Battle Royale games are currently a popular genre, with PUBG, Fortnite, H1Z1, King of the Kill, Last Man Standing, Minecraft Survival, and many more coming. But the genre is beginning to grow stale, and it needs to mature before people jump ship.
Looking Ahead To What Could Be Requires An Assessment Of What Brought Us Here
If the list of games above doesn’t bring the point home, Battle Royale games have become an incredibly successful trend. But with such a simplistic model, how has Battle Royale become so popular among gamers? Sure, it makes for a good stream, and that one life makes each round tense. But when the most popular shooters for the past 10+ years have been games you can respawn in over and over, it makes you wonder why the change to the mold is so endearing to gamers.
We recently wrote a piece on whether or not Destiny 2 should be getting its own Battle Royale mode, and just the other day Vostock games, the Ukrainian developer responsible for S.T.A.L.K.E.R clear sky (and three piles of shit under the same name), have announced their own concept for a Battle Royale game called “Fear the Wolves”.
Fear the Wolves will essentially be PUBG, the Battle Royale game that kicked off the hype train, but with the mutant creatures we’ve come to know and expect from their previous S.T.A.L.K.E.R outings.
With all the Battle Royale games taking to the air like new age Flappy Birds, one has to wonder: is this another case of “The doom clones?”’
New Ideas Often Come From Improved Old Ones
For those of you who joined the FPS genre with CoD WW2, allow me to explain. There once was a game in the early 90’s called Doom, and it was awesome. It was one the first FPS games, and other than Wolfenstein 3D, it was what made the FPS genre popular. Not to mention the progenitor for the “Video games make kids violent psychopaths” argument.
Anywho, about four years after Doom was released, its source code was pulled from “Share-ware” and used to mass produce 3rd party shooters. Shooters that were such ruthless cash grabs it wasn’t even funny. The “best” of them being Chex Quest, which basically WAS Doom, but with lasers and aliens.
These bastardized children of Doom were aptly referred to as “Doom Clones”. This the first wave of “Doom Clones”.
The second wave would come between the years of 2008-2012 with Call of Duty, which still uses a version of the Doom engine, albeit a Frankensteined version that barely, if at all resembles its roots. At the height of Call of Duty’s game between CoD 4, World at War, and MW2, many game devs sought to manufacture various alterations to the concept. To the point that many scenes and aspects were basically ripped off straight from CoD. Faceless Russian bad guys, WMD’s, hyperrealistic drone warfare, and so on.
These were known as the “CoD Clones”. We’re just now beginning to see that copy/paste formula begin to fade into other, fresher ideas.
In fact, between 2010-2012 the time between October and Christmas became unofficially known as “Shooter season” because of all the biggest FPS games released around that time of year. As we said above, this was also the second wave of “Doom Clones”, albeit by Proxy because CoD is to Doom, what Marcus Aurelius was to Caesar Augustus in Gladiator.
An Overview Of Where We’re At, And Why It Needs To Improve
Now, it wasn’t too long after that when PUBG stepped out and stole the show, quickly followed by Fortnite which dropped everything it was building with the base game to make a Battle Royale mode. Except Fortnite’s Battle Royale would get building elements to directly combat the attention PUBG was getting. The game mode is almost exactly the same, except Fornite BR has the weapon tier system of the base Fortnite game, and you can build to your heart’s content in your quest for the win.
Now, the most recent addition to the wave of PUBG clones is the aforementioned Fear the Wolves. which is basically adding attack dogs and mutants into the mix. On the bright side, an irradiated wolf will at least give me something to shoot at other than other players. The genre, while super popular among streamers and stream viewers alike, is still quite a niche genre that’s not for everyone. However, game makers are attempting to add their own spins to the Battle Royale genre to draw in those other players. Such as with Fear the Wolves, or even Paladins’ own BR mode that will be launching soon.
I have no problem haplessly murdering my fellow man for baked beans, 9mm bullets, and Mounds candy bars. The problem is, even with 100 players on the map, finding you bastards isn’t easy. It’s no wonder many people who win the matches have 5 or fewer kills. Seriously, I land, beeline it to the inevitable center of the map, and rarely meet another soul. The genre is popular, but it still has a LONG way to go, especially when you consider the issues with hackers in PUBG.
You see, in real life, I could just track you lowlife assholes. So unless Vostock, Hi-Rez, or someone else makes footprints detectable in their games, or some other method to make this hugely populated world feel less empty… the genre will get stale. So unless changes are made, I’ll take a pass.
Because that’s certainly what these Battle Royale knockoffs are going for. A passing grade for the cash grab rather than something epic that can capture an audience for more than a season. Cloning is not about neat concepts or new spins. It’s just taking a formula that is popular and works, then adding slight variations on it. Hence the name “clone”.
Hoping The Future Looks Brighter
Now, I know I have always said a generic idea is a great starting point to begin the process, and then alter from there to make something extraordinary. But, at least try to do something like Respawn did with the CoD formula they helped create. Take CoD, add omnidirectional movement and big “fuck off” mechs. Then make maps that allow both play sets to be evenly matched for some exhilarating MP action. What I didn’t mean was take an idea, spray some paint on it, and swap the license plates to sell it as “Like New”.
The benefit of all this is that Vostock, Hi-Rez, and even Bungie (if they decided to do what fans are calling for) really can’t fuck the idea up. Even if they made a die-hard clone with nothing new, the mode speaks to the people. But, like I said, the “genre” is already in need of some fresh paint and features. It’s fun, but after only a year it’s already getting old. Unless someone can breath new life into it, which can be done. This industry is filled with incredibly talented developers that have created some beautiful pieces of art, many of which take ideas from other popular games. The Battle Royale mode/genre is no exception.
I know we’re still in the infancy of the genre, so I’ll give it some slack, and time, to mature into something beautiful. I’m not saying the genre, or really any of the popular games within it are bad, quite the contrary in fact. But we need to see some growth before it fizzles out.