Remember When Fortnite Was Just Zombie-er Minecraft? Good Times…
O’ Fearless Reader, have I got a treat for you! Do you like Fortnite? What a silly question – everybody LOVES Fortnite. Ha haaaaa… flossing… Today we’re going to be talking about the uber-popular genre cemented in public consciousness by Fortnite and its blatant theft of PUBG. Which itself was just a copy of some Hunger Games Minecraft mod, I think… Incidentally, Hunger Games is likewise a rip off of the Japanese manga/movie Battle Royale. And I’m willing to call both adjacent enough to Lord of the Flies to declare all modern art a derivative bore… What was I talking about…? Oh! Right.
The Battle Royale. You love it, you hate it, you hate zoomers because of it – no matter, it’s the gaming phenomenon of our times. And it didn’t end at Fortnite. The industry is rife with clones collectively making more money than my brain can fathom without setting off my misanthropic tendencies. But you know that. Why are we here today? Well, mostly because I’m feeling lazy and don’t wanna put much effort into this blog. So, to that effect, I’m going to throw around some ideas I have for Battle Royales. And you’re gonna be okay with that, goddammit. And you will continue to be okay with it, because “Moose Droppings” will be a recurring segment wherein I just pitch concepts. Anyway, someone needs to rock the damn Battle Royale boat. The current state of the genre is effectively a dozen variants of the same game. BORING. That gave me all the reason I needed to write a lazy, disjointed list this week – enjoy!
Keeping with theming, all pics will be lazily curated stock photos only vaguely relevant
Destroy All Monsters!!! Battle Royale
This one's appropriate. Look, it's Lizzie!
CoD WaZ recently had a belated Godzilla vs. King Kong event. When I first heard about it, I figured the two titans would just duke it out in the background. But, to the game’s credit, they actually ran amuck throughout the map. I, for one, loved getting stepped on by these titanic overlords – uhh, not in a weird way. I was annoyed, however, that they weren’t much the focus of the action. At the end of the day, I was still playing Warzone.
Let’s rectify that! For starters, we’re dipping our toes into asymmetric multiplayer. No longer would the respective titans be running around aimlessly controlled by an AI that can’t be bothered. I want them to have agency; give the wheel to some online assholes and you easily accomplish that. Of course, once you do that the titans need their own goals. We’ll keep it simple: Their goal is to destroy each other, the puny soldiers, and the island itself. Destroy everything! Quite the seductive proposal, methinks.
That leaves the teensy soldiers. For them, we’ll have to make a few fundamental changes to the Battle Royale status quo. For one, no more genre ubiquitous storm. (Quick aside, we’ll be talking about the ever-impending death clouds throughout all entries. As I find their consistent design one of the genre’s worst examples of homogony.) In this concept, the titans already provide the ever-looming threat of death, making death-clouds redundant. Beyond that, we’re eliminating the competitive aspect that distracted CoD WaZ’s God-King event. This is a cooperative affair. All the tiny people represent a singular faction, working together to defeat the kaiju and defend the island. Which, going back to the clouds, makes confrontation a necessity for victory rather than something artificially forced by chasing everyone to the same radius.
It looks to me like the cooperation only hindered solving the jigsaw
As the titans battle to the death for supremacy, the hoomans will need to scavenge for effective weapons and utilize the islands defense systems to stop them before there’s nothing left. The titan players, on the other hand, will have to manage the immediate threat of the other titan(s) while simultaneously hampering the soldiers’ progress. I’m thinking it would end up being something like 1v1v1v20ish. Though I’m not really sure that would still count as a Battle Royale… Fuck it.
Titanfall was a pretty good game. And, you know, Apex legends is a pretty good game too. But I always wondered why the latter didn’t share the former’s mecha gimmick. It’s a cool-ass gimmick. Instead, they eschewed that just to… be more like Fortnite, I guess. Ironically, Fortnite has had mecha of its own on several occasions. And guess what? They were cool as fuck. Apex, where are the goddamned mecha?!
I looked up "mecha," and got this. Guess it's a mecha sandwich...
