PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has found massive success since it hit Steam Early Access on March 23. While the concept of a battle royale isn’t new, Battlegrounds’ refined, no-nonsense approach to the free-for-all, last-player-standing-style survival shooter has earned it immense fame and fortune among enthusiasts of the genre.
But this Arma mod-turned-standalone isn’t the only option for survival game fans looking to pit their skills against others. Several mods and standalone games have come before and after (some even made by the creator himself), though how active each community is varies from game to game.
Whether you’re new to the genre, a huge Battle Royale fan curious about the rest of the genre, or simply don’t like PlayerUnknown’s approach and want an alternative, here are seven games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
Interested in seeing where it all started? Before Brendan Greene was making bank on Battlegrounds, he was known as the lead designer on DayZ: Battle Royale, an Arma 2 mod for the popular open-world survival mod DayZ. After DayZ went standalone in December 2013, Greene began work on PlayerUnknown’s Battle Royale, an Arma 3 mod that launched on the Steam Workshop in 2015. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is the culmination of Greene’s ideas for his work on mods like this, and later his consulting on H1Z1, but if you’re interested in testing out the origins of his most popular work, DayZ: Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown’s Battle Royale are where you should start.
Daybreak Game Company’s H1Z1 actually split off into two separate game projects in 2016, becoming H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Kill. The multiplayer zombie survival version, Just Survive, is comparable to DayZ with a larger emphasis on team-building. If you’re looking for battle royale-style deathmatch action, King of the Kill is what you want. Players parachute onto land, find weapons, and try to survive against others within the boundaries of a noxious green fog. While the mind behind PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds worked as a consultant on H1Z1, many Battlegrounds fans describe H1Z1 as more “arcade-y” than tactical. H1Z1’s accessibility is partially a result of this “arcadiness,” but there are other accessible, “Arma-lite” style survival games if you’re looking for something more realistic.
The Culling is on a much smaller scale than Battlegrounds, with only 16 players battling it out for victory. Its 8-player Lightning Mode offers even quicker matches. Unlike Battlegrounds, The Culling features a crafting system, perks, the ability to set traps, and a much wider range of melee weapons. Its dystopian game show theme makes for a much wilder style than the fairly grounded Battlegrounds and even the typical zombie apocalypse of H1Z1. While this one’s been on Steam Early Access since March of last year, developer Xaviant is bringing The Culling to Xbox One’s Game Preview program in June.
One of the most popular games on Steam (the 5th most owned in the United States, according to Steamspy) is Unturned, a free to play online sandbox with a zombie apocalypse theme. Unturned features survival-based single- and multiplayer modes that let players team up, build bases, and collect supplies to fight hunger, thirst, disease, and zombies. Its Arena Mode bears the closest resemblance to games like Battlegrounds, where several players randomly spawn on a map and fight until one person or team is left standing. But unlike the other games on this list, Unturned completely eschews a realistic, military sim style in favor of a more blocky, low poly look reminiscent of Minecraft.
Rust, the popular multiplayer survival game from Facepunch Studios, has a few servers running an unofficial game mode called Rust: Battle Royale. It starts you out naked, with nothing but a rock to defend yourself with, then follows the usual flow of gathering loot within a gradually constricting arena and killing off other players until just one is still alive. Unlike Battlegrounds, Rust: Battle Royale does allow you to form unofficial alliances mid-game without risking a ban, but the likelihood of that happening seems slim — especially since the game rules don’t accommodate for more than one winner. At least, not yet.
What began as Ark: Survival Evolved, an open-world survival game with a prehistoric theme, eventually split into two separate projects similar to H1Z1 — Ark: Survival Evolved and Ark: Survival of the Fittest — before merging back into a single game again. The Survival of the Fittest mode pits up to 72 players (solo or tribes) against each other in what it calls a “multiplayer online survival arena.” Ark’s dinosaur theme changes up the usual battle royale formula, with dangerous creatures and “evolution events” like acid rain, extreme cold, and dense fog posing as much of a threat as enemy players. And just like in Ark: Survival Evolved, you can still tame dinosaurs for use in battle, though they’re much less powerful than they are in the main game.
What are some of your favorite battle royale-style survival games? Let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget to also check out our Early Access review of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, where we offer our current impressions on the battle royale shooter.
Chloi Rad is an Associate Editor for IGN. Follow her on Twitter at @_chloi.