Sep 20, 2020

Hyper Scape - a futuristic iteration of the Battle Royale genre

An article on the Very Good Games blog on a new Battle Royale game - Hyper Scape by Ubisoft

A group of people (around 100 usually) lands on an island or on a limited territory to… actually to kill each other. Only one of them or only one team will be a winner of this battle, everyone else should die... 

Wait a moment! What are we talking about? Is all of this about a scary bloody nightmare of a retired military paratrooper? No. We really are talking about gaming here, and quite a popular one in the community. That was a general description of the Battle Royale genre. It’s been popular since the glorious release of PUBG and Fortnite. Many considered it another one temporary hype (like Pok√©mon Go), but years pass by and Battle Royale is still here. Lots of gamers enjoy such cruel matches and big companies try to get their pieces of this pie.

Now it's the turn of Ubisoft to release their Battle Royale. They burst into this sweet market with a free-to-play game Hyper Scape, available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Did they do a good job? Is the game worth trying out? Why is Battle Royale so addictive? This review on the Very Good Games gives some answers.

The game develops:
#Attention     #Memory     #Planning     #Sociability     #Reaction     #Accuracy     #Constancy     #Spatial orientation     #Improvisation

Move to the unreal dimension

Hyper Scape did lots of things right. The developers try to bring innovations to the very genre, and this is the biggest achievement of their game.

Explaining the rules of Battle Royale to someone outside the gaming circle is a tough task. “People kill each other on those islands for nothing. They use various deadly weapons to shoot everyone around openly or to sneak behind them and kill silently. Yes, the playing process is a lot of fun, you should try somehow.

Hyper Scape tries to make the whole deal a bit more appealing. The actual gameplay is still the same (otherwise it wouldn’t be Battle Royale). But everything happening there isn’t real. There is an advanced concept of Virtual Reality in the world of that game. It gives unreal people a way to escape their unreal reality by participating in the Crown Rush (a kind of Hungry Games - a popular sport discipline, and a tool to get money and fame).

That additional link of virtuality may seem meaningless at first sight, but there is one purpose that makes the general experience more digestible for some people. In most other games, everything is much more straightforward - “Here are your characters. Go and shoot each other.” Happy dances and colorful costumes do not change this scenario. In Hyper Scape, it’s like - “Here are your characters. You control them as they control their avatars in virtual virtuality.” Sounds a bit overcomplicated, but such a scenario makes the violent matches even more unreal.

A futuristic city

Of course, most people from the Battle Royale audience don’t care about that morality thing. What does Hyper Scape offer them?

The world is quite unique here. It’s not a wild island or a warzone. It’s  Neo Arcadia, a European (French) city from the far future with lots of buildings and narrow streets. Being (and battling) here feels authentic. The game doesn’t feel similar to the competitors.

The same is true for some unique features:

  • Hacks allow becoming invisible, seeing through the walls, draw opponents to one place - they are hacks in the virtuality inside the virtuality, and adding them is a very clever idea;
  • Jumping spots allow fast movements around the city;
  • General rules change time after time - low gravity, one-hit death from a melee weapon, better health recovery options, etc;
  • Weapons can be updated by the fusion - if you find the same weapon again, you can make it more effective;
  • In the squad matches, game characters do not leave the battleground after the “death”. If someone in the squad is still alive, the fallen teammates remain in the world as ghosts. They can explore the territory, guide the others, and revive after the team kills someone;
  • You can win without killing everyone else. A crown appears in the world at some point in the match. If you take it and survive for 45 seconds, you will be the winner.

Balance issues

Hyper Scape did some things rather wrong - in terms of the Battle Royale genre.

Hacks and weapons are poorly balanced. Some are obviously better, so after getting some starting experience, people use only them. It limits the improvisation and possible strategies.

The initial versions of the weapons are underpowered. This motivates players to explore the buildings more and avoid direct fights. As a result, many active players die very quickly, and many others just hide around the city, waiting inside buildings. For beginners, the experience may seem too punishing. For experienced Hyper Scape players, it may become rather boring.

Power of the genre

A long time ago developers understood: it is better not to underestimate the power of the Battle Royale attraction. And Ubisoft with the Hyper Scape joined quite a successful party:

  • Playerunknown’s Battleground, or PUBG - a very realistic Battle Royale game;
  • Fortnite - a game with colorful and cartoonish style, with the possibility to instantly build things;
  • Call of Duty: Warzone - Battle Royale with a military spirit;
  • Realm Royale - battles with addition of magic, where victims do not die but turn into chickens;
  • Apex Legends - a game with character classes. The events happen on the planet of the Titanfall franchise. 

We can continue the list. Following the hype, many popular games introduce their Battle Royale modes (CS:GO, for example). Many developers just try to jump on this train.

But why? What makes such games popular, even if their matches are super repetitive? After all, the scenario is always the same - you choose a place for landing, you look for weapons and items, and you try to kill everyone else.

Ok, with the random supply of guns and random people around, the matches often feel unique. This is one thing. What are the others?

  • Whirlpool of internal improvement is very powerful, it’s hard to avoid it. While you are a noob in a Battle Royale game, the matches are harsh and even stressful. Gamers strive for personal perfection, so they delve into matches again and again. They remember features of the weapons and the maps. They learn tricks. They start getting victories, and this feeling of superiority over the other players motivates them to return to this or another Battle Royale game.
  • The hook of cosmetic items is even stronger. In most such shooting games, players earn some experience points, improve their levels, and get fancy skins for weapons, new characters, unusual dances, or other seemingly insignificant things. Players pay to participate in such a journey - they purchase Battle Passes, which make the whole repetitive process super addictive. “Just a bit more and I’ll get that shiny gun. Oh, now I’ll play even more to show off with this shiny gun in the matches!
  • Community is a super-strong factor. Battle Royale games have a big audience on Twitch - many streamers play and popularize these games. And people feel being part of one community. They support each other in this gaming passion online and offline.

Development of a Battle Royale game is relatively simpler - you don’t need a story, many clever levels, or independent non-playable characters. But the competition in the genre is also impressive. Probably, at the current point, it is possible only for such huge corporations as Ubisoft to still eat a piece of that Battle Royale pie. 

In general, Hyper Scape is not something extraordinary. It’s a very good game in its specific genre. And it has very good potential for growth - it was released from the Beta recently, and the developers continue adding various improvements. Only time will prove how successful their attempt with Hyper Scape is. For now, the game is quite interesting - but only if you like the very idea of killing each other for the sake of killing each other.

To play Hyper Scape, install it for your platform

A button to install and play Hyper Scape on the PlayStation 4 consoles       A button to install and play Hyper Scape on the Xbox One consoles

A button to install and play Hyper Scape on Windows computers

See more…

Hyper Scape is playable through the cloud gaming service GeForce Now. Here is an article about it, written a month after the release.

An article about the cloud gaming service Nvidia GeForce Now, written a month after the release

We can expect to see Hyper Scape and other games as a service on the next-gen consoles - PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. On the gaming blog Very Good Games, you can check out an article about the choice between these two devices:

Which next-gen console to choose - PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X