by Tanner Kinney
The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte’s editorial board.
If there’s one video game genre that defines the second half of the 2010s, it’s battle royale. Coming out of nowhere with mods of games, like Minecraft: Hunger Games or the Arma 3 mod that later became PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, it quickly became wildly popular. The genre was massive on Twitch, with PUBG having millions of concurrent players despite being a fairly rough game in terms of mechanics. The genre would later completely explode through Epic Games’ Fortnite: Battle Royale, which is certainly the winner winner, chicken dinner of the genre… or is it?
Recently, a true challenger has arrived to take on Fortnite and is actually giving it a run for its money. That challenger is Apex Legends, a game from Respawn (developers of Titanfall) that released out of nowhere and quickly gained quite the audience. The game has found a playerbase of 25 million within its first week, and completely eclipsed Fortnite in terms of viewership on Twitch. Epic finally has a fire under its butt to start delivering on even more player demands, and competition is definitely healthy. And then, even more out of nowhere, Nintendo announces Tetris 99 during their February 2019 Nintendo Direct, a Tetris-flavored battle royale game.
Yes, you read that right, Tetris, but a battle royale. And it actually works way better than it has any right to work. It’s honestly incredible to see something so strange as a puzzle battle royale, but it makes you think: what other games/genres would work for battle royale? I’ve rattled my brain and scratched out some amazing ideas, and have come up with a few games that would be perfect as battle royales. And don’t worry developers, if you take my ideas, you don’t even need to call me. We’ll both know where it came from, even if no one else does.
Starting with one of Microsoft’s four amazing first-party franchises, Forza Horizon should be a battle royale. A racing battle royale? Okay, that makes sense, but the game doesn’t have car combat mechanics of other franchises like Mario Kart or Twisted Metal, both of which would work better. Ah, but you see, that’s not thinking outside the box. How can you make Forza a battle royale within the mechanics of Forza? Simple, you play on the idea of the storm closing in on you.
Picture this: 100 cars line up to traverse a treacherous, massive racecourse in line with Forza Horizon 4’s United Kingdom. The race starts, and shortly after a quick headstart a powerful storm follows the racers. If you’re too slow, you get devoured by the storm. Racers need to not only focus on their own racing, but also the people around them. Car upgrades will be placed around the track as ways to upgrade your car’s stats to be more defensive. If your car is stronger than another car, you can simply run them off the road and into the storm. Combine that with traps and roadblocks littered throughout the map, and you have a racing experience that is tense and addictive. And, since it’s still a race, the winner is either the person who lasts the longest or the one to reach the finish line first. If you’re unable to cross the finish line, you don’t actually place. It’s ingenious, and you could have a ton of different maps and locations for this, as long as they all fit 100 cars. Or, maybe even a modest 30 cars. Actually, scratch the cars, have it be 30 people running on foot. And the storm is a giant lizard firing meteors. Or a shark. Now THIS is a truly original idea, never before seen.
Infamous: Second Son
Infamous: Second Sun was a disappointing game, I’m not gonna lie. It was okay, for sure, but it’s nowhere near as solid as either of the first two Infamous games, mostly because of the protagonist and his boring Conduit power. Delsin Rowe can steal another person’s power by touching them, and therefore has tons of potential in what he can do, but ends up with a set of powers that is just kind of underwhelming. So, how is that at all relevant to battle royale? Look at Delsin’s power again: he can have a full loadout of different powers.
The game starts with each person dropping into a city, whether it’s Empire City or New Marais or Seattle. The player can find and drain certain power sources to pick up a variety of powers that have their own set of abilities. Some can be defensive powers, some can be more offensive powers, some can even be fully utility powers. Each different type of power has an energy meter that can be refilled by draining various power sources or downed players. A fire fight in the game could have one person using ice powers to try and pin down another player dashing around with Neon, looking for a sniping angle. The storm in this game is a giant storm similar to ones created by The Beast. There would need to be less players and probably some kind of limit to how many powers someone can hold, but an endgame battle between two fully-powered up titans would be something that could be a legendary viewer experience.
It’s a shame Sucker Punch killed the Infamous series, and we’ll likely never see this kind of game be made. Maybe we’ll get Ghost of Tsushima: Battle Royale.
