Is it even possible?
Hold up! Don’t like to read? Watch instead…
Battle royales have been around for a while now and as you’d expect, the formula is getting real stale.
Dr Disrespect is trying to inject some creativity into the genre with Deadrop — a vertical extraction shooter being developed by midnight society. Keyword, “vertical”. You can check out my breakdown of it, here.
But he can’t be the only one jonesing at a chance to evolve this slow-moving game mode. What are other gamers’ thoughts on how to improve or shake up the scene? Who knows.
What I’m going to do in this video is try and reimagine the “land, scavenge, shoot, repeat” routine and see if we can’t spice it up a bit.
That iconic closing circle — gas, electrical storm… whatever you want to call it. It’s there to get players moving and fighting.
The function of the closing ring in battle royales is to continually force players to confront and deal with one another until the eventual climax when it’s all out madness — like throwing a bunch of betta fish into a single tank.
But the circle has been played out. How long has it been since H1Z1? 6 years?
What other mechanic can serve the same purpose and maybe add a much-needed twist to the genre?
Have you ever seen the movie Crank?
It’s a cool film by one of the smoothest action movie stars, Jason Statham. In it, he plays a hitman who gets poisoned with a Chinese synthetic drug which impairs the flow of adrenaline, slowing the heart until eventual death.
In other words, if he doesn’t keep his adrenaline up, he dies.
So how does he hold back death long enough to find the thugs responsible as well as a cure?
Easy. He engages in dangerous and exciting stunts.
But as you’d know if you’ve ever done any recreational “stuff” before, there ain’t no high like the first high. So throughout the movie, he has to increase and escalate the conflict and violence needed to sustain his adrenaline highs.
It’s like working against the clock. Or running from some gas.
What if battle royales ditched the environmental gas and made the panic more personal?
Each team would drop from the sky like usual, but instead of engaging with each other because of external pressure, they’re forced to eliminate other players for adrenaline highs that delay the ticking time bombs in their chests.
And get this, killing opponents in specific or unique ways could carry with them far greater adrenaline boosts.
This mechanic would actually incentivize engagement variety — not just a click-and-shoot fest.
You could even implement non-lethal objectives around the map for alternative ways to boost adrenaline in between battles.
The “Crank” mechanic would speed up engagement frequency, increase battle intensity, and deal with campers.
Think about it.
The Sifu Treatment
What percentage of the map gets used in a typical battle royale? 80%? 60%?
Was anyone really having skirmishes in Lumber and Quarry in Warzone’s Verdansk?
In all of the battle royales on the market, no one would cry if they lopped off 20% of the map.
So listen to this, why not reduce map size, keep player count if you want, and give your game a bit of the Sifu treatment?
Sifu is a single-player kung-fu game that gets combat right. Not only can you throw punches and kicks, but you can use the environment to your advantage — pushing into walls, off ledges, and using bats, bottles, and chairs…
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect battle royales to allow you to pick up and launch objects at your opponents, but what about just implementing a basic physics engine or environmental interactions?
Think about this right now — name me one battle royale that has any sort of physics engine or allows you to interact with the environment aside from doors and windows.
Vampire the Masquerade Bloodhunt allows you to drain human NPCs for blood, but those aren’t exactly the environmental interactions I want.
Other than that, all battle royale maps are stale and lifeless.
So make the maps smaller and use the CPU and GPU rotations you save to make rudimentary breakable geometry. It’s almost 2023 for God’s sake. Mars, A.I., robot dogs, and we can’t get a crude Half-Life Source physics engine going?
Nothing that affects gameplay of course, but I don’t know about you, after an intense firefight I want to see an environmental receipt.
Do you want to know what that would look like? Black for the PlayStation 2.
Described as, “Gun Porn,” the developers sought to achieve, and succeeded, in making every bullet count. From ejection to impact, each bullet left its mark.
To date, no multiplayer or single-player game has come close to making the simple act of shooting feel so aggressive. Even shooting rocket launchers or shotguns in Doom doesn’t come close to what it feels like to pull the trigger in Black.
And while I don’t expect any battle royale to reach Black levels — it’s probably not even possible — we need to move past these barron, empty, and meaningless mega maps.
And by the way, the reason competitive shooters don’t implement environmental physics is that it adds too many random variables to the arena. And for competitive shooters, teams need to be able to plan and make strategies ahead of time, based on predictable geometry.
But let’s not act like anyone finds battle royale tournaments exciting. The teams aren’t competing against one another to find out who’s the better shooters or strategists. It’s lame.
So ditch the “Warzone tournaments” and give us more intimate and visceral shooting experiences.
Are you bored of looting yet? What about playing around with inventory screens?
I say, save that stuff for Tarkov or Resident Evil.
While looting is a great mechanic that facilitates marketplaces and microtransactions, there’s just too much of it in battle royales.
And the reason looting feels so monotonous is that there isn’t much to do outside of shooting.
So if we’re going to have large maps that rival sections of Elder Scrolls Online or The Witcher 3, why not throw in some pseudo side quests?
Warzone plays around with scavenger, recon, and bounty contracts, but I want more than that.
And in the spirit of shooting, why not include different types of action in the royale?
Attack and defend?
Break into a facility, get past some AI enemies, and steal some advanced tech.
On the other side of the coin, defend some advanced tech, alongside AI allies, from the aforementioned attackers.
Or what about Capture the Flag?
Hijack a plane or jeep and deliver the cargo to another location and get rewarded with some gear.
Whatever you come up with, battle royales always have the one component that defines all great action scenes, working against the clock. They just need to use it better.
Whether it’s a ticking briefcase or the hero’s stamina, if you can see it working in a Tom Cruise flick, it could probably work in a battle royale.
All I’m asking for in 2023 is something more than taking a first-person shooter and throwing players into a large map. It’s old, stale, and boring.
What do you guys think?
Do you still play battle royales or have you gotten burned out?
How would you make them fun again? Because I see every other genre getting creative twists except for the battle royale.
Tell me what you think in the comments section and as always, stay cool, gentlemen.