You have definitely heard of some of the most famous battle royale games like Fortnite or PUBG. But what is it about the genre that makes it so popular, and which are the hottest battle royale games right now? Find out here in our comprehensive guide!
What is a Battle Royale?
Battle Royale is a genre of multiplayer video game, where common themes of survival, exploration and combat are combined together in a last man standing scenario. You normally play on your own or with a small group of friends, and the last team standing is the winner of the match. Since the inception of the genre with H1Z1 and Rust, there have been many exciting variations of this gameplay principle, and we will introduce you to some of them in this guide. You will also find out how battle royales have a place among the ranks of esports games.
Interestingly, it is speculated that the genre was inspired off of the back of an incredibly popular Japanese action movie with the same name. In the plot of the movie, the Japanese government captures 42 9th grade students, and traps them on an island, forcing them to kill one another by telling them only one can make it out. This concept is the same in the battle royale genre, where a set number of players must survive on an island with no escape. Some battle royales are paid for, and if the genre does not at all sound interesting to you, take a glance at our free esports games and MOBA esports games guides.
How did the genre come to be so popular?
Perhaps the most exciting part of any battle royale title is the unpredictability of how a match will go down. The loot within any given chest is random, you can drop out of a plane at any map point, the death-circle is in a different location each round… the possibilities are endless, and the real test is how quickly you can adapt to the circumstances you are handed. As if that was not enough, there is one important fact you can never forget: everyone you see wants to kill you in order to survive and take your loot.
A lot of these most popular battle royale titles also have mobile equivalents, which is a surefire way to contribute to their further success. The most amazing part is, a lot of these become mobile esports games, with a very strong and healthy competitive scene.
What are the key BR titles?
Now that we have had a brief intro about how battle royales work, let’s have a glance at some of the key titles and where you can bet on them.
1. PUBG: ins and outs
PUBG, or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, is one of the games that paved the way for the entire genre. It was released on Steam Early Access in 2017, and the fresh concept attracted a lot of players. In PUBG, the lobbies usually consist of 100 players who jump out of a plane with only the clothes they are wearing, and they must loot and kill each player they come across. To prevent players sitting in the same house or corner all game, there is a system which restricts the play zone, forcing players into a certain endgame location on the map. In PUBG, this mechanic is a ring of electricity, which kills any player inside it and gets tighter and tighter the more players die.
Originally, the game began with only one map and a PC version, but at the time of writing, there is a huge mobile gaming scene, and five maps, each different from another. For example, there is a desert map as well as one set in a jungle. PUBG is one of the least experimental of the battle royale titles, and its principles have stayed basic since release, with no flashy gimmicks and a limited amount of unrealistic elements. You simply loot, shoot, kill, and try to survive.
PUBG may have only been around for four years, but it has completely encapsulated the mobile gaming market, especially in India. Even though it has been banned in India since September 2020, PUBG Mobile was still one of the most grossing games worldwide, with $2.6 billion revenue generated during 2020. Before the ban in India, half of the game’s player base originated from that country alone. It has been rumoured the publisher is coming up with a way to return to the region, so, have a look at our guide to esports betting from India, if this is something applicable to you.
Ex-CS:GO pro player turned streamer, Shroud, has been recorded to be quite critical of the potential of battle royale esports when the genre was still new, saying “it won’t succeed” due to the chance elements of the genre. Personally, I think the facts speak for themselves: a game with over 700 million total downloads is bound to have a strong spot for competitive players who want to play the game at the next level, and are incredibly good at strategizing on the fly. In fact, the title has one of the strongest battle royale esports scenes. Check out coverage by ESPN for a closer look at the intricacies of the game.
A game this huge also naturally has a gigantic turnover in the esports betting world. We have prepared a PUBG betting guide for you, and we can have a look here at some of the top book markers for the title.
