Hyper Scape review: The future is just okay

The good and bad of this very average battle royale debut

Hyper Scape Hero
(Image: © Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas)

In the increasingly crowded multiplayer market where battle royale games seem like a dime a dozen, a game must introduce new features or redefine the genre to stand out. Ubisoft's Hyper Scape attempts to do just that. First revealed during the Ubisoft Forward virtual event on July 12, 2020, Hyper Scape is a fast-paced battle royale that drops players into the virtual streets of Neo Arcadia to compete for supremacy in a game called Crown Rush.

I was excited to dive into Hyper Scape, and it felt immediately familiar to me. For the uninitiated, a battle royale is when multiple players enter an arena, scavenge for weapons, and try to outlast each other to be the last man standing. As players duke it out, they're forced closer together, and the area around them gets smaller. On its surface, Hyper Scape is reminiscent of its contemporaries, but the unique gameplay mechanics that set it apart also hold it back from being a genuinely great experience.

What I love about Hyper Scape

Hyperscape Screenshot Palace

Source: Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas (Image credit: Source: Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas)

Hyper Scape has the same general concept as most battle royales, but what sets it apart is the ability to mix and match your character's abilities during gameplay using 11 different skills, or "hacks." These hacks range from health regen and temporary invulnerability to bouncing around the map in a giant ball.

Coming across another skill of the same kind will allow you to fuse the two, upgrading your hacks on the fly and improve their stats. The same applies to the weapons you'll find. Instead of being ranked by rarity, as they are in other battle royale games, the guns always start with the same base stats. It's up to you to find matching pairs in the wild to increase damage and clip size.

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CategoryHyper Scape
TitleHyper Scape
DeveloperUbisoft Montreal
GenreBattle Royale
PlatformsPC, PlayStation, Xbox
Game Size12.92GB
Xbox Game PassNo
Launch PriceFree to download

Luckily, hunting for loot is a breeze thanks to the game's emphasis on mobility. The game has a huge focus on speed and vertical movement, and It felt good to run and jump through Neo Arcadia's neon-lit districts thanks to streets littered with bounce pads, mobility enhancing hacks, and a trusty double jump. All of this makes it super easy and fun to scale buildings and hop across rooftops while hunting down your next target.

All of that agility comes in handy when the map starts to decay and push players closer together. The decay begins almost immediately and keeps the pace of the matches high, forcing players to be on the move constantly. As a result, games start and end very quickly, much faster than Call of Duty: Warzone or Apex Legends. The decaying districts are also a welcome change from the generic storm cloud that seems to be passing through every battle royale game.

Speed, stealth, and Hyper Space Crowncast

Hyper Scape Echo

Source: Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas (Image credit: Source: Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas)

That sense of speed applies to player death as well. During a team game, when a player dies, they return as an echo and haunt the battlefield. Dead players can tag weapons and enemies for their teammates until they're brought back using a restore point that's dropped when an opposing player dies.

It's an excellent addition that keeps players active, unlike other games in the genre that have you spectate until you're revived, or the match ends. Trust me; nothing kills momentum faster than dying early in a match and having to wait fifteen minutes until your teammates can tag you back in.

It's clear that Ubisoft is positioning Hyper Scape to be an incredibly social experience, one to be watched as well as played.

If your trigger finger isn't exactly up to snuff, you'll be happy to learn that you don't necessarily have to kill anyone to win a game of Hyper Scape. When the match starts to narrow down to the last player, a crown will spawn. If you hold onto it for a set amount of time, you win the game. This alternate path to victory led straight into chaos. Players who grab the crown can spam their abilities to keep their distance, leading to tense and frustrating games of cat and mouse in the closing seconds of a game.

Outside of its gameplay, Hyper Scape also offers an innovative Twitch extension called Hyper Scape Crowncast. Crowncast allows Twitch viewers to interact with streamers by voting for events that affect the gameplay in real-time, in addition to a slew of other bells and whistles that encourage interaction between Twitch streamers and their viewers. It's clear that Ubisoft is positioning Hyper Scape to be an incredibly social experience, one to be watched as well as played.

