The battle royale genre has taken the gaming world by storm, with each successive title containing new gameplay mechanics and features. Based on all of the best parts of Apex Legends, Fortnite, Blackout and PUBG, we've come up with what could be the ultimate battle royale game.
Gameplay is a broad term so there is no right answer. Furthermore, players have different opinions as to what constitutes good gameplay.
Excitement vs reality is often a conundrum that developers are trying to balance. There is also balancing the speed of the game, which is tough in its own right.
The cartoon, fast-paced style of Fortnite has obviously proven extremely popular, as it has resulted in it being most one of the most played games of all time.
Conversely, PUBG retains a loyal hardcore fan base due to its minimalist approach whereby the game mechanics lean on the side of realism.
Then, of course, there is CoD: Blackout. Call of Duty's entry into battle royale games was unsurprisingly highly anticipated, and overall it didn't disappoint. It isn't a stretch to say that Blackout is the most polished battle royale experience to date, even with the release of Apex Legends.
Due to how well it runs and its smoothness (FPS), Blackout gets the tick for the best gameplay. Moreover, it offers a good balance between fast-paced excitement while retaining at least somewhat realistic gun mechanics.
The map, or setting, of a game is often understated as to how important it is to the enjoyment of the game. The best map can be defined by a multitude of reasons, including: number of them, size, variation and how iconic they become over time.
In terms of size and number there is only one winner, PUBG. Elsewhere, while the Fortnite map (as a whole) has remained the same, it is constantly being updated. The Call of Duty Blackout map has also received changes albeit on a less frequent basis.
Fans of the respective games will all argue each map now has iconic locations. The Blackout map, however, did have iconic maps from previous Black Ops games from the outset. The nostalgia of seeing these places, such as Firing Range and Nuketown, definitely gets a Blackout a tick.
With all this said, because the game has four maps in circulation of varying setting and size, PUBG is the clear winner. The original map, Erangel, is already legendary and the latest map, Vikendi, has been well received also.
With any type of shooting game, guns are an important part of it. The number of them, the balancing between different categories of gun and most importantly, their mechanics contribute to how good a game is.
Firstly, games are given an era. For example, PUBG appears to be based on today, Blackout slightly in the future, Apex Legends very much in the future and where Fortnite is cartoon based doesn't have to be as strict on a time period.
These different time periods determine the type of guns that are available. Discussions on forums would indicate gamers prefer older style guns, which interestingly haven't been utilized in a battle royale format yet. No doubt this will come soon, though.
However, the initial success of the Halo-esque, Apex Legends shows that futuristic guns have a fan base. Today's guns are probably best represented by PUBG, while Blackout is in between the two.
In terms of the guns themselves, it is hard to give one game the overall edge. Determining the game with the best guns arguably comes down to which game you question the least when killed. As a result, Blackout gets another tick on this category.
Items and Circle
The various items available often have a big effect on the game as a whole. PUBG remains consistent in this regard with its minimalist approach having just health and grenades available.
Fortnite and Apex Legends go for a more extravagant approach with not only an array of items but levels, too.
Blackout, as it appears the overall strategy of the development team was, is to once again go with the middle ground. Items like mesh mines offer a chance to get a little more tactical but nevertheless, the emphasis is on gunplay.
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The circle also varies in damage severity and how quickly it closes in between the games. It even varies between maps in PUBG. The damage inflicted by the circle (or zone) is highest in PUBG. This means it is harder to play the circle, especially in the later stages.
In contrast, the other games are more forgiving. The developers of Fortnite, Apex Legends and Blackout clearly saw the circle mechanic in PUBG and thought a less aggressive, slower moving circle would result in more enjoyable gameplay.
As with all of these categories, the best game comes down to preference. Blackout once again may prevail due to its well-paced circle and not overly convoluted item system. However, due to the additional features of automatic attachments, alongside stowed attachments, we're giving this category to Apex Legends.
Battle royale games can be broken down into a large number of categories. To save going through each of these, they'll be encapsulated in extras.
Vehicle use in battle royale is still relatively primitive in comparison to games based on the mechanics of driving. Despite not being great by any means, PUBG probably leads the field in this regard. Blackout and Fortnite while fun, have car mechanics which would greater resemble games from previous generations.
Apex Legends has recently brought a new feature to the table. The ping system allows you to talk with teammates without being on a headset. Furthermore, you can ping enemy locations by simply clicking the ping button twice.
Then there is the new concept of getting killed teammates back in the game. A problem battle royale games have had, has been fallen teammates having to wait a long time to get back into the game if dying early. Apex Legends has resolved this problem with respawn beacons.
The ping system and the ability to bring your team back to life is intuitive and shows development in battle royale games. As a result Apex Legends wins this category.
Updates and Support
The discussed battle royale games have all had some semblance of an update schedule. Updates are coming for Apex Legends soon, as Respawn promised in their February 15 developer blog post.
PUBG has had the aforementioned maps added following its 1.0 release after a lengthy beta stage.
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Blackout has been updated throughout since its respective release. These updates have included significant balances to gameplay, most notably armor and the looting system. It has also had points of interest added with more confirmed in the coming weeks.
However, it is Fortnite that clearly wins this topic. Epic Games have been constantly adding new weekly content, as well as including various events that have occurred which alter the map. Fortnite is no doubt the example to follow when it comes to keeping a game fresh.
Nobody is going to agree on the perfect battle royale game. New ideas and concepts will be introduced in the coming months and years. New hardware will also increase what's possible.
With that said, it seems battle royale fans want a game as pure as PUBG that performs more in line with current hardware. Apex Legends has introduced new features such as the discussed ping system which could become a mainstay in battle royale. Finally, Fortnite's updates, along with its shallow, but developing story, are another aspect which future games should copy.
It will be interesting to see if a WW2 battle royale game could encapsulate all these features.
Next up is Firestorm, Battlefield's attempt at battle royale. This has been confirmed to be 64 players, a number similar to Apex Legends, so it will worth watching to see whether that proves as popular.
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Beyond that is the rumored Modern Warfare 4, which could be a treat for battle royale enthusiasts, if the battle royale mode is as polished as Blackout. Who knows, we might even get a PUBG 2 down the line.