Battle royale games have been falling from the sky in huge numbers lately. Falling from the sky, get it? Oh, never mind. Regardless, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), Fortnite Battle Royale, and H1Z1 are three of the best battle royale games. So, which one should you play?
The combination of a frantic search for gear, tactical gunplay, and a rapidly shrinking play area make for tense, action-packed games. And because you can play a match in 30 minutes or less, you can sneak a few games in whenever you want.
There are loads of battle royale games available on Steam, some of which are completely free. A few have even made their way to consoles. In this article, we take a look at three of the most high-profile battle royale games, with our aim being to help you choose between them.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
If you know anything about battle royale games, you know that PUBG is the grandfather of the genre. Well, sort of; it started as an Arma 3 mod before its current incarnation. But it’s the prototypical standard that other games are judged against.
In PUBG, 100 players drop from a plane, and then run around a large island to gather weapons, armor, clothes, and first aid kits. The last man (or woman) standing wins.
There’s a huge variety of familiar modern weapons, like the M16 assault rifle, UMP 9 submachine gun, and 12-gauge shotgun. You can check out the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds wiki for a full list.
After a few minutes, a storm creates an ever-closing circle that limits players to a smaller area of the island to encourage interaction. As it closes, you’ll be put in close proximity with well-equipped opponents.
If there’s anything that I found to be a defining characteristic of PUBG, it was the tension. The realistic setting goes a long way toward putting you in the kill-or-be-killed mindset. The fact that tactical, stealthy gameplay often wins the day reinforces this feeling.
You can certainly run into battle with guns blazing, and sometimes that’s the best way to go. But in general, you’ll sneak around, collecting gear, and listening for gunshots over the horizon.
A sense of paranoia pervades each match. At any time, you could fall to a sniper bullet, never having seen an enemy. You can easily make it into the final 20 or even 10 players without seeing anyone else… and then die, still not having seen anyone. It’s frustrating at times. But it’s what makes the battle royale genre so enticing.
In short, PUBG is tense, tactical, and unforgiving.
It’s also the best battle royale game on Xbox. Plus, as a bonus, PUBG Mobile is now available on Android, as well.
While you might think Fortnite is a PUBG clone, there are some significant differences. The first thing you’ll notice is the animation style: Fortnite forgoes the realistic military theme and sticks with a lighter feel, more akin to Team Fortress 2 or Loadout.
But don’t be fooled by the animation style; this isn’t a light game. It’s as tactically demanding as PUBG, just in a different way.
The biggest difference between Fortnite and PUBG is building. In Fortnite players can build walls, ramps, floors, and entire structures with just a few clicks. It’s a crucial tactic for avoiding fire; if you start taking hits, you can just throw up a wall between you and your attacker.
It’s not exactly intuitive, but the best players are experts at very fast building. And they’ll build defensible fortresses near the center of the map to keep them alive at the end of the game. Gunning someone down in one of these buildings is extremely difficult.
Despite this, Fortnite does feel more accessible to new players.
The main reason for this is the weapons. PUBG has tons of weapons, each with different characteristics and the possibility of lots of accessories. That makes it difficult to tell which will serve you best in any given situation. Fortnite, on the other hand, has a simple rarity system that tells you when you get a better gun.
The map is also a bit “friendlier” than the PUBG map. While it’s more tightly packed and provides more vertical room for good sniping positions, it also lets players get better weapons more quickly. Especially if you remember where the glowing chests spawn.
To sum it up, Fortnite is focused on fun, but still provides a great deal of challenge.
If PUBG is the grandfather of the genre, and Fortnite is the plucky younger brother, H1Z1 is the crazy punk-rock cousin. Or at least it tries to be. There are some hits and some misses in its quest to be one of those unique shooters we should all play.
The entire attitude of the game is different. While the tactical battles are similar to those in PUBG and Fortnite, the game has a more arcade-like feel. The shootouts are longer, as a single lucky shot won’t kill an opponent (at least not as reliably as in other battle royale games). You’ll have extended gun fights, jump in cars and speed around the map, jump out of said cars without getting hurt, and in general play faster and looser. Aiming and gun mechanics are simpler than PUBG.
