Fortnite Battle Royale plays second fiddle to Plunkbat

All aboard the Battlebus

You know the drill. 100 players get dropped from a plane balloon-bus onto an island, where they scavenge for weapons with which to kill each other. A circular wall of death contracts at various intervals to force everyone together, until there’s only one person left standing.

Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode was released on Tuesday for free via the Epic Games launcher, and I’ve taken a break from Plunkbat to find out how it compares. It’s not quite a chicken dinner, but it’ll do for a starter.

Fortnite Battle Royale’s announcement was met with a grumpy press release by Bluehole, the makers of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. It’s undeniable that certain elements of FBR have been directly inspired by Plunkbat. There’s the way the next safety circle will be in a random location within the last one, and the line drawn on the map that shows you the most direct route to it. There’s the compass at the top of the screen and supply drops that occasionally fall down from the sky (though I haven’t actually spotted one of those yet). While the similarities have lead some people to dismiss Fortnite Battle Royale as a copy ‘bat, in my view none of those features feel like they should belong to Plunkbat alone rather than the battle royale genre as a whole. It’s like the way medpacks or power ups are dotted around every arena shooter: mechanics like that are the best way of making that type of game fun and we’re all better off if they’re not the property of one developer.

More importantly, there are as many similarities as differences with Plunkbat. For starters, there’s the whole construction system that is Fortnite’s raison d’etre. In the game’s primary mode you use this to build forts to protect you from AI hordes, but most of the time in Battle Royale mode the only useful blueprints are barricades or stairs. These can be built using materials that can either be gathered from breaking down walls or crates, or finding them in prepackaged bundles. Nearly everything is destructible: wooden walls will go down in a couple of hammer swings, while brick and metal takes longer, leaving you more vulnerable as the crashing sound lets everyone in the area know exactly where you are. I do like the way the game sometimes plays with this, placing loot just behind a destructible barrier.

Being able to throw up some extra cover when I’m already being fired at has gotten me out of a pinch or two, but even then I tend to avoid using them as much as I can because I don’t like giving my position away.

What a pleasant park

It’s the destructibility side of things that I’ve actually found more game changing. One time I was hiding in a shed, doing my usual thing of camping the door with a shotgun. Then I started hearing grenades thunk against the walls, and the next thing I knew I was in a cloud of smoke and debris, caught between two people who were busy murdering each other.

Otherwise there’s a lot that’s simpler in FBR than in Plunkbat. The map’s much smaller and contains no vehicles, for example. There are no weapon attachments whatsoever and as far as I’m aware there are only 2 scoped weapons in the game. Both these facts combine to mean most fights take place in close quarters, and you’re much less likely to be picked off from the middle of nowhere. I can see a lot of people choosing this over Plunkbat purely for that reason, as investing 20 minutes in a round before dying with no chance of retaliation can be a bit miserable. However, it also means that games of Fortnite BR don’t have quite the same level of tension. The fact that everyone can tank a few more bullets before going down doesn’t help with that either.

Bushes might be OP

When it comes to looting, guns seem to be scattered around much more generously, and without attachments to hunt for that places less of an emphasis on scavenging. Again, this might be a welcome change for many people who are sick of trawling through building after building in Plunkbat, hunting in vain for that 8x scope. But again, this change comes with a cost: once you’ve got the weapons you want, there’s less purpose driving you from moment to moment.

You can also find traps, which initially seem exciting but aren’t nearly effective enough at the moment. I found an electric ceiling trap and cackled as I placed it above some stairs, only to realise that the loud buzzing it made rendered it next to useless. They’ve clearly been ported over straight from the main PvE game, which is a shame. With a few tweaks to make them more deadly for humans they’d be one of the new mode’s best features, and hopefully Epic will do just that in the coming months.

Top tip - there's a chest in that there watchtower

I’ve a few other niggles. Looting a slain opponent is a nightmare, as their stuff gets scattered around and the good stuff ends up under the bad. When you kill someone in a Battle Royale game, you want to grab their gear as soon as possible and leg it – not end up replacing your super shotgun with a pistol and being killed as you try and recover it. I wish I could zoom in on the map, and I sorely miss Plunkbat’s free look key that’s invaluable for checking surroundings. There’s also no first person mode as of yet, which has become my preferred flavour of Plunkbat. It’s a more immersive experience, and Fortnite’s cartoony art style already gets in the way of that.

