The origins of battle royale games are manifold, but what they involve is largely the same: lots of players go in, only one leaves. Battle royale is a violent, unpredictable, and frenzied multiplayer mode where the only goal is to endure until you’re the sole survivor.
All tactics and styles of play are equally viable in battle royale games. You can win by hiding in bushes and waiting for the herd to thin out, or scavenge a weapon and start reducing the numbers yourself. With the explosion of Fortnite, PUBG and Apex Legends, you would be forgiven for thinking there are only three battle royales out there, but there are now numerous other contenders to challenge them, each with its own spin on the established formula. And with player counts fluctuating all over the place, it’s important to know the most popular battle royale games so you can be sure to get a match.
Whether you’re after a free PUBG clone or an inventive new twist on the formula, there is a battle royale game out there for everyone. So, to help you broaden your horizons, we have assembled this handy guide to the best battle royale games on PC.
The best battle royale games are:
Battlefield 5’s take on the battle royale genre took a while to come to fruition and conjured up very little buzz on release, but boasts plenty of smart revisions to the formula. For example, there are capture points dotted around the huge Scandinavian map, helping draw all 64 players into the fray as they vie for high tier loot.
Then there are the vehicles, which offer a similar risk/reward mechanic – hop in a tank and you’ll have an instant advantage over other players, but you won’t be able to escape without players noticing.
Best of all, Firestorm maintains Battlefield’s signature destruction mechanics, ensuring there’s no safe refuge. You may have to do a little waiting for a full match, but it’s worth it as Battlefield 5’s solid shooting and impressive audio-visual fidelity make this one of the most convincing battle royale experiences out there.
With the dystopian charm of Titanfall’s mech-ravaged world and the intense gunfights that make PUBG so gripping, it’s no wonder that Apex Legends’ player count reached over 25 million players in its first week. Respawn’s battle royale game came out of nowhere and surpassed genre stalwart Fortnite on Twitch in viewership figures in its first seven days.
Apex Legends zips along at an astonishing pace. Sure, it may not be the parkour and wall-running we’ve come to expect from Respawn’s famous robot game, but this battle royale moves in its own way. Sprinting is swifter than you’d expect and sliding takes you a greater distance – especially with the mountainous terrain considered. Movement sets the tone of the gunplay, too: if your team successfully flanks another in a well-timed push, you earn their bounty.
Apex Legends weapons themselves are finely-tuned, showing Respawn’s confidence in launching Apex Legends as a full game rather than in early access. Shotguns fire off with a fearsome crunch that can punish a poorly-timed push as much as a well-placed headshot will aid anyone who is a dab hand with a sniper rifle.
Better still, there’s lots here for casual players. Apex Legends uses a ping system to ease the burden of mic-free communication. Clicking the scroll wheel highlights places of interest, valuable loot, and charging hostiles. What’s more, from a time-hopping assassin to a zip line quip-happy robot, the cast of Apex Legends characters are wonderfully diverse, quirky, and cool to inhabit.
Since PUBG and Fortnite exploded in popularity many wondered how long it would be until an established, triple-A IP took on the battle royale games genre. Treyarch were first past the post with Blackout, a battle royale mode to supplement Black Ops 4’s lack of campaign. With a map 1,500 times larger than the iconic Nuketown map, new mechanics like bullet ballistics and vehicles, and even zombies, Blackout is a far cry from the narrow passageways of Call of Duty’s Multiplayer, but it absolutely works.
Despite all of those changes, however, Blackout still feels like a Call of Duty game: fast, slick, and polished. The rapid movement speed and ability to knee-slide give you means to quickly push enemies and secure a kill, while the bullet ballistics and wide range of gear options ensure you always have something to mull over, whether you’re looting a building or about to take a shot. You can always look at our Blackout weapons guide to help ease some of that anxiety.
But Blackout’s coup de grâce is its pace. All of the gameplay mechanics that typically slow down a battle royale game have been stripped out or redesigned to ensure the game is as action-packed as possible. You can heal while sprinting, activate perks while sprinting, heal while swimming, shoot while swimming, and even wingsuit off a cliff and land without having to open a parachute. This is the fastest battle royale game around, and better still you don’t need to learn complex building structures to stand a chance of winning your fights.
There’s a reason PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds regularly boasts hundreds of thousands of concurrent players and has sold millions of copies: it’s the basic battle royale premise done right. With frequent updates and new PUBG maps, the chart-conquering sensation is replete with features and is addictive beyond belief.
PlayerUnknown isn’t just a cool-sounding title either, it’s the pseudonym of Brendan Greene: the creator of PUBG, and the man responsible for the incredibly popular Arma 3 Battle Royale mod. That experience shows in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which forgoes complications like crafting and a complex melee fighting system, and instead focuses on razor-sharp firefights, tactical play, and scavenging.