2. Fortnite: ins and outs
Fortnite is the PUBG Mobile of the USA. This is another incredibly popular battle royale title, and has a very unique aspect of allowing players to build structures during the match. While most other battle royales will get you by just by seeing someone and shooting at them, in Fortnite you have to build walls, stairs, ramps, platforms in various combinations in order to get a better angle on your enemy, or to get out of their line of sight. This unique mechanic makes the game pretty difficult to get the hang of at first, but it feels incredibly rewarding once you learn how to build yourself terrain and outplay your opponent with it.
Fortnite has two base maps, but these are changed a little every season. For instance, there are often special events during the winter seasons, where the whole map – or just parts of it – will be covered in snow. This changes the tactical approach of the players, as you are more visible if the background is white and you are wearing colourful gear. Still, the aim of the game is the same: escape the storm, loot, shoot, and kill, but remember to build!
The game is available on PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, Xbox, Windows and Mac, so whatever device you are holding or using, you can be sure there is a way for you to play Fortnite on it. The game also constantly has various collaborations with pop-culture figures and celebrities. For instance, players can unlock the outfit of famous football Neymar Jr, and run around in matches wearing his football kit. These in-game cosmetics also keep players attracted.
Fortnite esports is some of the biggest in the world, with the developer pledging $20 million in prize money throughout the course of 2021. The game’s rise was inevitable, especially with its light-hearted approach, as highlighted by a Redbull article all the way in 2018.
Top Fortnite betting sites:
3. Call of Duty Warzone: ins and outs
Even Activision has jumped on the battle royale wave, with Warzone being the Call of Duty of the genre. The game has grown in popularity largely since its release, due to CoD being such a pivotal shooter genre, and Warzone has amazing, realistic graphics and guns. No frills, just find loot and survive, this version is considered by some a better PUBG. Most importantly, this is essentially a free-to-play version of CoD, which is not seen before.
The game was only released in March of 2020, and a couple months later was a bigger player favourite than our previous title mentioned, Fortnite. Yahoo conducted a survey of 9,800 US teens, and 62% of them have said they played Warzone. The Activision title is not as widely available as Fortnite- you can play it on PlayStation, Xbox and Windows based devices.
There is also, however, a Call of Duty mobile version, which also has the famed battle royale mode. The epic storyline and various events that happen throughout seasons in Warzone keep the players excited and engaged, but most of its success can easily be attributed to the legacy CoD has in gamer’s hearts. In April 2020, Dot Esports reported that the game surpassed 100 million players.
While the game itself does not have a set esports scene, there are various tournaments, which the most popular Warzone streamers often participate in, with crazy prize pools. Atlanta FaZe hosted a Call of Duty: Warzone Gold Rush tournament, with a prize pool of $100,000. Not bad for a game that does not have an esports scene of its own, huh?
Warzone tournaments often follow very similar rules. In the Gold Rush tournament, there was a five hour limit for teams of two to get the most kills they could during that time. One kill is one point, with end placement also awarding points to the teams. The best five games for each team in the five hour time frame were counted, and some big community names got involved.
Such a huge video game community naturally features a healthy CoD betting scene, as we have covered for you in the context of traditional CoD.
Some of your options for CoD betting:
4. Apex Legends: ins and outs
Apex Legends is one of the most epic battle royale games out there, for one simple reason. It has taken the successful aspects of games like Overwatch, League of Legends and DOTA2 through the introduction of heroes, each of whom has a unique ability set. Apex Legends is still a battle royale game with all the good old loot and kill stuff, but it is definitely different from its siblings, and the dynamic of hero abilities sure makes for an interesting watching experience.
The game is one of the older battle royale titles, having come out in February of 2019. One of the key praising points of the game is the unique, smooth and fluid movement of the characters, which makes for a hell of an enjoyable experience. Apex Legends is more of a quiet but incredible title and may not instantly come to one’s mind when considering the battle royale genre, but, in March 2021, it was reported that the game was the fifth most popular on Steam.
