PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds developers Bluehole recently divided opinion when they stated that they were looking to take further action against Epic Games, accusing the company of effectively stealing their ideas for PUBG and implementing them into Fortnite Battle Royale. With PUBG not exactly being a unique concept, we discussed how Bluehole should probably chill out about the games’ similarities, but others thought that Bluehole kinda had a point and that even though Battle Royale games have become increasingly popular, Fortnite Battle Royale was a little too derivative.
Considering that Epic worked alongside Bluehole to allow PUBG to run on its Unreal Engine 4, and that they have been very open about taking cues from Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene’s game, Bluehole may have a point even if the Battle Royale genre is inevitably going to become much bigger than PUBG in the near future. But just how much does Fortnite Battle Royale “borrow” from PUBG, and is it a worthy expansion of Brendan Greene’s ideas? Let’s take a look.
Entering the arena
The similarities between PUBG and Fortnite Battle Royale are immediately apparent. Much like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, in Fortnite Battle Royale players begin in a lobby populated by the players they’ll be facing off against in the arena, with them able explore the environment for a minute without the threat of death.
After this, they’re placed in a “Battle Bus” that flies above the game’s grassy map, selecting a point to jump out of the vehicle before skydiving down towards the ground. It’s hardly a subtle imitation of Bluehole’s ideas, but the entire process to landing is much nippier and it seems that you can cover a greater distance in Fortnite Battle Royale than you can in PUBG. Its map is smaller than PUBG‘s, with its buildings closely packed together, so even if you jump out of the Battle Bus and realize that you’re surrounded by other players, you can still quite easily change direction and land near a different a building.
After you land the differences between the two games become apparent. For one, looting in Fortnite Battle Royale is infinitely less intense than in PUBG, with weapons and items highlighted by bright, floating orbs rather than being haphazardly strewn across the ground. You can easily pick up an adept shotgun, auto-rifle and SMG moments after landing in Fortnite Battle Royale, as opposed to embarking upon the desperate hunt for anything other than a handgun in PUBG.
Rather than rely upon your own knowledge of which weapons work and which weapons are fundamentally useless, the weapons in Fortnite Battle Royale are each divided into different colors that indicate their power level, meaning you can easily see which guns you should pick up and which you should drop without having to spend an excessive amount of time in your inventory. This complements the game’s more action-orientated approach to the Battle Royale genre, with players carrying up to five weapons at a time and being able to become a walking militia by the time the round is over.
The end goal of both Fortnite Battle Royale and PUBG is to be the last man standing in a 100-man fight to the death. However, both games’ approach to this core concept is very different, and despite Bluehole’s valid concerns about Epic cloning many of their ideas, the survival aspect of both games will make them stand apart to their respective audiences.
In PUBG exploring a small building can be a nail-biting experience; if you run towards a selection of houses and see that their doors have been left open, you’re going to have to keep your eyes peeled and your ears tuned in to sense any potential enemy movement, checking every corner and potential hiding place to ensure that another player won’t get the jump on you. In Fortnite Battle Royale, the plentiful number of weapons ensures that while stealth is still a factor in the game, it’s also completely possible to make it to the end of the round by running and gunning.
Though Fortnite Battle Royale is ultimately a survival game, stealth and sneakiness is downplayed in comparison with PUBG. For some this more arcade-y approach to the genre will be off-putting, but for others who appreciate the PUBG concept but dislike the high level of tension it invokes, this will be a welcome deviation from the Battle Royale formula.
While Fortnite Battle Royale may not require players to go all Sam Fisher, it does feature something that PUBG does not: crafting. Much like in the base Fortnite game, Fortnite Battle Royale places an emphasis upon base-building, allowing players to quickly obtain resources such as wood, steel and brick in order to add extra cover to existing buildings, or build forts of their own.
This mechanic becomes particularly useful when playing in squads, which allows players to take on the arena in teams of four. In squads, it isn’t rare to see one player being assigned the role of fort builder, creating sturdy structures that will defend their teammates from enemy gunfire. It’s a great mechanic, with it being incredibly simple to lay down a wall, flooring or a set of stairs, creating extra hurdles for other players if they wish to come and take you on.
However, while crafting is advantageous, it comes at a price. Knocking down existing structures and crafting new ones makes a lot of noise, meaning that nearby players will be alerted to your presence should you start trying to build yourself a nice fort. Each structure is also fully destructible, so if another player is armed with a grenade or rocket launcher and you’re perched on a roof somewhere, you can effectively be shot down to the ground in a pile of debris.
It’s an excellent risk vs reward mechanic that will cause you to be sniped out of your boots just as many times as it protects you. The base-building in Fortnite Battle Royale is so simple and intuitive that I can foresee many players being lured to the full game after trying it out in the mode, where you can build giant structures without the threat of another player waddling over and popping you with their shotgun.
This is where many PUBG players will quickly lose interest with Fortnite Battle Royale, but also where it could find itself its own gap in the market. Whereas PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds‘ weapons are each complicated things to master, requiring players to equip them with a wide array of various attachments in order to lessen their recoil, improve their handling and increase their accuracy, Fortnite Battle Royale‘s guns can be handled adequately by more-or-less anyone, regardless of their skill level.
Though some guns are better than others, and skilled players will still come out on top over newcomers, it’s also more possible to dive in and play right away, bag yourself a few kills and leave satisfied. This reduced difficult curve also means that Fortnite Battle Royale is far less tense than its source of inspiration, with players not forced to line up the perfect shot to take out another player, and it also rarely devolving into you sitting in a building for 10 minutes, waiting for other players to come at you.
While this means that the action is a lot more fast and frenetic, it also eradicates the quieter, more heart-racing moments that define the PUBG experience. You won’t worry about whether another player will enter the same building as you, because the guns are so easy to control that you’ll probably be able to pop their head off anyway, and rounds are so fast-paced that the threat of death isn’t as imminent as it is in PUBG. Whereas in Battlegrounds I’d hole myself up in a building in the center of the map and desperately hope that no one would stumble upon me, in Fortnite Battle Royale I’m skipping along merrily, firing auto-rifle rounds with wild abandon and still making the top 10. It’s a lot of fun, but if you’re into your weightier weapons with more realistic feedback, then Fortnite likely won’t sit well with you.
PUBG vs Fortnite Battle Royale: Which game is better?
Ultimately, the better Battle Royale game is going to be one that better suits your play style. The methodical nature of PUBG and its more suspenseful, quiet approach is a large contributor to its high level of success, but there’s certainly room for Fortnite Battle Royale‘s more explosive action.
It’s difficult to see Fortnite Battle Royale truly competing with PUBG in any meaningful capacity, but Epic Games’ take on the Battle Royale genre should find itself a place in the market as the arcade equivalent to PlayerUnknown’s breakout hit. Though PUBG is still the superior Battle Royale experience, Epic has provided just enough of its twist on the formula that it’s a worthy new addition to the genre, no matter how much this will serve to infuriate Bluehole.