Let’s get one thing crystal clear – I’m no fan of Fortnite. But that’s not for lack of trying. I’ve given it a go, a good go at that. Over my 10 hours of play-time, I’ve even scooped a few Victory Royales. But I always find myself wishing I was back on PUBG. Because although Fortnite and PUBG inhabit the same genre, they couldn’t be more different. On the one hand, Fortnite is more frenetic by far. Guided rockets flying around, fortifications popping up in the blink of an eye, and close-quarter battles where the winner is determined by the ability to shoot accurately at the same time as bunny-hopping. It makes for incredible watching, which is probably why it’s popularity has exploded so stratospherically. While on the other hand, PUBG is a more reserved affair. Like a game of chess. Nothing may happen for long stretches of time, but it still manages to keep the tension high and make every decision feel like it could be your last.
Note that I’m not saying that either one is better than the other (I’ll leave that to people in the comments section on YouTube videos and Facebook posts). These games both deserve to exist, each with a fanbase that, in a perfect world, would just leave each other alone. But there’s no ignoring the fact that PUBG has somewhat fallen by the wayside in the wake of Fortnite‘s incredible rise to stardom. Fortnite is just so much more dynamic as a game, both on and off screen. I’d be an idiot if I denied that the celebrity collaborations, colorful marketing, and slew of interesting updates didn’t make me jealous as a PUBG player.
But my biggest fear is that the team behind PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will start to look to Fortnite for ways in which to improve their pride-and-joy creation. We’re starting to see it now – updates focused on action. At the time of writing, PUBG has departed from the Battle Royale formula entirely with a 72-hour event called “War”, which pits three teams of ten players against each other in a messy Team Deathmatch, all guns blazing-style scenario. I had a go, and didn’t like it. If I wanted TDM, I would play Call of Duty. The “War” game mode strips everything that makes PUBG great away in favor of bullets, bullets and more bullets. What’s more, the new map named “Savage” is half the size of the Miramar and Erangel, meaning more encounters and more action. We’ve also recently seen an update that adjusts the speed at which the “blue zone” shrinks down in the early stages of a match – it’s quicker, basically. This squeezes everyone together faster, which again leads to more action. These tweaks show the direction Bluehole, Inc. want to move in – to be more action-oriented, to be more like Fortnite, and to attract Fortnite players over to PUBG.
Instead, their most immediate concern should be listening to the fans they currently have, and the issues that most effect them. These are the people being drawn away by the shiny lights of Fortnite. Because let’s face it, PUBG still has problems (and I won’t even get into the plague of the cheaters). What they should be doing is enhancing the formula that made it so popular in the first place with additions that complement that formula – that is, to make things more tactical, more stealthy, more tense, and more realistic. What Bluehole are doing at the moment is too little, and too insubstantial to keep the fans happy. They need to make a big statement with some game-changing update; something cool, but something that will still allow PUBG to retain its identity. I’ve always thought remote control drones would be amazing.
But at the moment, Bluehole seem to think adding new cosmetics crates is the way to go. And there’s something for me that’s so sordid about microtransactions in PUBG (besides the general sordid-ness of microtransactions). When you spend your hard-earned in-game currency on what they call a “reward”, only to then find that the crate you’ve been “rewarded” with needs you to spend real-world money in order to open it, it’s despicable. It shows such an utter lack of respect that it makes me sick, especially since we’ve paid $25+ for the privilege of owning the game in the first place. While in Fortnite, microtransactions feel less disgusting, chiefly because it’s a free-to-play title.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds needs to be less like Fortnite gameplay-wise, but more like Fortnite in regards to its image. Do that by listening to your community, Bluehole. We’ve stuck with you because you’re game offers a distinctly unique experience, and if you start trying attract Fortnite players by being more like Fortnite, you’ll end up losing us, and not even achieving your original goal – Fortnite players already have a game they love. So, I ask again, please don’t copy Fortnite.