Every few years we see new trends set fire to the video game industry. Whether it’s Minecraft and the ocean of craft clones that followed, or the dreaded loot box phenomenon, if there is money, the game trends will ensue. Battle royales have consumed the gaming industry over the past year and a half and continue to grow more in popularity. The concept of dropping onto a map with up to one hundred opponents for a winner-take-all fight to the death is a hook that seems to have enthralled gamers and developers alike. In order to be the last battle royale game standing, each game must have a hook and be able to differentiate itself from the competition. To help you decide on which game is the right royale for you, this is our guide to the most popular battle royale games in the market.
Fortnite: Battle Royale
If you haven’t heard of Fortnite, than you have been living under a rock at the very bottom of the Mariana Trench. Fortnite originally released as a zombie survival game where you would complete different mission objectives while fighting off waves of different types of zombies. The main mechanic used in “Save the World” (a name change that came after “Battle Royale” was created), is building. Using wood, stone or steel, you build walls, doors, floors, and roofs; you build as quickly and as strategically as you possibly can to out gun your enemies.
Using the inspiration and obsession the team at Epic Games had with Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, they created their own version of battle royale. Fortnite Battle Royale is currently the biggest game on this planet. It involves a polished cartoony visual style, and the hook is to build. Using the mechanics from Save the World mode, you build all sorts of structures to protect yourself from your enemies. Using the same base of one hundred people drop from the sky out of a plane (the Party Bus in this case) onto a map with the goal of being last person standing.
Fortnite: Battle Royale differs itself from other battle royales with its polished gameplay, constant updates and balancing, and the fact that it is Free-to-Play. Epic is frequently adding new content, skins, and weapons, and absolutely no loot boxes. Items are rotated throughout the shop allowing you to purchase what you see. Purchasing the “Battle Pass” allows you to earn more items like emotes, skins, pick axes, and more. Each Battle Pass is broken up into seasons which last about ten weeks allowing players to earn plenty of loot by completing challenges. It is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mobile.
The battle royale craze began with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. PUBG, as it is mostly referred by, started in “Early Access” and was quickly picking up steam on, well, Steam. Players were spending hundreds of hours playing round after round of PUBG. Twitch and YouTube blew up with PUBG streams and highlight reels of game winning kills and crazy glitches that occurred. PUBG quickly climbed the concurrent player charts on Steam even beating out juggernaut esports games like CS: GO and DOTA 2.
PUBG eventually released as a console exclusive to Xbox One’s Game Preview program (essentially their early access program) and picked up another huge player base. PUBG finally received its 1.0 release on December 20, 2017, meaning it finally left “Early Access”. It seemed like PUBG could not be stopped, but quickly was dethroned by Fortnite: Battle Royale. In the matter of Twitch viewers, and players, Fortnite: Battle Royale completely took over. PUBG focused on itself and its fans, adding more maps and weapons and game modes. Although it doesn’t have the same mindshare as before, it is still doing great numbers and pushing forward.
PUBG’s gameplay is more boots to the ground than other games. There is no climbing or building, or superhuman abilities. It is a military, gritty, and tactical shooter. It has both first person, and third person game modes. It includes realistic graphics and guns, vests, helmets, and different weapon attachments. There are vehicles to use sprawled all over the map. The maps are huge compared to Fortnite, and the game has more of a slower, tactical pace to it. Although some players look at the gameplay as “janky”, the learning curve is a little bit more difficult when getting accustomed to the shooting and aiming. If you hate building mechanics and want a more intense heart pounding experience, PUBG might be the game to play. Currently it is available for $29.99 on both Steam and Xbox One, as well as a free to play mobile version on iOS and Android devices.
H1Z1 was the original battle royale game that broke through and really brought the idea to the forefront of gaming. Originally proposed as a zombie survival game, which does exist in the form of Just Survive, H1Z1 built its player base with a battle royale mode. The battle royale mode of H1Z1 shares a few of the same hooks as PUBG. It involves one hundred players dropping out of a plane onto a map and looting, gathering to survive. Instead of a storm or blue circle closing in the areas it has green poisonous gas. H1Z1 also has a crafting mechanic allowing you to craft molotov cocktails, bandages, and armor, something the other games on this list lack. H1Z1 remained in Early Access for about three years and during that time Daybreak, the developers, split the original H1Z1 into H1Z1: King of the Kill and H1Z1: Just Survive. Eventually H1Z1 was dropped from the Just Survive title and King of the Kill was renamed H1Z1.
H1Z1 officially released out of “Early Access” in February of 2018 and went free to play a week after its release. In May of 2018 it finally released on PlayStation 4, which was originally announced as a platform with the initial game announcement of H1Z1. H1Z1’s gameplay is similar to PUBG’s involving realistic graphics, guns, and gear. The game has also evolved in many ways with UI improvements, game modes and weapon balancing. There is even an Auto Royale mode which is basically Twisted Metal. Although the game is not as polished or popular even compared to PUBG, it still offers a place to play a more casual battle royale if PUBG seems a little intense or unforgiving.
Realm Royale is the newest game on the scene of battle royale games. Developed by Hi Rez Studios, the same people behind the hero shooter Paladins: Champions of the Realm, the game was originally supposed to be a new mode that ballooned into its own thing. Realm Royale is in Early Access on Steam currently and is set to release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the future.
Taking pages from Paladins and H1Z1, you can craft items during matches by disenchanting duplicate items, or items you are not using or have picked up from downed enemies. The items you disenchant provide you with a certain amount of shards which you then take to any Forge on the map and use to craft items like Health Potions, Armor, and even Special Class abilities. That is another quirk to this game that separates it from other Battle Royales. You have five different classes to choose from, Warrior, Engineer, Assassin, Mage, and Hunter. Each class has different movement abilities and can obtain different class abilities from chests found throughout the map. Each player gets a mount that they can use to traverse the map which is a bit bigger than Fortnite: Battle Royale’s map but smaller than PUBG’s original map. Its visual style is highly stylized kitchen sink fantasy, almost like a distant cousin to Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. The feel of the shooting is similar to that of Fortnite although it is a bit slower in the overall action. Realm Royale is the newest horse in the race and seems to already be in the rotation for many streamers and YouTubers as a popular game to play solo or with viewers.
This is the current list of the biggest battle royale games and there are much more on the way. The fire seems to be burning bright for battle royale and the only way to survive the battle royale of battle royales is to have something unique to offer. Both Call of Duty and Battlefield will also have a battle royale mode and it might not be the last big franchise to include one. Although things seem to be getting a bit crowded, the variety and sustained popularity gives players plenty to choose from.