Battle royale games are here to stay. Established blockbusters like Fortnite and PUBG continued to tweak their formulas in 2018 and the free-to-play Apex Legends exploded onto the scene in February of 2019, drawing millions of players within its first month.
Along the way, more battle royale games and game modes have been springing up, both from indie developers and big studios, with varying levels of success.
Here are the battle royale games we're playing and upcoming battle royales to watch out for.
The best battle royale games
The biggest and best games in the genre are still rolling out new features, maps, events, and updates on a regular basis. Here are the battle royale games we recommend in 2019.
Developer: Epic Games| Release date: Out now | Link: Official site
Fortnite was a worldwide phenomenon in 2018, providing a bright and arcadey experience to counter PUBG's measured pace and gritty vibe. Epic isn't shy about experimenting with wacky modes like 50 vs 50, making frequent and sometimes mysterious changes to its map, or by adding, of all things, airplanes. We don't expect the surprising, game-changing experiments to stop anytime soon. If you enjoy games like Fortnite, read on.
Developer: Respawn| Release date: Feb 2019 | Link: Official site
Respawn officially announced its free-to-play take on battle royale in a dramatic fashion—the same day it launched. Apex Legends combines a hero squad shooter with the last-man-standing formula, and it became an instant hit, racking up 50 million players in its first month. It's added several new characters and with novel systems that allow great mic-less communication and the respawning of dead teammates, it's quickly become the battle royale to watch in 2019.
Developer: PUBG Corp|Release date: Out now | Link: Official site
We don't know if there will be a PUBG movie, but at this point we wouldn't really be surprised (we even came up with a script). PUBG had a busy 2018, adding a third map called Sanhok and a winter map, Vikendi, plus new features like dynamic weather and bullet penetration. Expect new modes, weapons, vehicles, and maybe even more maps to keep trickling in as they have since it was released.
It's free, it's fun, and it's fast—there's literally zero wait to get into a match in this top-down, browser-based BR. It's cartoony but don't let that fool you: it can still be intense.
Civilization 6: Red Death
Yep, even Civ 6 has a battle royale mode now. Up to 12 players lead military factions across a post-apocalyptic map as radioactive net closes around them. It's weird but fun.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 | Blackout
With grappling hooks and ray guns and a lot of nostalgia—its map recreates a number of locations from earlier CoD games—it's a slick and fun BR.
Upcoming battle royale games
There's a lot planned for the rest of 2019 as the genre continues to expand, and we suspect there will be many more to come. For a taste of battle royale games in development, keep reading.
Developer: Daybreak| Release date: September 2019 | Link: Official site
Pushing the limits of battle royale, PlanetSide Arena launches with a fast and chaotic 240-player battle royale. The sci-fi FPS from the makers of the PlanetSide series has a streamlined looting system (you'll find higher tier weapons with attachments already in place, rather than having to cobble them together) and various vehicles. Earned XP will let players unlock new weapon blueprints, and currency collected during the match will allow them to 'buy' those new weapons and put them to use.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Developer: Mediatonic| Release date: 2020 | Link: Official site
Devolver Digital announced a colorful new battle royale called Fall Guys by Mediatonic at E3 this year. It looks less like the head-to-head violence we've come to expect from battle royale games (but everyone seems to be calling it one, so here we are) and more like the physical humor of Gang Beasts meets Ninja Warrior. You'll compete with 99 other colorful little creatures to make it through ridiculous obstacle courses until one beady-eyed competitor remains.
Other battle royale games
There are all sorts of battle royale games and game modes available: some are in Early Access and alpha, others are in full release, and a number are free to play. Below, you're bound to find a last-player standing experience to fit your needs.
CS:GO Danger Zone
Developer: Valve | Release date: Out now | Link: Official site
When CS:GO went free to play at the end of 2018, it came along with a new battle royale mode called Danger Zone. It's a smaller battle royale than most, hosting only 16 to 18 players, and rounds are short, lasting only 10 minutes or so. The map is pretty big (when compared to other Counter-Strike maps), but Danger Zone still features CS:GOs weapons and other familiar elements like hostage rescue.
Developer: Triternion | Release date: Out now | Link: Steam
Medieval combat game Mordhau arrived this year, bringing with it a battle royale game mode. The intricate and brutal melee combat is a good fit for battle royale, and there are even horses to ride. It's a popular game with a large player base, so there's never a long wait to get into a match.
Developer: Bohemia Interactive | Release Date: In alpha| Official site
Survivor GameZ is the official battle royale spin-off of Bohemia Interactive's DayZ. GameZ will probably feel different from the rest of the genre, thanks to its unique "phase" system that locks out large portions of the map from the beginning. The map opens up as the endgame begins, but players will need to interact with an object to not take constant damage. Bohemia is taking requests to participate in the Suvivor GameZ alpha now.
