When Tetris of all things latches onto the latest gaming trends, then maybe those trends are much more than flashes in the pan. But as the Battle Royale war rages on, it’s essential to analyze how and why the industry became obsessed with this genre. We’ve compared the gameplay of both of these Battle Royale titans, but what about the overall impact of Apex Legends & Fortnite? Both have more or less taken the gaming industry overnight but just because they belong to the same genre, doesn’t mean that their rise to power was the same. Gamers may think that the industry has been mindlessly following trends, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The history of the Battle Royale genre is one that dates back well before the last year or so. With all of that being said, let’s compare these Battle Royale juggernauts and theorize how each can remain champions in their respective realms and perhaps even dismantle their respective competition.
Apex Legends vs Fortnite vs PUBG vs Blackout
Before we can detail the rise to greatness of Apex Legends and Fortnite, credit has to be given to Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Yes, the concept of the Battle Royale game mode didn’t entirely originate from PUBG, but PUBG was the game that streamlined the genre and started the trend of Battle Royale games we have now. But even before PUBG, the earliest concept of the game mode that I can recall would be the DayZ mod for ARMA 2. This seemingly old mod laid the groundwork for PUBG. While there weren’t any shrinking circles just yet, players were still dropped onto a massive island with no weapons and hostile players as well as zombies everywhere. Death meant that players would lose everything and be required to start again from square one. Although there wasn’t necessarily an endgame, players would still attempt to amass the best gear in the server and dominate enemy players.
While I’m sure that gamers could argue about which mod or game truly birthed the earliest concept of a Battle Royale game, there is no denying the impact of PUBG. PUBG dominated the summer of 2017 and countless companies scrambled to cut themselves a piece of the Battle Royale pie. To put into perspective how gigantic PUBG was during this time, the game had managed to make 11 million dollars within the first three days of release. And all of this was done by a relatively unknown company overnight. The Battle Royale throne remained uncontested until September of that year when a tiny company known as Epic Games (sarcasm) decided to toss their hat into the ring.
The True Battle Royale Begins
Epic Games’ original co-op shooter irritation of Fortnite released to generally positive to mixed reviews. Fortnite allowed players to survive waves against waves upon waves of mindless zombies with their friends. The unique aspect of the game was it’s incredibly innovative building system which let players construct walls, floors, roofs, and traps for tactical advantages. On paper, the game had the potential to take the market by storm, but the industry had other plans. The game wasn’t exactly a disaster by any means, but the new IP didn’t set the world on fire.
With Epic Games being the creators behind games such as Unreal Tournament and the Gears of War franchises, their expectations were a tad high. The troubled development of Fortnite is a story for another day, but due to the game’s somewhat disappointing launch, Epic Games was willing to do anything to recoup their investment. For those unaware, Epic Games are also the creators of the insanely popular Unreal Engine which seemingly powers 90% of the games on the market. Another important fact about this engine is that it also powered PUBG which would be a critical factor in this war of the Battle Royale games.
So after the summer was set ablaze by PUBG, Fortnite quietly released their version of the highly popular game mode in September and seemingly cemented the dominance of the Battle Royale genre. But how did the game stand out amongst a sea of clones? The colorful art style combined with the building mechanics was enough to attract countless players to Epic’s goofy iteration of the Battle Royale genre. Being free-to-play and available on consoles well before PUBG contributed to the rapid growth of Fortnite. The game just seemed to release at the perfect time when casuals were beginning to grasp the concept of the Battle Royale genre. Picture the scenario of the casual console owner hearing about this fantastic game called “PUBG” but having no way of experiencing it. In comes a free and colorful version of PUBG that’s not only free but slowly becoming a trending topic all over social media.
The rest is Battle Royale history as the game’s popularity rose so much that streamers such “Ninja” were able to become rich off of streaming the game. Nobody could have expected the rise of Fortnite, and when megastars such as Drake began playing the game on stream, there was no stopping the juggernaut. While PUBG was still extremely popular, it paled in comparison to Fortnite dominance.
A New Challenger Approaches!
Towards the end of 2018, Call of Duty’s Blackout mode seemed like another worthy competitor of Fortnite. The game was a remarkably published version of PUBG that ran amazingly compared to the competition. For the rest of 2018, the game was deemed one of the best Battle Royale experiences on the market, but due to a $60 paywall and the game having the baggage of being associated with Call of Duty, the game never managed to dethrone Fortnite entirely.
Fast forward to February of 2019 and Fortnite’s rule would be rechallenged. Seemingly out of nowhere, Apex Legends was dropped onto the gaming industry, and the game has arguably disrupted the rule of Fortnite. But similarly to Fortnite, Apex Legends was a game that rose from the ashes of another idea. Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall 2 released to critical success back in 2016 but was cannibalized by its publisher. EA had the bright idea of releasing Titanfall 2 in between the releases of Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty Infinite Warfare. Naturally, the game’s sells weren’t the best, and the game was deemed a commercial failure by EA.
From there, Titanfall 2 earned itself and cult-like status of being one of the best shooters on the market that was overlooked. The amazing campaign combined with the movement and gunplay made the game a critical darling. So with Respawn Entertainment being pressured by EA, they had to do something to prove their “worth” to EA.
That’s when the world was blessed with Apex Legends! Set in the beloved Titanfall universe, Apex Legends was an unexpected adrenaline shot to the Battle Royale genre. By seemingly combining the elements of Overwatch’s hero abilities with the smooth gameplay and gunplay of Titanfall, the game was innovative enough to stand out from the countless other Battle Royale games. Like moths to a flame, gamers couldn’t help but be addicted to Apex Legends. Within its first week, the game amassed 25 million downloads and remains the current obsession of the gaming industry.
While it would be easy to dismiss Fortnite, doing so would be foolish. Both games offer different art/gameplay styles and cater to different audiences. However, it wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable to assume that Apex Legends will maintain its rule over the Battle Royale genre for a while. But what’s a trend amongst the games that dethrone the previous kings of the Battle Royale genre? For one, each of the impactful games that enter the Battle Royale arena usually brings an element that was lacking from the genre. Fortnite had a unique art style and building mechanic that allowed it to stand out. Combined that with its free-to-play model made the game extremely accessible. Apex Legends streamlined the entire Battle Royale genre in ways that gamers never knew they wanted. Combined that with the amazing Titanfall 2 mechanics and unique team synergy amongst characters, and it’s a no-Battle Royaleainer why the game took over.
While Apex Legends may seem untouchable right now, don’t think that the game is immune to being dethroned. Countless developers and publishers are plotting on their variation of the Battle Royale genre. However, one thing that can be assumed is that the Battle Royale genre is officially here to stay within the industry. The popularity may die down within a few years, but the influence of this genre of games is something that’s become ingrained into not only the video game industry but modern culture as a whole.