H1Z1 Pro League: Is the battle royale game ready for esports?

h1z1 battle royale H1Z1 Pro League

Fortnite has become extremely popular, thanks to it being a free-to-play, stylized battle royale game. It also helps that it’s available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. PUBG, another popular battle royale game, is available on the PC and Xbox One, sans PS4. Of course, we can’t forget about H1Z1 on the PC. And Daybreak is hoping that it will reach a wider audience when it becomes available to PlayStation 4 users. (The game was originally a zombie survival game, and that version is going to be released as Just Survive.) With PlayStation 4 users only having limited options, will H1Z1’s PS4 release blow up? Only time will tell. Last weekend, Daybreak and Twin Galaxies have partnered up to launch the H1Z1 Pro League, the first professional league for the battle royale genre.

I was invited by Daybreak and Twin Galaxies to experience the battle royale spectacle at the Rio resort in Las Vegas. 75 players compete in teams of 5 to become the last team standing. And they must earn points by eliminating the opposition. There are two rounds per match, and being the last team alive doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be at the top spot. There have been efforts to make the event more exciting. Pro players get a point for eliminating an enemy, and more for doing knife kills.

What makes watching a battle royale game interesting for me is being invested in a single player. You get to watch their journey as they try to be the last person standing. Depending on who you’re watching, it is fun to see a skilled player going up against everyone else. And it’s icing on the cake when they actually become the sole survivor. However, I’m afraid that’s all lost when you’re a spectator at a battle royale esports game. At least that’s the case when watching the H1Z1 Pro League.

Most of the time, you are watching a map with dead zones growing and growing and an overhead view where the camera is floating way above the action. The thing that makes battle royale fun is seeing the action. And my idea of entertainment isn’t watching a bunch of tiny players with their nicknames floating above their heads. It was definitely hard to follow what’s going on. Even the casters got confused. For example, one caster thought that the whole team was wiped out, but it turns out that there’s still a player in the team that’s alive.

And what made things worse is that when the camera does focus on an individual player, the majority of the time is spent on the player wandering around and looking for supplies. When a player does die, you wouldn’t be able to see it most of the time since you don’t get to see the action up close. I had to rely on the scoreboard to figure out if a player has been eliminated.

The viewing experience needs to be improved for the H1Z1 Pro League. But I think it will be very hard to track the action unless the streaming director is very alert and fast. Imagine trying to switch cameras or move to an action when the majority is spent on players looting and staying under cover. Once the action starts, it gets really confusing. Here’s hoping that Daybreak and Twin Galaxies can fix the issues during its first season. I really do hope so for the future of battle royale games in esports.

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John 'Spartan' Nguyen
John 'Spartan' Nguyen 9180 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, head honcho.