Unless you are like me and have been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Epic Game’s released a free to play Battle Royal game using Fortnite as a base. It’s ruffled some feathers, to say the least, and leave those of us looking to dive into the genre scratching our heads on which game to start with. Do you get PUBG at it’s $30 price tag or grab Fortnite’s free to play Battle Royale mode? In this article we will examine what’s the same, what’s different, and which game does it better.
Graphically the two games are on opposite ends of the spectrum. PlayerUnknown’s Battleground (PUBG from here on out) took the realism route with its characters, environment, vehicles, etc. In the ongoing battle of realistic versus stylized we see the cons of striving for realism. Even though PUBG is developed on the Unreal platform, its visuals leave me wanting. It feels poorly optimized and my 1080ti struggles to breach 100fps on a 2560x1080 ultra-wide monitor. Though the game is still in early access, it’s hard to say when or if this particular gripe will be resolved, but if the devs ended up throwing some better models and animations in there, and some optimization to boot, it would give Fortnite a run for its money when it comes to polish.
Fortnite, on the other hand, uses stylized graphics akin to what you would expect if you were playing Wildstar or World of Warcraft and with successful hits producing floating combat text shooting off your target you get a hint of Borderlands as well. If you’re looking for a totally polished experience visually, Fortnite is the way to go. The animations are fluid and appropriate for the style and it makes the game an absolute joy to play.
My biggest grip with PUBG is the HORRIBLE inventory system. To me, it’s unintuitive, clunky, and immersion breaking. I suppose it’s cool that you can see the grounds inventory along with your own to move things back and forth, but it takes up valuable time and is daunting to newcomers. I personally spent far too much time in my first match messing around with the inventory than moving, looting and killing.
Fortnite, on the other hand, nails its inventory system. It’s small, compact, and you can bring up the overlay by pressing and holding the alt key. It makes it incredibly easy to move weapons between hot keys and drop others on the fly. It needs to be noted that Fortnite has the benefit of not being required to loot armor. This small difference alone makes it possible to have such an easy and fluid inventory system.
Game feel is a really important concept in game development. You can have the best balance ever to grace a videogame, but if you don’t have the petty things fleshed out you’re in for a jarring experience. To me, PUBG still feels VERY rough around the edges. The animations feel clunky and the controls just don’t feel right. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about the controls but they just feel like they aren’t behaving how they should. It’s also no secret that there are bugs present that just should not be in a game that’s charging money, early access or not. After playing a few matches and logging off, I came back later to play with a fellow reviewer and simply could not get into the game.
The first time I sat at the loading screen while everyone ran around, then got on the plane, and jumped out. Was loading the entire time. After killing the task and trying again, we couldn’t even join the queue - the play button was greyed out and stayed that way. I, quite literally trying everything, could not play another game of PUBG until I uninstalled and downloaded the entire game again. For something that is $30 on steam, this isn’t a problem I should have. Another thing, in my opinion, that takes away from PUBG’s game feel is the length of matches. It’s great that the zone is so huge, but you can literally run around for 15 minutes without ever seeing anyone else if you’re playing solo. It makes matches seem longer and a little on the boring side when you run around for almost the entire match and never see another player.
Fortnite, on the other hand, feels polished and smooth. I have had no problems with bugs that leave me unable to play and minute details have been paid attention to. The way resources wiggle about as you slowly chip away their health with your pickaxe adds an element of impact to the environment around you. The floating combat text and hit animations look great and really convey the fact that Epic Games is putting time and love into creating a quality game (after all, they are the ones that develop Unreal Engine). Matches are far shorter and I’m of the opinion that it makes them feel better. It usually doesn’t take too long before someone is shooting at me or me at them and with a smaller map the entire match feels more action packed.
Vehicles and Building
If your dream is the ability to get in a car or buggy and gleefully slaughter people GTA style, then don’t even bother with Fortnite. Though I have gripes with the controls of PUBG one thing it definitely got right was the implementation of vehicles. Being able to load up your squad and speed towards the next arena size contributes greatly to the speed and carnage of PUBG matches once they dwindle down to a dozen players. The controls for vehicles are great, aren’t under or over sensitive, and are intuitive in their implementation. It’s a deal breaker for a lot of gamers I’ve talked to and they really hated the fact that you can see cars all over Fortnite but the only thing they’re good for is whacking with your pickaxe.
On the flip side, Fortnite has a very important feature that PUBG does not: the ability to place stairs, walls, floors, ceilings and traps. This feature alone adds a whole new level of strategy to the game play. In addition to hunting down weapons, bandages, and shield potions, a quality player knows to be harvesting wood, brick and metal as they go. The ability to quickly erect a wall to hide behind when someone starts throwing lead your way is what separates the winners from the losers. Traps are present in the game, but are very hard to use properly. It requires you to lure someone into a house or your building for them to be effective. Not many people will follow others into a building because they can just be waiting there with a point-blank shotgun blast to the face. In addition, I can just lob a few grenades and bring down the wall and shoot you in the face. To me, this is the real deal-breaking feature between the two. It allows quick access to strategic high points, either in the game or made by yourself, and really draws a line of who’s a talented player and who isn’t. The last people standing in a match always understand the importance of this rapid deploying cover and when you have 3 people throwing up walls and stairs in an ever-shrinking play arena it gets hectic and fun.
Bottom Line Up Front
I know it may seem like I really don’t like PUBG, but that isn’t the case at all. There’s a reason it constantly unseats League of Legends at the #1 streaming game on Twitch - it’s the first stand alone game solely dedicated to a battle royale that wasn’t a mod or an afterthought. Even Fortnite is a different game altogether with the Battle Royale mode thrown in after many of the games features had already been developed. So here’s quick “too long didn’t read” for those looking to decide quickly which game is right for them. Let me know in the comments what you like or dislike about PUBG and/or Fortnite Battle Royale.
- Shorter Matches
- Base Building
- Better Inventory System
- No Driving
- No Armor
- Longer Matches
- Loot Armor and Weapons
- Vehicles (vroom!)
- No Base Building
- Poor Inventory System