The Battle Royale genre has been around for a while now, with Battle Royale style mods developed back in 2012 for Minecraft, then PlayerUnknown a mod for ARMA 2/DayZ being released in 2013 which later evolved into a standalone game we now know as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds or PUBG for short.
It was the early access release of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds that exponentially grew the popularity of Battle Royale games with it selling over twenty million units by the end of the year even though the 1.0 release wasn’t until December 2017. In September 2017, the game broke the previous record for highest number of concurrent players, with 1,348,374 players on the game simultaneously.
Since then the genre has gone a bit mad, and multiple games are competing for the crown of the best Battle Royale, many of which are in early access or due to be released this year.
Here are our top recommendations for Battle Royale games this year:
PUBG maybe the game that became mainstream first but this year appears to be all about Fortnite. Fortnite was originally a base building game but then pivoted towards Battle Royale due to its growing popularity. The shift was so dramatic and so similar to the PUBG format that the developer of PUBG was considering legal action against them.
Fortnite: Battle Royale quickly gained popularity due to its strong original user base from the original game, and better graphics compared to PUBG that adopted a more cartoony appearance. It has helped that there is a free version for the PC and they then earn money via optional upgrades.
Fortnite has some exciting features adopted from the original game that makes it stand apart from PUBG. This is primarily the ability to build structures. At any time, as long as you have the resources, you can build shacks, towers, or even stairs.
The developer, Epic, also like to experiment with new features, and they have introduced modes like 50 vs 50 and let players pretend to be bushes.
The game is so popular some gamers like Ninja are making millions off it via twitch and sponsorship. It’s is believed Ninja could be earning $500k per month!
In February, it hit a record of 3.4 million people playing the game all at once, while its overall player base has reportedly passed 45 million.
Fortnite may have taken some of the shine of PUBG but it is still massively popular, and it made US$11 million in the first three days of its Windows early access release. By December 2017, PUBG Corporation reported that there were more than 30 million players worldwide between the Windows and Xbox versions.
The game had a huge following even before its early release, due to the fact it was originally a mod of Arma/DayZ. Unlike Fortnite there is no free mode, but they don’t sell season passes either.
PUBG has a slightly slower pace than Fortnite; its map size is much large which can drag games out, though the play area decreases in size forcing the final players into a small area. I think this is one of the reasons why Fortnite has become (arguably) more popular than PUBG, it is a bit more accessible for beginners and doing a quick game.
H1Z1 doesn’t get as much attention as the previous two games, but it is still extremely popular, and it regularly gets updates (probably to keep up with the other games.
A week after launch it went free-to-play and added a vehicles-only mode called Auto Royale. It still has a healthy pro scene and multiple esports tournaments every year.
Sadly, its popularity has declined somewhat in the past 6 months.
New Games / Early Access
We all know about the previous 2 or 3 games, but what new options are there that make take the Battle Royale crown in the future?
I have listed Maelstrom as my first choice as it attempts to provide something a little different in the genre by putting 15 ships against each other in the sea.
Choose from humans, orcs, and dwarves, each with their own style of ship, and beware massive sea monsters who will sink you if you stray too long in the dead seas around the perimeter of the map's safe zone.
It doesn’t have a huge number of reviews on steam, but they are very positive, and the game is only £15 while in early access.
Another Steam Early Access game, Darwin Project is free to play and has received a lot of positive reviews – 7,396 in fact.
It was announced at E3 2017 it puts players against one another to survive in a frozen wilderness. Instead of just running into other players as a circle shrinks around them, they can track one another down by following footprints in the snow, finding clues that point them to nearby players, and even by viewing a map found in certain areas that shows every other player's location.
Radical Heights was only released in April this year but has already gained over 8k reviews, they are mixed at the moment, but one of the reasons for these reviews is its rough initial state. It is free to play and has an 80’s style theme to it as you go through a game show setting filled with cash, prizes, BMX bikes, zip lines, trampolines, and lots of obnoxious neon.
Combing the popularity of VR and Battle Royale in one Stand Out has reviewed very positive initial reviews, but with only 546 at the moment it is a long way off the popularity of the previous games.
It is no doubt a concept that will be a great deal of fun but relies on VR going mainstream for long-term appeal. With devices like the Acer Mixed Reality Headset being quite affordable and new standalone devices thanks to Qualcomm we may start to see a lot more VR based battle royale games
Dying Light is traditionally an open world first-person survival horror action-adventure, and a Battle Royale mode is an inevitable evolution of this.
Unlike other games this only features a 6-player mode, this is then combined with the Zombie NPCs, which will force you to temporarily team up with other players
Maybe the most ambitious game on the list. Mavericks aims to have huge 400-player matches and uses a similar concept to Darwin Project, where you can track players via their footsteps. A beta is due this summer, but due to the scale of the game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see delays