by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 1st May, 2018
While 2017 was the year when Battle Royale entered the living rooms and started to draw attention, especially after PUBG became a worldwide phenomenon and Fortnite continued to prove that we needed a change when it comes to multiplayer shooters, 2018 is setting up to be the defining year for the genre. Many titles are in development, and so many of them look very exciting.
But, as gaming history teaches us, not all of them will survive and climb to stars. Quite the contrary, most of these current and upcoming titles will burn during their descent through the atmosphere and will end their life as free-to-play titles with empty servers and next to nothing player base. Further, the upcoming battle royale games can be looked at as one huge experiment, an experiment that will determine whether this trend is a fad of the moment or a start of something bigger, something that will dominate the multiplayer scene in years to come. Will battle royale genre manage to reach MOBA heights?
To be honest, we don't know the answer to this question (but, if you ask us we think it will dominate gaming scene for at least couple of years, until we lived through the final wave of AAA battle royale titles coming from big-name publishers) but we know that there are lots of current and upcoming games that want to grab your attention and become your next daily fix of last man standing multiplayer. Here are some of the most interesting battle royale games you've never heard of. After you check this list out we reckon there will be at least a couple of games you will try or wait to come out.
The first on this list is a game called PROXIMA ROYALE (all caps lock) that is taking the classic battle royale formula and refines it a bit. The game's map is 5x5 square kilometers of lush forests, wide grasslands, various hills and valleys, and futuristic alien buildings.
Yes, the game looks sci-fi because it is set in a far-off planet called Proxima Centauri B (it isn't so far off, it is located in the solar system, closest to our own) so we expect for the game to feature cool weapons and advanced armor as well as other types of items that will affect gameplay. We really hope to see jetpacks and other ways to fly around the map.
Anyway, PROXIMA ROYALE will support up to 60 players per round and its main tagline is "Eliminate your enemies to become THE LAST ROBOT STANDING." So yeah, we play as robots so, aside from flying we expect fast-paced gameplay along with crazy moves and over the top shooting. The game is getting closed alpha tests from time to time, and you can sign up for them on the game's official site. PROXIMA ROYALE should enter Steam Early Access soon when it will become available for everyone to check it out.
While the previous title focuses on a smaller map with fewer players stuffed on it, Mavericks: Proving Ground will try to take battle royale games to the next level of magnitude. The game will have a huge, 12x12 kilometer map and will be able to take up to 400 players in one match. If this sounds huge it's because it is. 400 players, every one of them trying to kill all others, while roaming through a huge map sounds awesome, but there's more.
The game won't just push the scale farther when it comes to player count and the size of the map, it will also bring extremely detailed graphics with features like dynamic elements (like fires that spread across the map), destructible terrain and buildings, lots of wildlife roaming through the map, and more. Players will be able to track others by following their footprints, or by looking at flattened foliage, or by simply looking at muddy foot tracks on the pavement (if a player moves through water or mud, they will leave tracks on concrete).
Aside from its expansive battle royale mode, Mavericks: Proving Grounds aims for more. The game's ultimate goal is becoming an open world, living and breathing MMO with its own economy, clans, a huge number of quests, conquests, and much more. We can say that the tech behind Mavericks: Proving Grounds does look impressive and we can't wait to check this one out.
Enough with the next-gen battle royale titles, let's talk a bit about a game you can actually go out and play right this moment. Mini Battlegrounds is a simplified version of battle royale game featuring cure cartoony art style, top-down view on the action and lots of cute characters who want to kill you.
The game features classic gameplay elements of any other battle royale title such as looting, taking equipment from downed players, intense action, while adding lovely visuals and putting players in mostly urban areas without long stretches of wilderness to roam around where all you can see is grass, occasional tree, and that guy who lies in bushes just waiting to snipe unsuspecting enemies (and who will get killed by you in a couple of seconds).
Mini Battlegrounds even has vehicles and is a game for those who just want to jump straight into the action, to play a couple of rounds and then to exit the game and play something else. You can get the game on Steam for just $5.
Surviv.io is another simple battle royale title that offers lots of fun along with a simple but effective gameplay and intense gunfights. The game can be played from your favorite web browser and starting a new match takes just a couple of seconds. Once you're inside this simplified world of green landscapes and moving circles trying to kill you.
The best thing about the game is that you can literally start a match in two seconds. Just pick a server and you will be immediately be thrown right into the middle of the action. The game offers plenty of different weapons and scopes work by increasing your view of the game's 2d, top-down word. Brilliant! There are buildings to loot, and the game features all the elements of a classic battle royale title, the only difference being its simplified presentation. You can check out the game on its official site, and yes, it is a completely free title.
Each of the previously covered games can be described as a classic battle royale title. You have the open world map, you have to kill everyone else by using guns or your fists, and the maps feature wilderness or urban environments. But Maelstrom will try to bring lots of new stuff to the genre. Instead of being the last man standing game, Maelstrom will be a "last ship standing" battle royale title. Yes, you and 14 other ship captains will try to sink everyone else and become the champion of the seas. Naval combat set in a huge map dotted by islands sounds cool but even cooler is the fact that Maelstrom will offer dangers and challenges other than live players.
