I think that the battle royale genre is here to stay. Sure, upcoming titles like Halo Infinite and Battlefield 2042 have said that they won’t be including any battle royale modes, but the currently popular battle royales like Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite show no sign of slowing down. That popularity means we’ll definitely keep seeing battle royale games pop up, and I surely hope they continue to be as inventive as Super Animal Royale.
Created by Pixile Studios and published by Modus Games, this latest contender in the free-to-play battle royale scene is easily the most adorable yet. Rather than playing as soldiers, superheroes, or spell-flinging battlemages, you take control of cute little animals. Tigers, bears, birds, cats, dogs, and plenty of others for you to romp around with and unlock. That’s kind of where the cuteness ends, however, since these fluffy fellas go at it with glocks, grenades, and gatling guns.
The variety of weaponry is actually one of the most impressive parts of the game. Where most battle royales take a while to establish an array of battle options, there are loads of weapon types littering the battlefield in Super Animal Royale. Banana grenades, skunk gas grenades, poison dart guns, shotguns, and submachine guns. You can even pick up two pistols in order to do some dual-wielding damage. At the moment, every weapon type fills a nice role and is pretty balanced except for the gatling gun. If someone has the gatling gun, it’s almost always game over for everyone else. I’ve played plenty of games, and roughly 80% of the time the winner is wielding a gatling gun. If you run into an enemy with one of those, you might as well leave the match and start looking for a new one.
Which isn’t too bad, since the matchmaking is incredibly quick. Even when playing with friends I never found it to take more than two minutes to jump into a game and start playing. For me, that kind of matchmaking is what a battle royale largely lives or dies on since longer matchmaking just means less time playing.
More time playing is a good thing since the gameplay in Super Animal Royale is pretty good. Aside from the aforementioned encounters with a “Haha I Win Automatically” Gatling Gun, shootouts capture that familiar, tense, all-or-nothing action associated with the genre. This is especially impressive considering the game is entirely 2D. You move characters through a top-down view of the map, but areas of the screen are blacked out if there are walls, trees, or other obstacles in your way. It’s a simple but clever solution to make the game capture the feeling that enemies could come from any direction at any time.
Since the game is two-dimensional, it’s actually a twin-stick shooter. This is the greatest part of the game, because it’s nice to see a battle royale that rewards an entirely different playstyle. If nothing else, Super Animal Royale should be applauded for this nifty little idea. However, there’s still plenty it could fix.
For starters, the text size on everything is way too small. Perhaps that says more about my eyesight than anything, but there are no options to increase the size of in-game messages and I don’t want to tape my monitor to my face. This problem persists in the general UI of the game as well since items, health bars, and map pings are all so small. Making everything bigger may be too loud and hard to read, but there has to be a better solution.
Another thing that could use some fixing is the ludicrous amount of currencies. Complete your first match, and you’ll immediately be swamped with a barrage of messages about DNA, tickets, coins, and boosters. It’s overwhelming and poorly communicated. It took a little bit of online research to understand what everything meant, and that applied to some of the in-game weapons and items as well. I blame the game’s current proposition for a tutorial which is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever seen. Rather than allowing players to learn the ropes in a lobby set aside specifically for training, you’ve no other option than to be thrown into a match against real players while large windows of tutorial text appear and cover your screen. Not a great way to make a first impression.
That first impression should really be stronger, because I’ve grown to enjoy Super Animal Royale the more I play it. It’s got some rough spots, but I like seeing a studio braving unexplored ground in the battle royale genre. If it’s going to stick around, it has to adapt, and Pixile Studios is taking an exciting approach.
Super Animal Royale is currently available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S, through PC and via the power of Xbox Game Pass. A visit to the Xbox Store is the best way of getting involved. It is however still in Game Preview form so hold tight for a full review from us as and when that full release is delivered.