The era of the battle royale game is upon us, thanks in no small part to last year’s wildly popular PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
(also known as PUBG) and the more recent, and even more successful, Fortnite
The battle royale genre began with mods for large-scale online survival games like Minecraft
before becoming popularized with standalone games such as PUBG
Imitation is one of the sincerest forms of flattery, and many of the games on our list are certainly paying tribute. But each have put their own unique spin on the genre, which is what the best type of flattery tends to do. Read on for a few of the leading free battle royale games.
Warning: Some of the video games listed below are not suitable for younger viewers. Please use caution and check each game’s ESRB rating before allowing children to play it, especially those rated M for Mature. M-rated video games may contain content that is inappropriate for children and/or unlabeled content that exposes younger viewers to explicit messages and themes.
1. Fortnite Battle Royale by Epic Games
With more than 125 million players (and counting), Fortnite Battle Royale
has already become a cultural touchstone . It’s burst through the ranks of casual gamers to appeal to a vast spectrum of people, including celebrities, musicians, politicians, and regular humans.
Fortnite Battle Royale is a free-to-play, last-person-standing, player-versus-player (PvP) game in which up to 100 players fight within increasingly smaller spaces. You can play solo, in a duo, or in squads of up to four players, but either way you need to eliminate other players or avoid them while staying within a safe zone that is constantly shrinking because of an incoming storm.
When your Battle Bus transports you across the game’s map, you can choose where to land (or spawn). Many players start jumping immediately, but a lot of them end up being eliminated quickly.
A good strategy is to wait a bit, find a less populated place, and then jump. You’ll need to look around for weapons and resources since you’ve only got one weapon (your pickaxe) when you start. Use this pickaxe on virtually any structure (houses, trees, cars, rocks, etc.) to harvest the wood and build fortifications to defend yourself.
2. Apex Legends by Respawn Entertainment
Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends
takes a little something from previous battle royale and even non-battle royale games, spinning it into a surprisingly enjoyable and unique first-person battle royale experience.
Having a game announced and subsequently launched on the same day is something gamers merely dream of. And this was exactly how Apex Legends
was thrust onto the gaming scene on February 4, 2019. Apex Legends
immediately became a success with 10 million players in the first 72 hours  and 25 million registered players in its first week .
Each character receives passive, tactical, and ultimate abilities. As an example, the combat medic class, Lifeline, has a passive ability that allows her to heal teammates faster than other legends while being protected by a shield wall.
There are several other new mechanics brought by Apex Legends, such as the unique ping system, having a single squad member control where the squad drops in and three-person squads versus the typical four.
3. Realm Royale by Hi-Rez Studios
is a third-person shooter game that is a spin-off and game mode of the hero-shooter game called Paladins
. It’s visually a similar game to Fortnite
in its cartoony look, but the gameplay elements are pretty different.
For one thing, it takes place in a world in which guns are joined by horses, castles, and - drumroll, please - chickens! Also, unlike Fortnite, you always play in a squad with three other players against a total of 100 players.
After jumping off the spaceship/blimp (space blimp?), find weapons and armor in chests scattered throughout the map or from boxes that fall from the sky. You can run (but not sprint) from the converging deadly fog in Realm Royale, although you are able to easily ride a horse. While you’re on that horse, you won’t be able to fight or ride it into buildings.
Unlike other battle royale games, in Realm Royale you pick a class at the beginning of a match from a list of five roles, including warrior, engineer, assassin, mage, and hunter. All are equipped with unique abilities and weapons to find and collect during the game; each has a movement ability (and you can choose from dozens of others) and two weapons slots.
And in contrast to other battle royale games, you can “disenchant" found weapons and then take them into a forge, where you can create some cool and powerful up-level weapons and armor. However, while you’re creating that weapon, you’ll be sending out a literal smoke signal that alerts other players about what you’re up to. So don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly targeted while you’re there.
When you lose a fight, you turn into a chicken. Yes, a cute little flag-holding chicken who runs around (head still intact) trying to not get killed permanently. If you do survive as a chicken, you can successfully respawn…and maybe even cluck your way to victory.
4. H1Z1 by Daybreak Game Company
is a battle royale game in which up to 150 players compete against each other in a last-man-standing death match. You can choose to play solo, in a duo, or in groups of five with the goal, of course, to be the final team (or person) remaining.
You start each game by parachuting in from a random location above the 60-plus square-mile map. Unlike Fortnite, in H1Z1 you can actually decide where to land based on the types of firefights that are already going on (they’ll glow on the map). Once you land, you need to search for a way to defend yourself because you start with nothing. No weapons. Nada.
Alternatively, you can choose Combat Zone mode - which starts you off with a fully loaded weapons rack and with unlimited respawn capabilities - to learn how fire weapons and hone your skills. Or you can just jump in a car and do donuts around the other players.
During the game itself - which is not anything to write home about, visual-wise - you’ll search for weapons, equipment, supplies, and vehicles scattered throughout while hunting or hiding from other players. H1Z1 also features a crafting system that allows you to create makeshift tools, like deconstructing found items, into body armor or bandages.
As gameplay in H1Z1 progresses, be on the lookout for a toxic green gas cloud, which will damage and kill those who remain within it. You’ll need to keep moving and fighting.