More so than any other battle royale game on this list, PUBG feels and controls realistically, resulting in reactive gameplay that never grows old. Opening PUBG crates for new outfits can be worryingly addictive, and technically, the game is a little rough around the edges, but nothing tastes quite as satisfying as bagging that end-game chicken dinner after outlasting 99 other players.
Want some poppy, comic book visuals with your 100-man massacres? Fortnite Battle Royale takes the perfectly poised match structure of PUBG and ditches all the gritty realism for colours and soft edges. On top of that, Epic Games continue to outdo themselves with each new Fortnite season, changing the map, adding heaps of new Fortnite skins, and overhauling gameplay mechanics. It’s no wonder Fortnite player numbers continue to swell: this is the current king of battle royales.
You’re also be able to harvest resources and build structures like houses to camp in, walls for cover, traps to deal damage, and ramps to help you climb up mountains. This is a battle royale game for those who like to get creative.
That changes the rhythm of the game considerably, increasing the emphasis on resource-gathering throughout the match so that you’ve got plenty of materials to build cover and fortify as the player count dwindles. Being able to build also means a lot of scope for unconventional tactics. Pinned down behind a tree? Pull out your pickaxe, gather a few logs, and build yourself a wall that will give you a bit more protection. Need a sneaky way of getting to an opponent? Try building a series of ramps to flank them from an unexpected angle.
The Fortnite vs. PUBG debate isn’t going to be settled any time soon, so just be grateful we have two spectacular survival shooters to revel in.
Dying Light: Bad Blood
If you’re looking for a fresh take on the battle royale genre, then what about trying a brutal royale? That’s what the Techland is calling Dying Light: Bad Blood. Blending together PvE and PvP elements, Bad Blood sees 12 players battle it out with rudimentary weapons to collect blood samples and escape the map. Oh, and did we mention there are zombies? Lots of them, in fact.
Dying Light: Bad Blood is currently in Steam Early Access, but is already proving to be a fun and chaotic twist on the last man standing genre. A crucial element to winning this battle royale game is to harvest blood samples from various zombie hives. Collecting these samples increases you health and damage output, and most importantly, spawns the helicopter, which is your ticket to winning.
Just like in the original Dying Light, you can use parkour skills to creatively traverse the map, jumping across rooftops and sprinting past zombies in a mad dash to the evac helicopter. With bloodthirsty zombies to kill and harvest, not to mention other players looking to steal your blood samples, Dying Light: Bad Blood isn’t for players who like to bide their time and camp somewhere safe.
Ring of Elysium
As the battle royale revolution rumbles on and more titles of that ilk launch, it becomes increasingly tough for developers to find that USP special sauce that catapulted PUBG and Fortnite to glory. But, while Ring of Elysium certainly looks like a brazen F2P clone of Brendan Greene’s MilSim trailblazer, it is in the traversal of its large maps that this free Steam game really shines.
Ring of Elysium’s maps – Dione and Europa – are both ravaged by natural disasters that must be avoided if you want to outlast the other 59 players on your way to the evac helicopter. Avalanches, active volcanoes, and BMX riders all make your attempts at survival a misery. But with ski lifts, snowboards, and mountain climbing gear, finding creative ways to reach your objective is a thrill; this is the Steep battle royale game you never knew you needed.
As with many other battle royale games, Ring of Elysium’s player count suffered in the wake of Apex Legends, but fans remain wedded to Ring of Elysium’s slower, more realistic experience. Whether you’re lucky enough to be one of the four players evacuated from the map or setting up camp in the Elysian Fields, this remarkably polished Early Access title will always have a home with those looking for a strong apres-ski scene.
Take a look at the Steam user reviews for Realm Royale and you’ll get an immediate sense of why it’s so popular: no building. While Fortnite can’t be beaten in terms of its skill ceiling and scope for creativity, a lot of players simply don’t enjoy how powerful the mechanic is. But Realm Royale isn’t just another free-to-play battle royale game. It finds breathing space in this increasingly crowded genre with a few neat additions, like a class system and summonable mounts. There are also Forges, which address the mid-game lull that so many battle royale games suffer from by promising high-level gear at marked locations around the map.
Classes means there are always a variety of builds in play, which leads to skirmishes that rival Fortnite’s in terms of complexity, with everything from turrets and fireballs, to ghost walks and proximity mines. The key difference is that these abilities are bound to your number keys like they are in hero shooters and MMOS, so Realm Royale isn’t too demanding of your mechanical skills. That said, here are some Realm Royale tips for good measure.
