With the success of Blackout and Battlefield Vs Firestorm just around the corner, GameCentral nominates five games that should get in on the Battle Royale craze.
When it was revealed that Call Of Duty would be taking a punt at the Battle Royale genre with Black Ops 4 there was no shortage of pundits predicting it would fall flat on its face. However, two weeks after its launch, Blackout is now one of the most talked about multiplayer experiences of 2018.
Still, its easy to see where these naysayers were coming from. Big name publishers have been slow to react, Call Of Duty and Battlefield only now dabbling in Battle Royale more than a year after the meteoric rise of PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds and Fortnite. Until now these two games have effectively held down a duopoly with little to no threat whatsoever.
There have also been concerns that the popular subgenre is already at max capacity. You only need to look at the sudden, mass saturation of MMOs and MOBAs in the past decade or so to see how fruitless trend chasing can be, leading to the closure of many failed games and their developers.
With all that said, if theres one thing that the success of Blackout proves its that theres still plenty of room for competition. Where the most popular MMOs and MOBAs have a near identical approach to design and gameplay, the only common trait between Battle Royale games is a loose set of rules. These include having a large map that gradually shrinks and the last player or team standing reigning supreme, having started the match with nothing but the shirts on their backs.
However, in terms of the actual minute-by-minute gameplay every entry in this growing subgenre feels completely different. The reason why Blackout has been such a success is down to Call Of Dutys snappy shooting, which has been refined for more than a decade and adapted by Treyarch to suit a larger map and the need for inventory management.
But there are other games out there too, both existing and upcoming, that could be reworked for a Battle Royale mode. Here are our top five picks…
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
With Activision and EA rolling out Battle Royale modes for their flagship shooters, its only a matter of time before Ubisoft follows suit. A game from its Tom Clancy franchise would be a natural fit and last years Ghost Recon: Wildlands seems like such an obvious choice.
At launch, it wasnt met with raving reviews. Its sprawling open world felt barren at times and it was easy for players to fall into a repetitive loop, the overarching story devoid of any meaningful hooks. However, the past 18 months have seen the game grow with a wealth of new content, features, and improvements in what seems to be a recurring trend for Ubisoft and its growing stable of multiplayer games.
Post-launch, Wildlands received an update that introduced competitive, PvP modes. It didnt have a seismic impact on the game, although it continues to garner a small dedicated pool of fans. Expanding this to include a massive player count wouldnt be completely out of the question. Much like Metal Gear, Ghost Recon already has those essential Battle Royale ingredients, including a huge play area, vehicle gameplay, and plenty of ways for you to customisation your loadout.
This would also suit Ubisofts wider games as a service narrative. It would come as a shock if the publisher and its army of development studios wasnt in fact working on a Battle Royale mode for Wildlands right now, or at least had something similar in the pipeline. A Battle Royale mode for Rainbow Six, maybe?
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
Mount & Blade may not have much of a presence on consoles (last years Warband was a port of a seven-year-old game) but it enjoys a die hard fanbase. While theres a large focus on strategy and building your ragtag party into a kingdom-crushing army, players spend just as much time on the battlefield.
Its surprisingly action-heavy, with single battles featuring hundreds of soldiers locked in frenzied combat. Mount & Blade is also no stranger when it comes to multiplayer and past games feature systems that already align with the Battle Royale formula, as in some modes you need to earn points during matches to purchase weapons, armour, and other equipment.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is said to have a much larger focus on multiplayer when it eventually launches. Having been in development since 2012, details surrounding these modes arent concrete, though a medieval take on Battle Royale would certainly be a welcome surprise.
Of course, you wont catch knights dropping from a helicopter, but finding a creative way for players to select a spawning point shouldnt require much imagination. Starting with nothing, you would ransack nearby villages, towns, and castles for weapons, armour, and, of course, horses. Mount & Blade already has a good variety of gear and the mix of both ranged and melee combat would make for some interesting encounters.
Given the series penchant for huge scale battles, a Battle Royale mode could definitely be on the cards. Even if TaleWorlds doesnt end up including it, this series enjoys a thriving modding community that will no doubt take matters into their own hands, if the demand is there.