5. Cuisine Royale by Darkflow Software
is a battle royale, “all-kitchen-warfare” game that began as an April Fool’s Day joke from the developers of MMO, squad-based Enlisted
In total, 30 players per session head out from different parts of the map, starting only in their underwear (no worries; it’s PG) and making their way to the middle of a battlefield constantly shrinking in size. The main battle takes place at the end of the match, where only the best survivors face off against each other.
Unlike Fortnite or H1Z1, there is no bus or parachute that drops you down into the Cuisine Royale game world, which resembles a sprawling village in the south of France during WWII. You simply start running, shooting, and looting as the scantily clad man that you’re playing.
Speaking of looting, you’ll find free loot boxes in things like refrigerators stocked with appropriate food items, and not-quite-so-appropriate things like weapons, although the armor is appropriate-adjacent in that it’s kitchenware such as pots, pans, and colanders.
Don’t underestimate this ridiculous-looking weaponry; a hit with a frying pan may kill you off. And you can use a colander as a helmet or a wok as a shield, or bunny slippers that let you bounce. Yes, you may look silly, but as long as you look good in your boxers, that’s all that matters.
6. Last Man Standing by Free Reign Entertainment
Last Man Standing
may as well be named “Battle Royale” as all of the games within this genre feature last-man-standing-type gameplay. This shooter game pulls no punches about its intent right from the start, when you’re admonished to “Fight to the Death!”
And unlike Fortnite and Realm Royale, its graphics depicting the results of successful shots skew toward more realistic. You play either solo or in a four-player squad, joining a total of 100 players on the battlefield. In the competitive mode, you’ll want to pick up weapons and gear in the first minute and then get ready to join the fray.
Alternately, you can join the Proving Grounds mode where you’ll have the chance to practice and refine your skills while exploring the map without having to worry about an ever-shrinking electronic forcefield since you’ll have endless respawning capabilities.
In contrast to Fortnite and other battle royale games, you can’t choose where you’re going to land once you start; you simply end up in a random place on the map. With 30 types of weapons available, Last Man Standing is weapons intensive. And you can customize them with more than a dozen attachments.
Like other battle royale games, supply drops that contain the best gear happen during the game, but you risk exposing yourself to other players when you’re plundering them. There are also special reward crates that your character can access when you level up; inside you’ll find clothing, gun skins, taunt emotes, and more.
7. Unturned by Smartly Dressed Games
doesn’t look like any of the other battle royale games listed here. A first-person, zombie-horror-survival game
, it’s got more of a Minecraft
-gone-mad appearance to it, with similarly blocky graphical elements.
In Unturned, you're one of the few survivors of a zombie apocalypse caused by some type of unknown outbreak from a scientific accident, and you’ll need to fight to stay among the living, or the unturned.
There are a few game modes to choose from in Unturned, including survival, arena, and horde. In survival game mode, you can choose to play solo or multiplayer as you spawn into the game world with clothes depending on your skills. In the multiplayer arena, or battle royale mode, you will start out buck naked. Visually, you’re just a rectangular shape so it doesn’t matter, but you will be more vulnerable. A cool tip is that you can change your skin color to green to camouflage yourself.
You’ll need to search for weapons and supplies to outmaneuver and fight the shambling, but surprisingly fast, zombies. If they reach you, they’ll inflict damage pretty quickly, as you’ll soon see by the blood spatters everywhere. As you progress, you’ll gain experience points to upgrade with.
As in Minecraft, as well as a few of the battle royale games on our list, you’re able to build items and dwellings such as furniture, barricades, traps, and more. And if you’re playing when evening arrives in the game world, be sure to board up the windows of an existing structure to survive the night.
To get away from - and run over - zombies, you can drive the vehicles that are scattered about, but try not to run out of gas. You’ll also need to maintain your health by eating and drinking, and don't forget keep an eye out for your radiation levels as you’ll sustain radiation damage from certain zombies (the ones that don’t kill you, that is).
8. The Darwin Project by Scavengers Studio
The Darwin Project
is a multiplayer third-person survival game set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian landscape of the snow-filled Canadian Rockies. Unlike any of the other battle royale games mentioned, The Darwin Project
features a manhunt in which you’re dropped into an arena along with nine other players.
Armed only with an axe and a bow, you’ll need to craft weapons and clothes such as cloaks, and build fires to survive both the onslaught of other players as well as the cold (it’s freezing out there in the northern Canadian Rockies). You can camouflage yourself, teleport, set traps, and track other players by their footprints and other clues. And the map will tell you which other players are fighting, but not where they are.
The game features a Show Director, who is similar to the Gamemaker in The Hunger Games in that they control how each game’s 10-player match advances. They’ll announce kills and when they close zones. They can even take votes from players who are watching about who should be hunted. So you’re not only a member of the cast of this twisted reality show, but you’re also at the mercy of the omnipotent Director and the voting crowd. May the odds (and votes) be ever in your favor.
What is a battle royale game?
Battle royale games involve a large number of players who start with only a few items, then search for weapons and armor, eliminate opponents, and avoid being trapped outside of a shrinking safe area. They are then forced to battle it out in this zone to compete to win.
Those caught outside that safe zone lose health rapidly and are eventually eliminated. The last player left is the winner. This genre combines last person standing gaming elements with the essential parts of exploratory survival games.
The name for the battle royale genre comes from the Japanese film Battle Royale, which proffers a similar theme of a last-man-standing competition in a shrinking zone.
These types of games lend themselves to attracting massive numbers of players; indeed, many of them are massively multiplayer online games (MMOs).
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