, Fortnite can do different events and special game modes that I have not seen replicated by PUBG. For a while Fortnite had a 50 v. 50 mode that gave you a sense of team-work rather than “everyone for themselves” and now they have a special Sniper Shootout mode that only puts snipers and revolvers into the map, so if you like Sniper Rifles you have a fun new mode to try, and if not then you don’t have to. I am a pretty laid back person and really don’t enjoy replaying a game to ‘git gud’ at it, and if I can’t just play the game and enjoy it without being forced to train for hours and hours, then I don’t want to play. Fortnite just feels so much more relaxed and welcoming than PUBG does, mainly because of the art style, but partly because I feel like I stand a chance against the normal player, unlike in PUBG where I can never hope to win unless I get severely lucky and the other players simultaneously agree to let me win.
I personally have much more fun with and heartily recommend, Fortnite. The gameplay is so much faster and more interesting than in PUBG, I can go into a match and not have 10 minutes of dead-time where nothing happens because the map is so much smaller and more compact. Not to mention, finding that Orange/Gold rarity weapon spinning in all of its glory amid the wreckage of a hard-fought battle can’t be compared to a simple pack falling on the ground in PUBG. The unique building mechanics and atmosphere allow for very interesting and ridiculous strategies that sometimes work but are always fun to try. My experience with PUBG has also been sub-par, to say the least, because unless you have a really good computer to play it smoothly, mainly because of the game hogging every bit of processing power and RAM it can get. I constantly couldn’t even play the game because my PC (while meeting the recommended specs) cannot load the map properly for the first few minutes of gameplay- which are crucial. So if you like a long-range, slow, serious and methodical experience then you will probably like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, but if you are a more casual player, like me, who likes fast action and a more laid back atmosphere then Fortnite: Battle Royale is definitely for you.