Hyper Scape, Ubisoft's new battle royale, challenges players to explore a futuristic city in squads of three. Innovating on a now crowded genre is no easy task and in taking on the likes of popular battle royale giants, Ubisoft has accepted the challenge of playing catch up, while attempting to offer an experience worth stealing yourself away to. While Hyper Scape doesn't have the satisfying weight of Apex Legends' weapons, or the undeniable polish of Warzone, it solves a number of frustrations rooted in the nature of the genre, and manages to maintain a cybernetic flair while doing so.
An aspect that immediately sets Hyper Scape apart from its competitors is its lengthy time to kill at the beginning of a match. You know where you stand versus a golden armour-clad Lifeline, or a fully plated Warzone adversary. However, locking onto an opponent in Hyper Scape confirms that the firefight will be a drawn-out dance that honestly feels like it could go either way. Sweaty early clutches become prolonged hunts across Neo-Arcadia's rooftops, and shots I was certain would be finishers just...weren't. Thankfully, in the moments when you're bouncing around desperately trying to deplete the red bars above an enemy's head, there's plenty of time to appreciate its smooth weapon animations.
Switching between weapons spins the gun ahead of you like a fractured boomerang, materialising your secondary weapon before your eyes and returning it fully-formed back into your hand. Weapon swapping isn't particularly snappy, and there's even a brief 'Loading' notice on some of the guns as you switch between them, so it's nice to have something pretty to look at in the meantime. There's a lot of downtime in battle royales and as someone who tends to fidget by tapping the numbers on my keyboard, or mashing the key that inspects my weapons, I really appreciate the attention to detail.
Reloading big guns like the Komodo plasma blast launcher sees its top chamber open like the doors of a tiny spaceship, hissing to cool its red-hot ammo contents. Similar care has been taken with other weapons such as the Salvo EPL, an explosive projectile launcher with a hefty magazine that your character makes a point of spinning as they pick it up. Even small pistols like the Riot One feature slick animations that give practical functions as simple as reloading a fluid elegance. Looking back on some of my mediocre eliminations, the highlight clips look all the more impressive thanks to these small flourishes.
Having a weapon kitted out with flashy animations seems fitting for a game that prides itself on its overall aesthetic, but the weapons are also quite fun to use once you get the hang of them. Warzone eliminated the stresses of scavenging for weapons by removing attachments and sticking to pre-assembled guns and loadouts. Hyper Scape takes this a step further by encouraging players to explore the map and fuse duplicate weapons and hacks (abilities) to upgrade your loadout.
Reinforcing a weapon to level five buffs its magazine size and damage, which feels like a worthwhile reward for combing the surrounding environment. Rather than frequently bothering my team by pinging various items, Ubisoft has found a way to strip back the busy exchanges between allies to focus on the one thing that actually matters: finding and eliminating other teams.
While I've enjoyed getting acquainted with its weapons and their beautifully crafted animations, I'm unsure whether this is enough to lure players away from the established norm. Hyper Scape does its best to offer a fresh take that looks and feels notably different to everything else out there, but joining a saturated genre this late feels like an uphill battle.