One difference you’ll notice immediately is that the map is significantly more open than PUBG and Fortnite. If you don’t get a car, you’re going to spend a long time running through open fields and around trees. You can also play a vehicles-only mode called Auto Royale.
Like Fortnite, the weapons are simpler in nature than those in PUBG. You have a limited selection of guns and gear (though you’ll get real-world choices, like an AK-47 and a .44 Magnum).
In the time I spent playing H1Z1, I found it more accessible than PUBG but less so than Fortnite. If you don’t know that you need to grab a vehicle and speed to the center of the map, you’ll be hurting. And if you’ve played other battle royale games, getting used to the combat takes a while.
I think saying that H1Z1 is fast, vehicle-focused, and not yet in its prime is fair.
Download: H1Z1 on Steam (Free)
Which Battle Royale Game Is Right for You?
Okay, so you now have a pretty good idea of how the games differ. Let’s compare them each individually to find the best option for you.
PUBG vs. Fortnite
Of the three games we’re discussing here, PUBG and Fortnite are the most similar. Careful tactics are rewarded.
The overall feeling of the games, however, are very different. And it’s not just the light-hearted animation style of Fortnite. There are a lot more weapons in PUBG, and they’re more complicated. In Fortnite, there’s a simple rarity scale to let you know when you’ve nabbed a great assault rifle or pistol.
Fortnite’s map is also friendlier; it’s easier to get better weapons faster. Especially if you remember where the glowing chests spawn.
In short, Fortnite is more accessible. At least in the beginning. Getting the hang of building, the most significant difference between the two, is crucial for success. And it’s tough. It’s a very strange concept to get used to, but it makes for unique gameplay.
PUBG vs. H1Z1
Realism is a big factor in looking at these two games together. H1Z1, as I mentioned, is a bit more arcade-y. You’ll let off a lot more rounds to score a kill.
The focus on vehicles is another point of difference. In PUBG, you can definitely get away with never hopping in a car. But if you want to position yourself well in H1Z1, you’ll need to do some driving to get across the larger map. You can also use those vehicles to mount quick assaults on other players by jumping out at the last moment.
If you’re considering one of these two games, I’d recommend PUBG. H1Z1 just isn’t quite there yet. It’ll be getting more weapons soon, and that will help. But the game isn’t as smooth and doesn’t play as well.
On the other hand, H1Z1 is now free to play. So it’s a great way to try out the battle royale genre if you’re not into the cartoony animation of Fortnite.
Fortnite vs. H1Z1
These are possibly the two most different games in the list. They differ in animation style, map friendliness, time to kill, and the importance of vehicles.
The strongest similarity is probably the simplicity of weapons in the game.
In this comparison, Fortnite wins hands down. There’s a larger player base, the game runs more smoothly, and it’s better in almost every way. H1Z1 might still be worth playing. But if you try them both, I’d be willing to bet you’ll spend more time with Fortnite in the long run.
The Best Battle Royale Game Is… Fortnite
Based on all of the battle royaling that I’ve done, I have to give the award to Fortnite. PUBG does a lot of things right; the tension is great, and customizable weapons are a lot of fun.
But Fortnite provides accessible gameplay and just as much tactical shooting. With a price tag of $0. You can’t beat that. H1Z1 tries, and could succeed someday. Just not today.
Of course, all of this is a matter of opinion. The best battle royale game for you depends on what you’re looking for. If you can’t stand the animation style of Fortnite, PUBG is a fantastic option. You might also enjoy Apex Legends, a new battle royale game released in 2019.
There is no shortage of great battle royale games available to play. And while Fortnite is king for now, with more battle royale games being released every month, it’s time on the throne may not last very long.
And if these new-fangled battle royale games are just too complicated for you, you could always try playing classic 90s shooters on your PC instead.