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How Fortnite totally rips PUBG off

Not every game comes with all the hype and fanfare of a multi-million-dollar marketing push, like a Destiny or an Uncharted. Some are born in small development shops, published by lesser-known publishers, and can only hope to catch on through the stellar narratives or viral gameplay. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds falls into the category of a game that seemed to come out of nowhere in early 2017. But since its launch, you'd be hard-pressed to find a title that's had a bigger impact on the game industry — so much so, in fact, that other companies are scrambling to adapt PUBG's battle royale shooter concept into their own games.

One of the games that's already accomplished this is Fortnite. Epic's survival title originally launched in July 2017, and while there were certainly fans of the base game, Fortnite saw a huge surge in player count upon adding its Battle Royale mode in September of that same year. Fortnite does attempt to put a unique spin on the genre with its crafting system, but when comparing both Fortnite and PUBG side by side, it's hard to deny that the games are strikingly similar. So similar, in fact, that one could argue Fortnite outright rips off much of what made PUBG popular.

Is Fortnite PUBG copy? We see how a case could be made that, yes, it is. And below, we'll present the evidence.

PUBG uses Unreal Engine, which is made by Epic ... the makers of Fortnite

Most games aren't built entirely from scratch. There's a development framework used — an engine — that provides a sort of structure developers can use to build out their games. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds uses one called Unreal Engine 4, and it's not alone. UE4 is also used by well-known titles like Gears of War 4Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, and Street Fighter V. But there's a more interesting story behind PUBG's use of Unreal Engine 4 and how it ties into the many ways Fortnite has adopted its gameplay elements.

Fortnite is made by Epic Games ... the same company that makes Unreal Engine.

It's not uncommon for developers to stay in touch with Epic throughout the process of developing their Unreal Engine games. Some might need help with certain features of the engine, or assistance optimizing their games for various platforms. And there's evidence to show that PUBG developer Bluehole expected Epic to support a company licensing its engine, not compete with it. That Epic then chose to create a game mode very similar to PUBG inside Fortnite doesn't look all that innocent in that wider context.

It's reported that Bluehole apparently contemplated legal action against Epic at the launch of Fortnite: Battle Royale; however, nothing ever came of it, and the two games continue to co-exist to this day.

Fortnite uses a very similar pre-game lobby

The pre-game lobby isn't something that typically gets a lot of scrutiny in a video game. For the most part, they're bland menu screens or loading screens. So it seemed neat that PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds made the matchmaking lobby a more interactive experience. It's a way to experiment with the game's movement if you're a new player, and an opportunity to fire off your guns prior to the actual beginning of the match.

How does Fortnite: Battle Royale handle the pre-game lobby? The exact same way.

In Fortnite, you're placed in a sectioned-off space with the other players you'll be competing against. The game will continue to add players until the player count is full. And while you're waiting, you can use the opportunity to get used to the controls and contemplate a strategy for the coming contest. It's a neat spin on the "waiting room" you're faced with in most multiplayer games, and it might not stick out much if it were a different kind of game. But the fact that Fortnite already shares so many similarities with PUBG means this feature looks less like adopting a good idea and more like ripping off a proven title.

Fortnite games start almost the exact same way PUBG games start

The matchmaking lobby isn't the only PUBG-like idea you'll find when starting your first Fortnite match. All that mindless running around has to end at some point, after all, and once your lobby fills up, you'll be ready to jump in and actually begin your Battle Royale match. And if you've ever played PUBG, the next idea Fortnite borrowed from that game will be too obvious to ignore.

It's the Battle Bus. It flies over the Fortnite map attached to a hot air balloon and provides players the opportunity to jump, soar through the skies, and use a hang-glider to choose exactly where they start on the playing field. And it works almost exactly the same way PUBG's plane and parachutes work. In fact, if you play the jumping and hang-gliding section of Fortnite right next to the jumping and parachuting section of PUBG while you squint, you might not be able to tell the two apart. They're that similar.

There were a host of options Epic could have considered for starting its Battle Royale matches, from random placement to perhaps putting everyone in a car at the start. That it used the same paratrooper concept as PUBG doesn't do a lot to combat the cries of "ripoff" from gamers.

Fortnite: Battle Royale matches take place on an island

Once players jump and parachute — sorry, hang-glide — down to the map at the start of a Fortnite match, they'll find that the playing field also borrows heavily from PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Matches in PUBG take place on an island. And matches in Fortnite? They take place on an island. In the case of PUBG, the choice of putting matches on this kind of terrain made sense in that it kept players inside a set vicinity to start. But not every game with boundaries takes place on an island, so it's kind of a head-scratcher that Epic couldn't think of a more unique way to apply the same limits to its maps.

Instead, Fortnite matches start out looking like PUBG matches with a different kind of art style, right down to the map players can see as they zoom down toward the surface. It's another fact that makes defending the game difficult, and makes it appear that Epic wasn't setting out to create a battle royale mode, but to put a version of PUBG inside Fortnite.

