PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite, Stardew Valley. What do all of these games have in common? They’re each a battle-royale title. Well, sort of.
Yes, the delightful creation from internet personality ConcernedApe, Stardew Valley, has a battle-royale mod entitled Battle Royalley. While no, this isn’t an official version - this fight-to-be-the-last-man-standing adaptation strays far from the central theme of the game - it uses the farming sim elements to the genre’s advantage, portraying something unlike anything we’ve seen before.
In traditional battle-royale style, one-hundred players spawn across the 2D plane and must scavenge their way to victory. Of course, there’s a circle that closes, loot to gather, and mounts to ride. Stardew Valley isn’t exactly known for its combat, but that’s passable as well.
What’s interesting here is the building mechanics. Inspired by Fortnite but taken from Stardew’s own features, players find wood around the map and can place fences to protect themselves, among other things. It’s funny to say this is “stolen” from Fortnite, as the farming sim already has these features implemented within. Instead, this case is simply mod creator Ilyaki implementing that ability into a new format. But, it goes to show the influence Epic’s latest has had on the world. Even more of note is how the genre's reach has impacted a farming simulation.
Stardew Valley is serene. There’s nothing as calming as taking each morning to tend to your farm, catering to your townsfolk, and leading an expedition through a mineshaft. We play this game when we want to relax after a hard day’s work. Simulated work is more tranquil. Why would we want to intensify that space with a battle-royale? Well, I can see a couple of reasons.
To start, a match in a battle-royale is strategic. Users start on an even playing field and must scavenge their way to a decent loadout. This process is not unlike building your own farm from scratch. Each involves starting with nothing, hastening your way around the area, and relying a bit on random number generation. To me, strategically organizing my rows of crops for maximum output hits the same emotional spots as crafting a loadout together to win a fight. Both experiences involve adapting to what’s given to you and making the best of it.
Stardew Valley is different. Take note of all the games I mentioned above. Every single one involves guns and traditional first or third-person presentation. Our farming sim is a top-down, 2D experience. As far as I know, there aren’t any popular battle royales based in that genre. Instead, the mod applies a crafting-focused moveset to a combative scenario. And it works.
Sword swings are wide-reaching and do heavy damage. Slingshots allow for ranged attacks. Excavation utensils like bombs are now used as weapons. Horses are already in the main game, and their application makes perfect sense in a combat role. The 2D camera’s limited viewpoint adds to the insanity, allowing players to hide behind bushes or buildings to surprise others as they pass by.
The map is naturally varied as well. Rivers, forests, the town center, and more make up Battle Royalley’s combat zone. These areas lend so much to the player, ranging from a material gathering haven to a wide-open locale ripe for slingshot battles. The camera angle adds a twist to the building mechanics as well, allowing for fast fence crafting in the heat of a fight. The myriad of creative options in the PvE experience lend themselves perfectly to a PvP match, and this mod was able to put that vision to life.
This genre-blend is pretty unique. It’s a weird, slightly sadistic twist on the multiplayer envisioned by ConcernedApe. Also, Battle Royalley shows not only how creative modders can be, but how this 1vs100 phenomenon is further reaching than you may think.
So many thought the genre was a fad at first - a mode popularized by PUBG before Fortnite took it to the next level. However, the battle royale is just getting started. Experiments like Stardew Valley are just the start. With this and the recent Tetris 99, we’re only just seeing how the genre can expand past a shooter, let alone the rest of the games industry. You can be sure a horde of players will be there for the next twist. See you in the ring.