Just a couple years ago, few people even knew what a Battle Royale game was. That’s understandable, too, because it was a genre that lacked definition. Then games like Fortnite exploded in popularity and, suddenly, it is all game writers get to write about. Which is fine with me; I love these things. But just what is it that makes gamers love these things so much? What is it about this genre that forced even the Call of Duty franchise to shake things up to stay current?
The central premise of these games is that only one person, or team, can win out of a slew of contenders. Traditionally, when a match starts, the competition is fast and fierce and eliminations start to occur right away. Soon, confrontations and eliminations dwindle. Eventually, it’s down to just a winner and a runner up. There’s a tension that builds from start to finish.
Part of what makes these games so great is that the satisfaction so closely matches the investment. Getting an early kill isn’t a big deal, and dying early isn’t, either. A death in the early game means that the player can just quickly hop into another match. Meanwhile, lasting until the very end of the game and coming out on top feels like a huge accomplishment because the player has survived and bested so many people. And after all that built tension, it feels like a relief. Second place, though, can feel pretty disappointing, even though you may have beaten 98 other players. It’s an interesting dynamic.
The model that is present in many of these games, like Fortnite, where you’re either alive or eliminated means that the game essentially exists in two states. There’s the state where you’re not yet in a game and looking forward to the next or you are in a game and you are alive and, therefore, winning. There’s no sense that victory is outside your grasp or that someone is far ahead of you.
The matches are also different almost every time in these games. If it is a game that has vehicles, they can spawn in different places. Maps can change, items can spawn randomly. There’s also a huge set of fresh competitors every match which will have a big impact. And players never really know who they’re up against at a glance, so there’s a sense of drama that is maintained.
Battle Royale is often associated with first-person and third-person shooting games but that isn’t always the case which is another reason battle royale is so engaging. It’s a compelling and exciting formula that can be applied to most things. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is the latest Battle Royale game to capture the attention of gamers everywhere and it is, mostly, a cutesy obstacle course game. But the cute nature, and innocent seeming gameplay, isn’t any reason to not take it seriously. People on Twitch are experiencing all sorts of emotional highs and lows with this title.
It’s hard to imagine the genre slipping into obscurity any time soon. But it’s also hard to imagine it staying around forever. For Battle Royale to work, there has to be a huge player base, and that is something that diminishes as a game ages. Right now, the genre is so popular that developers can count on people sticking around for a bit so long as they build a mostly decent experience. For now, there’s just so much to love about these games. I hope that remains a popular opinion for a while.
Writing Team Lead