I am one of those people that’s looking incredibly forward to PlayerUnknown’s Battleground (PUBG) coming to the Xbox One. As an avid fan of both COD and Battlefield and as a gamer who owes a large part of the origins of my gaming career to those games, competitive shooters get my heart pumping like no other game can. Maybe with the exception of Destiny and Overwatch. Just couldn’t ever get into those.
So the new thing garnering headlines across the world of gaming news right now is the release of Epic Games’ “Fortnite: Battle Royale,” a stand-alone, free-to-play expansion to their already moderately popular Fortnite game, and it released on the Xbox September 26th. I have never actually played PUBG but have spent a respectable amount of time watching it on streaming platforms and have actually went hands-on a bit with Epic Games’ variation of it. And I must say this, that’s all it is: a variation.
The people behind PUBG are up in arms over the release of the Fortnite version of the Battle Royale experience claiming that it is practically a carbon copy. And this is, in a way, accurate. But shouldn’t it be? How many ways can you make the Battle Royale formula unique and different? Epic Games implemented probably one of the only ways; being able to build your own cover. Think PUBG meets Minecraft.
Got an enemy taking pop shots at you with a high-powered sniper rifle from the window of a house across an open field with nothing but hope and the element of air between you and them? And all you have is a measly pistol? Build yourself a couple walls to hide behind so as to advance safely within killing distance. Okay, that particular example may have been a little facetious as you likely wouldn’t survive such an encounter even WITH novel cover-building mechanics but I digress.
This mechanic nonetheless changes the game a fair bit, enough so that I would think PUBG needs to cool their jets a little bit.
Fortnite is also considerably more cartoonish than PUBG in both style and it’s animations so players craving a more military/survivalist vibe will go with PUBG anyway. But there’s also something else I think the developers behind PlayerUnknown’s are too heated to grasp...
I firmly believe that when PUBG finally does land on the Xbox One, Fornite’s Battle Royale will mean to it what Battleborn meant to Overwatch. In a word: nothing.
Sure, a decided handful of people still play Battleborn, a few hardened fans, but even they likely don’t play religiously and by that I mean half as much as even a casual Overwatch player logs on. I’ve only ever been able to get into three online co-op games of Battleborn and even then they weren’t full lobbies. Battleborn was completely decimated by Overwatch. Perhaps this is because they were released WAY too close to one another (what was 2K thinking?! No one can go up against Blizzard! That’d be like the Path of Exile developers releasing their game the same week as a new Diablo. It’s just not good business) but even though Epic Games beat PUBG to the punch with their release in September, I don’t think that’s going to matter much.
Even if Battlegrounds doesn’t release until, say, March of next year, and Fortnite amasses a decent stringent following in that time, I still believe it will all but be left in the dust when Battlegrounds does see a release. Because those fans are going to want to see what the all the fuss about PUBG is about especially when they can no longer find a full server to play Fortnite’s variant.
I don’t mean this article to sound as if I’m crapping all over Fortnite. Because I’m not. I’ve only dabbled in the Battle Royale mode and I was fairly impressed. It didn’t feel so much as a theft of PUBG but more like an ode, with some interesting mechanics thrown in. Mechanics that, realistically, PUBG is probably really only mad because they didn’t think of it first.
I am a U.S. Army combat veteran hailing from Texas. I have been an avid Xbox gamer since 2009. While I've been writing all my life, I only began seriously gaming during a combat tour in Iraq and it has always been a dream of mine to combine the two hobbies. I prefer story-driven action RPGs and skill-based shooters and cut my teeth on games such as COD: Ghosts and Skyrim. I seem to find time here and there for my other hobby, playing guitar and live with my wife and children in Lubbock, TX.