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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds may have popularised the genre inspired by the Japanese movie, but it’s not the only battle royale game pitting players against each other in desperate fights to the death. Below are 11 games, modes and mods that you should check out if you can’t get enough of hunting your fellow man.
Let’s get the current top dog out of the way first, shall we? PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, is still in Early Access, but it’s already swallowed up the lives of millions of players. In each match, 100 survivors are air dropped into a bucolic Russian island, seemingly abandoned during or just after the Soviet era. It’s a huge place, but the play area is always shrinking, forcing players to race towards safety on foot or using cars, bikes and boats, all while trying to murder each other with a wide range of guns and melee weapons. It’s a game filled with long moments of quiet tension, punctuated by chaotic, nerve-racking battles.
Another Early Access game, H1Z1: King of the Kill was spun out of Daybreak’s zombie survival game. The survival aspect became its own separate game, Just Survive, while the more competitive, PvP side of things became King of the Kill. Frenetic and fast-paced, it’s more of an arena shooter than a game like PUBG, so you won’t have to wait long to get into a gunfight. Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene was also a consultant on H1Z1 before making Battlegrounds.
Like H1Z1, Ark: Survival of the Fittest is another arena-style battle royale game, and is similarly a spin-off. Its hook, not surprisingly given its progenitor, is that there are dinosaurs and monsters to watch out for, as well as 71 human adversaries potentially hunting you down. Other elements from Survival Evolved have made it in, too, including riding and taming creatures, tribes and traps. Unfortunately, it’s struggled to retain its playerbase in the face of PUBG.
If you prefer battle royales of the more intimate variety, there’s The Culling and its 8-player and 16-player blood-soaked arenas. Though it’s fast-paced, there’s still time to craft equipment and set traps. The central conceit is a big draw, too, set as the game is in a crazed game show for sadists. It’s been in Early Access since March 2016, and while it was popular initially, it looks like player numbers might be on the wane.
Budget PUBG is probably the clearest way to describe Last Man Standing. It’s set on an island with 100 players trying to kill each other, the play area is a big circle that shrinks over time, mods can be scavenged and attached to guns, it’s got loot crates—there’s a long list of similarities, but Last Man Standing is free. It’s not quite as polished as its premium counterpart, however.
GTA Online recently got a competitive mode called Motor Wars, which has some similarities to popular battle royale games: a shrinking kill box, arriving from the sky, then finding the best weapons possible on the ground. The key difference is that it's more focused around vehicle combat, and all the cars are marked on the map, as well as the players driving them. The shrinking kill space provides a similar amount of tension, though, and there's tons more potential in building on the idea, given the size of the map they've got to play with. Sam had fun with it, even though it has some flaws.
Epic has announced a new battle royale mode for their base-building romp, Fortnite. It’s due out this month and will see up to 100 players duking it out until there’s only one left. The mode was put together by Epic’s Unreal Tournament team, who were busy experimenting while Fortnite was in development. The scavenging and building from the game’s regular mode will also feature in this new one, so you’ll be able to create bases and fortifications to hole up in while you wait for everyone else to die. They’ll probably be doing the same, mind you.
Unturned is a blocky, free-to-play zombie survival game, but it’s also got a battle royale arena mode. Players are spawned at random points on the map and must hunt each other down while a barrier closes in, damaging those outside it. It’s as straightforward as a battle royale can be, but there’s one odd wrinkle: you can’t damage people with your fists, so you’d better get a weapon as quickly as you can.
Before PUBG, Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene created DayZ: Battle Royale, an offshoot of the original DayZ mod for Arma 2, inspired by the Japanese film. When players started leaving DayZ for the standalone Early Access version, Greene switched to developing Battle Royale in Arma 3. Later, it was licensed to Daybreak for H1Z1 and became the foundation for King of the Kill. A lot of Battlegrounds’ features started in PlayerUnknown’s Battle Royale, and Arma 3’s realistic aesthetic isn’t far of PUBG’s.
Rust: Battle Royale is an unofficial mode for Facepunch Studio’s survival game, made by Intoxicated Gaming. Inspired by the Arma 3 Battle Royale mod, it combines the brutality of Rust—you even begin naked—with the race to be the final person left alive. All the survival and crafting elements have been torn out, with the focus being entirely on gearing up and murdering your fellow players in a map that becomes smaller and smaller as bombs start to fall.
