Fortnite – Battle Royale is the hottest video game in the world right now, and it’s easy to understand why.
More than that, Fortnite has become the entry point to video games for many young players — and even self-identified non-gamers — making it feel akin to nostalgic, widely recognizable games like Pac-Man or Super Mario Bros.
But while Fortnite may seem to be in a league of its own, it’s one of many games in the emerging “battle royale” genre, which pits online players against one another in a kill-or-be-killed competition, similar to the “Hunger Games.”
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the most watched battle-royale game on Twitch before Fortnite exploded in popularity, and it’s widely considered the grungier, more mature alternative.
An unspoken rivalry between the two games has effectively split the battle-royale audience and inspired many heated debates along the way.
So for those who think they might be ready to outgrow Fortnite, here are the reasons that I prefer PUBG:
Not familiar with Fortnite or PUBG? Let me explain.
Fortnite and PUBG have a ton in common. They are both multiplayer online shooters that allow for solo or team play and subscribe to the battle-royale format, which drops 100 players at a time into an enclosed space where they must scavenge for weapons, medical supplies, and other resources to be the last one standing.
Though both games came out last fall, Fortnite is a free mode of another game that was in development for roughly six years. The battle-royale mode is free on desktop, mobile, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Meanwhile, PUBG — created by a now well-known developer and modder named Brendan Greene, known online as PlayerUnknown — began only a year before its release. PUBG costs $30 for desktop and Xbox One but has a free mobile version.
The similarities and advantages of the games have been hotly debated since their releases. I happen to be on #TeamPUBG. Here’s why.
The imagery, mechanics, and overall style of the game are much more realistic and raw compared with the cartoon style seen in Fortnite. This realism invokes a greater sense of urgency as the player runs from gunfire, scavenges for supplies, and does all they can to stay alive.
The most noticeable difference between the two games is the level of realism.
PUBG does not allow characters to build structures out of thin air or tear them down with a pickax, and you won’t find any cute astronaut-style or “John Wick”-themed character outfits or brightly colored weapons in the abandoned structures scattered across the maps.
PUBG relies on realistic art and controls to raise the stakes for the player, creating an adrenaline rush that makes each round more exhilarating than the last.
When I’m running from another player or hiding behind cover, my heart will start to beat a little faster and my shoulders will tense up — as if the threat were real.
Just last night, when I was searching a house for loot, another player snuck up behind me and killed my character with a single loud shot. I was so oblivious to their presence that when my character yelled and my screen went black, I screamed and jumped out of my chair.
The rush makes me a better player and makes the game more enjoyable. If you’re like me and enjoy an experience that will get your blood pumping — think horror movies or roller coasters — you’ll probably also like PUBG better than Fortnite.
The shooting in PUBG is much more accurate and realistic.
The game’s realism extends to its combat and depictions of firing different types of guns.
Like in real life, gun-specific recoil forces the shooter to adjust their aim after each shot, and reloading speed varies widely among weapons; it doesn’t happen instantly with the press of a button.
And because gunfights in PUBG are much more likely to be over longer distances, the characters are a lot harder to hit.
These challenging mechanics can be frustrating for beginners, but the system rewards players who think ahead, strategize, and anticipate their opponents’ next moves. You don’t have to be the fastest or find the best weapons right away to do well, making it difficult to walk away from the game.
The maps are much larger in PUBG — and designed to be more treacherous.
Right now, PUBG has two maps. Both are roughly 5 square miles of mostly wide-open, desolate land that often leaves players without cover from sniper shots from hundreds of yards away.
Meanwhile, players have calculated that the Fortnite island, which isn’t on a real-world scale, is about 2.5 square kilometers, or 1.5 square miles.
Because the PUBG map is so vast, players spread out more, so the average PUBG match lasts much longer, and the suspense only increases as more players get eliminated.
I’ve played numerous rounds of PUBG where I don’t encounter another person for 20 minutes or so — only to be eliminated by a sniper I never saw or run over by a Jeep while running toward the circle.
Vehicles can be a great way to get across the map quickly and avoid enemies.
Both games feature a shrinking “circle” around a playable area, so being able to travel long distances quickly is an absolute must.
Because the PUBG map is so large, players can drive cars, motorcycles, and even boats to get inside the circle — a luxury not afforded to Fortnite players.
But the vehicles can be helpful even within the playable area, especially for defensive players like myself who want to avoid shootouts by making a quick getaway.
Alternatively, those who prefer an offensive strategy can use the bigger vehicles to mow down opponents.
PUBG’s realistic combat and high stakes make it undeniably more violent than Fortnite.
I understand why some prefer Fortnite in this regard, especially when it comes to kids and people who generally avoid violent games.
I prefer a realistic style for this type of game because it creates the most immersive and exhilarating experience and makes improving my skills and winning all the more satisfying.
Violence, like the kind in horror or action movies, can invoke strong emotions and involuntary reactions from an audience, and the mild violence depicted in PUBG can achieve both — I’d even argue its much more tasteful than many other well-known realistic first-person shooters (I’m looking at you, Call of Duty).
But for the record – If I had kids, I would absolutely prefer they play Fortnite over PUBG.
Because the game is so serious, even the smallest moment of levity can bring the player joy.
For example, one of the melee weapons that players can find in the PUBG map is a frying pan, which, unlike most of the game’s weapons, can kill an enemy with a single blow to the head.
Naturally, this tactic has inspired many hilarious YouTube videos.
There are also several videos of players trying to do tricks while driving motorcycles off ramp-shaped rocks; the screenshot above was my best attempt.
The occasional levity keeps players smiling even as they run for their lives in the game — a pretty incredible feat if you ask me.
Overall, PUBG offers a more immersive, mature, and intense experience.
After investing time to hone my skills in PUBG, I think that playing Fortnite feels akin to riding a bike with training wheels.
It’s a good ego-booster and still offers a lot of the same fun of any battle-royale game, but each round is less exciting, each shootout less satisfying, and each lossless motivating than those offered to the player in PUBG.