Battle royales: Taking the world by storm

Warzone cover (Photo: From Call of Duty warzone facebook page)
Everyone who’s even thought about going into video gaming knows what the battle royale (BR) genre is, and it’s no surprise that that term has become so widely known. BRs have been around longer than most people know. This wasn’t an overnight success for the genre, with early iterations of the games being seen in 2012, but what’s the hype all about?اضافة اعلان

To truly understand the depth of BR games and why they’ve become a staple to most developers considering delving into multiplayer titles, the first thing to look at is how they came to be.

A composite photo of screengrabs of ARMA 2 (left) and DayZ. (Photos: IGDB)

A fitting example of the birth of BR started with mods created for Arma 2, a military simulation game that was released way back in 2009. The mod in question, DayZ, had players struggle to survive while trying to obtain the basic necessities in order to survive the brutality of the sandbox they were playing in. This could be done with a group of friends to push the odds in your favor, or by yourself, opting to pump the intensity level of the experience to another level completely. Where DayZ started to lose its allure was with the sheer size of its map. The dangerous elements that players were supposed to come in contact with were spread too far apart, ultimately diminishing DayZ’s player base. It being a mod also did not help prevent its downfall since an anti-cheat system was never implemented, allowing hackers to run rampant.

However, DayZ was the sacrificial catalyst needed to birth the BR genre, allowing developers to learn from the mistakes it had and fixing them to create an experience unlike any other, and the next mod to do so was PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, or as most people refer to it, PUBG. Not many people know that this now very popular game started out as a mod as well, but instead of following in the footsteps of DayZ, it decided to make some changes.

PUBG scrapped the idea of playing in an “open world” setting and instead decided to limit the size of the map. This, in theory, would allow its players to have more frequent hostile interactions with one another, avoiding the chance for the experience to grow stale. In addition, the idea of a survival game didn’t seem to fit with the map having a limit, pushing the developers to instead opt for an elimination style slugfest between the players, ultimately leading to an eventual winner. This is where the wheels of the BR train really started turning.

Not many people expected to see a mod sky rocket in popularity, but people weren’t surprised either. PUBG took the world by storm at one point, hitting 400 million registered users in 2018 alone. These numbers were crazy and are what eventually led to the mod’s developers to turn it into a standalone game.

Now, everyone who’s been invested in playing the latest BR games knows where the story goes. Games like Apex Legends, Fortnite, Warzone, and many more all began to pop up one after the other, each competing to be the king of BR. Why is there no sign of their popularity dwindling?

 A composite photo of screengrabs from (left to right) Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Apex Legends. (Photos: IGDB)

To put it simply, BR games have everything that an avid multiplayer shooter fan could ever want. Survival, exploration, looting, and a limitless skill cap. But how do they do these things as well as they do?

It’s easy to dismiss the possibility of exploring a limited map that you have to constantly replay. When compared to other genres of games, the exploration of BR maps can certainly seem lackluster, but it’s difficult to see what these maps have to offer if you aren’t actually playing them. Trying to figure out the best way to reposition in dire situations? Want to find a vantage point that can’t be rivaled? Exploring the maps they’re going to be battling on allows players to find their preferred way to play matches while always having the upper hand.

If that isn’t enough, many developers even use the maps in their games to add a level of depth to the playable characters. A prime example of this is Apex Legends, which has different characters interact with one another in specific areas via voice lines, or even have some of the characters share personal details when coming across areas that correlate to their backstories.

The survival aspect of BR games is not as self-explanatory as one might initially think. Sure, you do essentially just need to be the last person or team to survive in order to achieve victory, but doing so is easier said than done. Having so many players being in one game leads to an infinite amount of unforeseeable circumstances that you need to constantly deal with — whether it’s another team completely outflanking yours while you’re engaged in a firefight, or a more far-fetched scenario of a “rogue” grenade landing on you from across the map. This keeps players constantly on their toes and focused on avoiding any unfavorable situations that might abruptly end their momentum, ultimately, leading to a win.

The looting portion of BRs isn’t everyone's cup of tea. While some people enjoy running around and gearing up as best as possible before they engage an enemy, others find it to be boring, as they just want to get into the fight as soon as possible. Depending on the game, taking your time to loot could ultimately end up being the reason you lose.

Finally, BRs, beyond providing in-game updates in the form of new content, have a unique player retention strategy in the form of a practically infinite skill ceiling. Each day, professional players find new and exciting ways to curb their competition through outplays previously unseen. This creates an environment wherein the player always has one more way in which they can increase their overall success in the game and increasing their total hours played. In a sense, the game’s endgame is finding new ways of beating your opponents, the excitement of discovering an unknown strategy, or perfecting existing ones. This continuously pushes the player base to return to the game.

It’s clear to see that BRs have a bit of everything for the shooter fanatic, and as time and technology advance we can only see them getting better and more immersive. So whether you enjoy playing by yourself, or want to jump on with your friends, pick up your controllers or hop onto your computers and join the ever growing storm of battle royale games.

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