I Like When Battle Royale Arenas Fight Back

I Like When Battle Royale Arenas Fight Back

There’s no shortage of battle royale-style games to sate my need to drop onto an island and fight to be last man standing. Yet I can’t help think about the one thing so many are lacking: an arena that wants to kill me as bad as the other players do.

Photo: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate Films)

I re-watched the first couple Hunger Games movies recently, and after playing so much PUBG and Fortnite, I couldn’t stop thinking about different the playing field is in games compared to those films. In PUBG, the arena is mostly apathetic towards your presence, casually nudging you towards other players with a tightening blue circle. Same with Fortnite, where at least player-built traps and fortifications can liven things up.

The Hunger Games had fire, dogs, natural disaster. In the first movie, Katniss drops a hive of deadly insects onto her opponents. Catching Fire‘s arena is a clockwork machination of doom, demanding you adapt or perish. The format is obviously different, as fighters in The Hunger Games are as focused on basic needs of survival as they are killing each other.

It’s a different kind of fight compared to the tight, contained melees of video games, where you want a round to last minutes rather than days.

But since Battle Royale the film, many have innovated on the concept. The Hunger Games‘ reality show presentation is one; shows like Mirai Nikki introduce phones that give their holders’ special advantage, and others have toyed with the game show aspect as well.

Radical Heights came out of left field this week, and while it’s certainly still in early access, it toys with ideas like random events. Bike races, spin-to-win wheels, and climactic shootouts change up the creeping pace of your average battle royale match. It isn’t quite the avaricious arena I’m looking for, but it’s a start.

The Darwin Project has some cool stream interactions that let audiences mould the chaos, which is much more in line with something like The Hunger Games. I’m picturing that scene with Woody Harrelson drumming up support for Katniss to get her medicine, but instead it’s a Twitch streamer’s audience raiding a channel. Having a director who can choose when and how to use the boons (or calamities) puts a neat twist on it.

There’s also The Hunt: Showdown, where actual monsters litter the map and you have to compete against other hunters to cash in your bounty. Having both human danger and ambient hazards means you’re dealing with multiple dangers at once.

Image: Crytek

All of these lack one great element though, and that’s surprise. It’s not like Katniss knows what she’s dropping into when she enters any given Hunger Games. More than anything, I’d love to see developers add random maps or modifications to the rotation, without warning. Something close to even what Ghost Recon: Wildlands did, quietly adding the freaking Predator to its game.

What if the Predator could randomly join Fortnite matches?

Instead of Erangel, I’m dropping onto a strange island, or a mountain ridge, or a mix of biomes. I don’t know what’s out there, how many are out there, and what I can find. For me, Battlegrounds was at its best when I didn’t know what to expect dropping into the map. It’s still fun to parachute in and fight for the top spot, but I crave the unknown.

Can you imagine playing a normal PUBG map and suddenly you hear a roar in the distance, one you’ve never heard before? The frisson of a new mystery, after you’ve gone through the same routine drop so many times? You’d have to go find out what it was. Maybe this time, humans aren’t the only enemy. The arena might fight back.


  • I’m very surprised that the Survival mode from Tom Clancy’s The Division was not mentioned. Depending on the mode, an agent must contend with the cold environment, the infection, hunger, thirst, multiple enemies and sometimes other players making this style of battle royal very unforgiving.

  • A Battle Royal where you drop in with standard equipment and then there is a variety of boss mobs scattered at locations that are guarding/holding the loot… no more scavenging, you have to kite or kill them to secure better equipment. (or experience and you upgrade via a skill tree similar to Mobas) You can rush certain mobs, but the more popular the mob you risk encountering others, form temporarily alliances or shoot them in the back. More surprised elements from Mobas or Hero shooters havent made it to these games yet.

    They need to stop trying to replicate PuBG and Fortnite and look at other game genres or IPs that could use a 100 player mode. It has to be something completely different, there are already so many carbon copy clones in development and they all just have one or two gimmicks difference and non of them are really outstanding enough to pull everyone from the main two.

    I want to see a vehicle shooter either in a car style (Auto Assault, Interstate 76, Twisted Metal), Giant Mechs (Mech Warrior, Titan Fall) or a Space Shooter (Descent, Tie Fighters, Wing Commander). There are some really amazing pvp games in the past that don’t have communities any more that could use a 100 player mod.

    • Interstate 76 as a battle royale would be something special.

      I was thinking about movies you could use as inspiration myself. While it was a terrible movie, think of a setting like After Earth, and how the ideas in that could lend itself to the environment fighting back.

      Just a thought, but the game builds towards the end, and it would be most fun to see NPC’s getting more involved at that stage, and getting in the way.

  • I think the random destructive events would be annoying. Like pubg’s red zone. Its like “oh great now I get to stop playing and just wait in doors…”. You could maybe do random monsters that you kill for awesome loot. That would be cool. Like those magwas or whatever they are called in cod zombies. Boss monsters that spawn during the late stages. Or even something like cod kill streaks where you get rewarded with something cool like the juggernaut for a certain amount of time. That way people get rewarded for fighting instead of hiding.

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