March of 2021 also saw the game’s release on Nintendo Switch, which surely will help its growth in the future. What’s more, the publisher has been in the works for a mobile Apex Legends version too, so the only way for this title seems to be upwards. The game also has a developer supported esports scene, with frequently occurring tournaments of some of the game’s finest players battling it out. The Winter Circuit Playoffs that occurred on March 27-28 this year had a total prize pool of $503,000. If you are into Overwatch, be sure to check out Apex Legends as it may be right up your alley.
5. Garena Free Fire
This battle royale is like the quarterback footballer brother of Apex Legends: it is not quiet and you will know about it even if you do not want to or intend to. The mechanics of the game are simple- it is a loot and shoot title. What Garena Free Fire has though, is the fact that the publisher, Garena, got ahead of everyone else and broke into the battle royale mobile market all the way in 2017. This gave them enough time to build a loyal fanbase, whom they have clearly managed to keep satisfied, as at the time of writing the game has over 340 million people who log in at least once a month. To compare, that is like everyone in Russia logging in three times a month.
How does Garena Free Fire have such incredible statistics you ask? Well, the answer is simpler than you may think: Latin America, Southeast Asia and India. For a Western gamer, this title may not be at the front of their minds, but in that region of the world, it is clearly a pivotal title. The most attractive thing about Free Fire is that it can run on even the most low-end of smartphones, making it incredibly accessible even in the poorer regions of the world.
Consequently, it will come as no surprise that the title has also contributed to the tremendous growth of the esports scene in those said regions. The Free Fire World Series in November 2019 has over 1.2 million viewers on average. Inven Global makes an interesting comparison point here to League of Legends, the 2019 World Championship of LoL averaged at 1.02 million viewers.
The conclusion is simple: Garena Free Fire is one of the biggest video games in the entire world, and is a testament to the accessibility and scale of the battle royale genre. You can take advantage of the popularity of this game if you clue up just a little bit on Free Fire betting.
Where to bet on Garena Free Fire:
6. Spellbreak: ins and outs
Spellbreak in game screenshot (source: https://www.windowscentral.com/spellbreak-pc-review )
Here begins the real fun. Spellbreak is a totally different battle royale, where instead of gun-based warfare, players are exposed purely to a battlemage system. Long ranged sparks fly everywhere in this cartoony title, and you can pick and choose the combination of elements you take into the battlefield with you. This battle royale is all fun and fantasy, as players can also levitate, teleport or become invisible.
The game is free to play, and each match consists of up to 42 players. In September 2020, it was reported the game amassed five million players, and over 4 million hours watched on Twitch total. The game is pretty quirky and unique and does not have a set esports scene, but it can still be a nice breath of fresh air and provide a new twist as well as open up possibilities for new, unique battle royale games that go beyond just shooting.
7. Fall Guys: ins and outs
Fall Guys promotional image (Source: Mediatonic)
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. We are sure you have heard of this platform battle royale game. The Mediatonic title was released in February 2020, and became a worldwide phenomenon. At its peak, the game had 172,026 players at any one time, and why would it not? It’s funny, kind of cute and super simple: there is a series of challenges which are chosen at random round per round, and your Fall Guy (adorable jellybean) has to be the last one standing to get the crown. Now that is a super cool take on a battle royale. The game is rated a 9/10 on Steam, and while it may not have an esports scene, it has surely brought a lot of happiness to gamers in a very tough time in a global pandemic.
What are some cool upcoming Battle Royale titles?
PCGamer has made a great list of some upcoming battle royale games to watch out for. In short, all and any theme you may think of for a battle royale is probably in development. Cowboy style? Grit. Vampire style? Vampire: The Masquerade Royale. A completely silly, senseless office-based battle royale? You bet it exists. One of the most wonderful, often crazy things about the genre is that there are no limitations for game developers. As long as there is some sort of ‘last man standing’ element, they can run rampant with ideas and creative, wacky things to bring to life to create the next battle royale.
