Of all of the things that became part of the gaming zeitgeist this console generation, it's hard to deny Battle Royale as one of the biggest. PUBG may have popularised the genre on PC, but Fortnite offered the spark that lit the fuse, causing an explosion of imitators of varying quality and aesthetic. The genre proved so popular that EA and Activision, two publishers that it would be fair to say are laser-focused on their balance sheet, released two fully-fledged shooters for free in Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone.
The trouble is that, despite Fortnite's colourful visuals, Apex's squad-based mechanics, Warzone's familiar shooting and PUBG's undoubted intensity, none of them clicked for me.
That is until I played Hyper Scape.
Welcome To The Hyper Scape
Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One" adaptation may not have been the filmmakers greatest work, but it encapsulated the boundless potential of a virtual world populated by players and characters alike. Its undoubted MMO inspirations clearly rubbed off on Ubisoft's design team, as Neo-Arcadia feels heavily inspired by the movie's representation of the Oasis.
It may sound derivative (we've seen virtual worlds in science-fiction for decades at this point), but the world of Hyper Scape stands out compared to the sandy brown of King's Canyon and the admittedly much larger Verdansk region. It's less colourful than Fortnite, but also less toyetic in its design. Buildings are more complex than in Epic's pop-culture phenomenon, with more verticality, too.
All this is to say that Hyper Scape's world offers something unique – not in a broad sense, but to the battle Royale genre. That's important if, like me, you find yourself redeploying into a fresh game regularly.
Hop, Skip, (Double) Jump
Of course, this glittering cityscape would be nothing without the means to traverse it, and that's where Hyper Scape got its hooks in me. Apex Legends may have dropped Titanfall's double jump, but it's here with bells on in Hyper Scape. Combined with launchpads that send players floating through the air and a very generous mantle reach, and it's not uncommon to skip the shooting entirely and just have fun bouncing around like it's Quake III: Arena all over again.
Many of the map's buildings have less visible entrances that can be clambered through with the right mix of platforming and intuition, and doing so can often let players get the drop on enemies. It's undoubtedly the most fun I've had moving around an arena since Apex Legends' sliding (which, incidentally, is also replicated here). As a fan of Mirror's Edge, I could spend hours running through Neo-Arcadia.
Pull The Trigger
None of this would matter without satisfying combat, and Hyperscape's locomotion systems and dense urban sprawl all tie into satisfying gunplay and a longer time-to-kill than you'd find in many of its contemporaries to help negate the feeling of being shot from out of nowhere.
While sniping is more than possible (and quite tricky, given the speed and range of motion players have at their disposal), the urban setting allows players to duck into doorways, clamber up to rooftops, or simply turn and fight.
If there's one complaint about Hyperscape it's that the weapons all tend to conform to typical archetypes. There's the assault rifle, shotgun, sniper, SMG, pistol and the like, and they all offer the same strengths and weaknesses that they would anywhere else. Thankfully, collecting multiple versions of the same gun will level them up, so it's still worth scavenging even when you have a loadout you like.
The same can be said of the game's "Hacks", equitable abilities that can allow players to turn invisible for a time, reveal nearby enemies, heal you and your squad, or even turn into a giant ball and bounce into or out of combat. Experimenting with these is an absolute blast, but with the right hacks, even a less confident player (like me) is able to keep teammates in the fight or relocate via teleportation.
When two sides clash, it can be an incredible spectacle, as players fly into the air before slamming down onto enemies, turn invisible to run away, or turn into a ball and roll into each other.
Stream Work Makes The Dream Work
Much of Hyper Scape's marketing has been based around the much-vaunted Twitch integration which allows viewers to vote on various changes to the in-game environment and player effects. Low-gravity makes the most of Neo-Arcadia's high rooftops, while reduced cooldowns allow those aforementioned hacks to be spammed. Then there's the self-explanatory infinite ammo, which when paired with a minigun can be great fun.
If you're bored of battle royale titles, Hyper Scape might just help you see things differently. Between its gorgeous sci-fi setting, satisfying parkour-inspired movement and neat hacks and Twitch integration, Hyper Scape feels like a breath of fresh air.
It's in open beta for free, now.
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