Just a heads up, this is not going to be a review of the genre where I critique all the games and talk about whether one is better than the other (because let’s be honest, I would have to let Fortnite win so that I’m not burned at the stake by its supporters). What I want to discuss is the concept of Battle Royale games as a whole and how they have become so popular.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the genre, the premise is simple. 100 players, either solo or in teams, are dropped into the middle of a gigantic battlefield where they fight each other until there’s one player left. Around the large map, you will find different terrains and packages with weapons that you can use to try to gain an advantage against your foes. You have to be careful though as there’s a giant field that slowly closes in on the map, forcing players closer and closer into the center of it for the final showdown.
Now the concepts of Battle Royale games have been around for a while, but they have started to take off in the past years with the huge success of games such as Fortnite & PUBG. While PUBG was one of the first to bring the genre into the limelight, Fortnite has truly captivated a large audience with it being released on multiple platforms with cross-platform capabilities, which explains their wide appeal. Oh, and did I forget to mention it’s free! (I swear I’m not marketing for Epic Games, but my wallet does appreciate the lack of price tag).
What makes these games so popular, and why are so many game companies that are starting to pump out more and more Battle Royale style games? I think there’re 3 primary reasons for their success: Their design, the techniques that go into winning matches, and the community that has embraced them. Let’s begin the conversation as I dive into these concepts.
The Positives: Design
There’re different design elements that lend themselves to the success of the genre, but one of the strongest, in my opinion, is the number of players on the map and the existence of the field that pushes you to the center. There’re unique elements in each game (such as the ability of construction or operating vehicles), but these original two concepts are primarily universal. Knowing that there are around 99 other players with me when I plummet to the game area, I know that I am going to have to fight tooth and nail for my victory, and every time I climb the leaderboard I feel a strong sense of accomplishment. As the battlefield slowly grows smaller, it keeps the action going until the last seconds of the game. And here’s another great feature: when you die, you can join another game; you don’t have to wait for the rest of the match to complete, or for energy to recharge so you can join another match, allowing for constant, high-intensity matches.
The Positives: Techniques for Winning
One of the most important requirements for something to be popular is a need to appeal to a wide audience. With Battle Royale’s, there’re different ways for a player to experience the game, and different strategies to try to get a victory. Just for an example from my own personal experience, my first introduction to Battle Royale’s was through the terrifying world of PUBG courtesy of my brother. His friends played aggressively, running for areas that were popular drop sites, trying to get high-quality weapons and armor and then finding a defensive position and take out the rest of the enemies. I prefer to take a more tactical approach, stay towards the outskirts of the map, picking up weapons when I can and trying to survive as long as possible. Both styles can be uber successful or end in utter defeat, but whats great is that these options are available and can be exploited, and allows for plenty of exploration and experimentation.
The Positives: The Community
When something big happens in the gaming community, whether its good or bad, people start to take notice. When you go to different websites like Youtube & Twitch you will see a large fanbase of gamers that spend time either playing these games or talking about different strategies and methods for success. There’re even those in the media who have caught onto this and are using Fortnite as another means to try persecuting video games. All this publicity has added to the genre’s hype and has encouraged other players to attempt to experience a game that they might never have played before.
As earlier stated, there’s plenty of good that comes out of this new genre, but there’re things that frustrate me about it. Firstly, in the usual popular games, Fortnite & PUBG, there are only 1-2 maps, and the players wanting more variety are going to be turned away by that. Another frustrating feature is the learning curve that comes with each game, while games like PUBG are straightforward and simple to understand, the player base is not friendly to newcomers. With games like Fortnite, there’s the element of building added to the game which takes a while to learn. The last thing that frustrates me about this game genre is that it’s starting to become a gaming cliche. You have half-baked duplicate games coming out that are the same as these originals, and then you have these large gaming companies that are trying to add the Genre to their upcoming games, such as Treyarch with the upcoming Black ops 4 modes. If you’re not a fan of the Genre, be warned, it’s going to continue to be shoved down your throat.
This is where you the reader comes in, what are your thoughts about this genre? What do you think needs to be added or changed about the current formats? What do you think about all the AAA Companies who are now announcing adding Battle Royale modes to their games? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!