Pick your battles
Games like PUBG are everywhere in 2021, and it appears the Battle Royale genre is, in the immediate sense at least, here to stay. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, to lend it its Sunday name, now know as PUBG Battlegrounds, stormed the scene in 2017 with its short and snappy, drop-in, drop-dead 100-player battles, which inspired a host of genre-likes in games such as Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty Warzone. You’ll find all of those and more on this list, and with the likes of Ghost Recon Frontline providing its own take on the now ubiquitous genre, the future of the Battle Royale genre looks to be in rude health marching forward.
From modes to mods to fully-fledged games - here is our list of games like PUBG to scratch that Battle Royale itch.
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X (both via backwards compatability), PS4, Xbox One, and PC
Apex Legends comes courtesy of Respawn, the makers of Titanfall 2. Set in the same universe, but without the wall-running and Titans, you get to pick from eight different characters to play as (although two are locked behind a progression wall). It’s basically like PUBG crossed with Overwatch, with fast-paced gameplay and players with actual characters and abilities of their own, whether that’s Wraith’s ability to link two locations via a rift that her allies can use, or Bloodhound’s ability to see enemy tracks. Plus it’s free, which means it’s worth a try just for the hell of it.
Call of Duty Warzone
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, and PC
Few video game experiences are as exhilarating as Call of Duty: Warzone. It’s a game that is highly skill-dependent and isn’t the easiest to get into, especially if your goal is to come out on top. But if you can learn the ins and outs of complex weapons, their attachments, perks, and mechanics, you’ll have a great time with Warzone. This is a game that feels wildly satisfying, most notably when things go according to plan.
Ring of Elysium
Available on: PC
If you're a PC gamer through and through, you'll be pleased to hear that there's a brand new, entirely free, battle royale game like PUBG that's 100 percent deserving of your attention. Welcome to Ring of Elysium. Made by Chinese developer Tencent, this PUBG-a-like actually started life as a mobile game, but is now reborn as a fully-fledged PC experience, with a Fortnite-style battle pass, a vast map, great assortment of weapons, and even a BMX to play around with. It has the realism of PUBG, a touch of silliness, and glorious graphics that all combine to make it one to watch.
Dying Light: Bad Blood
Available on: PC
Dying Light's particular blend of parkour and zombies made for quite the amazing game when it came out in 2015, and it turns out that even three years later, thousands of people are still playing Techland's creation. It's been so popular that the developers are making a battle royale spin-off, but it's what they're calling a brutal royale. 12 players go in, grab melee weapons, attempt to collect enough blood samples to summon the chopper, and then grab the only seat on said chopper to get the heck out of dodge. You don't technically need to be the last one standing, unlike in other battle royale games out there, you just need your bum on that seat as it flies you to freedom. But it's not just the 11 other players you need to worry about, as gathering blood samples is actually harvesting blood from infected hives, all of which are protected are protected by the infected. The better protected each hive is though, the more samples you'll get. It's a magic blend of PvE and PvP complete with parkour movements and lots of smashing.
Arma 3: PlayerUnknown’s Battle Royale Mod
Available on: PC
This is where it all began; how PlayerUnknown became, well, known. Inspired by his love of military sims, Brendan Greene used one of his favourites - Arma 3 (particularly its DayZ mod) - as his canvas to experiment with different PvP scenarios, eventually leading to the creation of his first Battle Royale mod. While the mode quickly became known as the “COD of DayZ”, be warned; this is a community mod for a five year old PC mil-sim, so don’t go in expecting something anything close to the stuff you see in PUBG.
Instead, it’s a patient and purist interpretation of Battle Royale, with a healthy dose of realism underscoring the gunplay. The intensity of the genre is definitely there, though, and the fact that you can only play solo makes it an even more stressful experience, if that’s your sort of thing. Still, it can be fun to go back and experience PUBG’s humble roots, even if Greene did eventually go on to bigger and better things.
GTA Online: Motor Wars
Available: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Rockstar is usually the one found at the frontlines of industry innovation rather than following somebody else’s lead but, damn it, Battle Royale makes so much sense as a mode for GTA Online that I’ll allow them this one exception. As part of the Smuggler’s Run update in August 2017, Rockstar added a new mode called Motor Wars, which it described “as a tense battle for survival, where teams race against the clock to locate weaponised vehicles and hunt down opponents inside an ever-shrinking kill box.” Certainly sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
In reality, Motor Wars’s overt emphasis on vehicular mayhem is where the mode really comes into its own. You’re still fighting to survive as the last team standing, but this time you have to contend with skyscrapers, ragdoll physics, and people driving around in armoured trucks with .50 cal turrets mounted on the back. Plus, it’s all taking place within GTA 5’s still impressive game engine, so you know the production value is going to be top notch.
Available on: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, iPad, iPhone
Born as an offshoot of Fortnite: Save the World, Fortnite Battle Royale marked the game's free PvP mode when it launched back in September 2017. Since, Fortnite Battle Royale has witnessed massive success as a PUBG competitor, not least because it beat its rival to the console market as the first free Battle Royale game on PS4 and Xbox One.
The mode flaunts attractive features to set itself apart too, by introducing crafting, resource management, and eccentric new weaponry to the fold, with a focus on emergent gameplay that can allow for some breathtakingly creative wins. Build impregnable sky fortresses and finish your foes from above, surf RPG rockets to attain victory via the element of surprise, or create a trap-filled maze to funnel an enemy into a spiky end… All of these tactics and more are made possible by Fortnite’s sandbox sentiments, where intense strategy and inventive hilarity go hand in hand.
