Fortnite mobile vs PUBG Mobile - Which is best?
By Jon Mundy 22 March 2018
Game Name: Fortnite Battle Royale | Publisher: Epic Games | Format: Android, iPhone, iPad
Update March 21, 2018: With the recent global release of PUBG Mobile, we thought we'd give this piece a bump with some added impressions. We've indicated where new comments have been made.

vs PUBG is undoubtedly the biggest scrap in gaming right now. It's up there with FIFA vs PES, Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat, Mario vs Sonic, and Quake vs Unreal Tournament.

Now the fight has begun to spill over onto mobile, with the recent invite-only launch of Fortnite on iOS following on from the Chinese soft launch (UPDATE: and the subsequent global rollout) of PUBG Mobile.

We thought we'd quickly run through some of the key differences between Fortnite mobile and PUBG Mobile.

Core differences

Before we go into the differences between these mobile conversions, it's perhaps worth quickly running through the key differences between the core games. This will probably determine which mobile version you prefer more than anything else.

PUBG places far more emphasis on gun mechanics and fine-tuning your setup. There's far more stuff to collect across a much larger and more complex map.

As a result, PUBG is a much more slow-paced and explorative experience, with looting far more of a factor. There are also vehicles to commandeer in PUBG, unlike Fortnite where it's all on foot.

Fortnite gets you into the action much quicker, and its gun and loot mechanics are more transparent. If you've ever played a console shooter, it will feel instantly familiar.

Fortnite's key twist is its construction system. Unlike PUBG, you can make your own cover and even makeshift forts by harvesting materials and entering a dedicated building menu.

Being able to erect such structures on the fly is arguably a more important skill than being able to aim, making it feel very different to PUBG.

That being said, these are both Battle Royale games, so let's take a look at how the two mobile versions compare.

Fortnite mobile is closer to the original

While PUBG mobile seems to be a faithful interpretation of the original PC game, Fortnite mobile is the original game running on a tiny screen.

How is such a thing even possible? There are a few reasons that we'd put forward for this. Most obviously, Epic Games is pretty much the biggest game engine maker in town, with Unreal Engine powering hundreds of blockbuster games across all platforms - including mobile.

This is a finely tuned engine that can be optimised for pretty much any modern platform you care to mention. Add in the fact that Epic itself worked on Fortnite mobile, and it's not much of a surprise that it positively sings.

Conversely, PUBG is a famously janky (if brilliant) game built by a start-up developer based on a cult PC mod. Also, development for the mobile version was farmed out to a different developer.

Beyond that, PUBG's world is simply much bigger, more complex and more demanding than Fortnite's, so it was always likely to be a bigger task to bring to mobile.

Fortnite's world is (generally) better suited to mobile

Let's pick up on that last point. I'd argue that Fortnite was always going to be a more natural fit for mobile than PUBG.

It's world is more compact and its art style a lot simpler and bolder. This isn't just a matter of required processing power, but also one of legibility.

In Fortnite's primary-coloured world, enemies and items pop against the scenery. Weapons are colour-coded so you can identify them from a distance.

Shooting enemies makes colour-coded hit points pop out of them, so you know exactly what damage you're doing.

PUBG, by contrast, is styled a lot more like a military sim, told in shades of grey and brown. It's the quintessential PC game, and thus not so well suited to tiny mobile screens.

UPDATE: But PUBG seems to be more scalable

The key advantage of PUBG Mobile being built specifically for mobile devices is that it works well even on relatively modest hardware.

Conversely, while Fortnite runs like a dream on my iPhone X, I've heard reports that it runs like a dog on an iPhone SE and other older hardware.

What's more, you can tweak and fine-tune PUBG Mobile with a number of graphical settings, so you can prioritise performance over polish or vice versa. Fortnite, by contrast, is frustratingly inflexible.

PUBG is smarter with loot and items

I'd argue that PUBG mobile has a more sophisticated approach to handling loot and item interaction on a tiny touchscreen than Fortnite mobile.

Both games have you picking up loot automatically when you first run over it, with PUBG also fitting out your weapons with the best enhancements where appropriate.

Fortnite doesn't need the latter element - its guns are complete upon collection - but it treats subsequent weapon pick-ups and item interaction slightly differently. Chests, weapons, items and doors need to be touched directly where they lie.

This is intuitive, yes. But it can also be awkward when they're not positioned near your thumb on the screen.

PUBG mobile, on the other hand, gives you a context sensitive pop-up menu or button prompt to interact with such things. It makes things busier, yes, but it's also more orderly and ultimately empowering.

PUBG gives you free look

Regular Fortnite and PUBG players will tell you all about the benefits of the free look function.

This enables you to look around your character whilst running or when hidden, which is really handy to avoid getting sneaked up on - or even to 'peek' your opponents (get a view on them when they can't see you).

Put simply, PUBG mobile has included this feature, while Fortnite mobile omits it. That's a clear point to PUBG mobile.

UPDATE: It isn't actually in any version of Fortnite, but I maintain that its existence in PUBG Mobile is win for that game.

Fortnite has better autorun

You spend a lot of time running across open ground in both games. It's a natural result of being dropped on a vast island and then being told to get to a random location.

This can be quite tiresome on the old digits, so all versions of PUBG and Fortnite include an autorun option. Activate this and your character will keep on running until you tell them to stop.

In PUBG mobile you drag forward to manually run, hit the autorun prompt and release. With Fortnite you double tap the virtual movement stick.

I can see that opinion will vary on this, but for my money the Fortnite solution works more consistently, as you're not stretching your thumb to reach a tiny contact point.


Right now, Fortnite mobile is in a much more playable state than PUBG mobile. It simply runs smoother, looks better, and is generally more intuitive on a mobile screen.

Ultimately, though the differences that count most lie with the core games themselves. Do you prefer PUBG's bigger, more complex levels? It's more refined gunplay? Do you like haring around on a motorbike with your buddy? Then the mobile version will be a better bet for you.

Conversely, you might prefer Fortnite's brighter, more arcadey experience. You might want to get to the action quicker. Maybe you're a big fan of building your own defensive structures or walkways, or blowing up the buildings your foes are hiding in.

Fortnite mobile is shaping up to be a better take on its source material than PUBG mobile. But that difference isn't the one that matters most in this titanic gaming face-off.

UPDATE: Cartoony crafting vs gunplay and driving

Having played a fair amount of both games now, I'm starting to form my own preference. But more important than the identity of my favourite is the basis for picking.

Fortnite is the better looking, slicker mobile game, no doubt. But I still prefer the tighter combat, slower pace, vehicular hijinks, and the sheer scope of PUBG Mobile's sprawling map.

Add to that the fact that I'm simply not the kind of guy who particularly enjoys crafting and building stuff in games (that's what level designers are paid for!), and you can hopefully understand my choice.

All that really matters is that it's a great time to be alive for mobile gamers. They've now got two fine ways to wage virtual war on up to 99 of their fellow humans.
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