Fortnite took everything from PUBG and made it infinitely better, argues Rossko.
Just before Christmas I picked up an Xbox One S in the Black Friday sale. I had been waiting a long time to get an Xbox One, knowing that it would probably be a paperweight next to my primary consoles, the PS4 and the Switch. I’ve always been quietly curious about getting an X1, but it has never proved itself to be an essential purchase for me. Still, I saw a cracking deal and picked one up. With it, I grabbed Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds.
You know PUBG, right? It’s proved rather popular over the course of the year. The Xbox release was the first time it had dropped anywhere but PC and anticipation was high to see what the hell the fuss was all about in regards to its popularity. Xbox owners were foaming at the mouth, ready to rub it in the faces of the ‘Ponies’ who weren’t getting access to their console exclusive. This was Microsoft’s big Christmas game and by all accounts, it sold in big numbers, as was expected.
Me? Well, the console version is total garbage and I fucked it off almost instantly.
It’s beyond me how the Xbox version of PUBG is acceptable. Hiding precariously behind its ‘Game Preview’ moniker, it’s almost a free pass to allow the game to wollow in utterly miserable mediocrity. I have seriously never played a game so utterly devoid of polish that I’ve paid real life actual money for, the kind of money with the Queen’s head on it? You’re probably familiar. The game plays basically well enough, but I will never subscribe to the ‘lag is a feature’ that the PUBG hardcore is so famous for touting.
Give me a break. It’s a mess and Xbox owners, yet again, have been duped.
So then, I wanted to get in on this ‘Battle Royale’ genre that seemed so popular but not through the demonstrable garbage fire that was the Xbox PUBG ‘experience’ – and no, I’m not buying a One X to play a version of the game with the same lag but some more straight lines -, fortunately, Epic Games had something up their sleeve.
Fortnite Battle Royale is at the time of writing one of my favourite games. Yes, it plays like a more colourful version of PUBG – Battlegrounds is here more or less underneath Fortnite’s striking visual style, with the ever-shrinking circles, loot appearing from the sky, parachuting down to the play area, it all feels very similar and familiar, and yet Epic Games have added just enough to ensure that the experience here is unique enough to set it apart from the competition and keeps me coming back to their Battle Royale modes.
The map is a major beneficiary to ‘which game is better’ argument. It’s much smaller in scale to PUBG’s famous Erangel map, and as such, it’s far easier to run into a number of the 100 players that fill these tight quarters, allowing for almost instant conflict. Of course, this is dependent on where you land at the beginning, but with the map not being quite as spread out, you can easily find yourself surrounded if you’re not lucky enough to land somewhere a little more deserted. I’ve had experiences where I’ve landed, thinking I was alone so I gave myself a bit of time to run into a house to find myself a weapon and heard the footsteps of a squad that’s landed on the roof.
Before I know it, they’re tearing down the roof hoping to get in to grab the chest they can hear the dulcet tones of and I’m running back down the stairs to try and avoid being immediately taken out by a squad that have landed together above me. It’s tense, stressful and exciting. More so than PUBG, in my opinion. In my few experiences with the game I’ve never landed somewhere where I died in the first 10-15 minutes of a match. In Fortnite you’re squeezed in, and it makes every movement far more important, everything has to be timed.
And this is the fundamental aspect of Fortnite Battle Royale that keeps me coming back. I may not have given PUBG enough of a shake, and I still find it difficult to understand how you can be a ‘pro’ at a game that gives everyone playing equal opportunity (but I could just be a bit old in that regard), but it’s difficult to argue that Fortnite is simply the more fun experience. Examples? Here, this is the final showdown that myself and Sean had earlier this week. We teamed up and wanted to see how far we would get with minimal weapons and simply being a little more tactical. What happened might just change your life;
Yeah, we got so overwhelmingly close and my lack of focus to pick up some extra weaponry/health cost us both in the end. Keeping your wits about you is so important in Fortnite, and whilst it’s important to stay focused throughout PUBG too, stocking up as much as you can, the importance of using the correct weapons and ditching as many greys as you can is far more important in Fortnite than it is there. If you can grab yourself gold or even green weapons, they will immediately more damage than any greys will and this is hugely important when you’re approaching the end-game. As you saw in the clip above, I simply just had to work with what I had and at that point, my health was also at a low as I kept getting caught within the storm, I was lucky to make it to the final circle with any health, really. Everything was working against me and unless I did some next-level stealthing I wasn’t ever going to win the game for us and that’s what’s so vital. Weapon choices are night and day in Fortnite. You find yourself being more aggressive in Fortnite than you would be in PUBG, taking chances that are riskier when you know you have the power of the weapon on your side. The amazing Tactical Shotgun has got me out of plenty of jams and will remain my go-to choice if I haven’t got a sniper/grenandes handy. This can backfire, obviously, you can be stocked up to the nines and have all the bandages and med kits and shield potions your heart desires and still get picked off in a moment you weren’t expecting. That’s the nature of the beast, but when you have the correct weapons on your side, at least you can retaliate and go down in a blaze of glory.