Fortnite uses the same 100-player count

There are many numbers one can choose when trying to select a player count for a game mode. One might even say there's an infinite number of numbers. So when PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds came into being and needed to choose a player count for its main game mode, it decided 100 was a good, round number. It's large, and it adds to the spectacle that is battle royale. But not every game or sport needs to use the number 100 for its "royale" contests, and Fortnite could have just as easily put 50 players on an island and avoided yet another PUBG comparison.

It didn't. It chose 100, just like PUBG.

There may be technical limitations for why more players can't be put on a map. It could certainly be argued that those 100 players are the reason PUBG doesn't always run that well. But that doesn't do much to excuse Fortnite straight-up copying a lot of PUBG aspects right down to the nitty gritty detail of player count.

The evidence is mounting.

Fortnite's game objectives are the same

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds doesn't use an entirely original game concept with regard to the number of lives you get in a match, which is one. All sorts of games have a sort of "elimination" mode, where being killed means you're out. No coming back. But such games are rare when you think about matchmade online shooters, where the objective is to rack up a number of kills and, should you die, respawn so you can get back into the fight.

Fortnite: Battle Royale could have put its own spin on the concept in order to put some separation between it and PUBG. Adding respawns — even a finite number — would have made Fortnite at least a little bit different. But much as Epic did with the already-explained facets of its game, the company opted to use the game rules PUBG had established. There is only one life to live, and when you're dead, you're dead.

Fortnite players scavenge and manage inventory just as they do in PUBG

The act of getting the kills you need in Fortnite requires a bit of strategy beforehand. You don't just drop down to the map with guns ready to go. You don't have all the resources you need to protect yourself right off the bat. You have to enter homes and buildings to scavenge for supplies, whether you're in need of guns, power-ups, or materials. And what you get is truly the luck of the draw. You could land near a shoddy-looking shed and find a powerful rifle, or forage through an expensive-looking building and only find a pea shooter.

And guess what? That bit of Fortnite mirrors the gameplay you'll find in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

There are so many different ways Epic could have made this different. The company could have opted to start players with weapons. It could have had weapons drop on the map at random intervals. It could have dreamed up an imaginative way to force players to go get what they need, but instead, it seems Epic just looked at what PUBG was doing and told their team, "Do that."

Fortnite uses PUBG's "Safe Zone" concept to shrink the map

The maps in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds are pretty sizable to start — after all, they have to accommodate 100 players who need to loot for weapons and supplies prior to engaging each other. Naturally, though, as players find each other and get into firefights, the player count dwindles, and the game must force those remaining into a smaller area of the map.

PUBG uses a sort of shrinking "safe zone" in order to accomplish this task. The playable area reduces in size over the course of the match, giving players no option but to get closer to one another. And in keeping with its apparent mission of rebuilding PUBG inside Fortnite, Epic chose to use the same kind of system. In Fortnite, it's called the "Eye of the Storm," and as the match progresses, the Eye becomes smaller and smaller, forcing players to squeeze together and battle each other.

If FortniteBattle Royale were meant to be a more original mode, perhaps Epic would have come up with another way to facilitate the end game of its matches. But as you put it all together, it appears Fortnite isn't trying to be original at all.

Fortnite has the same co-op modes

Should you choose to play PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, there's more than one way you can go about it. There's the classic 100-player battle royale mode, where it's you going up against 99 other players in a fight to the death. But if you have some friends who also enjoy the game, you can group up and play that way too. There's a "duos" mode if you want to bring one friend into battle, or a "squad" mode that lets you put together a team of four and fight to be the last team standing.

Would it shock you to learn that Fortnite has the exact same modes in Battle Royale? Because it does. Both a duos mode and a squad mode, just like PUBG.

You don't have to have a big imagination to come up with different takes on battle royale multiplayer. Why not teams of ten? Or allowing for different roles, like someone who can fly over the map and do recon for those on the ground? Epic had an opportunity to provide a gameplay experience in Battle Royale that was totally different than what PUBG was doing, and instead, it simply copied the PUBG co-op modes and called it a day.

Progression in Fortnite is very similar

There's more to play for in both games than simply winning. Fighting to — and ultimately becoming — the lone survivor can be a rush, but players in both PUBG and Fortnite can play for more than "Chicken Dinners" and "Victory Royales." In PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, rewards come in the form of cosmetics. Playing the game allows players to accrue Battle Points, which can be spent on crates that contain things like shirts, pants, hats, masks, and more.

And in Fortnite? The rewards are ... cosmetics.

In Fortnite: Battle Royale, cosmetics take the form of skins and emotes. Playing the game earns you XP, which you can spend to purchase the cosmetic items of your choice. And Fortnite actually takes the concept a step further, thanks to its free-to-play model. In addition to the free loot you can earn through progression, there are also items you can purchase using real-world money. You may be a fan of that or you may not, but it's there. And it's not entirely original, believe it or not – PUBG has paid cosmetics, too.