Battle royale players are enjoying an embarrassment of riches these days. Almost every kind of setup is possible: The classic barebones PUBG experience? Check. Aggressive hero shooter? Apex Legends has your back. Fortnite's ever-evolving, all-consuming blender of pop culture? Still kicking. Cute animals exercising their right to bear arms? Super Animal Royale is a thing.
So a new battle royale needs a heck of a pitch to stand out, right? Well, what if we just settled for a nonsensical combination of popular tropes?
Enter SUPER PEOPLE, the new battle royale from Korean studio WONDER PEOPLE. Yeah, branding is weird.
The whole conceit of Super People is that it looks and plays almost identically to the core PUBG experience, but has 12 playable characters can utilize super powers to pull off some ridiculous plays. That might be a dealbreaker for battle royale fans who prefer a perfectly balanced experience, but it sure does create a few interesting scenarios you wouldn't necessarily see even in more ridiculous fare like Apex.
One of my favorite abilities is this giant dark orb that acts as a sort of stun grenade, blinding enemies and of course letting you squirrel your way somewhere else unseen. It reminds me of Drizzt Do'Urden's globes of darkness in that it's literally a giant cloudy orb that can be seen from hundreds of yards away. Maybe not the best stealth ability when anyone outside of it will see it on the horizon.
There's also an ability that lets you blink/sprint a fair distance in a split second, ala Dishonored or perhaps Infamous: Second Son's smoke powers. I happened to watch an influencer streaming Super People end up in a classic PUBG scenario: Stuck in an open field with an enemy about 50 yards away, and with only a random crate for cover. After tossing out a few lucky smoke grenades, he blinks his way to the right, into a perfect flanking position behind a wooden fence. It's not enough to take his foe by complete surprise, but it's a wild flurry of shots before victory.
In my brief time checking the game out, I've seen other players make use of a wild leap ability to jump down a hill of trees and similarly flank enemies.
A favorite of mine is one character's teleportation ability, which seems to cover absurd distances. In Super People's Korean tutorial trailer, a character can be seen teleporting from ground level of a Space Needle-style building all the way to the top behind their opponent. Other highlights include "Gas Soldier," who literally chugs a gas canister like it's homecoming weekend at university and then throws toxic grenades.
To keep things fair, your character is selected randomly, and you can only reroll once. There's also a loot system that lets you upgrade gear and weapons if you've got the right ingredients. Find a blueprint and you can use it to customize your own personal loadout drop box that'll spawn randomly in each game.
But what good is halfway decent battle royale gameplay without a great map? While Super People won't win any awards for originality there either, I do appreciate that every area of the large island seems pretty distinct, dense, and just really well-rendered.
When Ring of Elysium came out a couple years back, it was fun to fool around on a BMX bike or snowboard, but the environments were as a result a little empty. Whereas PUBG felt like a desolate, vaguely eastern Europe hell, Super People is like the New England countryside: Gorgeous fields of flowers dot the landscape, there's an entire space shuttle launch platform for some reason, the aforementioned Space Needle, and a whole mausoleum among other things.
It feels funny seeing the interior of all these posh homes you're taking cover in. Far from the decay of PUBG, they're fully decked out with sleek kitchens, fancy entertainment centers, and outdoor BBQ pavilions. I'm almost hesitant to shoot inside these ritzy homes I'd never be able to afford in real life.
At first glance, Super People seems like yet another battle royale that's just barely scraped its way into the conversation for a week before disappearing, at least from Western audiences' eyes. But the more time I've spent pouring over the details and how the map is designed, the more I'm inclined to give it an honest shot.
Super People is holding intermittent alpha tests at the moment, but you can follow the Steam page here.