The nature of Fortnite is just that much quicker than PUBG, and that’s the bonus of not having to scavenge for silencers, red dot sights, scopes and the like that plague the traversal of PUBG games. You can find weapons with silencers in Fortnite already attached, red dot sights are already on the weapons, ammo is found behind nearly every door. It’s a simplified way of tearing down buildings to find the ultimate loot, rather than wasting times jumping from screen to screen trying to attach things. Seeing a subtle glow that surrounds a weapon or ammo is like a moth to a flame, you want to get closer just to see what it is. There are moments where it’s ammo for weapons you don’t currently possess, or greys that you’re going to try to ditch as the game progresses, but you have to check anyway. That’s the nature of loot, after all.
And of course, Fortnite Battle Royale’s major difference is that you can build forts to keep yourself temporarily protected. I’ve seen people build some rather astonishing forts, only for them to be left abandoned because you have to move out of the storm. It can be a question of ‘yes I can build something now but I’m gonna have to ditch it anyway’, so if you’re moving to a new area it’s got to be a quick decision. This can be resolved by finding yourself within a barn or a house, and simply building around it. I’ve seen people build around loot drops so nobody else can get them. A tactic I used which I’ve now ditched was building as I was getting shot and moving, essentially using builds as a shield as you move directly into safety as quick as you can. Using wood is obviously the quickest way but steel and bricks are going to protect you just that little bit more. It’s a judgement call in the moment but building can benefit you, so long as you have the time and resources.
And this is the kind of small adjustments to formula that enables Fortnite to take the crown, in my opinion. Games can last from either 20 minutes to nearly an hour – the game Sean and I played about was pushing 50 minutes upon completion – and throughout that, there’s never a moment where you’re not fearing there’s someone around the corner waiting to take you out of the game. The game runs so smoothly and efficiently it’s almost become a nice ‘pick up and play for a few minutes and see how long you last’ experience, something which is nice to play this time of year whilst there isn’t all that many big releases on the horizon.
The whole thing is a bloodbath because the games are quicker and snappier than PUBG matches. The further you get, it does get more frustrating when you’re taken out but the tension is always increasing, you can go weapons free and shoot up someone’s fortified mansion they’ve just spent the last two minutes building only to find they’ve escaped and managed to navigate their way around you to take you out. And if they do, no worries! Just wait for another game. I’ve never rage quit Fortnite Battle Royale because I just find it too much fun. It’s a game my teenage self would have adored if it had been possible. A GoldenEye Battle Royale? Sign me up.
What I find most interesting in this particular battle is that Paul has never played PUBG and yet showed an interest in Fortnite Battle Royale (it being free probably helped), and so jumped in. He’s now fallen in love with it and throws into our group chat proud messages of how far he’s been getting on his own and when we’re going to be free to join him. I honestly think if he went to PUBG now after getting deep into Fortnite he’d find it boring. I really do.
So here’s the rub. In terms of console choices, right now there’s no Battle Royale experience better than Fortnite. It’s a 100-player PVP where you go solo, team up with a buddy (or three) and just simply see how long you can last on a map that’s built beautifully, has no visual impairments that I have noticed, is full of places to explore and weapons to take down fools. It’s PUBG with polish, it’s PUBG with substance and style.
It’s, most importantly, just more fun. Long live Fortnite Battle Royale.