Battle of the Battle Royales
With the arrival of PUBG on mobile (in China at least), there’s a right Battle Royale rumble brewing with Rules of Survival.
First, a little context. Rules of Survival essentially pre-empted PUBG mobile by solidly emulating the original PUBG experience for smartphone and tablet gamers. Unsurprisingly, it’s proved pretty popular, because everyone loves PlayerUnknown’s Battleground right now.
Now here comes PUBG mobile to do the very same thing, but with an official endorsement and familiar assets to its name.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that PUBG is the better game, of course. So how do these two mobile Battle Royale titans stack up at this early stage?
Before we start, a quick note: PUBG comes in two flavors, rather confusingly, but we’ve only been able to get into games of the ‘Army Attack’ version to date. So that’s obviously what we’re referring to any time we say ‘PUBG mobile’.
With that in mind, here are a few points of comparison between PUBG mobile and Rules of Survival.
Rules of Survival is way easier to play
Before we even get into matters of gameplay and execution, it’s worth pointing out the blindingly obvious. For most people, Rules of Survival is the better bet right now because it’s the only one of the two that they’ll be able to play without jumping through a bunch of hoops.
As we’ve already mentioned, PUBG mobile is only available in China right now, which means going through the rigmarole of setting up a Chinese App Store account. Once that’s done you’ll have to wade through a bunch of mandarin text.
There are also two distinct versions to choose from, as mentioned in the intro, which is confusing.
It’s still perfectly playable – particularly if you have a fundamental grasp of PUBG – but Rules of Survival is simply far easier to get into.
Rules of Survival gives you more players and levels
It’s a simple matter of numbers, this. While PUBG sticks to its 100-strong player count, RoS allows 120 real players onto its battlegrounds.
Oh yes, that’s the other thing – Rules of Survival has two (count ’em) maps to PUBG mobile’s one. Hopefully, the Miramar map that recently made its way to PUBG proper won’t be too long to mobile.
RoS mixes the size of its maps up too. The default map is a mere 4×4 km, making for generally briefer and more action-packed games (especially with the higher player count), but the second map is a PUBG-matching 8×8.
PUBG does loot better
PUBG is a brilliant game for loot-fiends. It gets the process of scavenging for stuff pretty much spot on. RoS isn’t exactly bad in this regard, but nor is it quite up to PUBG‘s standards.
You’ll generally find yourself much better equipped much earlier on in PoS, whereas PUBG will fairly often put you in the position of facing endgame with a less than optimal loadout if you’re particularly unlucky.
There are generally tougher decisions to make in PUBG as a result, as you countenance more risky dives into heavily built-up areas to snag that missing scope or level three vest.
I also like the way PUBG will automatically hoover up attachments that fit your current weapons as you run over them.
Different approach to opening doors
PUBG mobile automates the door-opening process, while RoS makes you press a button. There are good and bad sides to both approaches.
In PUBG mobile’s favor, it’s much easier and less annoying for doors to simple open when you press against them – especially when you’re looting multiple large buildings each containing numerous rooms.
On the other hand, RoS‘s more deliberate approach makes approaching enemies who are holed up in a building that bit more controlled. Nothing gives you away in such situations like opening a creaky door.
RoS is better optimized for mobile
Graphically, it’s tough to call a winner here, but in practical terms, we’d probably give RoS the slight edge. It seems a little better optimized for smaller displays right now.
I found PUBG‘s buttons to be slightly fiddly on my iPhone X, whereas RoS has slightly chunkier, bolder controls that work more reliably.
Indeed, its UI is generally crisper and more readable than PUBG mobile’s, while its lobby menus are also more appealing.
Different approach to audio signatures
Both games register gunfire and engine noise visually, but in subtly different ways. RoS places a sound signature on the compass gauge at the top of the screen, making it easier to pinpoint where noise is coming from in a pinch.
PUBG places those sound signatures on the mini-map, which you need to work a little harder to decipher – but which allows you to pinpoint the location of your rivals more accurately.
Honestly, I’m not sure which approach I prefer. They’re both handy in slightly different situations.
RoS has a more colourful, playful tone
PUBG can be a lighthearted experience with its entertaining sandbox, wonky physics, and potential for team-based hijinks.
But you’d never accuse the tone of the game itself of being particularly breezy. Its hardcore military simulator core shows through in places, particularly with its dour setting.
RoS has a little more fun with its audience, whether through its current Valentine’s Day-themed fantasy aircraft, its rubber chicken melee weapon, and its colourful range of special events.
In that respect it’s learned a few lessons from PUBG‘s main rival, Fortnite, and I have to say I approve of the extra levity.
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