There’s also the comical downed phase, which turns injured players into giant chickens who hop and cluck incessantly until executed. However, if you manage to keep your chicken alive for 20 seconds you can respawn as if revived by a teammate – seeing 2v1s turned on their head by some cunning chicken play never gets old.
Totally Accurate Battlegrounds
What started development as an April Fool’s Day joke turned into one of the most inventive battle royale games of 2018, and developer Landfall can claim three million Totally Accurate Battlegrounds downloads in four days as proof. Totally Accurate Battlegrounds (TABG) boasts countless melee and ranged weapons, attachments, and gear to ensure every gun battle is as unpredictable and messy as the ragdolling character models.
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TABG’s coup de grâce is it’s exaggerated physics, which sees your character flopping up staircases and tumbling over obstacles, not to mention the recoil from high-calibre weapons, which punts you backwards with every shot. Developer Landfall embrace the goofy nature of their battle royale with a ridiculous character customiser and a dedicated key for holding your weapon sideways and beatboxing. Unsurprisingly, the default binding for this is G.
Fed up of running across a seemingly empty map for half an hour only to be instantly dispatched by a single sniper shot? Games like PUBG can be a gargantuan slog for very little reward or action. Darwin Project shows that battle royale games don’t have to be all about scale, and with just 10 players, a tiny map, and no guns, you can be sure that you’ll at least see the player that kills you.
Darwin Project is clearly inspired by The Hunger Games with its emphasis on traps and melee combat, its forbidden map zones, and its player-controlled Show Director, who can trigger buffs and arena-wide effects like lowering the gravity. You can also use voice chat to quiz certain players and reward or punish them based on their answer, which is a social aspect you will not find in many other games.
Before Brendan Greene helmed his own battle royale game, he was drafted in to help Daybreak Games perfect H1Z1. Compared to PUBG, H1Z1 is a much lighter and more accessible battle royale – there are fewer weapons, no attachments, and you don’t get to choose where you parachute in from. That last point is particularly important as it means you’re always dropping into the map with several other players, leading to a manic scramble for guns and gear, and a hefty amount of bloodshed in the match’s opening few seconds.
H1Z1’s gunplay is more akin to that of an arcade shooter than the military sim-influenced heft of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ weapons. Shooting feels basic, but there’s still plenty of nuance to landing shots and engaging targets at range that you can only learn through hours of trial and error. The fact that you get nearly 200 potential targets to hone your shooting skills on certainly helps.
If PUBG involves a little too much hiding around in bushes and strategic play for your liking, then the faster pace on display here might be more to your taste. And if you find yourself struggling, our H1Z1 guide should improve your odds of survival.
Unturned: Arena Mode
One of the most surprising things about the free-to-playUnturned is that it boasts some particularly polished and realistic gunplay. Where that really shines is in Arena Mode, an official game mode that borrows the core mechanics of PUBG, cuts the player count to 16, and takes place on one of four small maps.
Don’t let Unturned: Arena Mode fool you with its blocky art style – it is a hardcore shooter deep down, and that shows in its breadth of weapons and attachments. The fact that there are four distinct maps to fight through also adds an extra level of skill, as different tactics and map knowledge come into play. If you’re after a less gritty battle royale game, but still crave the high skill cap and realistic gunplay, then seek out Unturned: Arena Mode. It may not quite be one of the best zombie games on PC, but shooting Unturned’s cutesy undead hordes is still a blast. And it’s free, which is always welcome.
Minecraft Survival Games
Owing to the total freedom afforded to players by Minecraft, particularly on PC, it was only a matter of time before somebody made a version of The Hunger Games in Mojang’s family-oriented sandbox. That creative freedom means there are hundreds upon hundreds of maps, arena styles, weapon and armour setups, and rules to keep the experience varied depending on which Minecraft server you decide to play on.
Rather than players spawning or dropping into the map at random points, and unlike some of the best Minecraft maps in its parent game, most Minecraft Survival servers pay tribute to the blockbuster franchise by spawning players in a circle around a huge cache of weapons – when the timer hits zero it’s anyone’s game. Rush to the weapons and risk dying in the immediate fray, or hope to scavenge one from a corpse later on? Minecraft Survival Games is a solid battle royale experience, and the sheer number of custom variants ensures every niche is served.
That’s the lot. The best battle royale games on PC that are like Fortnite… um, including Fortnite. If you’re impatiently waiting for Minecraft 2’s release date to be announced, or need to kill some time while the best upcoming PC games of 2018 finish baking, you really should fire up the brutal battle royales above. Granted, Fortnite and PUBG may have conquered the world, but there are some smaller wonders out there worth playing for yourself.