More than a week after entering the battle royale sphere, Ubisoft’s Hyper Scape recently released its first ever limited-time event with Hack Runner mode, presumably to run more tests in its open beta stage. Although Hyper Scape is one of many free-to-play battle royales, it switches up the formula in more ways than usual. But, is it enough to make it stand out as a league of its own?
We sank a couple of hours into the cyberspace battle royale, and here’s what we think about Hyper Scape:
Instead of health/shield kits, explosives, or varying tiers of attachments and armour, Hyper Scape slims everything down to two guns, two hacks (lootable abilities) and limited ammo. Firearms and hacks can be upgraded by fusing with other copies of them in Neo Arcadia, levelling up specific aspects that range from magazine size and damage to reduced cooldown times for hacks. It’s perfect for those who prefer to focus more on the action, which brings us to...
Just when Apex Legends kicked up the speed a couple of notches, Hyper Scape turned up that same knob tenfold. Thanks to jump pads, the ability to double jump, and movement-focused hacks like teleport, slam and shockwave, there are many ways to traverse the futuristic landscape and reach the high ground. Plus, it features a much faster and aggressive revive system: when you become an Echo (a digital ghost of sorts) after dying, your teammates can respawn you at Restore Points that can only be dropped by downed enemies, encouraging them to quickly gun down opponents so you can return to the game.
Despite having “copies” as part of its gameplay, Hyper Scape is no mere imitation of its peers. Some of its game-changing components includes the Echo system, which lets downed players can scout for their live teammates invisibly; the ability to not only win by being the sole survivors, but also by holding the Crown for 45 seconds in the final Showdown phase; and random Battle Events that affects gameplay with numerous twists (e.g. low gravity, infinite ammo).
One of Hyper Scape’s most original ideas is an all-new Twitch extension called the Crowncast. When the game is streamed, viewers have the reins to vote on what Battle Events to occur in Neo Arcadia and affect players to their liking. Audiences can even earn in-game rewards by watching, not to mention that streamers can also invite their fans to join their party and game together.
Did you know that there’s a Malaysian character in Hyper Scape? Her name is Noor Casulink - real name Noor Azimah binti Yusof - and is a streamer by profession. According to her bio, she’s been called the “face of Southeast Asia", to which she shuns because it generalises SEA and "diminishes understanding of the ethnic diversity of the region". Pretty meta, huh?
Hyper Scape’s characters - dubbed Champions - may appear diverse and possess rich backgrounds, but appearance-wise, they seem to stem from one single character model with slight variations from each other. It doesn’t help that their voices aren’t particularly distinctive (especially when they only have boring phrases like "Let's leave this sector" or "Ammo here"), and throwing in a few phrases in their native tongue doesn’t automatically make them memorable. If Hyper Scape were to learn from Apex Legends, Champions’ quips should be driven by their personality and experience, and not just their country of origins.
Hyper Scape takes place in a virtual reality simulation akin to The Matrix, which means that there’s limitless possibilities to what can happen in the world. With that in mind, it’s a little safe to have standard assault rifles and generic teleport abilities in its digital world. Why not churn out more equipment like the Skybreaker energy gun or even the exemplary Ball hack (our writer's personal favourite)? It would make Hyper Scape more distinguishable if they had more unconventional firearms or skills that can only be possible in a virtual arena.
And finally, the one aspect that overshadowed Hyper Scape’s amazing mobility is the lacklustre firepower. While every shot fired in PUBG and Apex Legends feels satisfying, the same can’t be said for the Ubisoft battle royale. Enemies are practically bullet sponges, and they always remain unfazed by the spray of lead that hit them. Perhaps increasing the overall damage dealt by players would put the stakes higher and let players stagger with each damage received?