With all that said, I can still see some people getting a lot out of it. With no price for entry, Fortnite’s map could be a fresh playground for people who’ve already extensively toured Plunkbat’s, or anyone looking for a slightly less punishing alternative. The battle royale structure still generates compelling moments and stories and I still find myself holding my breath while a nearby opponent and I perform a slow, shuffling dance as we try to get the drop on each other. My heart still starts pounding when I’m one of the last people alive and the circle has contracted to the size of a grapefruit.

It’s a more colourful and wacky take on the same ideas which has already managed to carve itself a chunk of the battle royale pie. With the right adjustments, that slice could get even bigger. Will I keep playing rather than returning to Plunkbat, though? I’m afraid not. The construction system doesn’t end up adding that much, and while the destructible environments are fun, it’s not enough to make Fortnite BR as compelling or deep an experience as Plunkbat.

62 Comments

  1. TimePointFive says:

    Please stop trying to make “plunkbat” work. It doesn’t. The world has decided that it’s PUBG. I know it’s part of the twee chic of RPS, but it’s forced and straight up costing you money in SEO.

    • Erinduck says:

      lol

      • MillieMoore says:

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    • NetharSpinos says:

      What’s PUBG? Is that a new game?

    • emotionengine says:

      Nah. Plunkbat is the only thing that makes the incessant coverage of this overreported game at least somewhat bearable. Bless Horace for that.

    • dontnormally says:

      I usually like RPS’ quirks but I agree with you on this one. It’s frankly annoying to read. shrug

    • modzero says:

      Won’t someone think of the SEO! faints

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Oh the indignity!

    • DarkMalice says:

      So fetch.

    • Viral Frog says:

      Too late. I always call it Plunkbat and now the entire Discord channel I use also refers to it as Plunkbat. It’s catching on. Plus, there’s been over 5 million people that have purchased this game… I guarantee that there are already more variations to PUBG than just Plunkbat. Heck, not everyone even says PUBG the same way. It’s how slang works. Groups of people will decide on a way to refer to something and then they do that, whether or not everyone else does.

      • Viral Frog says:

        My bad, 10 million. 10 million (and counting) people have purchased this game. Good luck trying to standardize a slang term for it with 10 million + players.

        It’s like WoW. Probably most people called it WoW (and still do). In my group of friends, we called it Crack. And that spread through our entire guild and then a few other guilds I’d joined later on down the road. We STILL refer to it as such and none of us even play it anymore.

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      Godwhacker says:

      ‘Plunkbat’ is a wonderful contraction of the stupid name they picked and I completely support it.

      • Quickly says:

        Agreed. Personally easier to bring to mind than the split second it takes to recall if it’s Pub with a G or Pug with a B.

      • Shoulkian says:

        You understand they didn’t pick saying ‘PUBG’ for themselves?And that people at Bluehole themselves weren’t keen either. Plunkbat and PUBG both suck! I don’t understand what’s wrong with just Battlegrounds.

    • Umberto Bongo says:

      Have to agree with you, it’s become so forced and overused it makes any Battlegrounds article offputting to read, and I love the game.

    • drfish says:

      Heh. Just don’t look it up on urbandictionary.

    • mrevilboj says:

      I love plunkbat, my whole gaming group calls it plunkbat, and I read RPS articles on it because they call it plunkbat. It’s a better name that the hot putrid mess of words than bluehole chose themselves.

      • Shoulkian says:

        Again – Didn’t choose it themselves. Save the hate dude.

    • Daemoroth says:

      #dealwithit

      Plunkbat is a lot more fun to say (Go ahead, I dare you) than PUBG (Is that PUB-Guh, PUB-Gee, or, god forbid, P-U-B-G?!)!

      Even worked for my non-gaming (And wonderful!) wife, never remembered PUBG, heard me saying Plunkbat once and it’s now Plunkbat in the house, end of story.

      PS – If you’re ever in the situation, and want people to pronounce your product’s name properly, choose a decent $#&ing name or accept the consequences!

    • April March says:

      PLUNKFACE

      Yeah I went there.

    • Massenstein says:

      In my case RPS calling it plunkbat made the game more interesting and memorable to me and made me more likely to pick it up. PUBG is horrible for my Finnish mouth to pronounce any way I try it and also sounds dumb. Plunkbat is a jolly bouncing ball of a word and much more closely fits my mental image of the game.

      Some of my friends still call it pubg with grim determination, but others are starting to use plunkbat. The plunkcurse is taking over more innocent plunksouls. Soon everybody will be plunking. Well, see you next punkweek on the same plunkchannel!

      *gets to plunkmobile and drives away*

    • stringerdell says:

      Its a bit annoying but the developers deserve full blame on this one for giving it such a stupid name in the first place.

