Plunkbait: Exploring the games riding Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds’ coattails


Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds has inspired a lot of battle royale romps since it hit Steam a year ago, some of which have gone on to carve out their own gigantic niche. Then there’s the Plunkbait; the small games that are more overtly attempting to ride its coattails. Graham refers to them as limpet games, which I rather like. While there are plenty of shameless copycats, some are sincere experiments and twists on the Battlegrounds formula; some aren’t even battle royales at all. What follows are Plunkbat’s most interesting or unusual odes, riffs and copies.

Battle Royale Trainer


Battle Royale Trainer (and to a lesser extent PUBG Training Camp) is fascinating. It’s a game designed to train you to become better at a different game. It’s a niche need that I didn’t know existed, but judging by the several aids that have cropped up on Steam (and not just for battle royales) it’s pretty well catered to.

Plunkbat undergraduates can hone their skills with the weapons and attachments normally found scattered across Erangel and Miramar, fighting bots or shooting targets in maps based on Plunkbat’s. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite matched the bullet physics or weapon-feel, and sniping in particular is nothing like the real deal.

There’s a sort of grim determination that I can respect in people who are willing to spend hours in what is a tension-free, zero-stakes training sim — in their free time, inexplicably — so they can perform a bit better in the game they actually, presumably, enjoy. But it also makes me wonder what other ‘support games’ could crop up. Maybe a deprogramming game to help wean people off chicken dinners?

Stand Out: VR Battle Royale


Despite sidestepping some of the more obvious brand-pinching you’ll see often in this list, Stand Out still owes plenty to Plunkbat because it’s essentially Plunkbat in VR. The map itself is broadly based on Erangel, and you’ll see plenty of familiar weapons and mechanics, but a narrower field of view and a smaller map.

It’s a different way to experience Plunkbat and battle royales, putting it head and shoulders above a lot of copycats. It also fills a gap in VR, seeing as there aren’t a whole lot of solid multiplayer shooters knocking about. It is still in early access, though, and it’s currently missing co-op. It also leaves a bit to be desired, presentation-wise.

Mini Battlegrounds


Plunkbat is a little grim, isn’t it? Its huge, deserted warzones suggest the now dead or fled inhabitants subsisted solely on painkillers, energy drinks and miscellaneous cans of food, and their only hobby was collecting shotguns. The new inhabitants are even worse, and are only interested in killing each other. Mini Battlegrounds is considerably more chipper, though just as violent.

It’s an isometric battle royale infested with cute, cube-headed combatants. I’m a big fan of games that flip a genre’s conventional perspective — hence my love of Smite — and the switch here brings with it some fairly substantial changes to the Plunkbat formula. The source of tension changes, for instance. Instead of being worried about being sniped by a hidden foe from miles away, you’re more worried about what’s on the edges of the screen. The isometric view also lends it a more tactical feel, even if it’s really a hectic free-for-all.


Alternatively there’s the more minimalist, a free-to-play bit of Plunkbait that pits players against each other in top-down battles. While it looks extremely simple, it adds a few wrinkles of its own, including destructible walls and ricocheting bullets. And the classic explosive barrel makes an appearance, too, making it just as, if not more, chaotic and messy as its 3D cousins.

Fights in are obviously close-range affairs, just like Mini Battlegrounds, with little blobs constantly moving, strafing and dancing as they try to avoid the spray of bullets. It can be twitchy and frenetic, and battles are short-lived affairs compared to the sagas of Plunkbat.

PLAYERUNKN1WN: Friendly Fire


In a timeline without Steam Direct, Friendly Fire wouldn’t have a ridiculous prefix and would probably be someone’s first game project. It’s a co-op, top-down shooter where you fight beetles. But because anyone with $100 can get on Steam, and because we’re in the midst of a phenomenon, Friendly Fire is now PLAYERUNKN1WN: Friendly Fire, an extremely cheap Steam game with no relation to Plunkbat at all.

Friendly Fire also comes with 500 achievements, which you get for every second you stay in the game. It’s eye-rolling stuff, but I do wonder if it’s a genuine attempt to get more eyes on the game at a time when there’s so much competition that it’s next to impossible to stand out. Ultimately it garners the wrong kind of attention, but Friendly Fire and the like are all arguably reacting to an ecosystem that Valve created.

This is just one of many games going to embarassing lengths to get some of that Plunkbat attention, often in ways that don’t actually work, and it doesn’t even have the worst name. I’m rather partial to the criminally bad Gamers Unknown Survival, but credit where credit’s due, PLAYERUNKN4WN Zombie is also awful.

Battle Pixel’s Survival Ground


Battle Pixel’s Survival Ground is only notable as an example of how much you can get away with when you sell your game on Steam. If you look at the release date, you’ll probably wonder how a game that appeared in 2016 could possibly be a Plunkbat copycat. Back then it was actually a DayZ copycat, and it still very much is, but when the popularity of Plunkbat became clear, the developers changed the name, branding and description so it could siphon off some of the battle royale crowd.

In 2016, it launched as Pixel Day Gun Z, but in December last year the developer changed the name and store description, scrubbing any mention of zombies, replacing it with “battle royale”, “Blue Zone” and anything else that might make it sound more like Plunkbat. In-game changes were less dramatic and its zombie survival conceit remains.

Honorable mentions

Garry’s Mod Battle Royale


This one doesn’t belong above because it’s actually older than Plunkbat and was inspired by the Arma 2 Battle Royale mod, also made by Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene, and created in Garry’s Mod. It deserves mention, though, because it captures the spirit of Plunkbat and its predecessors in a way that most Plunkbait games don’t. It’s a free mod originally made by its creator just to play with their friends, but it’s in a considerably better state than the majority of Steam copycats. Those are Plunkbat’s roots, too, in the mod scene of Arma, before the loot boxes and lawsuits.

