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Hyper Scape hands-on preview: Future royale

Ubisoft is jumping into the future for its first battle royale shooter. Shacknews goes hands-on with the free-to-play Hyper Scape.

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Earlier this week, publisher Ubisoft issued its first tease for a game called Hyper Scape. Outside of a website that took players to Prisma Dimensions, little has been known about this project. But on Thursday, the time finally arrived for players to pull the curtain back on what looks to be one of Ubisoft's most ambitious efforts to date.

Hyper Scape is the latest entry into the crowded battle royale genre. This one comes from the team at Ubisoft Montreal (Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, For Honor, the upcoming Roller Champions) and takes players into the year 2054. As is the case with most battle royale games, gunplay is king, but there's a lot more to it than that. To learn more, Shacknews recently went hands-on.

Players will squad up with two other teammates (or play totally solo) and dive into Neo Arcadia, a realm within the Hyper Scape. The Hyper Scape itself is a futuristic digital setting, described as the internet of the future. Neo Arcadia is a massive world that's comprised of nine districts, each with their own unique and distinct landmarks. These landmarks are influenced by classic European architecture, but they're there for more than just decoration. Players will run all over Neo Arcadia's buildings, bursting into their interiors, running across the roofs, battling on the streets, or regrouping along the plazas. All of these areas are filled with supplies.

While Hyper Scape will feature multiple game modes, the main one we got to try out was Crown Rush. To start, Crown Rush will play out like most standard battle royale games. Players will deploy in any of Neo Arcadia's districts with their hands as their only weapons. They must arm themselves with weapons, but also with special abilities called Hacks, which we'll get into in just a second. Districts will start to decay over time, so players will have to look out for the cue to migrate over to the next district. Inevitably, the fight will come down to one sector, at which point the Hyper Scape Crown will spawn along the center. Teams can either claim victory by eliminating the other squads or by collecting the crown and holding it for 45 seconds.

There are a few different things that differentiate Hyper Scape from its contemporaries. The architecture itself makes it feel different, giving the game much more verticality than most other battle royale efforts. Players can do battle on rooftops or station themselves there to try and pluck off targets from a distance with a sniper rifle. If you're eliminated from battle early, the game is not necessarily over. Dead players will stick around as an Echo and while they can't directly influence the battlefield, they can still ping and communicate with targets. Echoes can also search for designated resurrection points, where their living partner can bring them back into the fight. These rez points are one-time-use only, though, so watch out for an Echo from another squad using it up first.

One other thing that makes Hyper Scape stand out is the aforementioned Hack abilities, which are found as drops, just like weapons. Players can equip two Hacks at a time and either switch them out for different ones or upgrade the ones they have by stacking them up through the Fusion mechanic. Fusing Hacks can make them more powerful or reduce their cooldown timer. Different Hacks can suit different styles. For example, one Hack can scout for nearby enemies, another one can create an area-of-effect healing field, and another one can turn the player into a bouncy ball.

To keep the action fresh, players will see different events kick in randomly over the course of their game. These will have adverse effects on the entire playing field. Different events include low gravity, infinite ammo, instant cooldown, and more. Ubisoft will aim for the streaming crowd here, as Twitch audiences can vote on which event they want to see trigger. All they have to do is pick up the Hyper Scape Crowncast Twitch extension, which will be ready by the game's launch. If you're not part of the Twitch crowd, the game will decide on the events at random. If you are a part of the Twitch community, the extension can help you engage with your favorite streamer and even help you make Battle Pass progress. (Yes, there is a Battle Pass in this game.)

The positive for Hyper Scape is that the gunplay feels solid, fitting right in with competitors Fortnite and Apex Legends. Battling on rooftops and exploring different buildings, Neo Arcadia feels like a strong setting for this type of game. And being able to help teammates as an Echo does offer a certain appeal to those prone to dying. Of course, teamwork is still critical, so if you're teaming with a lone wolf type, running around as an Echo might not do you any good anyway.

The biggest negative so far is that the game's characters feel really bland and all blend together. They might get fleshed out down the road, but nothing I saw in this area felt particularly impressive. But the gameplay might just make up for that, especially with the Battle Pass that will regularly add both weapons and Hacks on top of the usual cosmetic goodies.

Hyper Scape will release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One later this summer as a free-to-play game. A closed Technical Test for the three-person squad Crown Rush mode will start today and run through Tuesday, July 7. Participants can run through the first ten tiers of the Battle Pass and can carry anything they earn over to the full launch. To learn more about the Technical Test, visit the Hyper Scape website.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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