Now that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is out in the wild, fans of the Battle Royale genre have finally had a chance to see how its take, Blackout, stacks up against the likes of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. While I certainly can’t speak for everyone, I do have some thoughts on where Blackout fits into the current landscape.
The mechanics in Blackout work much how you’d expect them to; between 88 and 100 players (it depends on whether you’re playing squads, duos, or solo) are thrown into a huge map, a circle appears and begins to shrink, forcing players into a smaller area where the last person or team standing wins. It’s a simple formula common across all three games (yes, there’s more out there, but I’m gonna focus on the big ones for now) but at the end of the day, the one you prefer will probably boil down to the finer mechanics and quirks.
Let’s explore what I like to call the Big Three.
The OG BR game. Its popularity has died off a little bit since the meteoric rise of Fortnite, but there are still plenty of people playing, particularly among the custom game crowd. PUBG has always erred towards realism, particularly when it comes to weapon handling, attachments, etc. Matches are generally a little slower (depending on the map) and weapon customisation can get pretty deep, particularly when it comes to all the different grip attachments now available.
Points of difference: Realistic weapon mechanics and slower games. Only available on PC & Xbox One.
Definitely the most popular BR game getting around right now thanks to a number of smart plays by its creator, Epic Games. Outside of gameplay, its biggest point of difference compared to other BR titles is that it’s free to play and available on nearly every platform, which instantly makes it more accessible to a greater audience.
Fortnite takes an almost cartoony approach to gameplay, providing a simplistic inventory system that’s straightforward and easy to get your head around. Where it differs dramatically, though, is the ability to build structures, which, to me, is more a pain in the ass than anything else. Building gives players another dimension to BR combat outside of simply having good aim. The map is also quite small, which means matches are fairly fast compared to other games in the genre.
Its cartoon-like aesthetic also makes it more accessible to a younger audience, as it appears way less violent than the competition, although it is just addictive. Fortnite is essentially pokies for children.
Points of difference: Building, arcadey approach, faster games, and free to play. Available on nearly fucking everything, including smartphones.
Call of Duty’s take on BR is, to me, a good middle ground between PUBG and Fortnite. It’s a little faster than the former, inventory is much easier to manage, and gun mechanics are far less hardcore compared to PUBG. It’s also a good indication of what a AAA studio can do with the genre, launching as a polished game mode rather than an early access nightmare.
In terms of big differences, Blackout has helicopters and special abilities which can be equipped for a limited time. These perks include things like revealing nearby loot, reduced noise when moving, faster healing, faster movement, and more.
You’ll also be able to unlock different playable specialists, each with their own unique gadgets and abilities, which mix up the game even more.
Points of difference: Helicopters, gadgets, perks and special abilities, straightforward gunplay, a smooth and polished game.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a bunch of other BR experiences out there now, and Battlefield V‘s upcoming take on the mode has the potential to turn the Big Three into the Big Four, but we’ll have to wait and see whether that one holds up.
In the meantime, what you’ll prefer with BR depends on what kind of games you like overall. Fast-paced and arcadey gamers will probably be into Fortnite, those who dig a more realistic approach will probably be PUBG purists, and if you fall somewhere in-between, Blackout is a good midground.
After growing tired of waiting for PUBG to be fixed (admittedly, it’s much better after the latest patch) I’ve found Blackout to be a great and refreshing alternative. I don’t play Fortnite anymore because I’m sick of getting dunked on by 12-year-olds and their enormous stairways to nowhere.