It’s undeniable, Battle Royale games are the biggest craze in gaming right now. In order to understand where the genre is going, we need to look back at its humble beginnings. Other types of popular media have featured the free-for-all death-match for a long time. From movies and books such as the Hunger Games and The Purge, the concept of the fight for survival is rooted in our DNA.
This familiar concept of one person fighting for their survival translates heavily to the Battle Royale genre. While games, movies, and books all tend to feature different aspects of this common scenario, the basic concept remains the same: A certain number of contestants fight each other in a limited space until only one winner remains.
When it comes to gaming, many of the biggest titles today started with humble beginnings: as a mod of another game. Counter-Strike, Dota, and other notable games all started out as mods, as did the Battle Royale genre. In the 2010s, Minecraft was one of the most popular games around and players were creating many new concepts with the vastly customizable hit. Among the many incredible things, gamers forged with the endless possibilities of Minecraft, one of them was a Battle Royale mode called Survival Games. Just as in the Hunger Games and the Purge, players would battle each other in a massive fight to be the last one standing.
Following Minecraft’s Survival Games, more and more mods and Battle Royale games were created such as Arma 3, DayZ and H1Z1. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was released soon after and once it was released on Steam, it quickly skyrocketed to being one of the most popular games in the world. PUBG’s realism and short downtime between matches are believed to be two of the main aspects for the game’s massive success.
It seemed as if PUBG was the uncontested king of the Battle Royale genre... until Fortnite came along. Originally a paid zombie-shooter, Fortnite was a co-op game that had players fighting waves of enemies. The original ‘Save the World’ mode wasn’t very popular, and the developer Epic Games decided to create an alternative game mode that was free to play. In just two months and with the help of developers from the Unreal Tournament franchise, the Battle Royale mode of Fortnite was born.
Despite both being Battle Royale games and using the same engine, the two games look and feel very different. While PUBG heavily focused on realism, Fortnite focused on a more zany and cartoonish experience. Map size, weapons, art style, and Fornite’s building mechanics all set the two games apart. Despite, or perhaps because of this, a heated rivalry ensued between the two games and their fan-bases. This rivalry played a big part in bringing the genre into the spotlight even more. In no time at all, other similar games were released, hoping to cash in on the wave of popularity PUBG and Fortnite were enjoying.
Very few of these achieved any noteworthy success. While new games were constantly advertised as the next Fortnite or the next PUBG, no game ever came close to their popularity. The latest noteworthy contender in the ring is a game that doesn’t feature Battle Royale as its main gameplay mode but as one of several other modes. One of the longest-running series in gaming and with a massive following of loyal fans, the next game hoping to take a piece of the massive Battle Royale market is Call of Duty. After a very successful CoD World War 2, the next installment of the franchise is Black Ops 4. Currently being developed by the largest team ever to take on a CoD project, the game is taking a rather unique approach with its content.
In a major change to the series, Black Ops 4 will not have a single player campaign and will instead focus solely on multiplayer. In addition to the Battle Royale mode, the title will have the usual options including multiplayer, zombie modes and others. This isn’t the only change that the game is making – though developed by Activision studio Beenox, the PC version of the title will be exclusive to Blizzard’s Battle.net.
With how many games that have tried to become the new Fortnite or PUBG, it’s easy to see why players are skeptical the new CoD Battle Royale mode will be any different. However, there is a big difference between Black Ops 4 and most of the other games that have tried to dethrone the big two. Where other games attempted to copy and replicate existing mechanics and features of PUBG and Forntite, Black Ops 4 brings some unique selling points to the table.
In addition to featuring the widely popular and proven gun-play of the CoD series, Black Ops 4 will include a massive map which features fan-favorite locations from the game series. Also, players won’t play as generic soldiers or interchangeable survivors, but instead take the part of beloved characters from across the franchise. Blackout, as this mode is called, will feature ground, sea and air vehicles, making for a more well-rounded experience than other titles while sticking to the formula that has made CoD popular for several years.
Here is the official blurb for the game mode:
“...Blackout is an experience unlike any other game or mode in Call of Duty history, where players will have to scavenge, strategize, compete and survive to win. Featuring the largest map ever built in Call of Duty - 1500 times bigger than Nuketown - Blackout thrusts players into a collision course as they play as classic characters spanning the history of the Black Ops series including the original Call of Duty Zombies Origins cast. Battling solo or in teams, players will engage in diverse combat complete with ground, air and sea vehicles across a gamespace unlike anything ever in Call of Duty. ...”
All in all, it will be difficult to say whether Blackout will play in the same league as Fortnite and PUBG, but if the levels of fan anticipation are anything to go by, it has a good chance. As for the genre in general, when Battle Royale first appeared on the map, players and critics alike assumed it was merely another fad. Well over a year later, this is clearly not the case. While interest in these games will fluctuate over time just like any other, for now, they are going strong.