We know how battle royale works. A hundred combatants drop onto a map and scrounge for weapons, gear, and health items while a circle closes around them. The last one standing wins. It's been in a few games (opens in new tab).
But what happens between those matches? Who goes into the arena and cleans up the blood and spent shell casings? Who places all the weapons and gear for players to find? Who makes sure the combatants have a place to go to the bathroom and buy hamburgers before the match begins? Battle Royale Tycoon (opens in new tab), now in Steam Early Access, answers those questions, and the answer is you. You do all that shit.
The tutorial walks you through the basic steps of running a battle royale theme park, where people will pay for an chance to drink soda, eat hamburgers, and shoot each other in the face. You begin with some simple buildings like a target range, add an entrance and exit, and hire a little guy to put up targets and hand a gun to the customer. The guns, meanwhile, need to be purchased and stored in a warehouse, and you'll also need a repair shop (and some more employees) to keep the guns in working order. Throw in a bathroom, and build some food and drink kiosks so your customers will have something to do in the bathroom, and you've got a little theme park going.
Before I can build the battle royale arena of my dreams, I have to start with a simple deathmatch arena. 1v1 deathmatch feels kind of boring for a battle royale park, so I place the combatant starting points at one end, and the two guns they'll be using at the other. My hope is to create a footrace, forcing the players to make it all the way to the opposite end of the building before they can start shooting.
I'm foiled by my employees, however. They're too helpful! I notice they're picking up the guns and bringing them to the guests' spawn points. My two deathmatch customers begin the round standing side-by-side with loaded guns. It's... not thrilling.
At least one dude gets in a sweet forward roll, but otherwise it's not much of a battle. I also see for the first time that despite all the bullets and blood flying around, no one actually dies. The loser just picks himself up off the floor and walks out as if he'd been on a bumper car ride instead of having his internal organs shredded by red hot metal. I guess this is just paintball, not a dystopian game show where contestants pay the ultimate price. Though I like watching my little workers clean up the mess between matches, consider me a bit disappointed they're not also carrying out bagged-up bodies.
I decide to redesign the arena, and since I can't seem to move the combatant start points, I'm forced to separate them with a wall instead. Then I add some more walls, and finish up by adding more walls. I throw in some flashbangs and health pickups and, for good measure, walls.
It works a bit better this time since they can't start shooting each other immediately, and my employees don't just bring the flashbangs to them, they actually have to pick them up. The flashbang action seems a bit random, as both of them just chuck the grenades in any old direction, including out of the arena and into the crowd waiting in line. I think these two should spend more time in the target practice zone.
I build a 3v3 capture the flag arena next, but I'm puzzled when the match ends after roughly two seconds. I eventually realize my mistake: I'd put a flag in each base, figuring the teams would have to cross the entire map to steal the flag from the other team and carry it back. But they were just grabbing the flag from their own base and then immediately scoring it. At their own base. Already, my players are using exploits. Once I put a single flag in the middle, the game actually works, though it's not particularly interesting to watch.
But enough of these lesser game modes! My customers want battle royale, and so battle royale they shall have.
I build an arena (look, all these buildings are just boring boxes, so I build a boring box) and throw in weapons and health items and a bunch of obstacles. Unfortunately, my battle royale experience has the same problem my deathmatch arena has. No matter where I place the guns, my employees pick them up and helpfully deliver them to the player spawn points. That means everyone starts battle royale with a gun, rather than having to run around and grab one.
I'm disappointed. This just doesn't feel like a simulation of battle royale, and it's not just the fact that players pack heat from the get-go. Where's the guy hoarding health items and crouching in the circle of death until everyone else dies? Where's the guy finding a gun and spending the rest of the match prone behind cover until everyone else dies? Why is there a burger shop and not a store to buy overpriced cosmetic items? Why can't I take out a loan and overextend myself to build a massive, extremely expensive battle royale arena and then have to shut down the park when I run out of money?
Maybe I'm asking too much of Battle Royale Tycoon, but I like my simulators with a bit more simulation in them. Then again, it's in Early Access, so maybe we'll see a few more features added in the future. At the very least, I'd like to see my customers perform a few stolen dance emotes (opens in new tab). Then it'll be battle royale.