You will be able to kill epic sea monsters (that will also be able to kill you very easy) as well as NPC ships. And on top of all that, the game offers a progression system that works across matches meaning you will be able to go into battles with a better hull, stronger weapons and more. An on top of all that, Maelstrom looks just fantastic. The sea is beautiful and ships are very detailed. Combat is fast-paced and more of an arcade side, but that's just another plus. You can play the game right now, it is available on Steam Early Access.
While still not officially launched, Islands of Nyne is in development for quite some time. The game had successful Kickstarter campaign before PUBG became a thing and at the moment it is in an early alpha stage. The backstory of the game is that battle royale contestants were abducted by aliens and dropped into the arena to fight to the death.
Islands of Nyne looks amazing, with lush, juicy green grasslands and forests along with lots of futuristic alien elements combined with Earth-like buildings. The game should feature three playable arenas once it comes out along with 100-player matches. It should offer new gameplay elements such as teleports, special powers, anti-gravity generators and Crysis-like abilities that players will be able to activate mid-combat.
Islands of Nyne supports only first-person perspective and while it technically can be bought, you have to wait for a new wave of alpha keys to be released. Just visit the game's site, subscribe, and you will be notified once a new set of keys gets out.
Dying Light is one of the best zombie games ever, and its next content drop will give the game a new life by introducing a battle royale mode to the acclaimed survival title. The mode isn't what you call a massive scale battle royale. Instead, it puts up to six players on the map with a goal of delivering antidote serums for the zombie infection (which can be stolen, looted, or collected from drops) to the extraction zone.
While the mode has a competitive side, it also puts a huge horde of zombies between the starting point and the extraction zone, asking players to cooperate instead of trying to kill each other. Of course, once you manage to escape the horde alive nothing stops you to kill other players, giving Bad Blood tactical and diplomatic elements where alliances can break at any moment, making for one extremely tense experience. With pretty graphics and parkour gameplay, Dying Light: Bad Blood looks like a smaller scale, but very exciting pseudo battle royale game.
When it comes to battle royale games, there is no shortage of new gameplay elements that can make for one different but still fun and enjoyable experience. And Egress is trying to cut guns out of the picture and replace them with melee weapons. But do not expect simplified combat with button mashing and accidental kills. No, Egress features an in-depth combat system that borrows a lot from Dark Souls and Bloodborne games.
Players will have to be tactical and to watch carefully for opponent's moves, creating immersive combat experience that should be complete opposite when compared to classic, fast-paced combat seen in most other battle royale games.
On top of the complex melee combat mechanics, Egress also offers different playing characters, all with their unique strengths and weaknesses that make them suitable for different play styles, different weapons, giving the game and touch of RPG spice, just further building on the bare-bones battle royale formula we have in current titles.
And on top of everything else, the game features beautiful art style, with maps being set in a strange world, a mix between Victorian-era architecture, 80's cyberpunk aesthetics and tall buildings across the map hinting at potential focus on verticality. We hope we will see grappling hooks, parkour gameplay and similar moves that will allow players to move all around the map, that will lead to some intense combat.
Crazy Justice is a battle royale game that is, like many others from this list, coming out for PC and two main consoles (PS4 and Xbox One), but is also the first game of its type to be released for the Nintendo Switch (of course, if Epic doesn't release Fortnite before Crazy Justice gets out).
The game borrows a lot from Fortnite, but it builds on top of Fortnite's building mechanics allowing players to set up turrets and other building types, not just to set up barricades. The game looks pretty nice and it features an interesting art style that mixes steampunk with post-apocalyptic environments. Overall, Crazy Justice looks like an interesting title that probably won't find much success on PC - because the market is already crowded - but on consoles, it could become a big hit.
The game features fast-paced third-person combat and it should finally bring battle royale multiplayer to Nintendo's hugely popular console that, most of all, lacks in competitive multiplayer shooter experiences.
And of course, among the many current and upcoming battle royale video games, we have to have a couple of them developed for VR platforms. The most interesting of that VR bunch is called Stand Out. The game offers excellent graphics, for a VR title, huge map and lots of different weapons. Usual parts of the battle royale formula are here like looting, the ever-shrinking circle of survival, and airplane drops.
We are impressed by the size of the map and the fact that the game works pretty good on any VR headset available for PC. No matter if you own the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Windows Mixed Reality headset, Stand Out will work. Of course, huge map and solid visuals in VR environment make the game pretty demanding so don't expect to be able to play it unless you have a top of the line PC.
The combat is based on motion control, allowing players to aim with their hands and giving them a unique battle royale experience where your reflexes and aiming experience have a huge impact on the course of the battle. Instead of aiming with the mouse, you can aim with your hands. The game can be played both while standing or sitting down, and it can be bought on Steam.