Last Man Standing


Fortnite might be the most notable free-to-play battle royale, but Last Man Standing was considerably quicker off the bat. It launched on Steam just after Plunkbat, and while the two are pretty similar, its inspirations are the games Greene worked on before, namely the Arma Battle Royale mods and H1Z1. A year on, there are still enough players to get some matches going, and it’s probably got more active players than any of the other games on this list.

If Plunkbat had come out a few years earlier, I doubt we’d see nearly as much Plunkbait. They’re very much of their time, where myriad accessible game engines, loads of cheap assets and a huge store that’s willing to sell just about anything have removed countless barriers to game development. Few are good, or even briefly fun, but they also sometimes show us the first fumbling attempts of new game devs, as well as the occasional experimental endeavour to grow a nascent genre, and there’s something appealing about that.


  1. closetgeekshow says:

    PLAYERUNKN1WN: Friendly fire appears to be just the demo from the COOP Action Game Kit from the Unity Asset Store. I wish it has occurred to me to just publish the demo on Steam instead of trying to build my own thing with it.

    • Excors says:

      And half the reviews are complaining that the achievements are broken and you can only get the first 499 of them.

      In some ways Steam is great, and in some ways it’s utterly pathetic.

    • Sin Vega says:

      I’m pretty sure I reported it when I saw it for UP. Fat lot of good that ever does, mind.

      Not that I’m bitter, or anything.

    • carewolf says:

      Ahh. That is so common it has a name. They are called “asset flips”. Search for it on youtube to see some truly horrendous games made that way, and often fraudulent.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Mahaku says:

    Lovely article sure to bait the Plunks of Pub-Grounds! Never change, RPS!

  3. dagnamit says: is best battle royale game in existence. There’s really no competition.

  4. Massenstein says:

    I’m eagerly waiting for more serious competitors to arrive. Plunkbat checks many of the boxes of what I want from a multiplayer game, but there are also things that turn me off. I guess I don’t even know what I want until I see it, so I’m hoping someone will make it.

    • Koozer says:

      I want someone to figure out how to get rid of the absolute slog of sitting around in a lobby for 5 minutes, after you’ve spent 30 seconds in game before being murdered. Also a way to get rid of the absolute slog of rummaging through houses for 5 minutes to find a pistol before being shot in the back from 200m away. Interestingly does a pretty good job at both of these things.

  5. SuicideKing says:

    plunkbait! lol. I wonder how many will bite.

  6. notreally says:

    If Players Unkown wasnt already taking credit for the battle royal system, one could probably complain about people ripping off Player unknown. Except it wasnt the first, and its not even that great. This artical is a joke.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Fraser didn’t say it was the first. And It doesn’t have to be the first to be the most successful, and the one everyone is emulating.

      There’s absolutely nothing new about that at all, not just in games but in any field. Everything from cars to food to fashion has innovators, then people who do the same thing but better (or through marketing, ruthlessness, or sheer chaos and chance make it huge), then more people who go all out trying to copy the success of the latter.

      TL;DR: Doing it first doesn’t matter and never has.

  7. Rageharles says:

    Wait… “While there are plenty of shameless copycats….” At the time of PUBG release H1Z1 was the best Battle Royal game… they were copycats of H1Z1…. Granted PUBG is NOW way better than H1Z1 could ever be… They did the exact same thing all these other games are doing to them.

    • grazazel says:

      Yes and the consultant they brought into help develop H1Z1 and who they licesed the battle royale format from was Brendan”PlayerUnknown”Greene. Who previously did the Dayz:battle royale mod for Arma 2/3. He got the idea from the 2000 fil Battle Royale. So game wise it pretty much come from him

      • DasBilligeAlien says:

        And we should add that game modes like “Last Man Standing” were a mainstay in most multiplayer FPSes since the mid ninties.

        Of course limited by the technology of the time in player count and map size.

  8. grazazel says:

    I thin k the main point is WHY THE F*CK THEY TRYING TO CALL IT plunkbat. None of the people I play with call it that we call it pubg less of a mouthfull

    • Bull0 says:

      I thin k the main point is WHY THE F*CK THEY COMPLAINING ABOUT TRYING TO CALL IT plunkbat. None of the people I play with care at all yet every. single. story several of you weird, beautiful flowers appear to get really shouty about how that’s the wrong name.

      Can anyone explain this? Is it something to do with the audience?

    • Timmysteve says:

      “Plunkbat” is only used in the context of games journalism, a reminder of how out-of-touch they tend to be. The term is being forced, or continually used out of stubborn ignorance because they think it’s cuter than the acronym that everybody else uses.
      I presume it’s perpetuated by journalists that only come in contact with the game in the context of other articles they constantly measure theirs against.

    • Don Reba says:

      less of a mouthfull

      Plunkbat is two syllables, while PUBG is two-four, depending on how you say it. Plunkbat is at least as short and has the advantage of being unambiguous.

    • kushum123 says:

      Man I hate that they call it plunkbat on here as well. Just stop it please we all hate it

    • carewolf says:

      Plunkbat is what normal people call it. PUBG is what plunkbatters call it :P

  9. eWOOD29 says:

    Where’s Fortnite on this list? It should be #1

  10. pblogic says:

    I’ve never heard/read plunkbat other than from games ‘journalists’. Everyone says PUB-G. Plunkbat is just a way for people writing relatively irrelevant and boring articles to try to sound cool and different.

  11. Plunkbat Oranges says:

    I’m at the stage now where I lump the anti Plunkbat league in the same boat as Flat Earthers and Holocaust deniers.

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>