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Super Duel: Warzone vs Fortnite vs PUBG

The three great battle royale monoliths of the genre are competing for many of the same players, but on radically different terms and with different methods. Gamereactor has pitted them against each other in a big top duel...

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Game Mechanics

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Although Raven Software and Infinity Ward have been in a strange position regarding the game controls in Warzone since its launch in November 2022, it's hard to argue with anything other than the fact that Warzone today is superb in terms of pure mechanics. It feels super smooth and rewarding to master the pace and movement pattern of your soldier, the slide-cancel thing that was put back after a year of loud protests from the superfans, is not too overpowered so that it sabotages every single firefight (which was part of the problem with Warzone 1.0, if you ask me) while the feel of the weapons, the recoil, the speed of fire and how it feels to run and shoot at the same time - is superb. Warzone 3.0 may be hysterically fast compared to the likes of PUBG and Fortnite (and of course it's never going to be for everyone) but the feel of the game right now, today, is absolutely superb.

The same must of course be said about Fortnite. That game is considerably slower than Warzone, of course, in terms of the character's movement patterns and running speed. But, this is largely for the building part to fit within reason given how fast it is now possible to press the right buttons in the right sequence - and in summary, Epic has found a very good balance here. For anyone who only plays Zero Build and escapes building like the plague, Fortnite today may feel a little too slow, but at the same time it is a bit the same basic premise that Halo has always offered, which forms the very core of the game. Relatively slow pace but with high rate of fire, enables firefights where it is actually possible to escape halfway in if you as a player feel outmaneuvered. Doing the same thing halfway into a gunfight in Warzone 3.0 is not only significantly more difficult, it's almost impossible because the TTK (Time to Kill) is so much shorter.

The worst here, in this category, is undoubtedly Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, which unfortunately still feels like a home-grown amateur mod in terms of how you move, how quickly your character responds to your inputs and button presses, and how it reacts to its surroundings. It's slow, choppy and jerky, with a responsiveness that's below par compared to the other two battle royale giants. The game feel once you shoot is good in PUBG but it is never as good as in Warzone in terms of recoil and weapon physics.

1:a Call of Duty: Warzone
2:a Fortnite
3:a Playerunknown's Battlegrounds

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Graphics and Sound

There are parts of Fortnite that, thanks to Unreal Engine 5, look incredible. Against the vineyard there around Fatal Fields, as the evening sun bakes on and paints the shadows dark red, Fortnite is absolutely gorgeous. The cartoony aesthetic is done to perfection these days, too, and it's certainly the case that Epic Games' monolith of multiplayer gaming has an utterly unique look, which really can't be said of very many big games anymore. It also flows very well, works even on an iPhone and a Nintendo Switch (!), is thus the genre's most well-lubricated product in terms of game engine and clean code, and houses dozens of settings for those who want to tinker with the graphics, set down and simplify to perhaps improve their screen update or just make the enemies clearer visually to simplify the firefights themselves. Fortnite also has the best sound if we only look at the "directional sound" bit where you can easily hear which direction the bullets are coming from and where the enemy might be.

Warzone is the best looking of these three games in terms of pure fidelity and the quality of Activision's current asset library. It does come at a cost in terms of hardware power, though. A PS4 Pro barely renders Warzone 3.0 in a "playable" way, while a medium-powered PC will quickly have problems with the graphically demanding maps. The way the maps look, the amount of houses with fully modelled interiors crowding each map, and the amount of detail here - neither PUBG nor Fortnite can compete. Not even close. The fact that the game engine on which Warzone is currently based is 14 years old (it's been upgraded in stages, of course, but still) feels bizarre. The fact that 100 people can jump onto the same multiplayer map and enjoy the graphical quality offered on, for example, Rebirth Island, is very impressive by today's standards. The sound is very good, too. It wasn't great throughout the first year after launch and the directional sound portion has been acoustically broken for a long time, but now finally works as it was first intended. The bangs are satisfyingly loud and footsteps from opponents can now be sorted, whether they're on the floor above, below or in the next room. It should be said, however, that there is a lack of acoustic pressure and then primarily echo, something we hope Raven Software adds before the end of the year. There is of course a value in those bangs and the echo they produce in PUBG, as that is what it sounds like out in the open when someone fires a live weapon.

Playerunknown's Battlegrounds is graphically far behind the other two games in this duel. Far, far behind. On PC, you can certainly do some clever tricks to boost the visuals, but it doesn't matter when the basic technology looks like it belongs in a game from 2005. The animation patterns for the characters look like they've been lifted from a Playstation 2 game, and the texture work is lacklustre at best. The indoor environments look terrible most of the time and the effects from grenades and other things are lame. For the PlayStation 5 in particular, PUBG is so ugly that it almost feels parodic at times. The sound is all the better, though. Not perfect and not better than Warzone or Fortnite, but PUBG sounds much better than it looks. There's that lovely loud bang when you fire your weapon and there's an echo that's determined by what surfaces it bounces off and what material (hardness) those surfaces are made of, which is easy to like.

1:a Call of Duty: Warzone
2:a Fortnite
3:a Playerunknown's Battlegrounds

Quantity of Content

Playerunknown's Battlegrounds currently offers ten (!) different battle royale maps, which of course means that the game houses an incredible variety in terms of where you land and how the matches look depending on the terrain and aesthetics. The classic Erangel is back (for a limited time), Miramar offers a peculiar gameplay experience thanks to its sandstorms, while those who prefer denser battles in buildings can choose to jump on Haven, or why not Rondo. What PUBG Studios and Korean Krafton are doing here, letting players choose which of their ten maps they want to fight on, is of course exemplary and something that both Epic Games and Raven Software should really emulate. That said, the maps are better in primarily Warzone.

