Fifteen armed participants and only one winner. The prize? Staying alive. To claim it, there is only one choice: scavenge your surroundings, find a weapon, and fight for your life. But do it fast. The battleground constantly shrinks, converging every contestant in one location for a final shootout. The last man or woman standing wins. This is the premise behind the Battle Royale game mode, which is now part of Crytek`s free-to-play FPS title, thanks to its latest update. The publisher My.com made the announcement through a video (above) uploaded on the official YouTube channel of Warface.
To fit the gameplay style of Battle Royale, developers built the largest PvP map in the game`s history and placed over 70 different weapons on the battlefield for you to discover and upgrade your equipment. However, the location of each gun is random, meaning that you need to handle a different arsenal in every match. Apart from the firearms you find in the map, there also are supply drops, which provide better gear, but they grab the attention of other players. Should you expose yourself and go after the supply drops? It is up to you to decide whether the risk is worth the reward.
The location chosen for Battle Royale in Warface is the Mojave Desert, USA. This choice makes sense, considering the goal of the developers. According to a press release issued by My.com, “Crytek has painstakingly crafted the Battle Royale mode to combine the special atmosphere of its survival warfare with Warface’s original gameplay.” Moreover, this location has the benefit of featuring large open areas, while also containing small buildings, thus giving you a vast number of tactical possibilities. These facts bode well for the future of Battle Royale in Warface, but the number of titles featuring this mode continues to increase, which leaves a question begging for an answer.
Why Has Battle Royale Become Popular?
This game mode exploded in popularity after PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) became available, as evidenced by its record of most concurrent players on Steam, set on September 16th, after reaching 1,349,584 users. Other games, including Fortnite and now Warface, have implemented this game mode, but why are players so attracted to it? On November 1st, the YouTube channel Extra Credits uploaded a video that answers this question. Read the conclusions in the paragraphs below.
First, it is important to understand the type of experience that Battle Royale creates. Some players may reckon that it focuses on action because its core gameplay mechanic consists of shooting. This logic, however, is incorrect, according to Extra Credits. As the YouTube channel says, the Battle Royale mode is a “multiplayer thriller,” and the secret for its success lies in a single word — suspense.
To understand this conclusion, it is crucial to comprehend what a “thriller experience” means. “It aims to put the audience in a heightened state of adrenaline,” states Extra Credits. However, contrary to most online shooting game modes, Battle Royale builds adrenaline through suspense and hooks players with an almost overwhelming amount of apprehension. To accomplish this objective, it employs thriller storytelling techniques, which consist of the following four items:
1- Clear stakes
2- A continuous sense of threat
3- Time pressure
4- Escalating danger
If you have played any game featuring the Battle Royale mode, you can probably recognize these four traits. It contains clear stakes, as you know that your life is on the line. On top of that, you feel a continuous senseof threat, because, thanks to the size of the map, it is impossible to be 100% aware of your surroundings. Therefore, there is always the chance of you being on the crosshair of another player, who is just waiting for the right opportunity to take you down. You also have time pressure, as the map constantly shrinks.
Finally comes the escalating danger. As the area gets smaller, so does the distance between players, meaning that every second you spend alive increases the chance of encountering an enemy. With these four elements, Battle Royale became a success, using thriller storytelling techniques to build suspense and create an experience that leaves you sweating with tension. But there are other factors that play a significant role in the popularity of this multiplayer game mode.
A Big Payoff:
If you survive through most of a Battle Royale match, the moment to face the remaining soldiers will inevitably arrive. If you triumph over the enemies and become the lone survivor, you will experience “fiero.” The author and game designer Jane McGonigal describes this term in her New York Times best-selling book Reality is Broken: Why Games Makes Us Better and How They Can Change the World:
“Fiero is what we feel after we triumph over adversity. You know it when you feel it — and when you see it. That’s because we almost all express fiero in exactly the same way: we throw our arms over our head and yell.”
What Jane McGonigal calls “fiero” is described by science as your reaction to dopamine. This is the neurotransmitter responsible for you feeling pleasure upon achieving a desired outcome. It is important to observe that you receive more dopamine for getting what you want when you anticipate the reward or event. Therefore, activities that provide you with anticipation tend to be more engaging. This is the conclusion of the psychologist Jamie Madigan in his book Getting Gamers: The Psychology of Video Games and Their Impact on the People Who Play Them:
“It turns out that what really excites us is not so much the loot as it is the loot drop. And, if you want to get really specific about it, it’s the anticipation of the loot drop.”
Jamie Madigan comments on the use of anticipation to increase your satisfaction when obtaining new loot, but the principle applies to Battle Royale as well, because expectancy is a crucial part of the experience. When the end of the match starts to draw near, you see the player count drop. Once you realize that you have a real chance of winning, you start to build anticipation, as every enemy neutralized gets you a step closer to your goal — one by one.
When you finally win, you reach your desired outcome, which gives you dopamine, making you feel happy. Anticipation boosts this effect and causes an abundance of this neurotransmitter. In other words, it causes “fiero.” Of course, it is possible to have this effect with other online game modes, but Battle Royale is a unique experience. It combines anticipation with thriller storytelling techniques, thus becoming a multiplayer thriller, as explained by Extra Credits. It is all a mind game.
A Changing Game:
The last factor that contributed to the rise of Battle Royale is the fact that you can only expect the unexpected, thanks to the randomized nature of the weapons that spawn on the map. In one round you may find an assault rifle, while you may discover a shotgun in another. This fact prevents you from using a dominant strategy. Matthew O. Jackson describes this term in his Stanford research paper A Brief Introduction to the Basics of Game Theory:
“A dominant strategy for a player is one that produces the highest payoff of any strategy available for every possible action by the other players.”
The random weapon spawn ensures the lack of a dominant strategy, thus keeping players from exploiting a single modus operandi. This ensures that the experience continues fresh, because you constantly need to change your style and adapt to the different firearms that you pick up from the battlefield. With a vast map containing a plethora of areas to explore, you will be able to play the Battle Royale mode for a long time before it becomes tiresome.
The popularity of the Battle Royale game mode is undeniable. To ensure that new and innovative ideas make their way into the video game industry, we must understand what makes the current ones compelling. Using the analysis from Extra Credits and the authors mentioned herein, it is possible to shed some light on why Battle Royale became a success.
Using thriller storytelling techniques, it deploys the four factors necessary to craft an experience that leaves the audience on the edge of the seat. On top of that, Battle Royale also provides great satisfaction once you conquer the battlefield, giving you dopamine after several minutes of anticipation in heart-stopping tension.
These two factors, combined with gameplay that changes every match due to the different weapons you find, ensure that a game of Battle Royale will have you hooked, whether you are playing PUBG, Fortnite,Warface or any other game that includes this feature. If you wish to experience Battle Royale with graphics powered by the same engine that brought Crysis to life, make sure to sign up today on Warface’s website.