Battle royale games are here to stay. Established blockbusters like Fortnite and PUBG have been joined by Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, and dozens of other battle royale games over the past several years, catapulting the genre into widespread popularity.
The formula is easy to grasp: a large number of players enter a map and fight to be the last player (or squad) left standing. The safe zone of the map typically grows smaller during the match, forcing the remaining players into combat with each other. As the genre has grown, many games have their own twists, like hero abilities, magic powers, and the ability to revive fallen teammates or 'buy' them back into the game.
Here are the battle royale games we're playing, and the upcoming battle royales to watch out for.
Coming in 2021
Naraka: Bladepoint - A martial arts battle royale feels like a fresh and much-needed twist on the genre. 60 players, all armed with grappling hooks, will clash in melee combat using swords, spears, fists, and sometimes a massive chainsaw.
Grit - Yeehaw! It's a cowboy battle royale in Grit, with horses, trains, and a loot system based on poker hands. We got to try out a technical test recently, and it'll launch into Early Access later this year.
Scavengers - In a blend of PvE and PvP, players grouped in teams of three gather gear and survival tools, and battle each other to be the only team extracted from the harsh and frozen world.
Last Man Sitting - This goofy ragdoll battle royale features people sitting in office chairs, propelling themselves around the office with powerful shotguns as they battle to be the last one still in their chair.
The Best Battle Royale Games
CoD's neat twist on the formula is The Gulag, a 1-on-1 fighting pit where dead players compete for a second chance to drop back on the map with their team. There's also a second mode called Plunder, where players earn and steal money to win.
Less like the head-to-head violence we've come to expect from battle royale games and more like the physical humor of Gang Beasts meets Ninja Warrior. 60 players compete through 5 obstacle-filled rounds until there's only one left. Lots of fun and super cute, too.
Epic isn't shy about experimenting with wacky modes like 50v50, making frequent and sometimes mysterious changes to its map, or by adding, of all things, airplanes. We don't expect the surprising, game-changing experiments to stop anytime soon.
It combines a hero squad shooter with the last-man-standing formula, with novel systems that allow great mic-less communication and the respawning of dead teammates.
PUBG quickly overshadowed the (then) popular battle royale game H1Z1 in 2017 and became the battle royale game to beat, and it still draws hundreds of thousands of players daily. Expect new modes, weapons, vehicles, and even more maps to keep being added as they have since it was released.
Other Battle Royales
Hyper Scape - Ubisoft's free-to-play battle royale takes place in a dense futuristic city. Loot and weapons are streamlined, and players regenerate automatically instead of through pickups.
Forza Horizon 4: The Eliminator - Up to 72 players can race around the map looking for upgraded vehicles and challenging one another to head-to-head open world races.
Surviv.io - It's free, it's fun, and it's fast—there's literally zero wait to get into a match in this top-down, browser-based BR. It's cartoony but don't let that fool you: it can still be intense.
Worms Rumble - 32 worms battle to be the last worm standing, in the first Worms game ever with real time combat.
Civilization 6: Red Death - Yep, even Civ 6 has a battle royale mode now. Up to 12 players lead military factions across a post-apocalyptic map as radioactive net closes around them. It's weird but fun.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 | Blackout - With grappling hooks and ray guns and a lot of nostalgia—its map recreates a number of locations from earlier CoD games—it's a slick and fun BR. Warzone is where the action is at right now, though.
Population: One - This VR battle royale features 18 players per match and supports crossplay between Oculus, Vive, Index, and Windows MR headsets.
Super Animal Royale - Cute woodland creatures get the battle royale treatment. This is a fun, cartoony take on battle royale, and it recently added a free demo you can play as long as you like.
CS:GO Danger Zone - It's a smaller battle royale than most, hosting only 16 to 18 players, and rounds are short, lasting only 10 minutes or so. Danger Zone features CS:GOs weapons and other familiar elements like hostage rescue.
Fear the Wolves - Radiation, anomalies, and mutants pose PvE threats as players make their way to the extraction point, hoping to be the sole survivor in this BR from former Stalker devs.
Battlerite Royale - 20 players duke it out using Battlerite's cast of heroes on a map many times larger than its base game.
Valhall - The 50 survivors of Odin's army face off in this third- and first-person melee brawler.
Maelstrom - It's a fun and attractive ship combat BR, as players do battle on the high seas and avoid massive sea monsters.
Rapture Rejects - Set in the world of webcomic Cyanide and Happiness, Rapture Rejects is a cartoony top-down isometric battle royale that takes place after the Rapture among those unfortunately let behind.
Last Tide - It's battle royale, but under the sea! 100 players in scuba gear are launched into the ocean in mini-submarines, where they fight to the death (or is it to the depths?) using harpoons.
Z1 Battle Royale - As King of the Kill it was the king of BR for a long while, though it's fallen on hard times and lost nearly all of its playerbase. It's free to play on Steam.
Fractured Lands - In this mash-up of Mad Max and PUBG, drive through a devastated wasteland doing battle both in cars and on foot while a radioactive storm closes around you.
Egress - It looks a bit like Dark Souls battle royale. Instead of a closing circle, water rises from beneath the city and players have to climb to stay above it.
Cuisine Royale - Originally created as an April Fool's joke, Cuisine Royale quickly blossomed into a fun standalone game on Steam. The gag is, your armor is assembled from bits of kitchenware like pots, pans, colanders, and waffle irons.
Stand Out: VR Battle Royale -BR in VR? It works, and I had a hilarious experience when another player reached out and grabbed a gun out of my hands.
Cancelled and Discontinued BRs
PlanetSide Arena - Daybreak's attempt to bring battle royale to the Planetside series was delayed several times in 2019, and when it finally did arrive it fizzled out pretty quickly, and then closed entirely.
Mavericks - It was planning to be the biggest battle royale game yet with 1000-player matches. Unfortunately, developer Automaton recently announced that development has halted.
Radical Heights - Boss Key launched a free-to-play 80's themed battle royale, but Boss Key closed a month later and Radical Heights disappeared soon after. The rights to Radical Heights were picked up by Squanch Games.
The Culling - The melee and crafting-focused battle royale drew a passionate fanbase when it launched in 2016, though there were missteps with its sequel. It's currently planning a comeback on PC with a bizarre new business model.