Battle royale is everything right now. Really, it’s almost out of control! The concept is simple — you (and hopefully a few friends) drop into an environment, stock up, and survive. Once you’re eliminated, you just re-queue and try again. Most games are quick, at least for beginners, but the satisfaction of ranking in the top players only feeds the desire for more.
Games like DayZ and H1Z1 were prominent in the infancy of the genre, but Bluehole’s Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds became a top contender over the past few years. This increase in player-base set the stage for competitors to try their hands at the genre and that led us to the gaming phenomenon that is Fortnite. As a matter of fact, I really can’t think of another game that has blown up the way Fortnite has in such a short amount of time. It’s massive!
Keep your friends close
I am, in my heart of hearts, a single-player kind of guy. I cut my teeth on RPGs and puzzle games, but even I have caught a twinge of BR fever. Something about the gameplay hearkens back to teenage summers and the constant click of “play again” on anything from WarCraft II to Call of Duty. I recall long afternoons and longer nights, plowing through games online with friends. Despite that, there was always a level of distance between myself and my comrades that made the experience too unlike the couch co-op of days gone by. Factor in the unhinged toxicity of other randoms across the web and, well, you get the point. It just wasn’t the same.
While not couch co-op, certain measures within most BR games keep communication outside of that with your pals to a bare minimum. You’re no longer forced to listen to the 14-year-old down the street slinging slurs at your mother because of your alleged “wallhax!!!” (punctuation for dramatic reenactment) Being able to simply “squad up” and blaze through a few games is fantastic for me, a person with little time and a lot of distance from my usual teammates. As we enter the summertime and the days get a bit longer, it’ll be nice to relive some of those memories in a new way.
It’s not all about communication, though. The cornerstones of BR gameplay hit a certain sweet spot that I spent much of my younger years seeking out to no avail. Hardware limitations and a simple lack of consumer bandwidth made what we have now seem like a pipe-dream. 100 player battles? Huge environments? RPG elements? Stupidly addictive progression systems? Check, check, check, and check. It’s everything I could hope for in this capacity since the earliest Battlefield titles.
Breaking the mold
What’s interesting, however, is seeing the format explored by less “trigger-happy” games. Action-oriented MOBA Battlerite is the most recent to announce their version and I’m ecstatic! Battlerite was recommended to me for its quick game-length and focus on the “arena” aspect of the MOBA genre. My hesitation with MOBA-style games begins with game-length — my life doesn’t often afford me 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time, so Battlerite has been stellar in that respect. I’ve played a few standard rounds and it’s been a blast, but the inclusion of a BR mode sounds like another great way to keep people coming back.
Boasting a 20-player match size, an exponentially larger map, and an exploration mechanic being compared to Diablo, Stunlock Studios is about to scratch an itch I never knew I had. Many, including myself, have expressed fear over BR modes being an easy trend to capitalize on, but placing it in a game like Battlerite is a refreshing take. Mix up the new features with an already extensive cast of unique champions and it sounds like a winner.
Battlerite may not find itself a direct competitor to the big guns, but I don’t think that’s what the genre needs at this point. If Battle royale continues on the upward trend, I’m hoping Battlerite is the first of many deviations from the norm.
Battlerite is available for free on Steam!
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