It’s Time to Kill Off the Battle Royale Genre
There have been some great battle royales over recent years, but the genre has become over-saturated
Fortnite was my first battle royale, as I’m sure it was for many. I thought at the time, “how awesome is this? 100 players in 1 lobby, with 1 winner.” Gaming peaked in 2018 for so many, the excitement of logging on was comparable to Modern Warfare 2 for my generation.
The satisfaction of that first win is unrivalled, completely unrivalled in multiplayer gaming. The difficulty, the odds, the slow-mo of the final bullet hitting home. All of these things that made the battle royale era iconic. Of course, H1Z1 and PUBG existed, but it never injected itself into broader pop culture like Fortnite.
Those days feel like a decade ago now, partly because life has changed, but also because several doppelgangers have risen from the ashes. Realm Royale was born, which was exactly the same game but with magic and chickens. Call of Duty brought out a battle royale game mode with Black Ops 4, which they made free for a bit to try and bring in more players. Warzone, while extremely popular is just another game where you parachute onto a huge map and run for several minutes looking for people.
The most respectable imitation of the lot was probably Apex Legends, which at least added and changed many things to the point it almost stood on its own two feet. Fortnite even copied their respawn feature in an update! Everyone eventually got tired of the fact that you had to reload and unload three magazines per kill in Apex Legends, and they joined the graveyard.
The hype around battle royales post-Fortnite was actually so reactive that Fortnite copied themselves! Do you know how they did that? They feigned their own deletion, then shouted “PSYCHE!” and brought themselves out again. The craziest thing is they didn’t even add anything, but nor did they come back out the same game.
They came back as the original Fortnite… genius!
Suddenly there were only like five guns in the whole game and three-quarters of the community were re-infatuated. Oh, just pure genius. It’s a commitment to minimalism that would make the iPhone blush.
The latest battle royale craze is Fall Guys. And, to give credit where credit is due, this game is certainly an innovation. Although there are some clear gaps (like an inability to make private lobbies, for example).
At this point I’m genuinely wondering if developers should start to sideline the battle royale format. It’s not just that there are a million battle royales out there at the moment, but also, I get the impression that other forms of multiplayer are increasingly being ignored (that is to say, I’m eager for games to bring back modes where players like myself can taste victory at a slightly higher rate than three 7s on a slot machine).