The Last Of Us Part II
Having one of the most gripping narratives in gaming history, many forget that The Last Of Us also had excellent online multiplayer. It featured small, yet extremely tense skirmishes between two groups of survivors, crafting salvaged items into makeshift bombs, first aid kits, and other items. Sneaking in the shadows and getting caught in deadly duels with just a handful of bullets to spare works extremely well.
From what little weve seen gameplay in The Last Of Us Part II is more fluid and dynamic, though mostly borrows from its predecessor. Theres still going to be a focus on stealth, third person shooting, and managing a limited inventory of gear. Naughty Dog has already confirmed that the sequel will feature multiplayer and although late to the party, Sony could still get in on some of that Battle Royale action.
It already ticks some of those essential boxes. Although you could customise your character in the original game, youd only spawn with basic gear, requiring cash earned through kills and scoring objective to buy upgrades and equipment such as body armour and a helmet. Its not hard to imagine Naughty Dog peeling that back one step further, giving you nothing to start with.
Having had online multiplayer in all of its games since Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog has no lack of experience in this area, though there are some incompatibilities. Creating a huge map that has the developers trademark level of detail and polish – then filling that with 100 players – seems like an impossibility, at least on PlayStation 4. If the studio does have plans for its own twisted take on Battle Royale, it could definitely work but it would need to be on a much smaller, more intimate scale.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
If Konami had only held off a little longer before desecrating Metal Gear Solid V, this years spin-off could have been something special. Although it has its fans, Metal Gear Survive is easily one of the most forgettable games of 2018 – a lazy cash grab that avoided an absolute mauling simply because it inherited The Phantom Pains sublime core gameplay. If Konami had waited another year, the words Battle Royale would surely have cropped up on the drawing board somewhere.
Metal Gear Solid V is a prime candidate, already ticking off those key Battle Royale elements. It has not one, but two enormous open world maps that can be easily navigated on foot, in vehicles, or even on horseback. Not only that, starting with nothing but your tranquiliser and some bone-breaking CQC moves has always been the hallmark of the Metal Gear series. Hell, the opening to Snake Eater even had a lengthy cut scene explaining the concept of on-site acquisition, Naked Snakes codename reflecting the fact he starts the game pretty much bare-handed.
The highly flexible character movement, sharp gunplay, and Metal Gears existing penchant for inventory management also make The Phantom Pain a good match. Thinking outside of gameplay, theres a wealth of skins and cosmetics Konami would have no trouble flogging to fans of the series.
Although it seems like a match made in Outer Heaven, its not likely to happen. Metal Gear Solid Vs online multiplayer quickly fell off the radar and the publisher hasnt been particularly active these past few years. With a slow trickle of updates and new content for Metal Gear Survive, theres tiny a tiny glimmer of hope, however.
With Nathan Drakes story finished, many are asking what comes next for the Uncharted franchise. Having sold over 41 million copies, its still a huge name for the PlayStation brand and one that hopefully wont lay dormant for long.
Much like The Last Of Us, Uncharted 4 had a superb multiplayer component, but heres the problem with such cinematic, story-driven games: the overhanging assumption that online play has been bolted on as an afterthought. Thats been an issue since Uncharted 2, although the games have continued to stand out with their inventive multiplayer, bridging the gap between traditional online shooter and something that feels more like a Hollywood blockbuster.
With Uncharted having always been centred on smack-talking treasure hunters, stranding several dozen of them on an island in the middle of nowhere would be an easy set-up.
However, shaping that to fit the Battle Royale mould would be a challenge and with Naughty Dog no longer working on the series, that task would fall into the hands of another studio. Still, the core shooting gameplay, verticality of maps, and Uncharted 4s inclusion of vehicles could theoretically be worked into something new.
Sonys current focus is seemingly locked on big budget single-player experiences, Horizon Zero Dawn, God Of War, and Marvels Spider-Man marking one success story after the next. Then we have Death Stranding, Days Gone, and Ghost Of Tsushima arriving in 2019 (hopefully). However, this has left a gap in the publishers upcoming line-up with no major platform-exclusive multiplayer game in sight. Leveraging the Uncharted name to get in on the Battle Royale scene would be a risky move on Sonys part, but you never know…
By Jim Hargreaves