An Overwatch Battle Royale Mode Would Be Tricky To Make, Jeff Kaplan Says

An Overwatch Battle Royale Mode Would Be Tricky To Make, Jeff Kaplan Says

Unless you haven’t looked out the window or spoken to Drake recently, you’re probably aware that battle royale mania is sweeping the nation. Jeff Kaplan, director of Overwatch, certainly is. He’s seen the requests for a battle royale mode in his own game, and he’d love to make it happen. It is, however, a taller order than you might expect.

Just a year after PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds took over the world, games like Fortnite, Dying Light, and Crytek’s Warface (which still exists) have added chicken dinner bloodbaths of their own. PUBG didn’t invent the formula of dropping 100 people into an arena and granting victory to the last one standing, but it did make battle royales wildly popular throughout 2017.

Fortnite‘s spin on the mode, according to Epic, took just two months to create. This has led people to look at Overwatch and ask, more or less, how hard could it be?

Hard, as it turns out. During an interview today, Kaplan told me that he and the Overwatch team have actively considered adding a battle royale mode, but Overwatch is a very specific kind of game, and sloppily grafting battle royale onto it could result in a nasty rejection.

“A lot of times when I hear some of our fans pitch it, they’re like ‘Oh, just put a card in the Arcade one day that’s a battle royale mode,’ and I’m like ‘Fuck, that would be awesome,'” he said. “But there’s a lot of design and tech work to get us to that place and not just feel like a me-too game.”

Kaplan explained that he and his team – all PUBG addicts – have spent many early morning team boba tea runs talking through exactly how to implement a battle royale mode, and at this point, they have identified the biggest stumbling blocks.

“First and foremost, Overwatch is a game about heroes, and part of what makes the core loop work in a battle royale game is the search, the looting, and the fairness that everybody’s sort of equal,” Kaplan said. “Overwatch wasn’t designed to be a 1v1. Every hero’s not balanced against every other hero.”

Even if everybody was forced to pick from a handful of heroes, though, there’d still be the issue of space. Despite how some of them might feel, Overwatch‘s maps are actually very small, especially compared to PUBG and Fortnite‘s rolling vistas.

“I think there are also some technical challenges of large, open game spaces,” said Kaplan. “Our primary engagement distance is usually around 15 to 40 meters. The Hanamura dojo point B is 45 meters across. I don’t think people realise how tiny it is. Part of what makes Fortnite and PUBG so awesome is that you can have these really long engagement distances.”

So battle royale is something Kaplan wants to do, given that PUBG has consumed “hundreds of hours” of his time, but probably don’t expect Overwatch to follow in Fortnite‘s footsteps any time in the near future.

“Building those systems and getting that many players – I think battle royale for Overwatch starts to get into new game territory,” he said.


  • Just putting it out there, but I don’t think every game needs a br mode or spinoff. Br is the new Moba; its quickly reaching the same saturation that saw the deaths of Heroes of Newerth, Paragon and Strife. There is only so much room for games that require you to have in depth knowledge of mechanics and it requires so much time that people normally only focus on one. My bet is that every other attempt at Br will die super quick unless Pubg continues to drop the ball.

    • I don’t think every game needs BR either, but if any game could pull it off, Overwatch could. If they try it though, I think they should do it properly. Make it a full blown expansion or spinoff, and not just an added mode.

      This is no different to when capture the flag, conquest, counterstrike or moba’s started – its new, and something games need to consider adding as we move forward. No reason Overwatch wouldn’t be looking to make it work in some way.

      It could be as simple as being 4-10 teams rather than 2, with dedicated maps.

    • Seems likely that’ll happen regardless, plenty of evidence seems to point to them doing a separate more story focused game.

    • I kinda wish the co-op events stayed permanently rather than just the uprising and junkenstein events we get

  • I love playing Overwatch but I don’t think the characters would work well in a Battle Royale. The FFA Deathmatch in Arcade is enough.

  • Is everyone forgetting that the original overwatch (Paladins) already has plans for a br mode so if anything overwatch is just gonna wait till they release it then copy it again

  • who would have thought a simple game mode could be make a game so popular?
    I doubt fortnite or PUBG would be looked at twice if it wasnt for battle royale style elimination.

  • It could work out if they let us design a character, like PUBG, and make only one map, like Fortnite. The could also implement the normal Overwatch weapons without the abilities and wouldn’t be problematic either since it would be like a normal BR (I’ll let you think about that).
    Meds would be normal health packs that you can find.

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