  2. TimePointFive says:

    Or is it cheek-chic?

  3. Askis says:

    As someone who has only watched videos of Plunkbat, I tend to agree that anyone who owns and enjoys that is unlikely to get much out of Fortnite’s Battle Royale.
    It’s simpler, rounds are a bit quicker, the gunplay is rather basic, but as already mentioned, the whole dismantling/building part doesn’t really add much to the game at this point.

    It is free however and unless Epic decides to add more than cosmetic microtransactions at some point, it’s pretty much guaranteed to have a sizeable playerbase because of it.

    And it being free is probably also why Bluehole shit their pants and issued their thinly veiled threat, even though they likely knew that they don’t really have any grounds for legal action.
    But they’ve not really been the most trustworthy company anyway, which is a large part of why I stayed away from Plunkbat.

    One thing to add though, the whole getting picked off out of nowhere is very much a thing in FBR…
    Unless you luck out on medkits and/or shield pots, you’re likely to run around at 75 health around the middle to end of the game, which means a single sniper round to the body will kill you.
    And there’s plenty of people who’ve figured out the lead and drop to hit their first shot at really long ranges.

    • Montag says:

      After selling millions of copies, I don’t see why they’d shit their pants. I guess it enough for them to continue enjoying their game developpement.
      And maybe these 10 millions copies could cover one or two dev capable of using Unreal Engine in the right way.

      • Lobotomist says:

        Exactly. They made huge revenue on the game that is not that difficult to develop ( much less content assets than let say Witcher 3 ) Even if nobody buys their game anymore ever, they could keep developing it, and still remain rich :D

    • Turkey says:

      Bluehole stated afterwards that they don’t have a problem with other companies making Battle Royale modes. It has more to do with Epic’s marketing campaign and that they didn’t clear it with them first since both of them worked together when they licensed the Unreal Engine and all.

  4. Kitsunin says:

    Hey, but at least Fortnite actually works.

    • Creeping Death says:

      In what way does pubg not work for you?

      • b00p says:

        i can’t speak for kitsunin, but PUBG is pretty much unplayably optimized for my lower-end gaming laptop. there is literally no setting low enough to make it remotely worth it. fortnite’s battle royale-lite on the other hand gets high settings and 60 fps with very little tweaking. this alone has made it worthwhile for me. fortnite in general has a base level of polish going on that is more or less absent from PUBG. though i’d too still probably rather be playing PUBG and fortnite’s asthetic doesn’t really do anything for me, good on epic for not just squeezing out some broke turd as a marketing ploy. it’s a genuine baby’s first battle royale, and sure, why not?

        • Kitsunin says:

          Yeah, it stutters and freezes constantly for me. And completely inexplicably, as my comp is not low end at all — a GTX 770 is obviously not top of the line, but I’ve never, ever had a problem running any game at 60FPS and medium, usually high graphical settings. Literally never. It’s a pretty ugly game too, so it’s obviously some technical crap on their end.

          Didn’t want to go through the shit involved with the stuttering fixes which are likely to not fix the problem anyway. It’s really irritating as my friends all playt PUBG.

          • Viral Frog says:

            It’s a shame that it isn’t working out well for you guys. It’s an incredibly fun game. Though I wouldn’t say it looks bad at all. With the graphics up, it’s actually pretty stunning. Sadly, playing with most settings above medium (besides AA) will cause you to be unable to spot others as effectively as if you keep settings low. You basically have to run it looking like a potato if you want to be competitive.

            I’ve actually noticed significant changes in how it runs on my PC with the last couple major patches. I went from loading into games with 1-2 sec left in the pre-game, or not even loading until midflight over a map. Now I almost instantly load in. My PC isn’t exactly up to snuff, either. I’m still rocking a 6 year old quad core 2.something processor. They are obviously working on optimizing. But it doesn’t make sense to put all their focus onto optimization until they have the rest of the features implemented and tuned to how they want them to be at launch. Optimization should always come last in any EA project. It would be silly to optimize, then add in a feature and have it all break again.

          • derExperte says:

            A 770 kinda is approaching low end levels when it comes to a gaming PC and PUBG is, like many newer games, rather CPU intensive, gotta keep track of all those players and loot. Also 16GB RAM are becoming a necessity fast in general. At least it runs good on good PCs which isn’t always the case for Early Access games and it has gotten noticeably better.

          • derExperte says:

            Oh also, installing on an SSD helps a lot. But again that goes not only for PUBG, a bunch of recent titles are pounding PCs that were still doing fine a year ago.