Created last year, this Garry’s Mod game mode, like so many in this list, owes its creation to the Arma 3 mod, being a lightweight recreation of it designed by IC4RO so they could play it with their friends. Since then, however, it’s become popular, no doubt helped by the fact that Garry’s Mod is considerably cheaper than Arma 3 or Battlegrounds.
Come one, come all, but not all at once or you’ll break our caching, and see the Steam Charts in all their glory! Which game will have reached the coveted #2 position this week?! (more…)
Arma 3‘s [official site] Laws of War DLC, which puts you in the role of a humanitarian aid worker, is out now. At the heart of the package is a mini-campaign that fills the boots of explosive specialist Nathan MacDade, who has to identify and deactivate mines following the war in the Republic of Altis & Stratis.
The new humanitarian faction, called International Development & Aid Project (IDAP), bring with them new gear, including a van, a drone that can transport supply or deal with mine disposal and a mine dispenser, an “effective but controversial” weapon that does damage over a defined area. There’s also various branded vests, bags, headgear and facewear, and a time trial challenge for the new drone and van.
Since launch, Arma 3 has grown its military simulation sandbox with a string of DLC expansions. While previous expansions focused on jets, helicopters, or long-range infantry mechanics, its newest focuses on a more sobering part of modern conflict: civilian casualties.
The , available now, adds a new campaign featuring workers attached to the International Development and Aid Project, or IDAP, a fictional non-governmental organization based on the . The update also brings a lot of new vehicles and tools that will help players bring a more realistic, civilian-focused dimension to their Arma missions.
“The humanitarian faction is important because it unlocks a different kind of perspective on the battlefield,” said Jay Crowe, creative director for Arma 3. “It's a viewpoint that has a specific role and mission, but one that's non-military. Four years on from Arma 3's original release, it challenges us as designers to create new kinds of gameplay, and enables us to present players with a new experience.”
Unarmed civilians and vehicles have always been a part of the Arma universe, but they've usually been little more than decoration or as an added challenge for players: Go here, kill the bad guys, but remember to watch your fire. In Laws of War, players can step into the civilian role in a new way, with briefings and missions that don't involve direct combat.
By doing this, Bohemia brings the specific challenges of International Humanitarian Law directly into focus. For the first time, players can drop cluster-bombs on an area, knowing that these messy weapons (which are ) usually leave behind unexploded pieces that can kill civilians months or years after the war has ended. “All three of the new faction cluster bombs also leave behind unique [unexploded ordinance], so you can identify the faction behind a strike—unless it was a deliberate ruse,” said Joris-Jan Van ‘t Land, the project lead for this DLC. Leftover pieces of cluster bombs might go off when someone steps on or near them, while other pieces might detonate randomly minutes or hours after the bomb was dropped.
Players on the edge of losing a battle might be tempted to deploy these powerful weapons, but the DLC is also focused on what happens next. “We look more broadly at the convergence of International Humanitarian Law and the tactical decisions military and paramilitary forces make on the battlefield,” Crowe said. “Through that, we encourage players to explore the idea that actions have consequences.”
Clearing away old mines that threaten civilians long after the war has ended is also a big focus for the DLC. Detecting and disarming mines is a more involved process, and a chunk of the DLC’s singleplayer mini-campaign is played from the perspective of an explosives disposal technician.
Another part of International Humanitarian Law involves warning civilians about upcoming battles and major military movements, and the IDAP faction includes a leaflet-dropping drone for players to use. “[The leaflet-dropping drone] works together with other systems so, for example, a community creator could define their own leaflets, drop them in a custom scenario, and other players could pick them up and read them,” said Crowe. “Even if that does imply 'dick pic confetti', it—in an odd way—fits with our approach to the topic and our platform in general: players can engage with the basic ideas … and then use the feature however they like.”
Laws of War still follows what has become Bohemia’s standard practice for DLC. The update adds tweaks, fixes, and new content for all Arma 3 players to use, but you have to buy the DLC to play the mini-campaign or to design custom missions using the new cluster-bombs or IDAP units.
The problems involving refugees, civilian casualties, and unexploded ordinance are still very real today, and that’s why Bohemia will be donating half of the revenue from Laws of War to the ICRC. “The ICRC have always stressed they do not want to limit player freedom or add artificial restrictions,” said Crowe. “We've really appreciated this pragmatic approach, and it clicks with the tone of voice we've tried to strike with this DLC.”
Arma 3 Laws of War is out now.