How BRs can improve
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Battle Royale titles continue to rule the gaming space as the dominant genre. It has been interesting to watch how it has evolved and moved forward with innovations, and how a genre that is so young has overtaken ones that have been around since the start of gaming. Some may wonder what BRs can do to evolve even further or if they are even able to, and I am one of them.
I wrote an article on March 19 that discussed and showcased the evolution of the genre from H1Z1 to Warzone, and how the differences are incredibly conspicuous. The article discusses the evolution of the genre in the light of it circling back to respawn shooters, which could signal the genre is on its way out, and respawn shooters will reign supreme once more. But, I wanted to discuss and view this evolution from another angle — one that isn't quite so short-sighted — and that is what I will be doing here.
The honeymoon phase
BRs provide a high octane experience and one that can really get your blood pumping. Knowing that every kill or death is infinitely more definite and meaningful than respawn shooters adds a layer of appreciation and punishment. I remember my friend and I's first two wins on PUBG vividly because we worked so hard to get them. It was invigorating and emboldening. This factor is one that I truly believe helped propel the genre forward. Also, knowing your chances of winning are one out of 100, or whatever the max lobby number is, rather than 50/50 is another dynamic that adds to the enjoyment and experience that BRs offer us. But, the adrenaline and excitement begin to deteriorate the more and more you experience it. Then you begin to notice small things about the experience that could be better or more fair. These small things are what I want to focus on, but in a way that maintains the BR experience where essential elements are more in the player's control rather than the game's.
"Oh, great. A Mozambique."
It's no secret that the looting phase of BRs is a love/hate relationship. It feels great to get a weapon off the drop that doesn't completely suck and take out the team or person who was dumb enough to land next to such a gaming legend as yourself. On the other hand, it feels incredibly awful to land on no loot, and despite your best efforts, die as a result. This downright makes me want to scream every time it happens, and it is solely because it is something I have absolutely no control over. It's one thing to get sent back to the lobby when you have a fair shot, but it's entirely another when you never had a chance.
Dropping with loot
Warzone and Apex Legends' Battle Armor event, I believe, are the beginning of a new norm across BR games. In Warzone, you drop with a pistol and two stacks of armor, which gives you a chance to take someone out if you happen to encounter them before being able to loot. The Battle Armor event did pretty much the same thing; only armor in Apex is tiered, which just meant that everyone dropped with the same tier of armor. For me, this was a massive step forward in alleviating some of the randomnesses that early-stage BRs have. But, what if we moved forward another step? What if you could choose the weapon you wanted to jump out of the plane with? I mean, it's not unrealistic to think that you would bring at least one gun to a warzone, right? This weapon would be barebones with no attachments, but it offers at least two things, one being that you will have more than a pistol before looting and the other being that it provides the player options on how they approach the early game.
Another thing that Warzone innovated was the armor and health system. You and Joe Blow have the exact same armor and health pool, and that's how it always should be. I hate that just because I opened a crate and got given a 50 health armor and you opened one and got given a 100 health armor, I have a lower chance at victory. This is another element that is entirely out of my control, and I shouldn't be punished nor rewarded for complete luck.
Aggression is punished
Another issue I have taken notice of in BRs is that aggression or combat is often dissuaded. This pacing issue is a result of resources like ammo or healing items being precious and hard to find in the later stages of the game. Sometimes, I don't even feel like I'm playing a shooting game anymore because of how dissuaded I am to shoot anyone. Engaging in combat opens you up to third parties and is a coin flip even in victory due to never knowing what your downed foes will drop. This also breeds a campy-style of gameplay like the tower and building camping styles that most utterly despise in Warzone.
This is yet another thing that Warzone attempted to combat with buy stations and passive health healing. And, while they are great ideas, I don't think they are quite enough to fix the combat issue.
Buying armor does help guarantee armor in the looting phase, but what about late game circles or immediately after combat? These buy stations also serve as a beacon to guard for players, meaning that they are pretty unsafe points of interest on the map. I'm not saying they shouldn't exist, but I don't think they are enough to guarantee a level playing field after combat or in certain stages of the game.
Fortnite combatted this issue temporarily via siphon. When you killed someone, you would get a 25 to 50 health back depending on the mode. If you received any amount over what you needed to be at 100HP, it would convert the remainder into shields. I think Warzone, and BRs moving forward, could do something like this to allow aggressive playstyles to be viable options. And in the wise words of Michael Jordan, "If you don't want to play that way, don't play that way."
These are just some things that I believe could truly make the BR genre even better. It seems Warzone made a pretty good attempt at combatting common issues seen in BRs before it, but I still believe there is room for improvement moving forward.