Play the melee battle royale Ran: Lost Islands for free in the Steam Game Festival

Ran: Lost Islands is a 16th century-style 100-player battle royale, with classes based on ninja, samurai, and conquistador archetypes, who come together on a cursed island to clash in a last-man-standing brawl for glory and gold. You might immediately think that the last thing the world needs right now is yet another battle royale game, but unlike most of them, this one is focused on melee combat—and starting tomorrow, you'll be able to try it out for free in an open beta that will run during the Steam Game Festival: Summer Edition.

The game does have firearms, but as you'd expect from the era, it's flintlocks rather than SMGs and assault rifles—the priority for players is "fast reflexes, lethal combo attacks, and cunning strategy," developer Jolly Roger Game said. Vehicles are available in the form of boats, horses, and gliders, and grappling hooks will be on hand to help you get to hard-to-reach places—although it doesn't seem like camping will get you very far in this one.

(The Steam page lays it out clearly: "True melee combat meets battle royale," it promises. "Long before dance battles and sniper camping kills, warriors met face to face on the battlefield and looked into their enemies’ eyes as they took their last breath." They're calling us frivolous cowards, in other words.)

That's not to say that it will be exclusively hack-and-slash, as players will also have access to bows and what I assume is some kind of post-Medieval hand grenade. But the likelihood of getting ganked by an unseen sniper halfway across the map seems considerably lower than it is in games like Apex Legends or Call of Duty: Warzone.

Melee combat can be a tricky thing to get right in videogames, but I hope Ran: Lost Islands manages to pull it off, because it could be a genuinely interesting twist on a very crowded genre. To check it out for yourself, sign up for beta access at, where you can also get a closer look at the game, and then hop into the action on Steam: The open beta is scheduled to start at 10 am PT on June 16, and run until June 22.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.