February 17, 2019
It’s the beginning of 2019, and these big four battle royale games currently rule the world: Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battleground (PUBG), Blackout, and Apex Legends. So how did we get here? And why is each game so popular?
The battle royale genre has a mix of several different elements that appeals to gamers. One, it’s all about survival. Up to 100 players air drop onto a large island, and then each player or team will attempt to outlive their enemies. The last man (or squad) standing wins!
Next, there’s the looting aspect of these games that fans enjoy. When you initially land in a battle royale game, you’re basically defenseless (though you can pull a Mike Tyson and punch people). You have no weapons, items, or armor. Each player must find these objects, which are randomly spread all around the map, to bring home a victory. And battle royale fans enjoy the thrill of this giant scavenger hunt.
Finally, each title offers its own sophisticated maps that players love to explore. In battle royale games, players are on a timer. They can only check out a certain part of the map for a limited amount of time (unless it’s in the safe zone) before the dreaded narrowing circle comes that slowly depletes their health. So understanding your environment is important.
These are the basic traits of the battle royale format. Now let’s get into actually comparing battle royales to see what makes each one of them unique.
Also, if you have been living under a rock and you haven’t played a battle royale game yet, you came to the right place. This blog will give you a better idea of what each game has to offer.
PUBG launched on PC in 2017, and it basically started the whole battle royale craze. Since it’s release, the game has brought in millions of players on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and mobile platforms with PUBG Mobile. According to The Wall Street Journal, Bluehole, Inc. — the creators of PUBG — is worth more than $5 billion (and that statistic is from last year).
So yeah, PUBG has been incredibly successful, and it even won Steam’s 2018 Game of the Year award.
PUBG’s charm comes from its simple, realistic boots- on- the- ground gameplay. In the past couple of years, most games were taking a futuristic direction with movement — games such as Titanfall and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare — with wall running and other complex movement systems.
But it appears these games were getting a bit too complicated for most gamers, and they wanted to go back to simpler times. PUBG delivered this experience (even graphics-wise) — it’s a straightforward battle royale game that can be played in first or third person.
You drop from a plane (either by yourself or with teammates), look for weapons/loot, and then try to survive to get that famous chicken dinner victory screen.
Also, there are multiple large, extremely detailed maps — such as woodland Erangel and the snowy tundra Vikendi — which let gamers truly enjoy the exploring aspect of the game. There are a lot of vehicles, too, so getting around isn’t an issue.
Finally, the weapons are great. Players can find multiple standard military weapons all around the map. The guns, like the M416 assault rifle and the AWM sniper rifle, are extremely realistic — the sound of the gunfire makes you feel like you’re on an actual firing range.
Unfortunately, PUBG still has many bugs and performance issues. The developers of PUBG even started a campaign known as “Fix PUBG” last year; they did this to let gamers know they were working hard to resolve the many problems with the game (it’s kind of sad if you think about it).
But it’s 2019, and the game is still not bug-free. For example, if you play PUBG on console, you will often have to deal with rendering issues. Buildings don’t load when you land, and you find yourself looking at weapons floating in the air that can’t be reached. There are also a bunch of weapon glitches on the PC.
Perhaps I’ll make a “the many performance problems of PUBG” blog in the future.
Right now, Fortnite is easily the most popular title out of the big four battle royale games. Fortnite launched in 2017 as well, but it was originally just a co-op shooter that involved surviving zombies. A couple of months after its release, the Fortnite Battle Royale mode was launched in the summer (to compete with PUBG), and it simply took over the entire gaming world.
Another article from The Wall Street Journal estimates that Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, is worth up to $15 billion. And according to Bloomberg, it has over 200 million players — and once again, that statistic is from last year, so it has probably grown since then.
Also, unlike PUBG, Fortnite is a free-to-play game, so it’s mind-blowing that it generated such an insane amount of money.
Fortnite brings a cartoonish, arcade-y style to the battle royale genre that many gamers, especially younger players, love. The game is played strictly in third-person, and just like Minecraft, it allows players to build structures.
Every player in Fortnite has a pickaxe that can be used to collect resources, and then these resources can be used to build fortification (hence the game’s name) like walls and stairs.
It’s a fun mechanic in a battle royale game because it creates a lot of chaotic combat situations; in the average Fortnite battle, players will be switching quickly between firing their weapon and building a structure.
