Why Battle Royales Saved the FPS Genre for Me
Updated: Jul 8, 2019
Anyone who has played an online, competitive shooter knows that guy who rages when he gets killed; he blames lag or the meta or just the universe's general lack of fairness. I don’t just know that guy, unfortunately. I was that guy.
My Destiny friends started calling me Hulkimedes. They seemed to use the name endearingly, as they knew I wasn’t like that in other parts of the game. I didn’t like it, though. Not that I thought they were being mean, but I didn’t like that I lost my cool like that. In no other part of my life do I lose my cool so easily, so maybe competitive shooters were the problem? Maybe I just needed to stop playing? Enter the battle royale…
I thought the concept of a battle royale sounded great (I enjoyed The Hunger Games and have been meaning to read Battle Royale ever since I heard about it), but I was deep in Destiny 2 and didn’t really get into battle royales when they arrived on the scene with PUBG and Fortnite. As I began to tire of Destiny 2, some of my friends were getting into Black Ops IV. It had been years since I played a Call of Duty game, but I figured I would give it a shot with my friends who were raving about it.
The multiplayer in that game is as twitchy and frustrating as anything I have ever played, and Hulkimedes was certainly present at most times, but the “Blackout” mode felt different. I was enjoying it. I wasn’t really raging about deaths. When Apex Legends came along, I figured I would try it out, as Respawn is, as far as I'm concerned, the best studio in the world when it comes to making first-person shooters.
As with “Blackout,” I loved it. No raging. No blaming lag. No complaining about weapons. What was going on? Here’s what I think is happening…
You Will Lose
The odds are not “ever in your favour” in a battle royale. You are going to lose far more often than you win unless you are one of the top one percent of players. Knowing that seems to remove the rage that comes from being taken out by another player.
I still don’t like to lose, of course, but when the Bad News Bears play the New York Yankees, they don’t expect to win, so the loss doesn't feel so bad. When you know that it is you and your two teammates against fifty-seven other players, getting killed seems like a near-inevitability. The fact that my team has won more than fifty matches feels pretty good, but since I have probably played more than a thousand matches, it also means that I fail far more often than I succeed.
Maybe the Ancient Greeks can give us a little insight into this issue? In the story of Pandora’s box, the only thing the opened box contained after it was resealed was expectation (or hope). Expectations are deemed an evil in the story because they can control us. In some ways, my expectations of success in FPS games (expectations that went far beyond my abilities) led to me getting salty when I didn’t meet those expectations. Since my expectations in a battle royale are significantly reduced, I don’t find myself getting tilted when things don’t go my way. Who knew that the Ancient Greeks knew something about video games?
And You Will Like It
Okay, so maybe the heading overstates it. I don’t like losing, but I find that the RNG loot makes it feel a little more fun. Maybe I didn’t get any kills (or even do any damage), but I found a gold barrel stabilizer, and when I put it on my R99, I felt like I was going to have a good match. I mean, technically that’s a lie, as I know if I find a gold item, I immediately get this ominous feeling that I am done for, but I digress…
The fact that the game scratches my itch for finding tasty loot makes it feel like a game within a game. So, when I am failing at the shooter part, I still may be successful at the looting part. And when I am unsuccessful at the looting part, I know I am less likely to win at the shooter part anyway. So, either way, the random nature of the loot saves it for me.
I have heard quite a few people say that battle royales would be better if everyone went in with set loot and we removed the RNG nature. I completely disagree. The RNG looting is what makes the game exciting when it isn’t all that exciting (i.e., when you’re not shooting at the bad guys). If everyone had the same guns, then the top players would win most of the time, which brings me to my next point.
We Are All Equals in the Apex Games
Are you likely to beat the player that has the Luna’s Howl (Destiny 2) or the Skull Splitter enhanced MOZU (Call of Duty) that requires you to be a very good-to-great player to get in the first place? If you are likely to beat those players, then this doesn’t apply, as you probably have those weapons anyway; however, most of us aren’t Real Kraftyy or Deadly Teddy, so we are already going to struggle against the better players.
Most of us are listening to Outplayd to improve, not because we are already gods of the FPS. The RNG in battle royales serves as a kind of equalizer. We can improve our skills, but we are still equals (I think) in the eyes of RNGesus, and there are going to be games where the best players lose to much weaker players because of RNG. That can be frustrating to some, but it is a lot less frustrating than getting pub stomped for fifteen-to-twenty minutes in a multiplayer match.
Losing a fight rarely makes me feel like crap. Either I see that the person who killed me has two hundred wins and four thousand kills, or I recognize that my Mozambique and no armor couldn’t stand up to that Peacekeeper and Legendary armor. Either way, I am less salty, as I know that…
The Next Match Starts Now
If your team is still rolling, you may be right back in this match in a minute. If they are all dead, then you can start a new match immediately. There is no lobby to sit in. Just another match to play.
Sure, these things may technically be no different than respawning in a typical multiplayer shooter, but knowing that your team has dealt with the people who wrecked you or, if you start over, that maybe this time the loot will be better or you won’t be playing against that four thousand kill monster makes death a lot less frustrating.
So, I am loving battle royales. It has returned the enjoyment to one of my favourite genres (the FPS), something which I wasn’t sure was possible. The plan is to keep listening to Outplayd every week and to focus on relentless improvement, and I think that doing that will keep Hulkimedes at bay.