Towards the end of 2017 it was abundantly clear that 'battle royale' was the game genre of the moment, with Fortnite Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds being the most popular games in that genre.
Now that 2018 is well underway, we're only seeing the popularity and scope of both titles increase, but which game is best for you?
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds was the first of the two games to be released, and it took the PC gaming and streaming worlds by storm. Its growth has been nothing short of astounding, and towards the end of 2017 it was boasting an Xbox One port and 3 million concurrent players.
Of course, any fan of battle royale games knows that you don't get to be alone for long, and PUBG's competition soon came along in the form of Epic Games' Fornite. With similar gameplay it's proven to be tough competition, and in the last month alone it's increased its playerbase by an incredible 10 million.
And so the battle royale of the battle royales continues.
On the surface, Fortnite and PUBG share many similarities but they have significant differences in content and style which make them feel notably different to play.
To help you decide which game is best for you right now, we've compared the different offerings of Fortnite and PUBG below. Which will be the last game standing?
PUBG and Fortnite are both battle royale games with similar mechanics, but when it comes to visuals they’re very distinct. Which one you find is better, however, is largely down to personal preference.
While PUBG goes for a gritty militarism that feels more realistic, Fortnite is much more colorful and cartoonish – kind of in the vein of titles like Overwatch. It’s really down to you which kind of world you prefer to play in.
First things first: PUBG's maps are larger than Fortnite’s.
But bigger doesn't always mean better, and there are positives and negatives to both games' maps.
Being so large, vehicles are required for traversal in PUBG, particularly if you're unlucky enough to land far from the safe zone. Unfortunately, using vehicles tends to draw the attention of other players, so if you're forced into using one, getting across a PUBG map can sometimes feel like a tense dash that'll leave you reaching for some deodorant.
Fornite’s smaller map means you have less space to play but it’s much easier to traverse ,and matches tend to be much shorter.
A big plus in PUBG's favor is that it offers two maps – Erangel and Miramar. And there are two smaller ones coming later in 2018. The map you play in is random, but the variety here does keep things interesting and forces players to stay on their toes.
It’s worth noting, however, that Fortnite has recently received an update which adds five new locations to its map. These new locations range from underground mines to built-up cityscapes, and these force players to take different approaches to combat thanks to their different layouts.
Each game, then, takes a different approach to offering variety. While PUBG prefers to opt for large individual maps, Fortnite has decided to expand and improve its existing map. Fortnite's developers have, however, said (opens in new tab)that more maps will be added to the game, just “not right away”.
It’ll take some time to determine which game is taking the better approach. But at the moment it seems fair to say that that those looking for long-lasting tense matches with plenty of risk-taking on sprawling varied maps should opt for PUBG, while those looking for something a little more contained and faster-paced may prefer Fortnite’s single, densely-packed island.
Both of these games are battle royales, and as a result they feel pretty similar in terms of gameplay and goal: do whatever it takes to survive as the map shrinks around you. Whether you like to play solo, with a friend, or with a group of your friends, both titles will give you this option.
But there are big differences, the first of these being weapons and items. In any battle royale game weapons and items are key, but Fortnite and PUBG take slightly different approaches to them.
Befitting of its gritty realistic visuals and large maps, PUBG has far more items and weapons than Fortnite. That’s not to say Fornite is short on weapons — there are a range to choose from, and Epic Games has stated that it'll be adding more in the future; in fact, only recently it added a minigun to the mix. But its system is less full, complex and deep than PUBG's and fans of serious shooters may find it less satisfying.
Another big difference between the games is that Fortnite includes construction elements – something which is probably much more achievable and workable thanks to the game’s contained map and shorter game times.
When the game map shrinks to the point where things are coming to a close, Fortnite players can use all of the construction items they’ve picked up over the course of the match to build structures which will afford them protection or vantage points. It is worth noting, though, that all cover in Fortnite can be destroyed.
In some ways this encourages players to face up to one another in the end and finish things. It’s hard to hide when you’re building something, especially on a small colorful game map, so finding other players and being found can be much faster. You could, of course, not build anything, but then you run the risk of being at a disadvantage if other players have gained the higher ground.
Because of its construction mechanic, Fortnite matches tend to be more direct in their closing moments, though not always.
In PUBG, when the map has shrunk down, players must use the world around them to move to higher ground or duck for cover. Generally, PUBG matches are much more tense and stressful affairs.
Because you can’t build your own vantage point or protection, you have to move to an advantageous position fast or you'll end up dead. And because you can’t use player-made structures to safely pin-point the locations of other players, the chances of someone hiding in an abandoned house waiting to ambush you are much higher.
This tends to mean PUBG players are far more cautious and matches can last far longer, while feeling far more intense in their final moments.
Both games are well-maintained and updated, but in recent months PUBG has been much slower than Fortnite to add new things to the game. While Fortnite has been rolling out changes and adding features pretty consistently every few weeks, PUBG has been far slower lately.
