Thanks to an explosion of popularity, battle royales have flooded the market in the past few years and become one of the most talked-about genres today. Of course, one of their marquee features generally involves tossing dozens of players into a map to scavenge for resources, weapons, and gear, while trying to outlast the rest and become the last one standing.
While this gameplay is still at the core of most battle royales, many have added additional features to spice things up, and the best of the best have earned a spot on this list.
To lay some ground rules: we’re only looking at modern battle royales, or games that are currently still available to play. So, while they were good during their time, we won’t be featuring games like H1Z1 or The Culling. We’re also not including any games that feature a smaller battle royale mode as a side dish to its main offerings like Fallout 76’s Nuclear Winter mode or Civilization VI’s Red Death mode.
So, without further ado, let’s commence the battle royale of battle royales in our ranking of the top 10 battle royales.
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10. Totally Accurate Battlegrounds
What began as a parody of PUBG has actually evolved into a fun battle royale in its own right. Made by the same team behind Totally Accurate Battle Simulator (or TABS), Totally Accurate Battlegrounds is a silly, physics-based deathmatch for up to 60 players. As you wobble around through its uniquely low-poly map, you’ll discover 90 different weapons, ranging from stacks of cash to “make it rain” on enemies, to a water gun, to a literal hand cannon. It’s actually just a mini cannon you wear on your hands. Add to that amusing ragdoll physics and deceptively good gameplay, and you’ve got an experience that smartly toes the line of parody and genuine fun. Battlegrounds’ goofy, nonsensical humor may not be totally accurate to the other battle royale with Battlegrounds in its name, but that’s obviously the point.
9. Ring of Elysium
Although it’s still in early access and only available on PC, Ring of Elysium’s impressively realistic environments and focus on an overall narrative that evolves with each season earn it a spot on this list. Featuring hang gliders, grappling hooks, snowboards, BMX bikes, and a variety of other extreme ways to traverse the landscapes, Ring of Elysium very much looks and feels like what a Just Cause-inspired battle royale might be.
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Matches consist of 60 players vying to stay alive and escape one of three islands from natural disasters including deadly snowstorms, erupting volcanoes, and more. And instead of a single person or squad winning a match, Ring of Elysium is more about survival and becoming one of four people to board an escape helicopter. With all player locations revealed as the match comes to an end, it’s quite literally a fight between life and death.
8. Hunt Showdown
Created by the team behind the Crysis series, Hunt Showdown employs a unique PvPvE style in which up to 12 players must search for clues and hunt down giant monsters to claim a bounty and escape the map. The twist that keeps each match so thrilling is that every player has the same goal and can choose to go straight for the monster, or kill unsuspecting hunters to claim their gear and weapons. Unlike other battle royale games, Hunt Showdown features true player progression with a leveling system that rewards better gear and more powerful weapons. The catch, though, is that once you reach a certain level, you lose everything you’ve accumulated upon death and must start from scratch. This risk/reward mechanic paired with thrilling monster hunts makes every match of Hunt Showdown tense and full of high-stakes.
7. Tetris 99
Tetris 99 finds new life in the perennial puzzle hit. By pitting 99 players against each other in a race to clear lines, Tetris 99 can be stressful enough, but your playfield is surrounded by all other 98 players so that you can keep track of every Tetris game simultaneously. The anxiety-inducing nature of it all aside, Tetris 99 smartly lets you impact other players’ games with your own Tetrimino prowess, sending screen-filling junk blocks into other players’ games to hopefully knock them out and seek out a win. And despite initially launching as a limited-time game for Nintendo Switch Online players, Tetris 99 has become a permanent staple, receiving a continuous stream of themed events and DLC to ensure this new T-spin on an old classic stays fresh.
What if battle royale, but wizards? Spellbreak’s unique take on the genre swaps out the usual firearms for a variety of spells that can be tossed at your enemies. Players choose from six elemental classes that include fire, ice, lightning, wind, stone, and toxic, which effectively grants you a starting spell. But from there, you explore the fantasy-inspired landscape in search of additional spells that can be equipped – and even comboed with – your existing spell. This lets you potentially hurl flaming tornadoes or electrified puddles to damage your foes.
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The unique interactions between spells allows for plenty of experimentation during matches as you live out your sorcerer fantasies. Spellbreak may be one of the newer battle royales, but it’s already carved out its niche within a crowded genre and established a solid foundation on which the developers have already shown enough ingenuity to build something special.
5. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Who says battle royales can’t be hilarious? Fall Guys draws inspiration from shows like Takeshi’s Castle and Wipeout, as 60 players, or rather 60 amusingly costumed beans, go head-to-head in an assortment of game show-esque minigames. Each round sees a number of players eliminated after any host of obstacle courses, team competitions, and wacky tests of will and endurance, until only one player is left standing, or falling, and crowned the champion. Mediatonic’s take on the genre was a massive hit out of the gate, but the developers haven’t rested on their laurels – each subsequent season of play brings with it new minigames, new twists on existing ones, and a host of cosmetics to unlock. Fall Guys is utter, organized chaos in the best way, and whether you’ve nabbed your crowns or been consistently knocked off a Slime Climb run, it’s a consistently delightful experience unlike any other battle royale.
4. PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds (PUBG)
PUBG is the grandaddy of battle royales and arguably one of the most influential as it effectively established the genre as we know it in 2017, spawning dozens of copycats over the past few years. Created by Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene as a refined version of his DayZ: Battle Royale mod of ARMA 2 (and later ARMA 3), PUBG reached mainstream success and introduced players to many of the staple concepts of the genre.
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It’s more realistic than many battle royales, requiring players to carefully manage their inventory and apply weapon mods and attachments manually while scouring the map for resources. While it held a reputation for being notoriously clunky and unpolished over the years, we wouldn’t be here without the likes of PUBG.
3. Call of Duty: Warzone
Given the genre’s boom in attention, it’s no surprise that one of the biggest shooter franchises around wanted in on the action. But Call of Duty’s Warzone is not just a quick cash-in. It’s one of the best battle royales around. Warzone builds on the foundation of Call of Duty: Blackout, supporting a staggering 150 players while exploring unique and interesting gameplay changes with each new season, including a clever integration of the popular Call of Duty Zombies mode. Warzone is also a bit more forgiving when compared to other battle royales, as you’re not necessarily sent back to the lobby upon death. Instead, players are sent to the Gulag, a grimy prison area where they face off against other dead players in one-on-one combat for a chance to return to the match. Another feature unique to Warzone is the ability to purchase and use a custom loadout, allowing players to regularly access and utilize their preferred guns and perks as they fight for supremacy in Verdansk. Add to all of this plenty of vertical combat thanks to massive skyscrapers, and vehicular combat, and Warzone delivers one of the most varied battle royales out there.
2. Fortnite: Battle Royale
Created as a spinoff of Fortnite’s cooperative PvE survival mode Save The World, Fortnite: Battle Royale burst onto the scene in 2018 and catapulted the genre into a phenomenon. Not only is Fortnite responsible for creating the Battle Pass system that so many games, battle royale or not, have implemented since, it’s also paved the way for true crossplay and cross-progression between consoles, PC, and mobile. It’s hosted massive in-game virtual concerts for Travis Scott, Marshmello, Steve Aoki, and more, becoming as much a social experience as a competitive one.
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But Fortnite’s biggest Victory Royale has to be its unique storytelling approach. It established a narrative for its island that quickly resulted in each new season being a moment. Points of interest appeared and disappeared as events demanded it, with many seasons culminating in massive events that eventually led to the entire in-game island being sucked into a black hole, putting the game on pause for a few real-world days. Now in its second “Chapter”, Fortnite has established itself as a consistently unexpected but thrilling hallmark of the genre that is still a blast to play, and one that features the biggest pop culture crossovers of all-time. Where else can you see Kratos wearing Thor’s cape while fighting Rey with Hulk Hands as she dances to Dua Lipa?
1. Apex Legends
The apex of the genre so far, Apex Legends features unparalleled gameplay, movement, and storytelling. Released in 2019, Apex dropped out of nowhere (aside from some influencer leaks) and caught the world by storm, reaching 50 million players in its first month alone. Building on the legacy of the Titanfall franchise to become something even bigger, while expanding its story with each successive season, Apex has introduced a number of Legends (16 to be exact as of right now), each with their own backstory and unique movesets that keep the meta fresh. Above all else, though, Apex’s movement remains buttery smooth to this day; with the ability to run, slide, and mantle with ease, nothing comes close.
But from the big picture of its story to major selling points like its rock-solid gameplay, Apex Legends has also been an innovator in the genre. Its unique ping system allows players to contextually mark specific locations and loot, revolutionizing the way players communicate with one another without ever needing to say a word. If you’re looking for a highly competitive, ever-evolving battle royale, Apex Legends is the clear choice.
So, that’s our list. What did you think? Were there any battle royale games you think should’ve made the top 10? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to check out some of our past top 10’s, like the top 10 final bosses in video games.
Source: IGN Video Games All