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Fallout 76 and Fall Guys: two very different takes on battle royale

These two E3 premieres couldn’t be more different

tiny colorful bloblike men run for their lives in Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Devolver Digital
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

When battle royale games first emerged into the popular consciousness in the summer of 2017, people figured that PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds was a fad. When Fortnite started to gain steam a few months later it started to look more like a genre all its own. Now that we’ve got Auto Chess, Tetris 99, and Apex Legends, we know that battle royale can look like just about anything. And no two games at E3 made that more clear than Fallout 76, with its new battle royale mode Nuclear Winter, and Fall Guys, an adorable BR physics-based fight for survival.

Fallout 76’s battle royale mode exactly what you’d expect. It’s the PUBG model with a couple of Fallout accents, and it’s a lot of fun. As it turns out, throwing a bunch of players together on an island with random loot is a really good formula. The game is full of ridiculous moments.

In one game, I threw myself in front of an enemy team so that my buddy could escape with his nuclear codes in hopes of annihilating one section of the map with a warhead. For what it’s worth, he didn’t get to launch the missile. Instead, he got murdered a couple of minutes later by a team that was rampaging around the map in power armor. My poor teammate honestly never stood a chance, but the match was hilarious anyway.

The Fallout tweaks, like the nukes and power armor, are a fun twist. They can occasionally give your games a sense of scale that few other battle royale games have achieved. But they probably aren’t enough to get you to start playing Fallout 76 for the mode if you didn’t enjoy the game already. It’s a by-the-book addition of a really fun mode for a game that needs all the help it can get.

Fall Guys, on the other hand, looks like something completely different. Fall Guys is Mediatonic’s new battle royale game that takes adorable characters and runs them through a brightly colored course full of murderous obstacles. It looks a little bit like what you would imagine if someone made a full-sized Mario Party mini-game, then threw 100 people into it.

Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks and Image: Mediatonic/Devolver Digital

It’s big, and bright, and ridiculous. Hundreds of tiny characters that looks like half-pillows and half-puppets run around and throw each other into walls, off ledges or into the swinging path of giant hammers. It looks like an unambiguous joy to play and I’m sure it will be even better if your friends with the person you just flung into a mallet.

Fall Guys and Fallout 76’s Nuclear Winter couldn’t look or feel much more different. But thanks to the loose definition we’ve settled on for battle royale — where the only rule for inclusion seems to be giant matches where the last surviving play wins — the two games are unmistakably linked. Nintendo’s reveal of Tetris 99 was probably the first time that most players realized that battle royale could truly be applied to just about every type of game. And at E3 2019 the battle royale cousins of Fall Guys and Fallout 76’s bleak apocalypse are proving that there’s really no one way to do battle royale.

The next level of puzzles.

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