We’ve Been Here Before

HIGH That soundtrack absolutely rules.

LOW Navigating menus like a hub world.

WTF Yeah I’ve been in the pre-game lobby for a while now

It seems like there’s a new battle royale every week, and they all follow the same basic formula — be the last person (or team) standing in an ever-shrinking map. But, they each offer their own spin on things.

Games like Apex Legends introduced nonverbal communication as a means of highlighting important objects in the world while Call of Duty Warzone allowed players to win a 1-on-1 fight to get back into a match. Fortnite has its now-famous mechanic of building structures to tactically gain an advantage against the enemy. Fall Guys put the battle royale genre into a game show-style context.

While it might seem as though the battle royale genre is oversaturated, the examples given (and more) mean that most have enough to differentiate themselves and cater to an array of tastes. Ubisoft’s contribution to the genre, Hyper Scape, tries to carve out its own territory but unfortunately, results are mixed.

Hyper Scape‘s premise is that players are participating in a virtual battle royale world. (To be clear, the game is not VR.) Instead of menus, players wander around a hub space to choose from different options. This first-person hub allows them to switch characters, check out the in-game store, squad up with friends and even train with the available arsenal. While this helps immerse the player into the faux virtual world, it makes selecting things a total pain. Having to walk to a spot within the hub to invite friends felt tedious, and I would have preferred just pressing a button to see a social menu.

The main mode, Crown Rush, is standard first-person battle royale. Players traverse Neo-Arcadia, a virtual city littered with weapons and other resources such as power-ups that players can use.

Hyper Scape’s aesthetic and style is what really caught my eye. Navigating these gorgeous hubs full of gold and blue makes it feel like I’m actually in its virtual world, and the modern city look in maps is great. Taking cues from European cities, many buildings look like art installations, and there’s even a large cathedral to explore. The digitization effect as the map closes also looks cool, adding to the techno aesthetic.

Once in motion, players won’t have much time to think about the aesthetics, though — Hyper Scape moves at breakneck speed. Movement is one of the strongest aspects here, and being able to double-jump and zip along rooftops is wonderful. Players can also collect power-ups to increase that mobility.

While movement is key to survival, so is the right weapon selection. Hyper Scape gives players a selection of FPS standards — rifles, pistols, grenade launchers,a shotgun, and a few sci-fi guns that shoot beams are thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, the firearms don’t feel as good as the movement. Gunfire has no weight to it, and shooting enemies never feels like it’s doing much damage. Balance is a problem as well — I found myself emptying entire clips from one gun into other players and saw them survive, only to be downed by a few shots from a different gun.

Hyper Scape also offers abilities that can be picked up during battle — things like turning invisible for a short period of time, or teleporting a short distance to safety. All of these work on a cooldown, and collecting more decreases that cooldown time. I like these powers because they add variety to the combat and add defensive options, allowing players who aren’t skilled in FPS games a chance to survive a bit longer.

There’s one final aspect to Hyper Scape that might also be its most unusual — Twitch integration.

Hyper Scape allows players to level up by watching streamers playing the game, or even by voting on the outcome of a match. The way it works is that a streamer has the option to add a Twitch extension to their stream called the Hyper Scape Crowncast. Here, viewers can check out their favorite streamers’ loadouts, cheer them on and even join their squad. Viewers then earn points towards their battle pass just by watching. It’s an interesting idea, but those who don’t care about Twitch or watch streams won’t get much use out of it.

Unfortunately, despite Twitch integration and a solid package overall, the momentum of play dies before each match because during my time with it, Hyper Scape struggled to fill matches. I’ve commonly waited over five minutes for a game to start, and they frequently begin with less than 100 players. The downtime between matches was so severe that I sometimes avoided combat altogether just so that I wouldn’t die and have to wait in the lobby again.

Hyper Scape‘s customization also feels lacking. Progression to earn cosmetics is on par with other battle royales, letting players earn free items through gameplay or by buying in-game currency with real money. Unfortunately, the cosmetics for each character look fairly generic and didn’t motivate me to unlock them.

I was initially excited for Hyper Scape thanks to its sleek style and movement. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t do much to stand out from other offerings on the market. Hopefully Ubisoft will find some way to inject more personality and consistency into this online shooter.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is published and developed by Ubisoft. It is available on PS4, PC and Xbox One. This copy was obtained via free download and was reviewed on PS4. Approximately 10 hours were spent in multiplayer. There is no singleplayer.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T for Violence and Mild Language. This is a first-person shooter but there’s nothing too explicit here. Characters get shot at and can use weapons like bats and trip mines, but there is no blood or gore. Perfectly acceptable for kids 12 and up.

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present in the options menu.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: While dialogue is subtitled and there are options to resize text, the game relies heavily on being on alert for enemies on an audio basis. Some power-ups do allow  players to detect enemies around them, but since this is gated behind an ability, I would say this game is not accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, the game does not offer remappable controls but there is a control diagram and plenty of preset options. The y-axis can be changed.

Cj Salcedo
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