Super Mario Maker
This one is a no-brainer, right? Nintendo needs a battle royale, and Nintendo doesn’t ever do anything normal and, let’s be honest, Super Mario Maker 2 will need a winning game mode that isn’t as bland as the random level mode from Super Mario Maker. The solution is, of course, battle royale. This idea is similar in terms of players outrunning a storm, but it’s not an auto-scroller, since auto-scrollers are bad. It’s a purely endurance experience. To give a video that paints a picture of what I’m thinking, here’s a video created by Patrick LeMieux using footage of many different Super Mario Bros. runs done by Andrew Gardikis.
The video, if you can’t tell what it is, shows a cloud of Marios running through the level. That cloud is actually hundreds of Super Mario Bros. runs layered on top of each other in one video. Whenever Andrew G. would reset a run, that clip is removed from the video. So how relevant is this to Super Mario Maker: Battle Royale? Well, this is how the game would look. You are running against 99 other ghost Marios in a user generated level. The game would operate in rounds, with you competing against other people to see how many random levels you can clear without dying. Once you die, you get removed from the run and can either watch people battle it out or (more than likely) rage quit and queue up again. As a sudden death round, you could bring in a firey auto-scroller mechanic, or simply put in a high-death count level to try and kill the remaining players. There are enough bad Kaizo levels to kill off unprepared players. It could be a great twist on the typical Mario format, and one that I think would be perfect.
World of Warcraft
Now, you may be thinking, “wait, you mean like a PVP mode? That wouldn’t be so bad! Each class can drop and pick up spells and duel other players like in traditional PVP. It would just be PVP with extra steps, but it might be okay!” And sure, that’s a perfectly terrible idea. Because here’s the thing: if you’re playing World of Warcraft right now, as Blizzard dies around it, you ARE playing the battle royale.
Look around you, the community is fleeing and bleeding out. Updates are releasing and still aren’t fixing the problems in the game. Battle for Azeroth has problems within the story that may never end up being fixed. Heroes of the Storm lost most of its funding for esports and development in general, and the cracks in the world are starting to form. And these layoffs make it clear your game is no longer the success it once was. If you hold it together for the longest amount of time, sticking to the game even as the once populated landscapes become barren around you, you can win this battle royale. The last player on the server before it permanently shuts down is the winner. And then, you gain the ownership of a private server of the game, and it becomes a simulator of running an MMO. It’s a game with so many layers.
The ultimate twist? Once the playerbase of your new MMO begins to plateau, the battle royale begins anew. It literally never ends.
Wall Street Kid
And here it is, the ultimate battle royale experience: Wall Street Kid VR: Battle Royale. It’s a VR game based on the hit NES classic, Wall Street Kid. You’re a young person and receive a sizable amount of money from a dead relative. Of course, instead of splurging on way too much avocado toast, you decide to invest in the stock market. The competition is tough, as you compete against thousands of other people to make the most money and live the best life while still paying for your family and their frivolous expenses. You watch as your demands for more profits destroy once great companies while you reinvest in strange products and other things. The market shifts without your control, and one bad investment can send you into the red.
Here’s the twist: once you go broke, your game doesn’t end. You have to live in a simulation of being in debt, with no options and no way out. You can’t close the game; you are trapped in the simulation. There aren’t too many options to exit the simulation, but you can turn the world upside-down in a whole new fight for survival for those still playing the stock market: the revolution. It’s time for those who went broke to fight those who are living a life of luxury. It’s time for the hungry to start eating the rich. Arm yourself, and become the storm closing in on those making as much profit as they can before the world falls apart around them. This is the future of battle royale, and would likely kill the genre, so please don’t release this unless you are prepared for the consequences. Because those consequences will bring the battle royale experience right to your doorstep.
It’s fun for the whole family!
Featured Image: Roy Wood
Tanner is a Film and Media Studies major and a Digital Media minor. His Neo Yokio review won a second-place CSPA Golden Circle award for the 2017 semester. He enjoys playing JRPG’s of any variety, regardless of how obscure and strange it is. Tanner is also the host of Byte at the Movies, the premiere movie discussion live-stream.