Battle royale: what am I missing?

Online multiplayer shooters have been my thing since my parents first got a 14.4k internet connection in the 1990s. It allowed me to play Half-Life Deathmatch and Team Fortress Classic, the latter of which remained my most-loved game for years.

Counter-Strike then arrived and, while it was an impressive step forward in team-play, there was something about waiting for the round to finish before playing again which just didn’t sit well with me (I’ll talk a bit more about this later). The early 2000s were a rich time for multiplayer shooters and my personal list of favourites goes on for a while: you’ve got Unreal Tournament, Quake III Arena, Natural Selection, Wolfenstein and PlanetSide, and that’s to name only a few.

The last one was massive for me and is probably my most played game of all time, as every day was a different experience in a persistent world. You could be stuck in stalemate for hours, take a break to eat, and then come back an hour later to find the same battle still raging. It’s the only massively-multiplayer-online (MMO) title I’ve actually played enough to become known as a regular among the community on my particular server, including the politics. Yes, I could spend the rest of this post about PlanetSide and how much I enjoyed it.

But let’s move on. Next came the battle between Call of Duty and Battlefield for the number-one spot in the genre. They’re equally matched in popularity but vastly different in gameplay with the latter, my personal favourite, featuring larger environments, vehicles and aircraft with a greater focus on team-play. Battlefield 2 in particular introduced persistent player statistics and strengthened the class system.

Since then, I’ve played almost every release in the series. I’m keen on Battlefield 2142 because of the epic titan assault mode which combines the traditional capture-the-point objectives with an assault on a floating battleship. As a soldier, you could take the fight to the enemy’s titan and destroy it from the inside, or continue to capture missile silos on the ground that slowly chip away at the hull.

Considering my history with the first-person shooter, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d like everything that battle royale games have to offer. The popularity of the genre today is staggering but there’s something all entries share in their design that I struggle to enjoy. I’ve tried each of the most popular including Fortnite, Apex Legends and Fallout 76 (but not PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds). It’s not one single title that’s the problem: it’s more about the core gameplay loop, and I just don’t feel the same attraction a significant of other gamers do.

In case you didn’t already know, battle royales consist of between 50 to 100 players who are dropped onto an island with the aim to kill everyone else to become the last one standing. Some games include team-play aspects, with small groups pitted against each other in the same way. Weapons, ammunition, armour and sometimes vehicles are scattered throughout the map and must be obtained to compete after you arrive empty-handed. I can understand how this aspect appeals as it adds chance to what gear you’ll find, but it takes still to use the equipment effectively and win the match.

If you lose in battle royale you’re out until the next round. Whether you’re outgunned by a better player, struck by a moment of bad luck or make a silly mistake, there’s no second chance. With each in Counter-Strike being quite short it wasn’t much of a problem. But I found myself getting frustrated after only one round of something like Fortnite, having spent quite some time finding some quality gear and planning my next move – before being destroyed by another player. I’m left in no mood to jump back in and repeat the whole process once again.

Don’t get me wrong: the quality of these games is high, and I appreciate that the feeling of winning after being up against 99 other people must be thrilling. I don’t think winning a match would encourage me to have another go; and even the battle royale mode in my favourite games, Battlefield V and Fallout 76, haven’t made the difference. Is it possible I’m becoming an older gamer that doesn’t quite get it?

And except for Hideo Kojima, who made it clear he doesn’t want to make this kind of game, does anyone else share my experience? Or do you completely disagree and want to shed some light on what fuels the battle royale addiction?

11 thoughts on “Battle royale: what am I missing?

  1. I do not like battle royale games to the point of never playing them. Its definitely not a style of gameplay I’d enjoy. I’m really tired of seeing so many BR games coming out cause they are all exactly the same.

    I think players get their high off of a win, even if they only win 1 out of 100 games. It is the constant strive for success. Which then makes it great for eSports.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Very true, the stalemates in games with as many players as Planetside 2 goes on for hours until everyone gets bored and moves on to somewhere else.


    • Yes it’s such a specific game mode that there’s not much room for innovation! Can they please give up already and let some creativity come through instead!?

      I think you’ve nailed it on the eSports point, or eLicenseToPrintMoneySports.


  2. I’ve given a few of them a shot. PUBG is certainly my least favourite, so you’re not missing out there; it epitomises that feeling of spending ages actually getting in to a round, finding kit, then getting sniped by someone you didn’t even see.

    Apex Legends I do actually enjoy however (even if I’m pretty bad at it). The pace is much quicker than the others, but I can totally see how it’s either a genre you enjoy or don’t, and it’s annoying how everything seems to need a BR mode now to even have a dent in the market.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Battlefield V and Fallout 76 were the examples for me of games that didn’t need it but the pressure from publishers to make money must have done it.

      I can see why you enjoy Apex Legends as it looked like it would break the ice for me but I could still feel the core battle royale mechanics putting me off unfortunately!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The only one I’ve tried was the Ashes of Creation version at the start of the year. I played that to get a look at AoC, which I kickstarted. I quite enjoyed it although it’s essentially pointless. Well, the fun isn’t but the whole concept seems to fractured and isolated to appeal for long term play.

    I’ll be trying the upcoming Steam version of AoC’s Battle Royale, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I did enjoy the 120 hours I put into Fortnite on my Switch, but it always left a bit of a hollow feeling afterwards. You don’t really earn that much or make progress: only new skins or whatever. It was a fun experience, but not one I really feel like going back to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Complete agree about the lack of progress, the arbitrary account levels they include in these games don’t mean anything when it’s not impossible to obtain. 120 hours is impressive! I’d say that’s a decent experience for one game and completely understand the need to move on.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. FYI, you left your comments closed on your Gamescom post, not sure if that was intentional; I assume not, given that you asked for people to give suggestions!

    I don’t think you’re alone in not liking the Battle Royale fad; it doesn’t appeal to me, for one, though I’m not exactly representative of the broader gaming population. I really dislike the idea of a game with so much downtime built into it… I know you can avoid that by “gitting gud” at it, but in a game like this it’s easy to get utterly dominated and have no feasible means of developing the experience to be able to “git gud”.

    But that’s probably a broader problem I have with multiplayer games in general. My gaming time is valuable to me, so I resent anything that forces me to sit around waiting for more than a loading break — be it queueing for a dungeon in an MMO, waiting for matchmaking in a competitive game or being headshotted in the first ten seconds of a battle royale. Give me my single player funtimes and let me grump in peace!


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