          • Kitsunin says:

            If a 770 is approaching low-end levels, why can it still run absolutely every game I’ve ever played EXCEPT PUBG at 60fps 1080p High. This problem is obviously on their end, don’t say otherwise.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s high-end, obviously it’s not but to call it low-end is a joke. What, everybody who isn’t rocking a 1080 has a low-end PC?

          • Asurmen says:

            They’re calling it a low end part because it is.

          • Kitsunin says:

            So when in the world do you go from mid to low? Because frankly in terms of graphics card that are in the middle, it’s pretty high up.
            Using this as an example there are around ten cards which are more powerful, most of those being roughly equivalent to each other. What, the top 5 are high-end, the bottom five of the top 10 are mid-range, and 99% of cards are low-end? That seems really silly.

            Seriously, unless I got a 4k monitor or a VR setup, PUBG would be almost literally the only reason to upgrade. It is literally the only game I’ve ever had straight up be non-playable. Does mid-range simply not exist? Seriously, this is silly.

            How many times do I have to reiterate that PUBG is, as far as I know, the only game that exists my rig is incapable of running. This is not my rig. It’s a problem I’m pretty sure I could actually fix via software. But I’m just not willing to spend potentially hours to fix something the devs should have.

          • Kitsunin says:

            You know I don’t even know why I’ve been arguing about the graphics card (well, because you keep insisting my problem is a shite computer. It isn’t. It’s the game.). this video is proof it should run very well on it. But it doesn’t. Because of a technical problem. Only in this game. Which they should have fixed.

            There are guides to solving it…but it involves going through a huge checklist, and there’s always the possibility it’s none of those things. And there’s the possibility of going over the refundable playtime while trying to fix it.

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          Nauallis says:

          Hahaha! I’m apparently turning into a true PC gamer over time. What you just said, that is my biggest gripe about plunkbat: it just looks like ass. My favorite console games look better. Please, read that again. It’s true. Even minecraft is more sexy than plunkbat.

          Fortnite is undeniably goofy looking, but at least that’s a feature and a selling point rather than whatever the hell plunkbat is doing.

          • jonahcutter says:

            PUBG just has a realistic aesthetic, which if does just fine at. An aesthetic which contributes significantly to the intensity of the experience, and artistically resonate with its far more realistic ballistics.

            An intensity of experience that many have already noted is far less present in Fortnite’s BR. In no small part due to FBR’s afternoon cartoons aesthetic.

            They’re both going for wildly different looks. And PUBG does very well with its approach.

          • Aldehyde says:

            @jonah
            I disagree. It looks alright at best. Not stunning as someone described it.
            Textures are bland, sometimes outright bad, terrain is bland, everything is low poly.

            What’s draining resources is the fairly large map and lots of objects and players to keep track of.

            The graphics do what they need to but I’d never describe pubg/plunkbat as a good looking game. Especially considering the scale of everything is way off because objects and everything else has clearly been designed with third person in mind.

      • dkfgo says:

        It crashes constantly for me. I’d say 2 out of 3 games I get a crash at some point (no joke, its literally that bad), not to mention how unstable the framerate is, and thats after dedicating the whole computer to it (I have to kill every single process I can afford to, which means I cant stream it, or save replays with that fancy NVIDIA overlay thing, etc).

        It got to a point where I’m actively avoiding the game, even though I really like it. I do play on a laptop though (with an i7 and a 970m), so you could say I dont deserve to have fun, but hell, other games are working just fine so I’ll go with them instead of weeping in the corner and regretting my choices in life.

  5. HeavyStorm says:

    “directly inspired”… Why the euphemism? Copied and pasted is more like it. I’m not judging, I’m just stating a fact.

    • antszy says:

      No, you’re using another euphemism, just one that you like. No one hit Ctrl + C then Ctrl + V and ended up with a working video game.

    • Lobotomist says:

      True.
      I also dont understand how community is not tad bit upset by that.

      I do not hold any love for PUBG and I know its derivative game as well ( although i understand its derivative of something they had their hands in creating before ).
      But This FBR is one of most 1:1 copies i have seen. And with no shame.

      Gameplay is carbon copy, and only difference is that its made in different engine that comes with some of its stuff. Even differences that stem from that ( like building ) are obviously incidental and dont really fir the game ( building bases in game where territory shrinks ?! )

      • Rindan says:

        Why would “the community” be upset that a high selling game inspired a copycat? Hello. Welcome to gaming. People have been making copycat computer games literally since we had computer games. Zork, Doom, Starcraft, Call of Duty, WoW, Everquest, Minecraft, Bejeweled, the list is endless and spans all genera. People trying to make better copies and sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing is common as dirty and GOOD.

