Within the current gaming landscape, there’s one singular fact that cannot be disputed: battle royale is big. The large-scale competitive format that defines the genre first gained prominence with the release of Bluehole’s PUBG, but it didn’t take off in earnest until Epic Games decided to make its own Fortnite Battle Royale spin-off.
Fortnite BR’s massive success triggered a sort of digital gold rush which game studios both big and small were eager to capitalize on, and it’s hard to blame them given how much revenue Fortnite BR has generated despite being a F2P game.
Making a comprehensive list of every battle royale game to date is an unquestionably serious undertaking given how many new battle royale titles continue to pop up, but I’ve done my best to keep the below list as current as possible (as of October 2018). I also went ahead and ranked all of the below games from worst to best so feel free to reach out on Twitter or whatever to tell me how wrong I am in my rank assignments.
31. Radical Heights
Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Studios launched its zany 80’s-themed battle royale game Radical Heights back in April of this year as a sort of last-ditch attempt to recover after its competitive shooter game LawBreakers failed to garner much interest. Sadly, it was too little too late for Boss Key and the studio closed down about a month later, with Radical Heights going down with it.
30. Islands of Nyne
Islands of Nyne started out with a lot of promise, having technically been in development since even before heavy-hitters like PUBG. We were pretty impressed with Islands of Nyne’s sci-fi aesthetic when we went hands-on a few months ago, but sadly that promise didn’t last.
Visiting Islands of Nyne’s Steam page reveals that developer Define Human Studios is barely paying attention to the game anymore (the last developer update was made nearly a full month ago). That lack of developer support combined with the game’s $25 price tag has caused Islands of Nyne’s playerbase to nearly evaporate completely, essentially leaving it dead on arrival.
SOS started out with a rather promising concept: a survival game where spectators could directly influence the outcome of matches by dropping in either helpful items or hazards. However, a few months after its initial early access launch, SOS developer Outpost Games decided to suddenly pivot over to a competitive battle royale format. Not only that, but the battle royale pivot also entailed a sudden transition to a F2P model, leaving those who had paid the original game’s $30 price in the lurch.
Unsurprisingly, the above changes led to a massive influx of negative Steam reviews. Outpost Games tried to appease the masses by releasing a separate SOS Classic client, but the damage was already too great. The fact that Outpost hasn’t released a new developer update for SOS since August seems to suggest the game has been abandoned for good, and it’s unlikely any former players will mourn its passing.
28. Fractured Lands
If you enjoy H1Z1’s Auto Royale mode, it would normally be easy to recommend Unbroken Studios’ vehicle-centric battle royale game Fractured Lands. It would be easy to recommend if the game’s playerbase wasn’t altogether nonexistent as its Steam reviews show. That combined with its $25 price tag has killed whatever momentum Fractured Lands would otherwise have.
27. The Culling: Origins
The Culling is an interesting sort of battle royale project since it’s technically not just one game but several. The first game arrived at around the same time as PUBG and Fortnite BR, and it set itself apart by focusing more on melee combat and implementing a Running Man-style game show vibe. However, fans weren’t happy when developer Xaviant Games all but abandoned The Culling in favor of The Culling 2, and Xaviant was quick to pivot to a F2P spin-off called The Culling: Origins.
As of this writing, Origins isn’t doing so hot despite the cult following the original game garnered, but given how it is F2P that could potentially change as the spin-off gains more traction.
26. Darwin Project
Scavengers Studios’ Darwin Project has built up a small yet loyal community ever since its debut in 2017. Similar to The Culling, it incorporates a reality show angle as it drops players into a frozen wasteland so they can fight to the death for the amusement of viewers. While it struggled a bit at first, a switch over to a F2P model and the embracing of livestream spectator integration has given Darwin Project some staying power.
25. H1Z1: Battle Royale
Again much like The Culling, Daybreak Studios’ H1Z1 has been through a number of iterations. What began life as a direct competitor to survival-based zombie games like DayZ soon morphed into a more traditional battle royale experience, to the point where the game is now officially known as H1Z1: Battle Royale. There’s even a spin-off mode called Auto Royale that forces players to stay inside vehicles at all times.
