Gamer or not, you probably know about the recent influx of Battle Royale games. These games and their parodies are flooding our mainstream media, and their merchandise is even hitting in person stores. They’re great money makers for the big publishers because they guarantee not only a purchase of a copy of the game but a cut of online membership fees to each console’s subscription service, as well as equipment sales for headsets and accessories. Online, “live-service” games are big ticket items right now, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Games like Apex Legends and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) are pulling references from a variety of platforms in order to fill the niches that the industry currently lacks, but they’re still not so far outside the box that they stop feeling like battle royale titles. And that’s where Ashen Eye comes in.
Ashen Eye is a battle royale game mode for the Rings of Elysium franchise, explicitly built on combating the expectations for battle royale games. Instead of a shrinking circle to draw players together, they’ve reversed the formula, forcing players to seek out the “Ashen Eye” of a radioactive volcanic storm, which is constantly moving around the map. Traveling outside of the eye costs oxygen, a finite resource that you can loot off your opponents, giving you plenty enough incentive to kill or be killed. On top of all that, it doesn’t even come down to being the last man standing. Instead, you just have to be the team with the most oxygen inside the ashen eye by the time the helicopter arrives to rescue you. Pretty intense stuff, but what’s important is that you’re not alone. You work in teams of three, with each character getting their own unique abilities and skill sets, including what looks like a paraglider, an attack drone and even “Attack on Titan”-style grappling cables.
While it’s certainly not knocking too many socks off, it’s important to note that innovations like this, within the confines of a genre like this, are actually incredibly helpful and necessary in order for progress to be made within the gaming industry. These changes may seem small, but they could be the catalyst for future development for other titles later on down the line. Imagine, if you will that this game became really popular, and so the creators of future “Attack on Titan” games may use the mechanics or take inspiration from our grappling hooked friend in the trailer. What if they took that and made a multiplayer AOT game where you grappled around fighting titans with other players online, thus completely reversing the idea of a battle royale or an MMO. And what if the success of that game inspired someone else to create an entirely new, Player versus Event genre of games, where you enter into matches to fight a common enemy, instead of each other?
The point I’m trying to make here is that without innovation, the industry will stagnate, and consumers will become bored and lose faith in their favorite pastime. The longer you hold out on the same ideas, or build from the same foundations, the more money you’re losing long term. Not that it’s not important to also draw from the past. As we’ve seen with games like Apex Legends, it can be beneficial to take inspiration from other games within your own and in other genres, but building upon them so you don’t outright copy them is crucial, for both legal and consumer reasons. Games like Ashen Eye are what’s keeping the industry alive right now, especially in between major releases, and without studios like Aurora taking risks and making leaps, we wouldn’t have some of our current or future favorite games. So keep exploring, gamers. Push the boundaries, stretch the limits, go out there and do something new. Fill the niches you feel the industry is lacking, and brace yourselves for the next big thing!
Sarah Nowack is a senior professional writing major who is minoring in graphic design. Her days are spent haunting the local library, consuming copious amounts of coffee, playing unpopular video games, and making terrible puns. She can be found at @battlerouge on Twitter and @shiverbound on Instagram.