Battle Royale games and hero shooters are two of the big winners in this last half-decade of gaming. The two subgenres have peacefully occupied their own corners of the first-person shooter, with one focusing on high-stakes and survival mentality, while the other’s been all about personality and snappy round-based matches.
Total Lockdown, from Panzar Studios, is the result when you smash these two together.
Where most battle royale games take place on the sprawl of an uninhabited island or amidst the ruins of a city, Total Lockdown stacks the action into a single skyscraper looming over a dystopian metropolis of the future. Instead of the dreaded zone closing in around you, pressing players into a smaller and smaller play area, here poisonous gas slowly fills up the floors of the building, forcing you upwards.
And where battle royale games usually lean towards relatively neutral environments, here each floor has its own distinct style and obstacles. You may be cover-shooting from between crates in a warehouse on one floor, before darting between the trees and splashing in the waters of a biodome, then having a dramatic final shootout on the rooftop of the building.
You still have that escalating intensity of 100 players whittling down to just the few, but this time it’s reflected by your rise through a formidable urban monolith. In true hero-shooter spirit, matches are much faster than a typical battle royale too, with matches usually lasting around 16 minutes. So defeat isn’t the world-shattering calamity that would make you rage-abandon games like PUBG for days on end. Just get yourself together, and jump back in!
And it looks lovely too, with a bold and confident art style that channels some of that Overwatch playfulness while having its own flavour. This is expressed not just through the environments, but the characters you play as. There are 18 outfits to choose from, including the wastelander-like Pyromaniac, the dictatorial Commander, and the playful Cyberkitty. It’s a game that isn’t afraid to be playful despite the high competitive stakes, as evidenced by how you can splat out emojis above your avatar’s head as you play.
Another thing Total Lockdown does differently is that it lets you represent one of two corporations, which unlock blueprints that you can get your hands on during matches. Yes, you will largely depend on the 40+ weapons scattered around this vertiginous arena, which range from shotguns to high-tech defender drones that put up a shield between you and enemies, but your corporation choice and blueprints give you that extra element of control over how you fight. It’s a snippet of assistance that can help you find your feet in a game style that so often feels hostile to new players.
Building bridges between Battle Royale and more old-school forms of deadly online entertainment, Total Lockdown lets you play a few different ways. Team up with up to four friends to represent one of the nefarious corporations running the city, or seek glory in round-robin tournaments, where each match is condensed to just four players and one floor of the skyscraper. You can also play the tournament in 2-4-player teams, making it perfect for you and a few glory-seeking buddies to play cooperatively.
In cleverly combining the popular and familiar, Total Lockdown becomes a strange new beast entirely. The sky-high battle begins 25 March. You can add it to your Steam wishlist, or pre-order Total Lockdown: Deluxe Edition, which starts you out with 100,000 in-game credits, two new costumes, and garish golden skins for all in-game weapons. Best come prepared, because it’s a tough and wild ride to the top.