But, of course, this idea doesn’t end at ‘add mechs to Apex Legends.’ That wouldn’t be much of a reinvention now, would it? They are prominent in this concept, though. But just forget that for a minute; let’s talk about those spoopy-doopy clouds again. I would say one of Apex’s greatest strengths compared to its peers is its action design. Combat has the potential to ebb and flow with a level of satisfaction and fluidity seldom seen in the genre. It’s strong enough to succeed as a straight arena shooter, so why not incorporate that into the map? Here’s the idea: the storm progresses as usual, but give the map several tightly designed arenas with forcefields protecting them from said storm. That way, instead of matches culminating at a single random point, the late-game would be host to several battle zones. Their existence would alter the early game, too. Maybe players could secure a zone early on, watching for infiltrators. Or play their cards on the map at large, eventually settling in one of the spots with better equipment. Or, say there’s a destructible shield generator, players could go zone to zone and destroy them, keeping anyone from camping. You can play around with these shields’ design, too. For instance, shields could activate at random. Or maybe players have to activate it manually. Or both – why not.
Now, let’s bring those two concepts together. Here, the primary value of a titan is their ability to withstand the deadly storm. This opens up the entire map, allowing pilots to hunt down any remaining on-foot combatants. To balance out that limitless traversal, the titans are always visible to all players. That effectively turns the endgame into a cat/mouse dynamic wherein pilots can eviscerate on-foots, while on-foots have to plot against a titan to survive. You could even make it so that each arena rewards a titan to, say, the last man standing. Imagine a situation where 6 on-foots are battling it out for their own titan, when suddenly another titan begins making a path towards the arena. Should they rush each other with hopes of securing a titan in preparation? Or retreat from the current battle to prepare specifically for the impending titan? The 6 could start a temporary truce to fight the titan. One can hide and wait for the rest to be destroyed, grab the reward titan, and pursue the enemy titan.
This concept encourages so many different approaches, which is exactly the type of socially emergent gameplay the genre can excel in. And if nothing else, it's all an excuse to bring back titans – because titans are freakin’ BADASS!
As is this octopus
One v. One
Who will win the banana?
Again, stretching what constitutes as a Battle Royale. Again, not caring. Remember Battlefield 1? Before the series became a buggy laughing stock… even though it might’ve already been poorly optimized and designed. Well, during its beta, a very peculiar thing happened. You see, some matchmaking glitch dropped me in a match without a single ally. I faced off against an entire army… of one. And, perhaps by the grace of the gaming gods above, the match wasn’t cancelled. Now let me tell you, O’ Fearless Reader, I had a blast! What was typically a game of force in numbers and frontline pressure became a game of wits between two measly soldiers in a vast landscape. A sequence of particular note I recall was my rival chasing me with a plane. Franticly trying to figure an upper hand while so clearly outgunned, I ran under a rock while considering counter measures. Hiding for my dear life, I came up with a plan: the AA gun halfway across an empty dessert with no cover whatsoever. It was a long shot, but once my opponent’s bombing runs calmed, I ran to the nearest horse and made my gamble. That mad dash, storming through the dessert on horseback while a plane was nipping at my heels, was one of the most thrilling online conflicts I’ve ever experienced.
Conflict itself represented here with... racial segregation, I guess
I want to capture that exact feeling, but a whole game. Keep the map of a Battle Royale – I guess keep the storm as well… blah – but all you’ve got are two players trying to Spy vs. Spy each other. In fact, I think the perfect IP for this concept is – wait for it… Looney Toons! Pick your favorite Loon and fight it out in a highly interactive and irresistibly zany procedurally generated map. Expect tons of NPCs, some more aggressive than others; LOTS of weapons from staple hammers and pistols; and all sorts of vehicles to outmaneuver and outgun. And let’s do Kirby Air Ride-esque random events – just because we can. It could be zany to the max.
Maybe if I insert a lot of pictures, you won't notice how short this entry is
I think that's Jesus Christ marathoning. Notice the holy light and desperately reaching hand
So long before Microsoft-subsidiary Rare helmed the ambiguously popular Sea of Thieves, they were making widely acclaimed games for Nintendo. You feel that? That wound reopening because internet pundits can never let it go? FUUUUUUN! At the tail end of the Nintendo times, Rare was working on quite a few concepts. Though some survived their acquisition, one pertinent game was scraped all together. The would-be successor to one of the all-time great kart racers, the long-lost Donkey Kong Racing.
