Battle Royale, originally a book written by Koushun Takami published in 1999 which was then adapted in 2000 into a movie of the same title, is now a pretty popular game genre. You've probably heard of Fortnite but there were other games like it before Fortnite came out. The general concept of a battle royale game is that the play area is usually an island out in the middle of the ocean where you fight other players to the death until you're the last one standing. You've probably played Sharks and Minnows in elementary school. One person starts as a shark in the middle of the play area, everyone else starts on one end of the play area as a minnow. As a minnow you try to cross to the other side of the play area while the shark chases and tries to tag people. Tagged people become sharks in the next round and that keeps going until there is one person left as a minnow. You've probably heard of the Hunger Games, the dystopian future world where children fight to the death to entertain the rich and famous. That's also based off Battle Royale. I won Sharks and Minnows a few times in my youth and I loved the Hunger Games books but I basically hated all battle royale games until Apex Legends.
The first battle royale like game I played was DayZ, the standalone version, not the mod version. DayZ was fun when playing with friends but it was buggy when it was first released in it's alpha, I mean "Early Access", state. The play area was really really big, it took this random person 4 hours and 16 minutes to walk across the entire DayZ map. Thanks random person. And with a max player count of less than 50 people you ran into people almost never. This caused DayZ to be really boring if you ever played by yourself, unless you liked shooting a few zombies every 10 minutes. I'm actually really glad we're past the zombie clone days. DayZ however isn't a true battle royale because it was a key game element, the ever shrinking death ring.
The first true battle royale game I played was PlayerUnknown's Battleground aka PUBG. I bought the game August 2017 but alpha and beta testing started in early 2017. I still somehow bought the game in it's alpha, sorry, I mean "Early Access" state. Like DayZ, PUBG was fun with friends but also buggy as fuck. The ring of death is what puts PUBG ahead of DayZ however. As explained before every player starts in a vehicle that is flying across the play area, you have a short amount of time, usually around 30 seconds to drop out of the plane and land on a part of the island. On the island you'll find weapons and supplies, these vary in stats but there's usually a ranking of weapons in the game. As you search for better stuff the ring of death quickly comes into play. A random circle is picked as the safe zone and everything outside that zone will quickly kill you. You usually have 2-4 minutes to get inside the safe zone before the ring closes in. All the while, you're trying to kill other players while not getting killed. Once the ring has closed on the first safe area a new, smaller, safe area will be randomly picked and the ring will shrink again. The ring will keep shrinking until there is one player remaining. PUBG had all these elements, however it was too buggy to appreciate so I only have 114 minutes of playtime on Steam.
Now we're onto Fortnite. Originally a zombie survival game, released in 2017, many years after zombie survival games were out of style, Epic Games saw PUBG and made a polished clone called Fortnite: Battle Royale. Fortnite was initially released in late 2017 but I don't remember hearing of it until 2018. I had no real interest in playing it because apparently it was overrun with 13 year olds. When I did play it for the first time at a friend's place I placed second in my second game. Fortnite's distinction in the genre is its building mechanic. You collect resources like wood and metal by destroying objects in game and then you can use those resources to build entire mansions in seconds when you get shot at once. I'm of the opinion that the build mechanic is really dumb so I never played Fortnite besides the one or two times at my friend's place. One of the huge reasons Fortnite became really popular is that the game wasn't in alpha, "Early Access", when it came out. It was a solid game with nice controls and weapons that didn't float in mid air. Epic Games also did a really good job marketing and interacting with the community.
In 2018 every game developer was trying to steal a piece of Fortnite's pizza pie and they tacked on battle royale modes to their games. Both Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V got battle royale modes. Then just a few weeks ago, in February 2019 Apex Legends was released. A free to play battle royale game similar to PUBG and Fortnite. As stated earlier I thought I hated battle royale games because of my previous experiences with the older battle royale games so I didn't try Apex Legends until a lot of people said that they really liked it. I skeptically installed it and in the first few games I played I died within 30 seconds. So I stopped playing it for a week or two. Then I tried again and I died within a few minutes. Another week later I won my first game, I still think it was pure chance but from then I actually started liking Apex Legends more and more. And it wasn't just because I won a game.
There are still some things that annoy me about battle royale games. If you die you have to launch into an entire new game. If you're really bad you spend more time loading the game instead of actually playing the game. This can be discouraging to new players cause you need to be committed to get past the first few games. Howev good teammates can make this initial hump more bearable. In one of my recent games I got to second place with someone else who said it was their second game right after we died at the end.
Apex Legends does almost everything really well. It's polished, movement in game feels good as it's made by the same developer who made Titanfall 1 and 2. Weapons and supplies don't float in mid air and the guns feel good. Finding supplies is easy as most supplies are in well marked crates or are on well lit tarps inside buildings. There's no building mechanic like Fortnight. It's completely focused on playing as a team. If you get downed your teammate can help you back up and if you die your team can respawn you. Other battle royale games have squads but Apex Legends beats them all with a well executed ping system. In a team game it really helps to have a microphone but if you don't have one or don't like to use one it can take away from the team element. In Apex Legends you can ping on suggested locations to go, ping when you see an enemy, ping if you found a weapon or supplies, ping if you notice an area has been looted already, there's a ping for basically everything you need in the game. Here's a good video on the ping system. I usually don't use a mic but the ping system is almost as good. My only complaints with Apex Legends is that I would like a free play in the tutorial with bots or something for practice.
Winning my first and second game in Apex Legends made me like this battle royale more than other battle royales but I think the real reason I like it is because it's a solid, well made game. It may be surprising but it seems like a ton of free to play games released recently are always too buggy to play. Apex Legends hit the mark, we'll see how long I play it before going back to Overwatch.