H1Z1: Battle Royale has struggled a bit to find a proper identity, but its full embracing of the battle royale genre has seemingly stabilized its playerbase for the most part. Aside from PUBG and Fortnite BR, H1Z1: Battle Royale is also the only other notable example of a battle royale game making a full push into the esports realm.
The top-down shooter Geneshift technically launched last year after a lengthy nine-year development process (it was made by a single person), but more recently it has received a new battle royale mode which is both fast and deadly. Geneshift’s “battle royale turbo” mode condenses the average match time down to a mere two minutes. It also sports unique gameplay mechanics such as the ability to respawn as a zombie after being killed and even earn a second go at being a human if you successfully kill another player as a zombie.
Geneshift’s graphics certainly won’t wow you, but its wholly unique spin on the battle royale formula just might. Going by the game’s current Steam ratings it already has a pretty loyal following, though that’s hardly surprising given how long it has been around.
Surviv.io is about as minimalist as they come with player avatars being portrayed as simple circles which are dropped onto a plain green backdrop. You don’t even need to download anything to play it, you can play it for free right from your browser using the itch.io interface. Again, it’s not much to look at, but I doubt you’ll find a more accessible battle royale game anywhere else.
22. Doom Royale
Doom Royale is an upcoming user-built mod for the original Doom 2 which isn’t technically available to play yet but which does show a lot of nostalgic promise. You can follow Doom Royale’s development here. Also, when the mod does formally launch, you’ll need the Zandronum multiplayer client to run it.
21. Unturned: Arena Mode
Unturned is a very basic-looking F2P game which has been kicking around on Steam since 2017 and which also has some surprisingly compelling gameplay to boot. The core game is more open-world survival, but developer Smartly Dressed Games also recently added an Arena Mode component which heavily apes the battle royale format. There’s skill-based shooting, large 16-player matches, and even four distinct maps to ensure aesthetic variety. In short, Unturned: Arena Mode offers a whole lot of value for its F2P price tag.
20. Survival Games: Battle Royale
Even though Survival Games: Battle Royale (also known simply as Survival Games) is played up as a battle royale game, it also offers more traditional competitive and co-op scenarios as well.
The game’s maps are procedurally generated, ensuring that the experience always feels fresh, but its Steam page is filled with negative reviews bemoaning the near-nonexistent player population. This combined with Survival Games’ lack of ongoing dev support makes it hard to justify paying its $10 price tag, especially when there are so many F2P alternatives.
19. Clone Drone: Last Bot Standing
Doborog Games’ charming melee combat game Clone Drone in the Danger Zone has been around for quite some time, having initially launched in March of 2017, but just last month the game received a battle royale-esque mode called Last Bot Standing.
Clone Drone’s Last Bot Standing mode is very basic and doesn’t offer any of the ancillary perks found in other battle royale games (progression, unlockables, etc.), but Doborog has promised it will continue to support the mode into the foreseeable future. Along with Last Bot Standing, Clone Drone also has several single-player offerings, making it a worthy investment if you enjoy both single-player and competitive multiplayer gameplay.
18. Minecraft Survival Games
Survival Games has become one of the most popular Minecraft server types, allowing players to engage in large-scale free-for-all deathmatches on expansive open maps. The basic Survival Games template feels more Hunger Games than battle royale, with players scrambling to grab weapons from a central trove before hacking away at each other, but if you already play Minecraft and you want to scratch that large-scale competitive itch, Survival Games servers are the way to do it.
17. Realm Royale
I found Hi-Rez Studios’ fantasy-themed battle royale game Realm Royale quite compelling when I played and wrote about it back in July. However, it would seem Hi-Rez has decided to abandon some of the game’s more unique features (in-match equipment forging, different playable classes, etc.) in favor of a less complex cookie-cutter approach.