Available on: Xbox One, PC
The Battle Royale genre primarily takes its inspiration from (surprise!) the Japanese film of the same name, but The Culling finds its identity by drawing from a slightly different movie muse. Set in a jungle forest biome where 16 players whack, shoot, and explode each other to death as an unmissable scoreboard in the sky chronicles every defeat and victory, this is The Hunger Games in all but name.
The bloody combat is clunky but cathartic, and developer Xaviant’s prioritisation on crafting and melee weaponry makes a fresh change from the long-range firefights of Battlegrounds. It’s also a visually and thematically colourful game, with a tongue-in-cheek tone that works well as as comic relief from the breakneck intensity of every match.
Rust: Battle Royale
Available on: PC
You’ve heard of Rust before. It’s the game where hundreds of people go around thwacking each other with rocks, usually while wearing nothing but their birthday suit. Considering that the whole point of Rust is to survive in a harsh environment as you scrounge for resources and fend off any competition, then, it was inevitable that someone would set up an unofficial Battle Royale server for the game at some point.
In Rust: Battle Royale, players spawn on the edge of the map (in the nude, of course), with nothing but a torch, bandage, and map to keep them company. What follows is a ruthless dog eat dog quest to stay alive at any cost, as the combat zone slowly begins to shrink. The mode is Battle Royale diluted to its most barebones and, at times, it’s absolutely terrifying. You’re more likely to be running around like a headless chicken than engaging in strategically minded combat, but there’s something to be said about the sheer brutality of it all that makes Rust’s answer to PUBG more entertaining than it looks.
H1Z1: King of the Kill
Available on: PC
After wowing players and peers alike with his aforementioned Arma 3 mod, PlayerUnknown went on to work with Daybreak Games to create a new H1Z1 Battle Royale mode in the exact same vein, and King of the Kill is the wildly popular result of those combined efforts. With its faster pace and stress on shooting over scavenging, King of the Kill boasts an active and hotly competitive community of players, and has gone on to become something of the Battle Royale poster child for eSports tournaments and events.
But it’s also a fairly accessible game for newcomers too, with less systems in play than something like Battlegrounds, placing the directive firmly on skill and survival. More shooter than mil-sim, H1Z1’s simpler style and cheaper price point make it an appealing and viable alternative to the PUBG experience.
Ark: Survival of the Fittest
Available on: PC
Let’s not beat around the prehistoric bush - Ark: Survival of the Fittest has gawkish visuals, buggy gameplay, and an awful user interface, but this standalone spin-off to Ark: Survival Evolved is also the only Battle Royale game where you’ll also be fighting alongside all manner of rancorous reptiles and barmy beasties, where even mother nature herself is out to kill you.
The caveman setting fits nicely into the Battle Royale dynamic, but the real good stuff comes when things begin to heat up; as players ride into fights mounted on giant gorillas or fire-breathing dragons, leading to end-game battles on a scale that simply can’t be found anywhere else. It may take you a while to find a match these days, as Ark’s player count continues to dwindle, but I promise you won’t be disappointed once you do.
Minecraft: The Hunger Games
Available on: PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iPhone, iPad, Android
Before PUBG (or indeed the Battle Royale genre) was ever even a thing, Minecraft had been hosting Last Man Standing deathmatches for years. Today still, there are dozens of Battle Royale-style servers to choose from on Minecraft PC, but you’ll want to stick with big, popular communities like Mineplex for the most balanced and competitive rounds set in Mojang’s blockbuster title.
As you’d imagine, the fully destroyable and rebuildable world of Minecraft is the perfect playground for Battle Royale death matches, as players are given every opportunity to engage with their creative side for the sake of survival. The ever clunky combat is never going to be as fair or fine-tuned as the rest of the games on this list, but it’s a serviceable compromise when you consider that this might be the only kid-friendly Battle Royale experience out there.
Rules of Survival
Available on: Android, iOS, PC, Mac
While it’s already been announced that an official PUBG game is in development for mobile (at least in China), it’s probably going to be a while before we ever see that in action. In the meantime, there’s plenty of half decent Battle Royale mobile games that you can download and play on your portable device of choice, and Rules of Survival is one the best examples.
Despite the limitations of the platform, Rules of Survival boasts a higher player limit than the Battle Royale standard, allowing up to 120 players to drop in on the same island at any one time. The map is impressively big, and there’s a good variety of vehicles and guns to discover in each round, even if NetEase Games still has a lot of work to do when it comes to ironing out some of the more noticeable bugs and glitches. As far as originality, it doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the competition, and the presentation leaves much to be desired, but it’s still one of the more robust and enjoyable variants of mobile Battle Royale out there.
Available on: PC, PS4, and Xbox One
Imagine if, in PUBG, when you get downed you don't just scrabble about in the dirt, but you instead turn into a chicken. Well, that's exactly what happens with Realm Royale. If you survive long enough in your feathered form - and I'd suggest running right out of that battle you were just in - you'll actually get put straight back into the game. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner indeed.
Of course, it's not all about chickens. This is actually one of the more unique titles on our list of games like PUBG, as it's one of the only battle royale titles that utilises character classes, which each come with their own set of special abilities. It's like World of Warcraft meets PUBG and it's much better than it has any right to be.
Totally Accurate Battlegrounds
Available on: PC
You're about to get hosed in the face with a blasting of silliness, because that's exactly the kind of vibe Totally Accurate Battlegrounds is channeling. It's an absolutely hilarious parody of the battle royale genre as a whole, with characters that flop and worm around the map, even in the ridiculous skins you put them in, or the cars you make them ride around in. It's all very tongue in cheek, but excellently so. Totally Accurate Battlegrounds is the perfect balance for the seriousness of PUBG. Treat yo'self.