Hyper Scape is a bite-sized battle royale experience that manages to reach the same highs as its competitors without so many unneeded systems.
Look, I get it. You probably saw this headline, proceeded to roll your eyes, and ask, “Do we really need another battle royale shooter right now?” And I completely understand that sentiment, because I felt the same way less than a week ago.
Late Friday, Ubisoft invited us to try out Hyper Scape, the publisher’s new first-person foray into the battle royale genre. Going into the preview event, I had no knowledge of what I was going to be playing. All I knew was that it was going to be a shooter, which led me to believe I’d be playing a demo for Far Cry 6, to be honest. But when I found out that Hyper Scape was instead a multiplayer battle royale game, I immediately had my doubts. A little more than three hours of gameplay later, and I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by what Ubisoft has cobbled together to help set itself apart from the competition.
Hyper Scape is a first-person battle royale game set in a futuristic city known as Neo-Arcadia. Boasting up to 100 different players, the game features a layout that is more vertically built out rather than featuring vast, empty landscapes. In typical battle royale fashion, as the game progresses the areas of the map that are accessible will begin to shrink, bringing all players closer together until only one team remains.
While many other mainstays in the genre might see action being sparse until the map begins to narrow, Hyper Scape‘s greatest benefit, at least based on my own time with the game, comes with just how action-heavy it is. By comparison, Hyper Scape offers a much tighter battle royale experience, both in terms of map size and overall game length. Where a match of something like Call of Duty: Warzone might take up to 30-minutes to complete, Hyper Scape bouts last more in the area of 15-minutes, which is extremely refreshing. If you’re used to trying to hide in a building and wait for zones to collapse on you to win battle royale games, Hyper Scape will make you buck that trend quickly.
To force players to be even more combat-focused, Hyper Scape‘s primary game mode sees a crown spawning once a match is reaching its end. If someone picks up this crown, they can then secure victory for their squad if they hold it for 45-seconds without dying. Conversely, if no team holds the crown for this period of time, the winner is logically determined by the last team standing. The crown-holder will also be revealed to all remaining players, meaning that many teams will start to naturally descend on the same area that this player resides in. The final seconds of each game that I played turned out to be incredibly hectic, but in the best way.
In addition to just being a far more focused battle royale experience, Hyper Scape also streamlines the looting aspects of the genre, too. Rather than trying to find needless attachments or weapons of varying power levels, Ubisoft has chosen to go in a direction that allows you to quickly upgrade everything that you might find lying about. Essentially, if you were to stumble across a shotgun in Hyper Scape and equipped it only to find another shotgun lying around in another part of the map soon after, you can then merge these together to create a more powerful version of the gun. Each weapon has four upgrade tiers of this kind, with general improvements for each gun taking the form of increased damage or higher magazine sizes.
This system extends to Hacks, as well, which is Hyper Scape‘s version of unique abilities that you can utilize. Of the 9 Hacks that are found within the game, you can equip two at any given time. Some of these abilities allow you to drop healing zones for your team, teleport, turn invisible, or even create walls out of thin air to create distance between yourself and other players. Upgraded versions of Hacks typically result in lower cooldown times, allowing you to use them even more frequently throughout a match.
The more that I played Hyper Scape, the more I really started to enjoy finding different combinations of Hacks and weapons that synergized well with one another. In some matches, I’d utilize the Slam ability–which essentially allows you to soar high into the sky and come crashing down on opponents–in tandem with a close-range gun like the shotgun to get right on top of other players. Other times, I found that turning invisible and sticking to the rooftops with a sniper let me get the drop on enemies from further away.
Surprisingly though, I didn’t really find that any one set of guns or Hacks ended up being more powerful than any other. Each loadout that you might run with has its own benefits and drawbacks, meaning that you can really try to find a setup that fits your own playstyle.
By far the most interesting feature of Hyper Scape comes with how the game has been built with streaming in mind. Ubisoft says that they want this game to be just as much of a spectator title as they do one that players return to over time. As such, Hyper Scape features some unique Twitch integration that lets viewers take part in a match while also earning progress in their own battle pass just by watching.
At certain points in a match of Hyper Scape, events will take place for a short period of time that will bring about modifiers to the entire world. Some of these different events include unlimited ammo, while others will enable zero-gravity. If you’re a viewer who is watching a certain streamer play Hyper Scape, then when it comes time for these events to occur, you as a viewer will be able to vote on which one you’d like to see transpire in-game. I have yet to see how this integration will work directly given that my own demo of the game was done in private, but the idea sounds novel on paper.
Will Hyper Scape be able to take on the titans of the battle royale genre in Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty: Warzone? Honestly, I have no idea. Whether the game ends up being a rousing success or not remains to be seen, but at the very least, I appreciate that Ubisoft is trying to offer something different in this subgenre. Rather than trying to take the game in a “bigger is better” direction, Hyper Scape is far more focused on giving you the best elements of what battle royale has to offer without all of the surrounding fluff. And for me, that might just make me more inclined to return to it more frequently in the future.
Hyper Scape is set to be a free-to-play game once it releases down the road. For now, it is available in a limited-time technical test phase on PC until July 7.