“What’s an old, cancelled Mario Kart clone got to do with Battle Royales?” Well, nothing. But Donkey Kong Racing wasn’t going to be another banal clone – it hardly would’ve been a kart racer at all. The idea behind the game was to throw a bunch of on-foot racers onto an island sandbox. They’d have to find their way to the finish line, using any suitable vehicles they find along the way to secure victory. And that is where the core of this idea comes from.
Or maybe... the donkey is Jesus...?
But we’re doing more than aping (HA!) an abandoned game concept. Let’s add to it, baby. Wondering what I might do with that pesky storm this time around? Well, it’s gone! The race itself will bring players together, negating the point of the storm. But, unlike the DK inspiration, there won’t be a single goal. Racers will be tasked with crossing several checkpoints throughout the map in a specific sequence. All of which, and their order, are visible from the start. First to get through them all wins. However, that’s not the only way to win. Like the traditional Battle Royale, you can kill your opponents. If only one player/group remains before the race is finished, then the last one standing is declared the winner. This facilitates the dynamic of the game; players can devote themselves to the race, or aim to disqualify everyone else with extreme prejudice… t-that means kill them. Most players would likely settle somewhere in-between, prioritizing the race while actively trying to destroy their direct competitors. It’ll be a delicate balance to manage. Lean too heavily into the race, and risk being dominated; lean too heavily into destruction, and risk losing it all. Or just be a senseless force of chaos.
Racing itself would start out just like good ol’ DK Racing intended. Every racer would be without a vehicle at first, having to find car, helicopter, boat – WHATEVER to make their way. Scavenging does not end once you have a vehicle, however. Gas would be a stingy commodity. This would force racers to stop and explore, putting themselves into perilous situations. There would be dozens of mods to find, as well. Augmenting speed, acceleration, armor, fuel economy, weaponry,etc. One might find a new hotness and replace their vehicle all together. Or one could find a trap. There’s nothing stopping players from rushing ahead to a future checkpoint in preparation for their dutiful competition. All sorts of playstyles would be encouraged. Players may just be a machination away from securing a win.
This is honestly my favorite idea and I would love to see it happen in some way or ‘other. You just need an established IP to plaster onto this concept. I would say Wacky Races, but I already gave Warner Bros. one pitch. And they seem more interested in leveraging their popular IP rather than giving their obscure ones new life.
Sooo… uhhh… Twisted Metal? I’d play that. Playstation, I know you want that Fortnite money… If your new Twisted Metal ISN’T akin to what I just described, feel free to scrap whatever shit you’re cooking up and remake the game in my concept’s image. You’re welcome.
Well, there’s four random ideas loosely tied together by Battle Royale-ness. Really, two of them are something else entirely. Whatever – LAZY. I do kinda feel like four isn’t enough, though… Fuck it, spontaneous idea!
North Korea Simulator
My God, they're in the code
You know that whole thing in North Korea where, upon foreign visitation, the country collectively puts on a show to feign utopia? Welp, that’s the idea. It’s a Battle Royale (I don’t even know what that means anymore) where players have to accommodate the expectations and demands of some NPC. Say they demand everyone within their eyesight must be in red; you’d better either change or hide, because if they see you in blue, you’re dead. Or the NPC might order everyone in the room do a specific dance – FLOSS OR DIE. Can’t keep up with their parameters, you lose.
Honestly, make a few specific aesthetic choices, and this could easily be a horror game. A… Horror Royale, so to speak. Or the NPC can be a player, and here we have the next asymmetric multiplayer staple of Let’s Plays.
Look how easy this is! Just ignore half of what makes a Battle Royale a Battle Royale, and you can reinvigorate the Battle Royale! Because these are all CLEARLY Battle Royales… Maybe I was more looking for a term like Massively Social Online game, or something. But the blog’s already written, and I sure as hell ain’t gonna do any drastic-ass rewrites. “L-A-Z-Y.” Let’s ju—let’s just say it’s indicative of the genre running its course. It’s time for a new genre to rise from its ashes. That way, it’s like I was making a point all along, you just didn’t realize until now. Yes, yes, sometimes my bullshitting sounds pretty convincing, don’t you think?
Anyhoo, that’s the end of that chapter. See you next time! Probably with more effort to show for… Or not – who knows! ‘\_(‘.’)_/`