What I didn't love about Hyper Scape

Hyper Scape Map Decay

Source: Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas (Image credit: Source: Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas)

Not every new feature introduced by Hyper Scape sticks the landing. Despite how cool upgrading on the fly is, there's a glaring power disparity in the available weapons. Some guns have a ridiculously low damage output; it felt like I was walking into battle with a water gun instead of a futuristic death dealer.

There's a certain amount of luck that goes into finding weapons from match to match. Often, I found myself not wanting to engage in combat until I was fully upgraded or found a suped-up shotgun or sniper. I wouldn't stand a chance otherwise.

I was often avoiding fights instead of running into them like as would in other battle royale games.

In other battle royales, there is a certain amount of skill that could turn the tide of battle even when you're stranded with nothing but a default weapon. That's not the case here. The hacks don't fare much differently, either. Being able to reveal enemy locations is useful, but it's nowhere near as helpful as the health regen or invisibility.

Aside from weapon balance, the biggest problem with the game is that the gunplay itself isn't satisfying, and I found myself missing the weight of combat that you'd find in other shooters. At times, Hyper Scape felt floaty, and the guns never seem to pack the punch you'd expect them to. These issues just made fighting not that much fun. Often, I was avoiding fights instead of running into them as I would in other battle royale games, and this is a direct contrast to the fast-paced nature of the rest of the game.

The future looks...similar

Hyper Scape Fighting out of a decaying area

Source: Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas (Image credit: Source: Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas)

Visually, Hyper Scape's urban sci-fi environments are pleasant to look at but start to feel strikingly similar as you fight through each district. It's missing the varied geography and weather effects that differentiate locations in other shooters.

Also disappointing are the surprisingly dull character designs of the champions. You would think that if you were spending all of your time in virtual reality, you'd wear something cooler than the generic jumpsuit everyone seems to fancy. There are cosmetics for purchase and unlockable champions via an in-game battle pass, but I didn't find anything that particularly popped out at me.

I like the Ready Player One-Esque backdrop, but it's not as intriguing as other games in the genre.

There's also a story detailed in memory shards hidden on the battlefield. They are released week to week, and finding them further expands on the lore. In short, thanks to a slew of horrible decisions made over 30 years, humanity finds itself crammed into overcrowded megacities, living in tiny apartments in a dystopian landscape, brutalist architecture, and all. Humankind's only solace is the Hyper Scape, but there's, of course, something darker lying underneath. So, run-of-the-mill story-telling.

I like the Ready Player One-Esque backdrop, but it's not as intriguing as other games in the genre. It's a minor nitpick, as lore tends to take a back seat in games like these, but it doesn't do the game any favors either.

With all that said, this is a live game, and Season One of Hyper Scape incorporated feedback Ubisoft received from its recent open beta. It also introduced a new weapon and a new hack, so there's no doubt that these issues can be addressed over time. Ubisoft has saved games from the clutches of mediocrity before (Rainbow Six: Siege, anyone?)

Is Hyper Scape worth the download?

Hyper Scape Dropping into Neo Arcadia

Source: Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas (Image credit: Source: Windows Central / Zackery Cuevas)

Whether Hyper Scape's innovations help it stand out in the crowd remains to be seen, but I didn't hate the time I spent in its game world — I was just somewhat bored. But while the gunplay was frustrating, something is intriguing about the game's untapped potential, and its social features that should delight Twitch streamers and viewers looking for some interactivity in their streams.

The game also includes cross-progression, and Ubisoft has promised cross-play with consoles in a future update. Overall, I found myself way more interested in how this game will evolve instead of playing it in its current state.

Ubisoft promises Hyper Scape will shape "the future of battle royale," but as it stands, it's not as fun as it could be. Wonky weapon balancing and floaty combat steal the game's momentum and stop it from being a stand out in its genre.

Zackery Cuevas

Zackery Cuevas is a writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. I like playing video games, talking about video games, writing about video games, and most importantly, complaining about video games. If you're cool, you can follow me on Twitter @Zackzackzackery.