There is a risk to this, however, and not every new battle royale game will become the next Garena Free Fire game. Gamers love to game, but we still know what we expect, and even well-established publishers like Ubisoft can get it a little wrong. In summer of 2020, they came forward with their own take on the genre, HyperScape, but ended up ultimately disappointing their fanbase. If you are interested in reading a little more about HyperScape’s lacking performance, have a look at this discussion between players on Reddit. The key issue was the sheer incredibly fast pace of the game. Battle royale games have often introduced special adaptations of the original titles for a faster-play experience, but in the long run players prefer a traditional standard pacing.
Battle Royale Trivia
Since you made it this far in the guide, we thought you might like a little list of interesting battle royale facts and statistics:
- Fortnite took two weeks to get to 10 million registered players, and Warzone reached 15 million in 3 days.
- Newzoo report in 2020 said Warzone was the 4th most popular game of the year, Fortnite being 5th.
- Spellbreak was made in 2 years by a team of only 6 people
- The ‘floss’ dance from Fortnite was banned by a school in Devon, England
- There are cool, Korean vending machines on the map in Apex Legends
- Using 3 UAV’s at once in Warzone will reveal enemies on the entire map
Battle Royale Games FAQ section
What is a Battle Royale?
A battle royale is a fairly fresh, multiplayer genre, where the aim of the game is to survive, loot and kill other players in the match to become the last man (or woman!) standing.
Why are Battle Royale games so popular?
They are incredibly accessible, and each round is different from the previous one. Battle royale games heavily rely on a player’s ability to adapt to their circumstances.
What are the most popular Battle Royales per region?
USA: Fortnite, EU: Warzone, India: Garena Free Fire, Latin America: PUBG Mobile.
Are Battle Royales hard to play?
It depends! Some are easier than others due to subtle mechanical differences. The ones most like classic shooter games are Warzone and PUBG.
Which is the most popular Battle Royale esport?
Garena Free Fire has an incredible popularity in the Eastern regions of the world, while Fortnite esports is gigantic in the West.
What are the best Battle Royale esport players?
Bugha won the very first Fortnite World Cup in 2019, and at the time of writing has 1.7 million Twitter followers. Zayt, Myth and Tfue are names which are popular in the esport fan realm, and have a combined following of over 7 million followers.
What is the biggest Battle Royale prize pool?
The 2019 Fortnite World Cup saw Bugha cash in a nice sum of $3 million dollars, while the overall tournament itself was $30 million in prize money.
What is the most watched Battle Royale esports competition?
This probably goes to Garena Free Fire, with its 2.5 million viewer peak at the 2020 Continental Series.
Can you play Battle Royale on mobile?
Yes! Almost all of the most popular battle royale titles have mobile equivalents, and those that don’t right now, definitely are in development for making them.
What is the best mobile Battle Royale?
In the Western world, where most of us have good smartphones, Fortnite is preferred. In less developed countries, however, where gamers unfortunately cannot afford smartphones that support Fortnite and PUBG Mobile, gamers prefer Garena Free Fire.
Can you play Battle Royale on Nintendo Switch?
As of recent, Apex Legends made it to the Switch, so we recommend trying that out! You can also play Fortnite on the Switch too.
What platforms are Battle Royale available on?
It depends on the title, but most are available on every single platform. Whichever device you are using, try having a search for ‘battle royale game’ and see what comes up.
How can a battle royale game be an esport?
Battle royale games, while having some luck/chance elements, still take a great amount of logical skill and thinking at the highest level of play. The best battle royale players will be smart about the information they get, and know how to position themselves to be in the best chance at being the last person standing.
How many battle royale games are there?
Plenty! There are many battle royale games always coming out, while there are also the established, popular titles of PUBG, Fortnite, Warzone, Apex Legends and Garena Free Fire. Even Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout counts as a battle royale.
Should battle royale games become esports?
Why not? Some of the most popular titles have an incredibly dedicated and sizable fanbase, and there is definitely skill which the top players of each game possess. If it can be competitive, then there’s no reason for it to not have potential to become an esport.