Super Animal Royale
Developer: Pixile| Release date: In Early Access| Link: Steam store
Cute woodland creatures get the battle royale treatment. After dropping from a giant duck acting as a personnel carrier, players gather weapons and look for a vehicle (in this case, a huge hamster ball) and do battle with their cuddly, furry brethren. This is a fun take on battle royale, and it recently added a free demo you can play as long as you like.
Ghost Recon Wildlands: Mercenaries
As a part of Ghost Recon Wildlands' final title update before the release of Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Ubisoft surprise-dropped a Battle Royale-like mode called Mercenaries. Mercenaries is a large scale free-for-all PvPvE mode that begins each player unarmed and alone. Players scavenge for weapons and activate radio transmitters that ultimately reveal the location of an evac chopper. First one to the chopper wins.
Fear the Wolves
Radiation, anomalies, and mutants pose PvE threats as players make their way to the extraction point, hoping to be the sole survivor in this BR from former Stalker devs.
Developer: Stunlock Studios| Release date: In Early Access| Link: Official site
Free to play MOBA Battlerite slipped the bonds of Early Access in 2017, and developer Stunlock Studios released Battlerite Royale into Early Access in September of 2018. On a map 30 times larger than its current arenas, 20 players duke it out using Battlerite's cast of heroes. It's not free in Early Access, but it will be when it's fully launched.
Developer: Gunpowder Games| Release date: In Early Access| Link: Steam
Maelstrom takes the battle royale concept and ships it to sea, where 15 players compete to be the last ship sailing in this fantasy naval combat game. Choose from humans, orcs, and dwarves, each with their own style of ship, and beware massive sea monsters who will sink you if you stray too long in the dead seas around the perimeter of the map's safe zone.
It's a fun and attractive ship combat game in Early Access, though it hasn't drawn much of an audience yet, meaning matches can take a while to fill.
Dying Light: Bad Blood
Developer: Techland | Release date: In Early Access| Link: Steam
Stemming from "numerous fan requests" Techland has created a battle royale-esque PvP game to compliment its open world zombie survival sandbox. Don't expect the sun to be blotted out by parachutes: the mode features 12 players, not 100.
This being a zombie game, you won't just be battling other players, and you may actually want to team up with them (for a while, at least) in what sounds something akin to The Division's Dark Zone. It's currently $20 in Early Access, but will be free at full launch, which planned for early 2019.
Developer: Galvanic Games| Release date: In Early Access| Link: Official Site
Set in the world of webcomic Cyanide and Happiness, Rapture Rejects is a cartoony top-down isometric battle royale that takes place after the Rapture among those unfortunately let behind. 100 players will gather weapons and fight to be the final one standing, with the winner (apparently) being accepted into heaven.
Developer: Digital Confectioners| Release date: In Early Access| Link: Steam
It's battle royale, but under the sea! 100 players in scuba gear are launched into the ocean in mini-submarines, where they fight to the death (or is it to the depths?) using harpoons. Jets streak over the water and drop depth charges, and sharks comprise the deadly closing circle. There are even chum grenades you can throw at enemies to lure sharks their way.
Z1 Battle Royale
As King of the Kill it was the king of BR for a long while, though it's fallen on hard times and lost nearly all of its playerbase. It's free to play on Steam.
In this mash-up of Mad Max and PUBG, drive through a devastated wasteland doing battle both in cars and on foot while a radioactive storm closes around you.
It looks a bit like Dark Souls battle royale. Instead of a closing circle, water rises from beneath the city and players have to climb to stay above it.
Developer: Hi-Rez| Release date: Out now| Link: Official site
Free-to-play hero shooter Paladins announced a upcoming battle royale mode at its Hi-Rez Expo, and it's out now in Early Access. After some initial popularity, player numbers have tailed off and the class-based character system that set it apart from other BR games was completely removed, much to the chagrin of its fans.
Developer: Darkflow Software| Release date: In Early Access| Link: Steam store
Originally created as an April Fool's joke, Cuisine Royale quickly blossomed into a fun standalone game on Steam. The gag is, your armor is assembled from bits of kitchenware like pots, pans, colanders, and waffle irons, and the loot boxes are refrigerators. Silliness aside, it's a solid battle royale game and a nice looking one, too. There's no lobby, plane ride, or parachuting, so it's also quick to get into a match for some looting and shooting. It will remain free while it's in Early Access.
Stand Out: VR Battle Royale
BR in VR? It's a bit rough in Early Access, but it works, and I had a hilarious experience when another player reached out and grabbed a gun out of my hands.
Survival Games: Battle Royale
Voxel graphics and procedural maps provide a different arena each time you play.
The melee and crafting-focused battle royale drew a passionate fanbase when it launched in 2016, though there were missteps with its sequel. The original is now free to play.
Mavericks was planning to be the biggest battle royale game yet with 1000-player matches. Unfortunately, developer Automaton recently announced that development has halted.