Though some of this is perhaps down to a small development team, it's not helped by the fact that much of the team's focus in recent months has been on banning cheaters from the game. So far more than one million players have been banned.
Bluehole has apologized (opens in new tab)to PUBG players for this and asked for understanding, promising that a 2018 roadmap detailing exciting new features will be released in March
Which has more players?
When you’re playing online multiplayer games, naturally you’re going to want to see a highly-populated lobby.
At a certain point, though, specific numbers are kind of pointless. As long as the game is popular, you’re going to encounter players to fight and run from. That’s where we’re at with PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite at the moment. No matter which game you go into, you’re going to find an active and large playerbase.
However, it’s perhaps worth noting how trends are swinging at the moment. Fortnite has recently seen an explosive growth. Between December 2017 and January 2018 it’s managed to gain another 10 million players (opens in new tab), taking its playerbase to 40 million. In early February 2018, it emerged that the game has amassed 3.4 million concurrent users. There’s also been an upswing in the number of streamers turning to Fortnite and away from PUBG.
In December 2017, though, PUBG managed to hit 3 million concurrent users (opens in new tab), and in January 2018 it emerged the Xbox One version of the game has more than 4 million users. You’ll understand, then, why we’re saying player numbers and popularity probably shouldn’t be the driving force behind any final decision you make.
Performance seems to be fairly consistent across console and PC for Fornite (probably down, at least in part, to Fortnite’s larger budget and development team), PUBG has been criticized for its performance on Xbox One and the Xbox One X.
It should be noted, though, that patches are being issued to address this so the game’s console performance should improve over time. Whether or not PUBG will ever be ported to PlayStation 4 hasn’t been confirmed but it’s not an impossibility.
PC is a good option for either game, but those who prefer console gaming should almost certainly look to Fortnite first at the moment.
Both titles have now come to mobile. Let's talk about that more below.
Both Fortnite and PUBG have gone mobile and it creates a whole new level of consideration for which game you might want to jump into.
Fortnite's mobile version was announced first and it's currently only available on iOS (a full iOS launch and Android version will come a few months down the line after some testing).
Not long after this PUBG mobile released on both iOS and Android worldwide.
Both games are free with in-app purchases and both offer the full experience of their console and PC counterparts. Naturally there are some small differences in terms of visuals and touchscreen controls but they appear to stack up in terms of features.
There are some small but significant differences as PUBG supports iOS 9 and iPhone 5S and newer whereas Fortnite asks for iOS 11 and iPhone 6S or SE and newer. As well as being supported by 500 Android devices, this does mean that PUBG is open to more Apple users too. PUBG mobile also supports voice chat where Fortnite doesn't.
Though overall the games themselves are largely the same, PUBG definitely has the ease of accessibility advantage at this point in time.
If you’re a complete battle royale novice, then you might be glad to know that Fortnite’s Battle Royale base game is free-to-play on all platforms (opens in new tab), so it’s a good way to dip your toes into the genre.
Epic Games has taken a service approach to its title – the game is free-to-download and updates are frequent, with many of the changes being based on player feedback.
With the base game being free, there are, of course, options to pay. Players can buy season passes which give in-game rewards and offer cosmetic loot rewards to players who complete daily challenges.
The battle pass is really only worth the money if you're willing to plug some time into the game, as the more you play, the more rewards you unlock. However, it doesn't give any kind of advantage over other players as Epic Games has promised that no items that can be purchased will ever offer any competitive advantage.
PUBG takes a loot crate approach, allowing players to purchase crates containing random cosmetic items which vary in their rarity. You can buy these crates using either in-game money earned through play. Some crates require keys to unlock and these keys can only be bought with real money.
Some recent changes to the game have made this system more palatable. Where once the random weekly crate drop had a 40 percent chance of being one of those you have to purchase with real money, Bluehole has reduced that to 20 percent. Now players have more chance of receiving a free-to-open crate, but they'll also be given the chance to buy a new paid Fever crate if they so wish.
PUBG can be purchased on Steam and on Xbox from £24.99/$29.99/AU $39.95.
So, which one should I play?
On the surface Fornite and PUBG are very similar games. They’re both battle royales, they both allow you to play alone or with others, they both feature shrinking maps and the ultimate goal is to be the last player standing.
However, on closer inspection they offer very different experiences and it depends entirely on player preference which one is better. Both have massive playerbases, so you could hardly call either of them bad. They simply have different appeals.
If you’re looking for colorful aesthetics, accessibility and fun on console then Fortnite is the one to choose. For those unfamiliar with the concept of battle royales it’s certainly a good initial option – not only is it free, it’s easier to get to grips with and its shorter matches make it a more casual experience.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds on the other hand is for those looking for something a little more serious. Its grittier visuals, longer match times, larger maps and more complex weapon and item system mean it’ll take more of your time to learn and play. For serious shooter fans who prefer realism and accuracy, PUBG takes the chicken dinner.
Whichever one you choose, just prepare yourself for a lot of stress and know that any victories will be hard-earned.