This has lead to a flood of negative Steam reviews with many former fans claiming that Hi-Rez cares more about making a quick buck than developing a truly unique battle royale game. It’s not necessarily that Realm Royale is bad, it’s just that many fans agree it was a lot better when it first launched.
16. Rapture Rejects
Rapture Rejects is an upcoming top-down battle royale game which is set in the same universe as the popular web-comic Cyanide & Happiness. It’s currently only playable via a pre-order-exclusive alpha, but it has an appropriately bonkers story premise along with gameplay to match. You can follow the game’s development (or lock in your pre-order) via its Steam page.
15. Fear the Wolves
Vostok Games’ Fear the Wolves attempts to combine the familiar structure of games like PUBG with a unique survivalist setting and mechanics, and in terms of gameplay it succeeds in creating a compelling premise. As players explore the game’s grim landscape, they have to be wary not only of each other but also of the roving packs of feral mutant wolves who can disrupt even the best laid survival plans.
Sadly, as I noted in my August impressions and was echoed on the game’s Steam page, there just aren’t that many people playing it. Making a battle royale game is always a risky venture since it requires a lot of consistently present players to ensure the game’s longevity. In Fear the Wolves’ case, that gamble clearly didn’t pay off.
14. Stand Out: VR Battle Royale
It was only a matter of time before a developer attempted to create a battle royale VR game, and Stand Out: VR Battle Royale proves that the concept is at least feasible. Stand Out’s graphics are pretty rough and there are some major glitches that can pop up (such as invisible players), but despite those issues the game has a fairly positive Steam rating.
13. Dying Light: Bad Blood
At first glance, Dying Light: Bad Blood has a lot going for it. Bad Blood is a competitive small-scale battle royale spinoff of Techland’s Dying Light which utilizes the original game’s melee combat and parkour movements while also ensuring matches are always populated thanks to the 12-player-per-match maximum.
However, based off of what I played last month and the impressions of fellow Steam users, Bad Blood still needs a lot of work. Also, given how little content there currently is, it’s hard to justify the game’s $20 founder’s pack. Techland plans to eventually make Bad Blood F2P, and it honestly might be better to wait until that transition occurs.
12. Mavericks: Proving Grounds
Mavericks: Proving Grounds is technically still in a beta state, but based off the beta alone it’s already shaping up to be a truly unique and compelling battle royale experience. The best way to describe Mavericks is as a sort of MMO/battle royale hybrid, with players able to freely explore a massive post-apocalyptic world and engage in equally massive 400-player competitive matches.
Currently, the only way to play Mavericks is via the game’s $30 founder’s program, but if you want to learn more you can check out the game’s website.
11. Battlerite Royale
Battlerite Royale is a battle royale spinoff of Stunlock Studios’ small-scale arena brawler Battlerite, which is itself a sort of spinoff-reboot of the studio’s older arena title Bloodline Champions. Battlerite’s intense top-down skill-based melee combat lends itself well to the battle royale genre, but as the game’s Steam page shows, many fans aren’t happy with the spinoff’s heavy emphasis on luck-based mechanics, especially since such mechanics aren’t found in Battlerite proper.
Currently, Battlerite Royale is only available via a $20 founder’s purchase, but if you want to get a feel for how the game operates for free, you can give the regular Battlerite a try since it’s F2P. Stunlock also plans on making Battlerite Royale F2P once it leaves early access in early 2019.
10. Last Tide
If you’re looking for a more visually and contextually unique battle royale game, Digital Confectioners’ Last Tide is worth checking out. The game is set entirely underwater, with players taking on the role of divers who get to zip around the map in torpedo-like dive pods before transitioning into the usual explore-loot-kill battle royale premise. Best of all, instead of a simple damage barrier, Last Tide’s ever-encroaching environmental hazard is a shark-infested danger zone where players will quickly get torn to shreds if they don’t watch out.
As I noted in my recent impressions, Last Tide’s player population is somewhat low, and it currently doesn’t have much in the way of progression incentives. However, Digital Confectioners is still updating it regularly, with the most recent update adding in a massive and terrifying Megaladon shark for brave players to test their skills against. You can find Last Tide’s Steam page here (link).