Part of the problem with many PUBG maps, in my opinion, is that they become unnecessarily huge and many of its kilometres of land are just grass, or sand. No buildings, no variety, no cover other than the occasional tree, and of course this is as much about saving hardware power as it is about providing proper, expansive "battlefields", but I much prefer Al Mazra and Vondel in Warzone to Haven and Taego. They are better maps where more time has been spent on realistic architecture and fantastic assets to give a sense of real environments.

In Fortnite, Epic has never offered more than one map at a time, and while it expands and changes with each chapter, Epic should really learn from PUBG in particular and let players choose between 5-6 classic Fortnite maps. Why not let the current Myths & Mortals map with Mount Olympus and the dark green swamps of Hades coexist with the superior story of the previous chapter where Brutal Bastion and Frenzy Fields in particular seem to be missed by all players? At the same time, I wonder the same thing about Raven Software and Activision's strange playlist drivel. Why not make a nice little menu where we can choose between Verdansk, Caldera, Al Mazra, Urzikstan in battle royale and Fortune's Keep, Ashika Island, Rebirth Island and Vondel, in Resurgence? That should be the easiest thing in the world to solve and would give Warzone a different life, with three times as much available content (which also already exists and is on the same servers as the maps that are actually playable).

In addition to the maps and the fact that PUBG completely dominates the competition in this particular regard, it is of course impossible not to crown Fortnite as the clear winner here. In addition to Battle Royale, Zero Build and Lego Fortnite, there is also Fortnite Festival, Rocket Racing and 3500 other small games where you can do everything from quad racing to aim training.

1:a Fortnite
2:a Playerunknown's Battlegrounds
3:a Call of Duty: Warzone

Servers and Netcode

The amount of problems that Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 suffered throughout the year after it was first rolled out was almost bizarre. Every night, one or more games went down the drain because the servers somehow screwed up, and for probably five months after November 2022, Activision's billion-dollar project hung up my PS5. but it took a little over a year, then almost everything was solved and today Warzone works very well. Incredibly rarely do you as a player get kicked out of the server where you play, incredibly rarely do problems arise that cause the matches to go to hell or that it starts hacking. The netcode itself is not perfect and sometimes it is noticeable that bullets do not always register but overall it works well today. Fortnite likewise. It has, minus a couple of glitches here and there, worked very well for the last five years and seems to have the most stable and detailed netcode in terms of hit points, of these three games. PUBG works well too and when it comes to the time you have to spend waiting for a new match, Fortnite is simply the best. There is only about 25-30 seconds difference between the three games according to our tests, but there is no doubt that finding a new match and then jumping out of the plane (bus, in this case) is the smoothest and fastest in Epic Games' game. This may have something to do with the fact that it feels like Fortnite might fill its lobbies with more bots than the other games.

1:a Fortnite
2:a Call of Duty: Warzone
3:a Playerunknown's Battlegrounds

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Updates and Item Shops

Epic Games is great at updating Fortnite. No other developer in the battle royale genre is as good at keeping their game alive as they are. Every day there is something new (even if some things are sometimes old and thus pure repetitions) in their Item shop and every week it feels like something new has been added to the map itself. Everything is also nicely sorted with the genre's best presentation and menu system. Warzone and PUBG are lagging behind on both fronts, although the Item shop section in Warzone has improved slightly in recent months. There are plenty of skins in Warzone in particular that feel half-finished and, unlike in Fortnite, there is no real "common thread" in terms of design and manners, but everything possible is thrown in a bit like when you throw shit at a wall to see if something sticks. A bright yellow plastic duck is juxtaposed with Modern Warfare Team SAS soldiers jostling with an indoor cat and Snoop Dogg in a mix that's odd, at best. It doesn't get any less strange in PUBG, either. The game, originally based on the military simulator Arma III, is based on military realism - most games are based on surrealism or pure children's programme heritage. Epic wins this category, hands down.

1:a Fortnite
2:a Call of Duty: Warzone
3:a Playerunknown's Battlegrounds

(1) First Place: Fortnite
Say what you will about Fortnite's focus on appealing to a younger audience largely through its somewhat "childish" design, there's no doubt in our minds that the Epic Games giant offers the best and most polished battle royale experience on the market today, whether you want to build fist-sized houses when someone is shooting at you - or not.

(2) Second Place: Call of Duty: Warzone
Warzone 2.0 got off to a rough start as diehard fans hated the new direction focusing on PUBG-scented inventory management, different sized bulletproof vests and the slower, meatier pace but after 18 months of updates and changes, Activision's giant has really moulded itself into the game that's as easy to like as it is to get addicted to. Raven's eternally annoying focus on forcing players to run their limited "Playlists" does drag the whole thing down somewhat though.

(3) Third Place: Playerunknown's Battlegrounds
The game that started the whole battle royale trend and still does some things very well suffers from a loaded game engine and an audiovisual impression that smells of Playstation 2. This summer's Unreal Engine 5 transition will make a big difference here and despite obvious weaknesses, the future of PUBG looks bright. in this duel, however, it comes last by quite a fat margin.

Which of these three games do you prefer?

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