Even with Fortnite dominating the news, a fresh battle royale game is making headlines of its own. Realm Royale, the latest game from developer Hi-Rez Studios, has already climbed to the number four position on the Steam charts. This is all within a week of the announcement of the game’s existence and launch of its alpha. To celebrate, developer Hi-Rez launched the game with an ambitious 130+ hour stream on Twitch, Mixer, and Steam. Popular streamers also joined in, showcasing the fledgling title for their millions of viewers. At least for now, the game has managed to capture the attention of gamers worldwide. As of the time of writing, it sits above PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in terms of active viewers on Twitch, though it comes nowhere close to Fortnite.
Whether or not Realm Royale is able to retain high-profile players remains to be seen. Previously, Hi-Rez experienced competitive success with their last game, Paladins. This hero-based shooter launched around the same time as Overwatch, and has since drawn many parallels. However, Paladins’ ability to succeed in spite of Blizzard’s juggernaut can largely be attributed to the fact that it is free-to-play. This presents a lower barrier of entry for curious players. Arguably, this same reasoning can be used to help explain Fortnite‘s explosive growth against PUBG. Unfortunately for Hi-Rez, players already have a free-to-play battle royale option, thus giving Realm Royale less of an immediate edge. Combined with the new title’s limited launch, currently available solely on Steam, Hi-Rez is faced with quite an uphill battle in legitimizing the competitive aspect of its new game.
That being said, part of the reasoning for the title’s current success may be attributed to its differences from the rest of the market. Billed by its developers as the “first 100-person fantasy Battle Royale,” Realm Royale bears notable differences from other titles in the genre. For starters, the game is class-based. Rather than having everyone begin with the same load-out, players must strategically assemble their four-person squads to embrace unique abilities. Hi-Rez describes the currently available classes as follows:
Dispatch your foes in the front line as a Warrior, or sling spells from afar as a Mage. Should you find yourself in trouble, the Engineer can provide defensive barriers to help your team claim victory!
Furthermore, the game bears another significant difference. Rather than having a static, self-contained environment, the world in Realm Royale is far more diverse. Some of the available terrains include a desolate desert, a lush jungle, and a frozen tundra. These are all presented within the same map and match. This is a stark contrast to Fortnite‘s temperate, forested island, and the realistic climates of maps in PlayerUnknown Battleground.
Unsurprisingly, Hi-Rez claims they “will have a heavy developer presence within the Discussion section of Steam to listen to feedback and record bug reports.” This development model has seen great success, with Fortnite developer Epic Games maintaining a transparent and involved presence with the community. With Hi-Rez positing a similar stance, players can expect to see new classes, abilities, and locations in the game soon. As these changes develop, the game will further strengthen its unique identity and set itself apart from the competition. Time will tell if that will be enough.
It will only become more difficult for new titles to secure an active player base as time progresses. The market is becoming more crowded on a daily basis, with new titles presented by AAA studios and fledgling developers alike. Some of these titles are similar to what is already available to players. Others, such as Mavericks Proving Grounds, look to take the genre in a new direction. Announced at E3 2018, this new title from Automaton Games seeks to expand the scope of Battle Royale. Rather than limit the competition to 100 players, Mavericks will bump the number up to 1,000. Squads are increased to support five players, and an MMO-style hub connects players. It’s an ambitious gamble, one that will certainly set the title apart from its competition. However, it may be too broad of a scope for the casual, drop-in gameplay of other titles.
Meanwhile, the current giant, Fortnite, continues to further its dominance. PUBG, once the premiere battle royale title, has hemorrhaged players over the past year, with their active player base on PC now only half of what it once was. On the other side of the spectrum, Fortnite just had its massively successful Pro-Am tournament, smashing Twitch and Youtube streaming records. Furthermore, developer Epic Games followed the tourney with announcements of the next phase of their competitive plan: the 2019 Fortnite World Cup. With new battle royale games announced every week, it won’t be long until the market resembles the game mode itself. Consumers and competitive organizations may soon have 100 games to choose from, but the big question remains — which one will remain on top?
Just another talking head on the internet, occasionally spouting off thoughts about video games. Some recent obsessions include Persona, Overcooked, and, once and forever, Dragon Warrior VII.