Fortnite Battle Royale Review: 8/10 [Esports Edition]
(Featured image via Epic Games.)

Fortnite Battle Royale Review: PUBG Lite?

Oct 19, 2017
(Featured image via Epic Games.)

If you haven’t been been living under a rock, you’ve heard of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). The game has broken all the records, becoming the most played title on Steam–a good sign that it’s one of the most popular games in the world. PUBG is also the only game to have regularly dethroned League of Legends from first place on Twitch in over five years.

And with great success comes imitators. For example, after League of Legends got so serious, there were hundreds of shoddy knockoffs. PUBG is no exception. It is, in fact, a ‘knockoff’ of other games itself, so it’s only fitting for it to spawn many clones. Of these PUBG wannabes, the best, by far, is Fortnite Battle Royale.

Fortnite vs. Fortnite Battle Royale

Fortnite was released as a paid early access title during July of 2017, and didn’t quite pick up the traction it was hoping for. The launch was lacking a lot of content, and most of those who enjoyed the game quickly went back to other, more developed titles after checking it out. At this point, Fortnite was a zombie survival game, where you also built the forts you were intending to survive in. Think Minecraft meets 7 Days to Die. The game features bright, cartoonish color scheme and a vibrant cast of characters. It’s a much more upbeat game than most of the titles it shares a genre with.

Anyways, Fortnite had crafting, guns, towers, and survival. What more could you want? Battle Royale, apparently.

Fortnite Battle Royale was released in September of 2017, and unlike the rest of the game, it is entirely free to play. You download the entire game, but at the main menu you choose which game mode you want. The “original” Fortnite remains behind a paywall–only the Battle Royale mode is free. Once you’ve loaded up Fortnite Battle Royale, you’ll feel right at home if you’ve played PUBG.

You join a lobby where you can run around, jump, and smack your friends in the face while you wait for the other players to load in. Once the game has 100 players, you’re all crammed into a flying machine that travels in a random direction over an island. You choose a spot that you want to go to, launch yourself out of the flying contraption, and glide downwards. After you land, you hunt around for weapons, find them, and kill other players. The last player standing wins.

Sound familiar?

Fortnite Battle Royale Review - Battle Bus

Differences Between Fortnite Battle Royale and PUBG

There’s no denying that Fortnite Battle Royale draws most of its inspiration from PUBG. Neither can claim to be the original, but both are popular at the same time, so comparisons are inevitable. Should you play Fortnite over PUBG, or vice versa?

There are two massive differences between Fortnite and PUBG. Fortnite goes for a more aesthetically “fun” style, with its cartoonish graphics. PUBG goes for realism, and the in-game experience is designed to look photo-realistic. This alone might be enough for many players to decide which one they’d prefer to play. The other massive difference between the two titles is the crafting system, or, in PUBG’s case, the lack thereof. Fortnite opts to use the same style of crafting that is in its base game, letting players harvest materials from their surroundings to build structures. You collect wood, stone, and metal by destroying objects with the pickaxe that’s given to you at the start of every game. Once you’ve collected the materials, you can build walls, stairs, and floors pretty much anywhere you’d like by bringing up the crafting menu. This adds an intriguing new dimension to the tried-and-true gameplay of Battle Royale–in Fortnite, your first reaction to being shot is no longer running for the hills, but slapping together a makeshift structure as fast as you can.

Unfortunately, most of the other differences between the games put PUBG out in front, but that’s likely due to their respective ages. PUBG is over six months old, while Fortnite Battle Royale is only about a month old at this point. Fortnite currently lacks a two player mode. You can play solo or squads, but if you want to play with a single friend or queue as a group of three, you’ll be matched against full four mans.

The aiming and gunplay in PUBG is more refined, and all the guns in Fortnite seems to have built-in RNG bullet spread to varying degrees, similar to how shotguns work in many games. This means that more “hardcore” players will likely favor PUBG over Fortnite. The healing systems are fairly similar, but getting back to full health takes longer in Fortnite than it does in PUBG, which gives players who hide–or quickly build their own forts to escape death–an inherent advantage.

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Fortnite Battle Royale Gameplay

The gameplay of Fortnite, despite the similarities to PUBG, feels surprisingly unique. Some of this definitely stems from the fact that Fortnite is third-person only at the moment, and many PUBG players (myself included) are used to first-person by now. Even still, Fortnite’s gameplay matches its unapologetically cartoon-ish art style. Flailing arms while running, ridiculously high jumps that still don’t feel like you’re going anywhere, and wildly swinging pickaxes. Is it bad? No, but it does feel very odd at first if you’re migrating from PUBG.

Fortnite’s movement, combat, and environmental destruction are all fairly fluid. Nearly everything in the game is destructible, allowing you to create interesting scenarios for yourself, rather than rely on static settings. You can shoot or pickaxe your way out of the roof of a building rather than be cornered inside, and you can destroy the tree that dude just won’t stop camping behind. It’s faster and more dynamic than what you’ll experience in PUBG’s third person mode.

The addition of treasure chests where you can find guns and ammo is interesting, and doesn’t feel out of place. In PUBG, the armor has tiers, but in Fortnite, it’s the weapons that have different tier levels. However, a normal weapon will be nearly as effective as an epic one in the hands of a good player.

Fortnite Battle Royale Review - Treasure Chest

The weapons in Fortnite Battle Royale are, it should be said, a serious disappointment. It’s a huge pain to try and hit people from any meaningful range with the assault rifles. Even while you’re aiming down a scope, expect your bullets to land off-target most of the time. However, the wonky bullet mechanics don’t feel nearly as out of place in Fortnite as they perhaps should – the stream of bullets flying around during combat somehow adds to the cartoonish, chaotic atmosphere.

Easily the most frustrating thing about Fortnite, for me, is the cumbersome ammo/inventory system. When someone dies, all of their loot explodes into a pile on the ground around them. Grabbing what you want a tiresome exercise in approaching the loot pile from the correct angle, and it’s made all the more difficult by the fact that the hotkey to pick up ammo is the same as the hotkey to switch weapons. It’s easy to accidentally swap out your assault rifle for a pistol, and this poor implementation of an inventory system takes me out of the game every time I have to deal with it.

Lack of Progression in Fortnite

There’s one simple thing that Fortnite doesn’t have: progression. There’s no reward for winning a game in Fortnite. There aren’t any leaderboards, points, or high score systems to reward you for doing well. And honestly, without any sort of progression, there’s just no incentive to grind out Fortnite Battle Royale games the way you do in PUBG. I played my first few games, did fairly well, really enjoyed it, and then logged off for the night without a second thought. It just didn’t feel like there was a reason to keep going. People love stats and progression. Adding in a simple point reward system – even if it doesn’t do anything right now – would make the game feel infinitely better.

Final Words

Fortnite is a good game. It doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously as PUBG, and that’s something a lot of people will enjoy. The crafting and building system is unique, and using it to steer the flow of combat requires you to think on the fly. It’s clear that Fortnite is still at an early point in its development cycle, and PUBG is a more polished and refined game. The absent progression system and lack of a two player mode are noticeable, but if the playerbase continues to grow, it’s reasonable to expect Epic Games to introduce these features down the line.

Playing Fortnite feels great. If it weren’t for PUBG’s existence, Fortnite would likely be one of the most popular games on the market. Then again, if it weren’t for PUBG, it also likely never would have existed in the first place. If you enjoy PUBG, or like lighthearted competitive gameplay, be sure to give Fortnite a try. It isn’t for everyone, but it’s an enjoyable gaming experience, and hey, it’s free to play. You can download Fortnite from Epic Games here.

Score: 8/10

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Stephen Draper
Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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