It’s strange to think of a battle royale title nowadays that doesn’t pit you into an ever-shrinking arena with 99 other players. After all, we now live in a time where most of the team at GamesRadar actually play Fortnite every day, jumping from the battle bus to take on other equally obsessed players in squads, duo or totally solo. But there are other battle royale titles coming onto to scene that are looking to shake up the usual rhetoric, and the team over at TechLand is just one developer doing just that with Dying Light: Bad Blood.
Rather than simply following the 100 player/storm mould, Techland is doing its own thing when it comes to battle royale - and its actually calling it a Brutal Royale instead. In each match, 12 players go in, with the intention of being the last one out, via the only seat on an extraction helicopter. But, the twist is, that you don’t technically need to take down all 11 other players, you just need to be the only one there when the helicopter comes.
But it’s the action that happens before the chopper comes that’s where the magic of Dying Light: Bad Blood lies. In order to call the chopper in, you actually need to collect enough blood samples to raise your level up to five. But you can’t just pop into a lab and steal some glass slides straight out the microscope, you actually have to harvest the blood from the infected hives. These hives range in size - and are all marked on your mini-map - but they’re all defended by the infected. Smaller ones might be guarded by two or three infected that’ll take a few swings of a scythe to behead, or huge hulking great things like the Demolishers. The better protected they are though, the more blood samples you’re getting for your efforts.
Of course, before you even attempt to take on any infected, you’re going to need a weapon… or two. This is called a Brutal Royale for a reason. Here you’ll only find a selection of melee weapons lying around for you to swipe into your inventory, from the likes of swords and hammers, to more defensive options like shields and throwables. Interestingly, Bad Blood takes a little from the crafting component of Dying Light - and the upcoming Dying Light 2 - with upgrades that will enhance your melee arsenal, if you can find them before your fellow blood hunters.
And that’s where the tactics come in. Unlike other games in this genre, like Fortnite, if you’re near another player, they’ll also appear on your mini-map, along with the hives. So you have to be aware of everything that’s around you even more. It’s a constant balance of PvE awareness, with you fighting - or distracting - the infected, and making sure that another player doesn’t swipe your blood samples while you’re busy fighting. And all of that is as well as ensuring that you don’t get taken out entirely by the infected or a PvP attack.
If you manage to down someone, you’ll be able to swipe any samples that they’ve gathered, pushing you toward that coveted level five and, hopefully, the chopper. Each time you level up, you’ll increase your health and your strength, meaning you’ll be able to swing that melee weapon a bit more without tiring. And when it comes to fighting off anything in Bad Blood, trust me, every swing will count.
And I don’t just mean the latest swipe of your melee weapon either, because at its core this is still a Dying Light game, with all the parkour movement that the series is known and loved for. Being able to master it, along with the melee combat and its stamina concerns, will make all the difference in a match, as the slower you are, the more of a target you’re going to be for the infected and the other 11 players.
It’s the tactics that are involved - or potential tactics anyway - that make Dying Light: Bad Blood feel so different from every battle royale game I’ve played. There are definitely elements of SOS, which is currently in Early Access on Steam, but nothing quite has offered such a seamless mix of PvP and PvE as Bad Blood. It also helps that the map is incredibly small by battle royale standards, but it’s densely packed with buildings and other urban elements. That of course means there’s plenty of verticality here, regardless of the fact you don’t build it yourself. This is fast paced, twitch gaming where threats can be coming at you from all angles. You’ve just got to make sure that you’re prepared to be the only one left when that chopper lands, or at least the first to jump in that seat.
Dying Light: Bad Blood is coming to Steam Early Access in September via the Founder’s Pack, but will eventually adopt a free to play model on PC, and Xbox One.