Since their inception, battle royale games have grown to become one of the most popular gaming genres. The concept is a simple one – It is a genre that draws players together in fierce battles until there is only one person left standing – the winner.
While the premise of the genre can trace its roots to a Japanese film of the same name, the concept of ‘last person standing’ has been a staple in children’s games in schoolyards worldwide.
Now, the virtual version rules supreme with games such as Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) even recognised as e-sports. Games like these have cemented the genre as a gaming trend that is here to stay.
Let’s examine why these games are so popular, their history and concept, and some of the current favorite games on the market.
What Is Battle Royale?
The simplicity of the concept is the key to the success of the genre. Although there are variations to the theme, most games are defined by the following properties:
- Large Number of Players: Battle royale games usually start with a large number of players, typically around 100, competing against each other.
- Last-Man-Standing Format: The primary objective is to be the last player or team standing.
- Shrinking Play Zone: As the game progresses, the playable area shrinks, forcing players closer together and creating more intense confrontations.
- Scavenging for Resources: Players begin with little equipment and must search the game environment for weapons and other essential items.
- Elimination upon Defeat: Once a player is defeated, they are out of the game.
- Dynamic Environments: The game map often features diverse terrains and locations, from urban areas to open fields, forests, and more.
- Collaborative and Solo Modes: While many players opt for solo mode, battle royale games often offer duo or team modes where players can collaborate to achieve victory.
While these elements are common to most battle royale games, the surge of popularity has spawned games with features like the ability to resurrect teammates, special character abilities, and the chance to respawn.
The History and Evolution of the Battle Royale Genre
It isn’t unusual for games to be inspired by TV shows and films. And as we touched on in the intro, the genre can trace its roots back to a Japanese film called, not unsurprisingly, Battle Royale. The film was released in 2000 and quickly became a cult classic. The film tells of a group of junior high school students who are forced to compete in a deadly game where they must eliminate each other until only one remains.
The popularity of the film soon attracted the attention of game makers. However, It wasn’t until the late 2010s that the battle royale genre truly took off in the gaming world. Inspired by the film and its themes, modders and game developers began experimenting with the “last person standing” gameplay format.
Games like “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)” and “Fortnite” drew heavily on this concept. These games, along with several others, were central in popularizing the battle royale genre.
Battle Royale Games: Roots and Evolution
Tracing the roots back to the Japanese film is the generally accepted version of the genesis of battle royale gaming. But this is something of an oversimplification. The concept had already been explored by games like Unreal Tournament, and even as far back as Bomberman, which was released in 1983.
However, there is no doubt that the battle royale genre in its current form leans heavily on the influence of the film. Among the other notable factors that contributed are:
- Modding Community’s Role: The modding community played a crucial role in the evolution of the battle royale genre. Games like Minecraft and DayZ had modifications or modes that introduced players to battle royale elements.
- PUBG’s Impact: PUBG set the standard for modern battle royale games with its mechanics, map design, and gameplay flow. Its success paved the way for other games to adopt and adapt the battle royale format.
- Fortnite’s Contribution: Fortnite introduced building mechanics to the battle royale genre, allowing players to construct structures for defense and offense.
- Diversification of the Genre: As the genre grew in popularity, developers began introducing unique twists and mechanics. Games like Apex Legends introduced hero-based gameplay, while others like Warzone integrated battle royale into existing game universes.
The evolution of the battle royale genre was a slow burner but spurred on by the success of the movie it gradually gathered momentum. Now the genre boasts millions of players competing in a wide range of similarly themed games, all aiming for the ultimate accolade of being the last person standing.
Battle Royale: The Thrill of Being Last
The thrill of being last over the line is not something that is associated with many competitive arenas. However, it is this simple – yet counterintuitive – concept that has driven the rise in popularity and seen it become one of the defining genres of the last decade.
But there is more driving the success of these games than just their inherent simplicity. Simple games and concepts only work if there are other elements at play. In terms of battle royale, the features that contribute to its continuing popularity include:
- Adrenaline-Fueled Gameplay: The tension of outlasting dozens of other players keeps gamers on the edge of their seats.
- Social Interaction: Teaming up with friends or making new ones in-game adds the all-important social aspect.
- Dynamic Environments: Ever-changing maps and in-game events ensure no two matches are the same.
- Cultural Phenomenon: The influence of streamers, esports tournaments, and in-game collaborations with celebrities and brands.
- Regular Content Updates: New challenges, skins, and game modes keep the player base engaged and returning for more.
- Accessibility: Many of the top battle royale games are free-to-play, lowering the barrier of entry for new players.
It is the blend of excitement, social interaction, and ever-evolving games and gameplay that are the core of the genre’s widespread popularity.
3 Games that Define a Genre
There are literally hundreds of games to choose from and picking the best battle royale games 2023 can seem like a daunting task to the uninitiated. However, there are a few standout titles that have not only defined the genre but have also left an indelible mark on the gaming community. These games include:
- PUBG: Often credited as the game that popularized the modern battle royale format, PUBG offers a realistic military-style experience where players parachute onto an island and scavenge for weapons and equipment to outlast others.
- Fortnite: With its vibrant graphics and unique building mechanics, Fortnite introduced a fresh twist to the battle royale scene. Its cultural impact, from in-game concerts to iconic dances, has made it more than just a game—it’s a cultural phenomenon.
- Apex Legends: Set in the Titanfall universe, Apex Legends brought hero-based gameplay to the battle royale genre. Each character, or “Legend,” has unique abilities, adding an extra layer of strategy to the traditional last-man-standing format.
Looking to the future, we can expect to see much more in the way of VR and AI-powered virtual opponents standing between you and the glory of being the last person standing.
A Battle to the End:
The key to the success of the genre could be down to the primeval instinct it arouses, or it could be the simplicity of the concept, but in reality, it’s down to one major factor – it’s brilliant fun!
Battle Royale games are easy to learn and simple to play, but incredibly difficult to master. It is a blend of skill, luck, and adrenaline-powered action that defines the genre and underlies its popularity. This unique combination has not only captivated gamers worldwide but has also reshaped the landscape of modern gaming.
In the ever-competitive world of gaming, Battle Royale is a contender for the title of last game standing.