Not familiar with Fortnite or PUBG? Let me explain.
Fortnite and PUBG have a ton in common. They are both multi-player online shooters that allow for solo or team play and subscribe to the battle royale format, which drops 100 players at a time into an enclosed space where they must scavenge for weapons, medical supplies and other resources in an effort to be the last player standing.
Although both games came out in the fall of 2017, Fortnite is actually a free mode of another game that was in development for roughly six years. The "Battle Royale" mode is free to play on desktop, mobile, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.
Meanwhile, PUBG — created by a now-famous developer and modder Brendan Greene, known online as "PlayerUnknown" — began only a year before it's release. PUBG costs $29.99 for desktop and Xbox One, and has a free mobile version.
1. The imagery, mechanics and overall style of the game is much more realistic and raw, compared to the cartoon style seen in Fortnite. This realism invokes a greater sense of urgency as the player runs from gunfire, scavenges for supplies and does all that they can to stay alive.
The most noticeable difference between the two games is the level of realism.
PUBG does not allow characters to build structures out of thin air or tear down structures with a pickaxe, and you won't find any cute astronaut or John Wick-themed character outfits or brightly colored weapons in the abandoned structures scattered across the maps.
PUBG relies on realistic art and controls to raise the stakes for the player, creating an adrenaline rush that makes each round more exhilarating than the last.
When I'm running from another player in the game, or hiding behind cover, my heart will start to beat a little faster and my shoulders tense, as if the threat were real. Just last night, when I was searching a house for loot, another player snuck up behind me and killed my character with a single, loud shot. I was so oblivious to his presence that when my character yelled and my screen went black, I literally screamed and jumped out of my chair.
The rush makes me a better player and makes the game more enjoyable. If you're like me, and enjoy an experience that will get your blood pumping — think horror movies or roller coasters — you'll probably also like PUBG better than Fortnite.
2. The shooting in PUBG is much more accurate and realistic.
The game's realism extends to its combat, and its depictions of firing different types of guns.
Like in real life, gun-specific recoil forces the shooter to adjust their aim after each shot, and reloading speed varies widely between weapons, and isn't instant with the press of a button.
Also, because gun fights in PUBG are much more likely to be long-distance, the characters are a lot harder to hit.
These challenging mechanics can be frustrating for beginners, but the system rewards players who think ahead, strategize and anticipate their opponents' next moves. You don't have to be the fastest or find the best weapons right away to do really well, which makes the game difficult to walk away from.
3. The maps are much larger in PUBG, and are designed to be more treacherous.
At the time of publishing, PUBG has two maps. Both are roughly five square miles of mostly wide open, desolate land that often leaves players without cover from sniper shots coming from hundreds of yards away.
Meanwhile the players have calculated that the Fortnite island — which isn't given a real-world scale — is about 2.5 square kilometers, or 1.5 square miles.
Because the PUBG map is so vast, players spread out farther, so the average PUBG match lasts much longer and the suspense only increases as more players are eliminated. I've played many countless rounds of PUBG where I don't encounter another person for 20-minutes or so, only to be eliminated by a sniper that I never saw or run over by a Jeep while running toward the circle.
4. Vehicles can be a great way to get across the map quickly and avoid enemies.
Both games feature the shrinking "circle" around a playable area, so being able to travel long distances quickly is an absolute must.
Because the PUBG map is so large, players are able to drive cars, motorcycles and even boats to get inside the circle, a luxury not afforded to Fortnite players.
But the vehicles can be helpful even within the playable area, especially for defensive players—like myself—who want to avoid getting into a shootout by making a quick getaway. Alternatively, those who prefer the an offensive strategy can use the bigger vehicles to mow down opponents.
5. PUBG's realistic combat and high stakes make it undeniably more violent than Fortnite.
I totally understand why some people prefer Fortnite in this regard, especially when it comes to kids and players who generally avoid violent games.
I simply prefer a realistic style for this type of game, because it creates the most immersive and exhilarating experience, and makes improving my skills and winning all the more satisfying.
The decision to include violence in the game is just like other media, like horror and action movies. Violence can be used to invoke strong emotions and involuntary reactions from an audience, and both are successfully achieved as a result of the mild violence depicted in PUBG, which I would argue is much more tasteful than many other popular realistic-style, first-person shooters. (I'm looking at you, Call of Duty.)
For the record, though: If I had kids, I would absolutely prefer they play Fortnite over PUBG.
6. Because the game is so serious, even the smallest moments of levity bring the player endless joy.
For example, one of the melee weapons that players can find in the PUBG map is a frying pan, which — unlike most of the game's weapons — can kill an enemy with a single blow to the head.
There are also countless videos of players trying to do tricks while driving motorcycles off of ramp-shaped rocks. The screenshot above was my best attempt.
The occasional levity keeps players smiling even as they run for their lives in the game, which is a pretty incredible feat, if you ask me.
7. Overall, PUBG offers a more immersive, mature and intense experience.
Personally, after investing time to hone my skills in PUBG, playing Fortnite feels akin to riding a bike with the training wheels on.
It's a good ego-booster and still offers a lot of the same fun of any Battle Royale game, but each round is less exciting, each shootout less satisfying, and each loss less motivating than those offered to the player in PUBG.