Tracing the history of battle royale games, it all comes back to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Although PlayerUnknown himself, Brandon Greene, wasn’t the first to market with the idea, his Arma 2 mod drew in massive player counts, and his Arma 3 mod only furthered the player base. Now, PUBG is one of the best battle royale games around, but it’s among some fierce competition. If you’re looking for something a little different, look no further than our list of the best games like PUBG.
Before diving in, note that there are only a few games like PUBG that dominate the market. The player base is large for battle royale games, but the vast majority of that player base is dedicated to a small set of games — namely Apex Legends, Warzone, and Fortnite. We have a few other titles that fit the bill, but it might take a bit longer to find a match compared to the top dogs. Also, we didn’t include PUBG Lite or PUBG Mobile because, well, they’re basically just PUBG.
Respawn managed to hit a sweet spot between Fortnite and PUBG with Apex Legends. The game delivers AAA development quality without dipping into a military theme. Keeping with Respawn’s own Titanfall 2, Apex Legends takes place in the same, slightly futuristic world. Apex also features Titanfall 2′s fluid traversal mechanics and snappy gunplay. The result is a battle royale with unmatched polish, developed by a group of the best FPS designers in the industry.
Apex Legends isn’t slowing down anytime soon, either. The game is still putting up record player counts, and mobile and Switch ports should arrive later this year (fit with cross-platform support). Season 6 brought crafting to the game, offering a nice mid-game mechanic for players struggling to piece together a loadout. If you’re just getting started in Apex Legends, make sure to check out our character and weapons guides so you can enter the Apex Games prepared.
Read our Apex Legends review
Pound-for-pound, Call of Duty: Warzone is the game most like PUBG. The military paint job fits the bill, and large, open-ended sections of the map feel like they were ripped straight from the game that started it all. Warzone isn’t derivative, though. It borrows a lot, but it evolves a lot, too. The Gulag system offers a competitive way to get back in the battle, while the larger-than-average map accommodates more players than any other battle royale. Even more impressive, Warzone manages to hold 60 frames per second on this map across PC and console.
The Modern Warfare engine — the game engine behind Warzone — is a marvel, and simply seeing how far it can push current-generation systems is a reason to download Warzone. It’s free, and it supports crossplay and cross-save between PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Warzone’s namesake battle royale mode is a blast, but Plunder is a nice new addition, too. Instead of battling to the death, Plunder pits your team against others to grab as much cash from the map as possible. Even better, you can bring your loadouts from Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer into battle.
Read our Call of Duty: Warzone review
PUBG popularized the battle royale genre, but Fortnite brought it into the mainstream. Epic’s builder-turned-battle-royale rushed to the masses with mobile ports and cross-platform support, and although Epic is still wrapped up in a legal battle on the mobile front, Fortnite remains one of the most popular games today. It’s easy to see why, too. Fortnite‘s cartoon-inspired graphics offers a nice entry point for children, breaking from the realistic military simulation of PUBG.
Fortnite’s softer visuals don’t mean the game is easy, though. Building breaks up the battle royale monotony, with the best builders usually making it to the winner’s circle. You can win without building, but it’s a lot more difficult. Outside of that, Epic keeps Fortnite interesting with live, in-game events, as well as weekly challenges.
Read our Fortnite: Battle Royale review
Hyper Scape is a strange concoction of different mechanics that actually work together. The setup is that you’re playing against 99 other players — either in a squad of three or as a solo player — in a virtual city. Over time, the city starts to deteriorate, and the last player standing wins. Hyper Scape changes things up a bit with the crown. It spawns in the late game, and any player that wears it for more than 45 seconds is the winner. Although a small change, the crown pushes players into open combat, keeping the end game from being simply a game of cat and mouse.
The game keeps things interesting in other ways, too. Vertical level design and liberal jump pad placement bring a new dimension to combat, while Hacks give your fighter unique abilities on the battlefield. The respawn system is interesting, too. Whenever you die, you’ll become a Digital Echo, which allows you to run around the map unseen and spot enemy positions for your remaining squad. You leave a single-use restore point, too, allowing your team to revive you once.
Hyper Scape‘s most unique feature, though, is Twitch integration. At multiple points during a match, a vote will go up for any viewers watching a match on Twitch. The winner modifier is then unleashed on the game. Everything from extra health kits to marking enemy locations is on the table, making for dynamic matches each time you play.
Ring of Elysium borrows liberally from PUBG, but it brings a few unique ideas to the table, too. The game shrinks down the player count to 60, no matter if you’re playing solo, duos, or squads, all while keeping the map size large. There’s inherently more space between players, but Ring of Elysium makes getting around its snowy map easy. Snowboards, ski-lifts, and mountain climbing gear make the large distances between players less painful. The result: A battle royale with fewer players that manages to feel more action-packed than its source material.
The more interesting change comes in how you win, though. Instead of simply awarding the last player alive a crown, a rescue helicopter comes in toward the late game. There are four seats on the helicopter, and once they’re full, the match is over. What’s interesting is that the same four seats are present no matter what game mode you’re playing. That often means multiple players from different teams will win each match, splitting the victory with whoever is sitting next to them. Ring of Elysium doesn’t evolve the moment-to-moment gameplay much, but it still offers enough unique mechanics to feel like a proper PUBG alternative.
Rust has a similar history to PUBG. It was originally created as a fork of the DayZ mod for Arma 2 — the same source for PUBG — by the developers of the ever-popular Garry’s Mod. On its own, Rust is a cruel survival game similar to Ark: Survival Evolved and Don’t Starve. You begin the game with no clothes, no weapons, and no equipment, and your goal is to simply survive. As a survival game, Rust is among the best, despite an extremely unforgiving community. On the proper servers, though, you can play Rust as a battle royale.
It’s not the best option on this list, and far from the most polished. However, Rust‘s battle royale servers offer deeper survival mechanics and simulation-like gunplay, which most other games on this list lack. If you’re looking for a hardcore battle royale that will test your skills, Rust is for you.
PlayerUnknown himself, Brandon Greene, was hired by Daybreak Game Company (PlanetSide 2, EverQuest) in 2015 as a consultant for an upcoming game called H1Z1. H1Z1 released shortly after with an official version of Greene’s Arma 3 mod. The game would continue on a trend of rebranding, moving to Kill of the Hill after launch, before finally settling on Z1 Battle Royale. Although Z1 has seen development shifts and name changes over the past five years, it remains the closest commercial game to classic PUBG.
Z1 Battle Royale has bounced back and forth between very popular and nearly obsolete. Recent updates have driven a portion of the community away, but if the game’s history has taught us anything, it’s that Z1 refuses to die. You can still find matches now, but you may need to queue a little longer than normal.
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