Battle Royale games are all the rage these days. Just take look at how insanely popular, ahem, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS has become. The thing managed to overtake Dota 2 on Steam charts for a moment! How crazy is that?
It’s no surprise then that people are going to be trying to get on that hot Battle Royale action. Recently Rockstar attempted that in a new update to their Grand Theft Auto Online, with a stronger emphasis on vehicle combat.
Introduction to Battle Royale
Plunkbat itself benefits from being developed by a person who pretty much singlehandedly introduced this form of Last Man Standing to modern gaming. Brendan ‘Playerunknown’ Greene has experience dating back to his BR mods for Arma 2 and Arma 3. He also helped with the H1Z1: King of the Kill, and finally made the game he always wanted to make. Talk about life goals. The idea is much as it was in the first days of that Arma 2 mod. A bunch of players are dropped onto an island-based map, with barely more than their undies for all the help it’s going to be. After finding themselves on the ground they need to find gear, including weapons and ammo, and then proceed to survive. Survival is more important here than frags, because victory goes to the last person standing and you can go a long way by being a coward hiding in a closet. Theoretically. In practice you can hide for only so long, because the playable area shrinks every so often, and if you find yourself outside of it, you get zapped. As a result you need to balance being on the move, not being spotted, and getting the drop on other aspirants to being the last one standing. This just about covers the basics of what you’re in for when you run a Battle Royale game or mode. That said, let’s take a look at how PUBG and GTAO: Motor Wars mode (introduced in the Smuggler’s Run update) compare.
The key difference between Plunkbat and GTAO is the role and importance of vehicles in the grander scheme of things. While important and useful, the vehicles of Plunkbat are a means to an end, whether this end is getting out of the danger zone or running over hapless enemies with glee unknown since the days of Carmageddon. Finding a means of transport for yourself or your team is a huge help, but doesn’t take precedent over the regular ground-pounding gameplay. Not so in Motor Wars. In all honesty, the name of the mode should already be a dead giveaway of what the new mode included in the Smuggler’s Run is all about. To put it simply, vehicular manslaughter is the name of the game. Getting into an armoured SUV with a team (more on that later), with someone driving and someone else manning the turret, and putting your drive-by skills to the test against others on the map can be a blast. If you don’t find Crossout to be to your liking, or miss the road-fighting going on in the 2015 Mad Max game, then Motor Wars might interest you.
The help and lack thereof
Key differences also lie in what assists either game offers to players. Spoiler: most of them are in Motor Wars. PUBG does very little to help its players once they are past the landing. Vehicles don’t show on any kind of map and you have to look for them yourself. Weapons are a mystery to be discovered as well, due to random distribution of them. As a result many the early moments of a Plunkbat match are spent looking for gear. And even if you find a gun it still has to be loaded, so you can get your head smashed in before you can do anything useful with it. There is a cruel fairness in all of this. Motor Wars do everything the other way round. You can die the moment you hit the ground, because the game doesn’t handle parachuting for you, you need to pick the right moment yourself. On the other hand, you see everything you may need neatly displayed on your map. Vehicles, weapons, you name it. There is also an interesting twist regarding your own visibility. While on foot, you are invisible on the map, but get into a car and you get your own neat icon on everyone’s minimap. It appears that GTAO wants people on the action faster (especially since matches are shorter) for some good old Grand Theft Auto mayhem. PUBG goes for a slower, more deliberate playstyle.
The more the merrier?
The two games have a significant difference in terms of scale, as well, and it revolves largely around the number and distribution of players during the match. Take (*inhale*) PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (*exhale*) for example. A single match can hold up to a hundred participants, solo or in squads of up to 4 players. That makes for up to 25 teams trying to survive and prohibit the survival of others. Alternatively, a hundred players doing so. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and become paranoid, which is probably the thing PUBG aimed for. Motor Wars on the other hand allow only 28 players per match, and up to four teams. What it means is that the scale goes down by a pretty hefty amount, but having even six other players on your side can feel good. It’s also much easier to grab a victory when there are only four teams. Even if you find yourself six feet under, your team still has a decent chance.
There is no taking down Plunkbat from the upper echelons of Steam charts any time soon, that much should be clear by now. Which is not to say that there shouldn’t be any attempt to grab the Battle Royale crown. Probably thankfully, Motor Wars doesn’t really try to mimic. It takes many things from Playerunknown’s gameplay formula, but does its own thing in a true GTA style. Where PUBG goes for boots-on-the-ground combat, Motor Wars puts emphasis on vehicles. Huge player count and struggle for survival are “opposed” by fast-paced, bombastic Last Man Standing with cars and explosions. In the end it’s down to personal preference, because straight comparison between the two games is bound to be largely invalid. So you tell me: are you in for a true Battle Royale against a hundred other aspiring kings of the hill, or are vehicular manslaughter and armoured cars more your speed? PUBG or GTA V?