By Corey Dieteman
July 23, 2018
The battle royale video game genre became popular in 2017 and had become one of the most significant gaming genres in the world. So, what makes battle royale games influential? Does popularity drive how significant a game can be or is it the first one of that genre that led to better versions? Listed below are what I think are the top three most influential standalone games in the battle royale genre.
I was hesitant putting Fortnite first because I feel like to be first for most influential, it should be the game that made the genre first popular. Though, there is no denying the success Fortnite has had. It has become a cultural phenomenon and has reached more users than any other game in its genre.
The objective of the game is like other battle royale games currently on the market, last man or team surviving is the winner. Players can play solo, duos or four-man squads. There is also the 50v50 mode where it puts two teams of 50 players against each other.
What makes Fortnite’s battle royale stand apart from other games in the genre, is that it allows players to build structures and destruct pre-existing buildings. This adds another element to the game and gives the upper hand to people who can build quick and navigate to out-smart their opponent. The higher ground tends to provide you with a better advantage in a gun battle. Players can also add traps to buildings to bait an opponent into triggering.
I knew the game was big and on the same level to PUBG, but it wasn’t until March that I realized that this game had surpassed it. It was when I was surfing Twitter and saw a post from ESPN during March Madness, and they used the “#1 Victory Royale!” from Fortnite to show off a team winning. The gif to the right is what ESPN used to show Villanova University defeating University of Kansas in the Final Four. That’s when I knew that this game has broken into the mainstream media.
Fortnite then took an even bigger step in popularity when twitch streamer Ninja streamed with rapper Drake, rapper Travis Scott and NFL player JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The stream ended up smashing the record for the most-viewed stream by a single person. The stream peaked at 628,000 concurrent viewers, passing the previous record of 388,000 set by Dr. DisRespect.
What makes Fortnite the most influential battle royale game is that it has set a new bar. Every game that comes out now hopes to reach the cultural impact that Fortnite has had.
While PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds wasn’t the first battle royale game on the market, it was arguably the game that put the genre on people’s radar. The game was released for Microsoft Windows via Steam’s early access program in March 2017. The game gained popularity over time and was fully released in December 2017.
What makes PUBG so influential is the success the game has had over a short period. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has sold 40 million copies after being released only a year and a half ago. PUBG currently ranks as the sixth-highest selling video game of all time, behind Tetris, Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V, Wii Sports and Super Mario Bros.
PUBG is a more realistic version of a battle royale for players that haven’t played the game yet. Players are flown in over the designated map and they are required to parachute out onto the map. They begin with no gear beyond clothing. Once they land, the players must go from building to building to find weapons, armor, and medicine that are randomly placed. Every few minutes, the playable area shrinks down to a random location, with any players outside of the region suffer damage.
Personally, PUBG is my favorite game in the battle royale genre because of the realistic look and feel of the game. I grew up playing SOCOM and Call of Duty games, so transitioning myself to PUBG seemed like an easy move and it appealed to me. It’s what I was familiar with rather than the cartoonish look on Fortnite.
I originally was going to list the Arma 2 mod DayZ: Battle Royale as one of the most influential but decided to go with only standalone games rather than mods. This led me to H1Z1. H1Z1 was one of the first games that were a standalone game in the battle royale genre. It was released on Steam as a part of the early access program in January 2015, and later fully released in February 2018.
The game plays like Fortnite and PUBG as the objective of the game is to be the last man or team standing. H1Z1 also features a tox gas cloud like the Storm in Fortnite or the blue zone of PUBG. It will progressively compress the map, making it smaller and forcing battles with opponents.
What makes H1Z1 so influential is that we might not have PUBG or Fortnite if it wasn’t for the development of H1Z1. It helped gain the popularity of the game genre, which then PUBG and Fortnite have later expanded.
The best is yet to come with battle royale games. This genre is still very new and has been an enormous success for companies that decided to get into this market. I can only imagine the companies around the world that are working on the next battle royale game to try to take over Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and H1Z1.