Gunpowder Games’ Maelstrom takes the battle royale concept to the high seas by giving players control of their own ship and having them duke it out in 15-player naval conflicts. The game is set in a unique pirate-themed fantasy world where players can take command of Human, Orc, and Dwarf-crafted vessels. Maelstrom currently holds a pretty positive rating on Steam, though like many others games on this list it is also suffering from a noticeably small playerbase.
8. Cuisine Royale
If you’re of the opinion that battle royale games like PUBG and Fear the Wolves take themselves too seriously, Cuisine Royale might be more your speed. True to its name, developer Darkflow Software’s latest title features character armor that’s cobbled together from various kitchenware items, giving it a unique sort of visual charm. Best of all, Cuisine Royale is F2P, so downloading it from Steam requires no financial investment.
7. Ring of Elysium
Despite its somewhat niche status, Ring of Elysium already boasts a very healthy population of active players, likely because it was developed and published by the Chinese gaming giant Tencent. Of course, it also helps that the game has several noteworthy points including a snowy mountain setting, the ability to snowboard around the map, and a multi-seat rescue chopper that encourages the final few players to escape together (a directive that more cutthroat players often ignore).
Best of all, Ring of Elysium is also F2P so you can give it a try with no other commitment than the time you spend playing it.
6. Totally Accurate Battlegrounds
A few months ago, developer Landfall basically cobbled together Totally Accurate Battlegrounds as a joke meant to poke fun at the exploding battle royale trend. In a bit of an ironic twist, the game exploded in popularity, mainly thanks to its exaggerated physics system, massive arsenal of weapons, and cheap $5 price tag. Unfortunately, TAB’s bright flash of initial popularity quickly burned out and the game’s player population dried up, hence the low rating above.
You can still technically buy and play TAB, but as its Steam reviews show, it doesn’t sound like the effort is worth it.
Egress, the upcoming Victorian era-themed battle royale game from developer Fazen, isn’t technically available to the public yet. However, the game has a lot of promise, combining a unique world with an equally unique hazard zone (a rising flood that forces players to seek higher ground) and Dark Souls-esque melee combat.
Keep an eye on Egress’s Steam page if you want to participate in the game’s currently ongoing series of closed beta tests.
4. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG as it’s more widely known, is often considered to be the definitive battle royale game, even more so than Fortnite BR. The game has a massive following which will likely never die down, though as of late it has been overshadowed by some of the newer kids on the block, and its unoptimized performance and presentation aren’t nearly as smooth as some of its competitors.
3. Call of Duty Black Ops 4’s Blackout
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 doesn’t technically arrive until October 12, so you should take this ranking with a grain of salt. However, when I played the mode’s closed beta last month, I came away mostly impressed with what Blackout offers.
Love it or hate it, the Call of Duty franchise provides some of the most polished and refined shooter gameplay in the AAA market, and that refinement translates over to Blackout well. Blackout already feels like a more refined and dynamic version of PUBG.
2. Battlefield V’s Firestorm
Let’s call this one a prediction, since we actually haven’t had hands-on yet. But from what little information that developer DICE has disclosed, Battlefield V’s Firestorm battle royale mode certainly sounds like it will be a thrilling and highly polished experience. I have no doubt it will contain many of the Battlefield series’ signature gameplay elements as well.
I’m especially intrigued by the fact that Firestorm will focus solely on squad-based play, foregoing the solo and duo playlist options which are often present in other battle royale games. With gameplay that encourages working together, highly destructible environments, and a unique WWII setting, I can absolutely see Firestorm giving Black Ops 4’s Blackout a strong run for its money.
1. Fortnite Battle Royale
Fortnite Battle Royale has no equal when it comes to name recognition and accessibility. The F2P spin-off of the standard co-op Fortnite experience can be played on a variety of platforms, and its bright cartoony graphics are as pleasing as they are distinct. However, the game’s complex building mechanics also give it a bit of a steep learning curve, though that has done little to stop Fortnite BR from becoming a cultural phenomenon.