How Garena Free Fire Is Fighting To Stay Popular Among Its Fellow Battle Royale Goliaths

Garena Free Fire is updating its popular Bomb Squad mode and we spoke with the game's producer about what's new and why the game isn't as discussed compared to other battle royales like Fortnite.

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Garena Free Fire, the popular free-to-play mobile battle royale game, is overhauling its popular Bomb Squad mode. The mode eschews the game's typical battle royale gameplay and focuses on a smaller group of players on a smaller map as they attempt to protect or diffuse a bomb. In this way it feels a little closer to Counter-Strike.

In tandem with the mode's release, we spoke with the game's producer, Harold Teo, over email about what makes the updated mode different from the previous version, whether this is the future trajectory for the game, and why Garena Free Fire isn't often in the battle royale discussion despite boasting comparable and often better player numbers than games like Fortnite and PUBG Battlegrounds.

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Now Playing: Garena Free Fire - Bomb Squad 5v5 Trailer

GameSpot: What makes this updated Bomb Squad mode different?

Harold Teo: There are several new features added to the new Bomb Squad: 5v5 mode we think could really transform the Bomb Squad experience among players. Of the many, two notable features are the new map, El Pastelo, and the new 5v5 matchmaking system introduced. These two features are likely to influence team dynamics and the tempo of the matches. With an expanded squad, teams will have to rethink their gameplay and strategies, while the new terrain provides opportunities and decoys players can leverage or fall prey to.

This mode seems to move the game away from the larger battle royale-style gameplay. Does this feel like the long-term trajectory of the game? Smaller modes with fewer players for shorter play sessions?

The content and features in Free Fire are largely inspired by our players, so we tend to do things differently.

For instance, the game’s lore, which is not commonly seen in battle royale-style games, continues to be an area we explore in response to our players’ interest. Similarly, the introduction of Bomb Squad: 5v5 is in line with our desire to offer more choices to players, allowing them to explore different game modes they enjoy within Free Fire.

The new map, El Pastelo, will be added on June 10.
The new map, El Pastelo, will be added on June 10.

The Free Fire community is currently debating the best equipment in the game. According to you, what is unequivocally the best equipment? Or at least your personal favorite?

It is hard to land on just one with the selection of in-game modes and variables we have in Free Fire. In a nutshell, the multiplayer aspect of our games means there is no one ideal set of play-style or equipment to use. It is highly dependent on the game mode played, and also depends on the team you are up against and other elements--like the skins used, the equipment used, and even the pets they equip during matches. But that’s the great thing about Free Fire. We see players with different styles and strengths all excelling in their own ways while marching to the beat of their drums.

What does it take to stand out and be successful in the battle royale genre?

Free Fire players have always been at the core of any new content and features we introduce in Free Fire. This focus has helped us pace alongside our players and react to trends and evolving preferences, while making the game more accessible for them. The new features added to Bomb Squad reflects this commitment to Free Fire players. By offering new features to in-game modes they have been enjoying, we hope this provides players a delightful experience they can enjoy together with friends.

The new bomb squad mode is part of an event that is running until June 16.
The new bomb squad mode is part of an event that is running until June 16.

Fortnite and PUBG Battlegrounds are generally considered to be the most popular battle royale games, but many reports show Free Fire has more daily active users. Why do you think of that general perception?

Our focus has always been to do our best for our players, and less on comparisons. Engaging with our community and incorporating their feedback have helped us to better understand what excites them and identify other areas of passion they have. We also place significant emphasis on localizing Free Fire and delivering a relatable experience to our diverse community of players globally, and have partnered with popular local celebrities such as Egyptian actor and singer Mohamed Ramadan, Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan and many others. Through localizing our content, it helps us deliver relatable experiences for our players, giving them more reasons to enjoy Free Fire.

A good understanding of what our players enjoy, both globally and locally, have helped us continue to create high quality content and immersive experiences for players worldwide. It is encouraging to see that our players respond well to that approach, and we hope to continue evolving alongside them.

Follow the link for more onGarena Free Fire's updated Bomb Squad mode.

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