        Get over it dude. No one cares. No one has lost anything. If the copycat is better, then people might go play the copycat. If the copycat is worse, then people won’t play it. If it appeals to different tastes, different people will pick it up. PUBGs doesn’t have some monopoly right to battle royal games; even battle royal games that involve 100 people, para drops, and any other similarities you can think of.

        It’s really simple; if you like PUBG more than Fortnite, uh, play PUBG and worry about yourself.

      • dkfgo says:

        If anything I’m happy someone is copying it, cause I believe it can be so much better. I’m actually hoping the actual big names hop into the wagon.

        If any Valve employee is reading this, do it, start development of a PUBG ripoff right now! Just do it right and people will forget about HL3 immediatelly!

  6. Viral Frog says:

    The whole concept of Fortnite is, to me, completely unappealing. And there’s a million other “co-op survival sandboxes” floating around in EA to choose from. I’ve yet to enjoy a crafting-centric game besides Terraria, so I already know I’d dislike Fortnite.

    Now they come out with a battle royale mode, take that awful mechanic (crafting), and shove it in there? That sounds absolutely awful. I’m going to give it a go for myself to see, but I highly doubt it will get me away from Plunkbat for more than 30 minutes.

  7. skyturnedred says:

    The author seems to think PUBG was the first battle royale game.

  8. racccoon says:

    I think this game beats punkkybatty any day.
    Its fun nee.
    I am a bit disappointed with slightly as it uses that stupid cloud. If it got rid of the cloud and allowed us no time limit the game would evolve massively much greater. why? well for a start players could utilize the build program placed inside this game for real reasons to survive in a proper BATTLE ROYALE last man standing game.
    In this TRIAL for this game you can not deny its fun nee ness. the one thing is the only things players have the time to do anything with builds is I.e. use stairs for protection you, or if the situation arises use platforms to get to the last target. It does not make any sense to have the CLOUD as it places the building part redundant or set to nothing. Eliminating the cloud and allowing players to play to the death on such a small island with mad builds of protection would make the game far fun neee & more unique.

  9. Rikstah says:

    People keep missing the point of why Bluehole had their concerns. Its not that this is another BR game coming out with similarities although that is part of it.

    Its because Epic Games and Bluehole have a vendor – customer relationship in terms of the Unreal Engine, and frequently meet to discuss and develop innovations to the engine to help run PUBG smoother and better. This whole service is something Bluehole pays Epic Games royalties for.

    Now Epic Games has a Battle Royale game, so in the game making space they have a competitor relationship, and in the engine space they have a vendor / customer relationship. Can’t any of you see why theres conflict of interest here?

    People got to stop pointing out the obvious that there’s nothing wrong with imitating a game, its the conflict of interest in the different business relationships these two companies have.

    • simontifik says:

      This is the dodgy part of the situation. Apparently some Epic staff worked pretty closely with Bluehole to get Plunkbat up and running on Unreal. Makes you wonder if Epic went and started on their battle royale mode after seeing the game pre-release. Bluehole might also be concerned about how much assistance they’ll get from Epic going forward now they have competing products.

    • Rindan says:

      Why on earth would any player care that two companies didn’t set up noncompete agreements? If Epic and Blue Hole are having a contract dispute, that’s a job for lawyers. If they are not having a contracting dispute, and instead just have an awkward business relationship, then that sounds like a job for their business guys to sort out. I assume they pay people for this job. It has literally nothing to do with the players.

      Players lose precisely nothing when two companies compete. If Fornite and PUGS compete with each other, uh, good. I hope they make each other better.

  10. jeremyalexander says:

    I’m enjoying both games. These two should really get together and make babies though, because if you took the great new twists of fortnite with destructable environments, traps, and construction ability with the better tactical play, vehicles, larger maps, better cover, the ability to go prone, and better interface, that would really be something.

  11. ziffel says:

    WTF is “plunkbat”? are you 12?

    Btw, UD defines plunkbat as ‘defecating on your partner, then ejaculating on that”. So yeah, well done mate.

  12. dkfgo says:

    Gunplay is definitelly better in PUBG, and shields are too fucking strong in Fortnite.

    Fortnite actually works though, and that makes it much more appealing.

  13. Pinga says:

    Plunkbat? How many acronyms does one single game need?