PUBG vs. Fortnite vs. H1Z1: Battle of the battle-royale titans

The battle royale craze has been going on for years, and it has only moved into higher gear with the release of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) and a game mode in Epic Games' Fortnite, both seeing 100 players drop into a battlefield to fight for survival. When entering the market for a battle royale game for the first time, it may appear somewhat confusing as to which game will be best suited to your playstyle. There are notable differences between PUBG and Fortnite, which allows both titles to attract millions of active players.

A brief history of the battle royale genre

The battle royale genre of games isn't new, nor is Brendan Greene (PlayerUnknown) the creator of the format. Originating in a book of the same name, Battle Royale was eventually turned into a movie. This is what would be used as a base for Greene's Arma mod and would be the first implementation of the format in video game form that took off with countless populated servers. Greene subsequently worked with the development team behind H1Z1 on a similar game mode, only to leave thereafter and launch his very own game: PUBG.

A number of alternatives have attempted to tap into the immense pool of wealth and popularity PUBG has created, including Fortnite, Maelstrom, Darwin Project,, SOS Battle Royale, Dying Light: Bad Blood, Islands of Nyne, and upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. While a number of games are competing against one another for a slice of the battle royale pie, only H1Z1, Fortnite, and PUBG are worth talking about right now.

Best battle royale games on PC

Enter the battlegrounds


PUBG has been in active development for a number of years, launching as a beta in March 2017 and releasing as version 1.0 in December of that year. The game has continuously received criticism from media and players alike for poor performance and lack of polish, which remain to this very day, but even those who dislike the game as a whole cannot ignore the impact it has had on the gaming community.

Aside from its issues, PUBG is the best battle royale experience. Sporting action-packed shooting mechanics and an unforgiving RNG system for both loot and the circle of pain, it's a title that will have you constantly coming back for more. When shooting and movement systems work as intended, the result is incredibly fluid gameplay. Teaming up with a teammate or group of experienced players is the best way to enjoy PUBG and scoring "a chicken dinner" (or winning the whole thing) leaves you with a strong sense of achievement.

If you can overlook its problems, PUBG is extremely addictive.

That's battle royale in a nutshell. It's incredibly difficult to win a match, but the basic mechanics are fairly straightforward for newcomers. With further development, working out kinks in the armor and ensuring cheating is at an absolute minimum, PUBG will become the battle royale game we all desire. Until a better offering from a AAA studio comes along, it will remain the most beautiful of ugly ducklings.

What PUBG gets right is most important to those who enjoy striving to be the last man standing. Quick matches with the ability to hop right back in if you somehow don't make the top 10 allows you to concentrate on honing your skills and adapting to balance alterations to score that chicken dinner.

Our ultimate PUBG guide

Fortnite between wins


Epic Games rolled out a battle royale game mode for Fortnite, which originally launched as a co-op survival sandbox. The game was already well received but Fortnite battle royale transformed the game into a $300 million-per-month money tree for the game engine developer and publisher. Interestingly, Epic Games develops the Unreal Engine, which is also used by PUBG. But both games feel vastly different.

While PUBG focuses on more realistic gunplay and mechanics, Fortnite is all about fantasy as you drop from a flying bus and land to smash up buildings, vehicles and all sorts of objects for materials. One interesting mechanic Fortnite has that PUBG doesn't is the ability to create structures. As well as shooting other players with a whole manner of weapons, it's possible to construct your very own castle in the final zone.

Fortnite offers optimized gameplay for those seeking a unique experience.

Building ramps, stairs, and buildings isn't required, but you may find yourself at a slight disadvantage if you're unable to take advantage of both shoot and build. Being unable to fire off a few rockets and taking cover to heal behind a wall or two could be the difference in coming in first or fourth place. It's what keeps some players away from Fortnite, due to it requiring a different approach. It's also less hectic when many players are in the same location as you jump and shoot, as opposed to taking cover and picking your shot carefully.

How landing hits with a weapon is also different with Fortnite making it far easier to deal and take damage. What Epic Games does spectacularly is optimization. Fortnite (both the sandbox and battle royale modes) is incredibly stable without only a few minor bugs here that are usually worked out in patches. Fortnite may not be for everyone who enjoys battle royale, but because of the free price tag, it makes perfect sense to at least give it a go.

8 Beginner tips for Fortnite players

Catching the H1Z1 virus


H1Z1 has been around longer than PUBG and Fortnite, having been the result of Brendan Greene working with Daybreak Games to create a battle royale game mode. It has gone through numerous updates since launch, with a new vehicle-focused mode that pits teams against one another in an arena with power-ups and other means to gain the upper hand, called Auto Royale.

The game itself is easier for newcomers to pick up as there are fewer weapons to choose from and no attachments. You spend less time looting, which is favorable since there are times when you spend upwards of 10 minutes looting without seeing anyone, only to be killed by a passing tribe of experienced players. It also shows its age by looking a little dated, albeit polished. H1Z1 is more arcade-like, which is reflected in the driving and shooting mechanics.

Like Fortnite, this less realistic and more restricted approach to combat isn't to everyone's tastes and is why PUBG has gained such a massive following. Daybreak Games has made H1Z1 free to play, which makes it possible to try out the game to see if you're a fan of the arcade-like mechanics and more basic shooting.

And the winner is ...

All battle royale games continue to compete against one another, not only for paying gamers but also in the esports scene. If you seek the absolute best battle royale experience, PUBG is the one for you. However, if you'd rather enjoy a more polished title, Fortnite and possibly even H1Z1 may be worth checking out.

PUBG currently costs $29.99 with in-game microtransactions. Fortnite is free to play the battle royale mode, but full price for the co-op sandbox. Finally, H1Z1 is also free to play with micro-transactions.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.