Ubisoft is a ubiquitous developer – they are a massive publisher and developer, owning several franchises. So it’s really no surprise that they have recently entered into the genre arena with a title filling a gap in their catalogue, a battle royale. What they have offered is a competent but safe entry, one that attempts many ingenious ideas but does not implement any of them particularly well. It’s a fun time for a while, but with so many already excellent and better games in the genre, one has to wonder, what place does this one have? Hyper Scape itself does not seem to know the answer, playing it a little too safe to stand out from the pack.
This theme of good ideas poorly done starts from the outset: they introduce you to an intriguing world in a flashy opening cutscene. It’s a virtual competition played out in a dystopian world where people jack into headsets in order to escape their daily lives. This is a cool idea, but after that beginning cutscene they go nowhere with it. I’m not expecting a whole narrative in a game like this, however there is nothing to interest the player past this point. Other titles like Apex Legends or Fortnite create a personality in the world, delivering characters that are interesting. This world, while beautiful in the first viewing, quickly becomes sterile and plain. The base characters are boring stand-ins and the unlockable ones from the battle pass aren’t much better.
In fact, the battle pass is another area in which this title suffers; the rewards are lackluster and feel lazy, and fifty percent of it consists of weapon skins in four different colors, just four. Again, the unlockable characters are dull as well – this is an insane sci-fi world, full of possible skins, and it seems they have done the bare minimum in terms of creative rewards.
However where it counts, Hyper Scape is solid. The gunplay is fantastic, it feels tight and responsive. Mobility feels fast and fluid, and the ping system is well-integrated. In terms of moment to moment gameplay there is almost nothing to complain about. The addition of hacks adds a layer to combat that is complex and interesting, with essentially power-ups that have different effects. Every one of them is creative and feels good to use. It just feels great to play, truly well-polished and well-done.
The map, while aesthetically boring after a while, is still a highlight. Unlike many of its competitors, it focuses on verticality and tight indoor spaces. There is an intense sense of claustrophobia, as enemies could be around any corner or above any rooftop, and it gives a feeling of constant combat. There seems to be no downtime, because of the speed of movement; you’re constantly sliding, jumping, and climbing around rooftops and into hallways.
However if the fundamentals are secure, it’s in the big picture meta that Hyper Scape falls apart, for there is an undeniable lack of balance in the game. Certain guns and hacks are clearly superior to others and many firefights seem to end up the same way – often sniper battles with everyone using invulnerability or collapsing into a ball. It can be frustrating, especially because there is such a variety to potential loadouts and strategies. Many of them just feel useless in comparison to the few highly effective methods.
Crucially the gameplay loop of Hyper Scape seems to be missing an important factor… the encouragement to fight. Essentially there is no real reason why a player would want to engage any other squad, so it often feels like a game of cat and mouse with everyone avoiding each other until the map gets small enough to force them to fight. This creates a massive lull in the beginning of matches, as there are often no active engagements happening. That’s a massive blow to a FPS of any kind, and this means Ubisoft’s answer sometimes feels more like a parkour game than a battle royale.
Hyper Scape on Xbox One feels like it tries new ideas but fails to implement them in any effective way, and frankly even if they were well-optimized, it’s still not enough to make it stand out from the rest of the pack. This is a perfectly serviceable battle royale, but it is just that – serviceable. When there are standout titles in the market that are hitting their stride right now, it’s hard to recommend starting back from square one with Hyper Scape. It’s just not worth it for what it is – perfectly average.