I can already see the collective eye-roll by many of you just from reading the title alone and honestly, I don’t blame you. If you aren’t a fan of the genre at all, you’re probably sick and tired of hearing about Battle Royale and how it’s invading all the popular multiplayer titles. Hell, even if you are a fan you probably don’t want the market to be oversaturated and watered down by these big publishers hopping on board. However, I believe that Battle Royale breaking into the big popular titles is a good thing for the genre and for multiplayer in general and here’s why:
Competition Breeds Innovation
It’s a simple concept, but an important one that all industries thrive upon. You either provide something new that your competition doesn’t or risk being overshadowed and thrown to the side. We have seen it often with the most recent example of Boss Key Productions and their recent failure of Lawbreakers and then Radical Heights. One could say that making a game in a genre that already has top dog titles like Overwatch and PUBG/Fortnite is unwise. But Lawbreakers and Radical Heights didn’t fail because of other games in the genre being already popular, they failed because they didn’t offer a better experience or a more unique experience than the others.
My point is, developers shouldn’t look at other popular games in the genre and shy away just because there is already a game at the top, they should look at those games and see what they can do better. PUBG and Fortnite are nowhere near perfect. There is a lot of room for improvement in both titles and I think big developers jumping in will force the two to innovate or get left behind. We have already seen how Fortnite and PUBG have taken inspiration from each other and both are thriving because of it, so think of how well they will do once a massive developer like DICE puts out their version.
Not only large developers can make a change to the genre either since we often see innovation coming from indie developers. Project Darwin has found success in the genre by offering more of an arena game show feel like Hunger Games. It may not have the massive popularity yet, but it has pulled in a following by being different. Mavericks Proving Grounds has caught my eye by providing up to 1,000 players on a map.
Pushing Multiplayer Forward
The Battle Royale genre is arguably just a fad in gaming that will eventually burn out like the Hero Shooter genre before it. However, I see more from the genre than just a fad developers are trying to cash in on. Yes, in a few years the genre will inevitably not be as big as it once was as many fads before it, but with this fad there will be advances to multiplayer that will leave a lasting effect.
Up until now, it has been very rare to have a console multiplayer game that reached up to 100 players. I think the last game to try to go this big on a console was MAG back on the PS3 and that turned out to be a glitchy mess. Luckily internet speeds have gotten better and Sony and Microsoft’s online services have much improved so it could just be the perfect time to see a rise in overall player count for games all around.
With big developers like DICE and the CoD trifecta of developers upgrading their online to support up to 100 players at once we could see the benefits of this fad already taking place. Even if the Battle Royale genre goes away, these games will now have the online infrastructure to keep supporting larger player counts and larger maps. I think we can all agree that a 100 player Battlefield will be a fantastic experience even in their other modes. For CoD we can see the benefits of them now supporting bigger maps and vehicles which is something new for the series that for the most part, only offers small maps and no vehicles.
On PC, like mentioned above, we are even seeing some Battle Royale games pushing up to 1,000 players. While I haven’t tried this out yet, I’m really intrigued to see if there is a pacing difference with so many more people. Depending on map size, it could still feel barren if it’s too large, but with 10x the amount of people the action has got to be more frequent which is often a criticism of PUBG.
Battle Royale is More Than a Fad
I know I will get a ton of disagreement for this section, but hear me out. Battle Royale is really just the next evolution of a Free-for-All mode and Last Man Standing. It’s not even really a new concept, but the mixture and tweaks of the two modes is something fresh. I believe that the Battle Royale genre can reach a broader audience than even the Hero Shooter genre.
There are a couple of big perks that add to the allure. First, it doesn’t solely rely on having a good team or knowing what your role is within a group. You can completely thrive off your own skills and knowing key map locations. There is nothing worse than being on a hot winning streak and then get a team who all pick the same character and are just messing around. Second, Battle Royale doesn’t rely on having class roles, so players are free to play their own style and not be penalized if two people play similarly.
Battle Royale can also integrate with other genres and perspectives and can easily introduce more unique gameplay mechanics. Imagine for a second that The Last of Us Multiplayer had a Battle Royale mode that relied on crafting as much as finding random weapons. Scavenging for materials to create a molotov or upgrade a bat you find to be more deadly. Having to avoid clickers and other players where ammo and health packs are scarce. It can range from FPS and TPS and include community map building, integrate AI, survival elements, and so much more.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think EVERY game should incorporate a Battle Royale mode nor do I think we necessarily NEED a ton of games in the genre to see innovation. But I can see the benefits of its rising fame with big and small multiplayer games due to the increase of player count and overall variety to other game modes. If done correctly, I really believe DICE has the biggest chance to really push PUBG out of the way with the larger budget and a group of devs that already know large maps, vehicles, destruction, better visuals and overall polish. Also, with with Battlefield V’s additions of being able to make foxholes and other digging in features it may also be able to rival Fortnite. I think Fortnite will continue to thrive due to it being f2p and having the full building angle, but it won’t be able to last on just that for very much longer. I would love to see a Battle Royale game with dedicated servers and launch with a breadth of maps. I believe as it becomes more popular we will start seeing more complete Battle Royale games.
What do you think of Battle Royale? Are you excited to see how it will effect multiplayer moving forward or do you believe it will all be a fad and blow over in another year or 2?