The customization options in Fortnite are amazing as well. The game is famous for its emotes that let players do creative dances (some look really familiar) and taunts. So if you’re looking to bust a move after taking down a bad guy, Fortnite is the game for you.
Fortnite has only one map, but it constantly receives updates and seasonal changes. It’s moderately sized (uses 10×10 grid), so the games tend to go quicker than your average PUBG match. Also, it has a neat, Disneyland vibe to it — areas known as the Haunted Hills and Pleasant Park confirm what I’m saying here.
Fortnite’s biggest issue is the lack of a first-person mode. This alienates the large first-person shooter fanbase out there (sorry, Call of Duty fans). Plus, you know, it would be a good business decision to add it because they’ll obviously attract more new players to the game.
Also, third-person mode makes it hard to take competitive Fortnite seriously. Players can use cheap tactics, such as hiding behind a tree and utilizing the third-person camera to spot an enemy.
In first-person, the player would actually have to take a risk and peek from behind the tree to see his opponent, which creates a more interactive gameplay experience.
Third-person is basically training wheels mode for shooters.
Blackout is the battle royale mode featured in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which came out in 2018. This was the first Call of Duty game to have a battle royale option, and overall, Treyarch (the developers of Black Ops 4) did a good job. Blackout is a nice alternative to PUBG or Fortnite.
Black Ops 4 was the best-selling game of 2018, and if you ever tune into the Black Ops 4 Twitch channel, you will see almost all the streamers playing Blackout. So the game’s great sales numbers can definitely be partly attributed to its famous multiplayer and zombies modes, but there’s no doubt Blackout has a massive fanbase as well.
Treyarch brilliantly brings over that Call of Duty run-and-gun thrill to this battle royale mode. Blackout is essentially a fast-paced PUBG, but it also has many core components of the Black Ops 4 multiplayer.
The patent Call of Duty perk system is featured in Blackout. Players can find perks around the map as items, which can be picked up and activated. For example, if I find the “Brawler” perk, I can go into my inventory, equip it, and my character will do increased melee damage for up to four minutes.
These perks add more depth to this fun battle royale mode.
The map (made up of previous Black Ops multiplayer/zombies maps), the weapons, and armor system are exceptional as well. Be sure to check out one of my earlier blogs that examines Blackout’s staying power — this piece gives you a good idea of what makes Blackout great.
Blackout features only one map, and the developers have no plans to add another. Treyarch is making a mistake by going this route.
Yes, they’re using the Fortnite formula — use only one map and constantly update it — but that concept doesn’t work as well here. The reason? As I mentioned earlier, the Blackout arena is made up of old multiplayer/zombies maps, which is cool for nostalgia purposes, but it can also get repetitive.
It would be nice to see Blackout get some fresh scenery for fans to enjoy.
It’s funny calling Apex Legends a “big four battle royale game” considering it’s only been out a little over a week, but this game already has a massive fanbase.
Respawn, the developers of Apex Legends, released their secret project on February 5, 2019, and fans still can’t get enough of it. According to Vince Zampella, the CEO of Respawn, the game had 25 million players in just a week (whoa).
There are many reasons this unique free-to-play battle royale game is so popular already.
Apex Legends is an action-packed, first-person battle royale game, that has many distinctive traits that separates it from the other popular battle royale titles.
One, the game lets players use unique characters (known as “Legends”) with special abilities. These character abilities can drastically influence a game, and they’re all really fun to use. Plus, they add a whole new level of strategy to Apex Legends.
Next, there’s actually a respawn mechanic, which you don’t see in battle royale games. If your teammate dies, you can bring their calling card to a “Respawn Beacon,” which will bring that player back to life. Cool, right?
The game’s main map “King’s Canyon,” the weapons/items, and customization options are extraordinary too. Also, the game uses a trios-only format (twenty teams of three), which works perfectly gameplay-wise. You can read all about these features in my Apex Legends Impressions blog.
I mentioned some changes I would like to see in my Apex Legends Impressions blog, but right now, I’m just hoping this game will enjoy great developer support.
Fortnite retains its popularity because it receives weekly patches and updates that spice up the game — hopefully Respawn will do the same for Apex Legends.
I would like to see (and expect) more weapons, Legends, Legend outfits, and maps eventually added to the game. New content should keep Apex Legends relevant for a long time.
Hopefully, this blog comparing battle royales gave you a better idea of what the big four battle royale games offer. And maybe, if you haven’t played one of these games, you’ll actually try it out.
Feel free to comment and let me know what battle royale game you enjoy most!