The popularity of battle royale video games is showing no signs of slowing down. The clear frontrunners, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite, have already conquered the world with wide releases and slick mobile ports. Now, another title is entering the arena.
Radical Heights is a new entry from Boss Key, the studio behind the failed Overwatch competitor LawBreakers. Here's what you need to know about the latest battle royale title.
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How to get it
Radical Heights is available now in early access through Steam’s PC store, where you can download it for free. There's no official word on when (or if) the game will expand to other platforms, like PS4, Xbox One or mobile. The developer recently said it's currently focused on the current, PC version, with plans for an official release in 2019. If Radical Heights does well, it's certainly possible the game could launch on other systems, but it definitely won't be happening anytime soon.
What Radical Heights is all about
The basic concept here is the same as games like Fortnite and PUBG, but Radical Heights takes things in a few interesting new directions. For example, each match starts as you'd expect: quickly falling from the sky toward a large island. The only difference is that unlike its competitors, Radical Heights doesn't give each player a parachute. Instead, you just hit the ground with a comical thud.
As expected, once you make it to the map, you'll face off against a horde of online players as you search for weapons and fight to be the last man standing — at the moment you can only play as a male avatar but Boss Key says female characters are coming soon.
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Just like Fortnite and PUBG, the map also shrinks as time progresses, pushing players toward each other to intensify the match. Radical Heights’ unique spin on this, however, is that unlike the typical shrinking circle of play space, this map is made of squares that get blocked off over time. This makes it possible to do some interesting things, like separating players into two distinct parts of the map.
Visually, Radical Heights is closer to Fortnite than PUBG, with cartoony graphics, saturated colors and a generic '80s vibe. It's missing the vehicles of PUBG, but you can commandeer a BMX bike and you might even come across a well-placed zipline. There's also none of the building mechanics that make Fornite unique, but Radical Heights does have one more interesting idea...money.
Throughout each match you'll come across money. You can blow up cash registers, take it off dead players, and sometimes it will simply rain from the sky. This money can be used to buy weapons from vending machines scattered across the map, but you can also wire it to an offshore bank account using any of the ATMs in the game.
Then, in your next match, you can go back to any ATM and withdraw your money. It's an interesting way to connect each game you play, and it gives players something extra to focus on besides just killing enemies and surviving. If you die with money on you, you'll lose some of it.
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Besides buying weapons, you can also use the cash to purchase cosmetic items, like costumes for your character.
Just how "early access" is it?
In a word: very. Radical Heights is nowhere near as polished as its mainstream competitors. Much of the map appears unfinished, with simple gray boxes standing in for actual buildings. The gameplay can also be a little glitchy, especially when it comes to those BMX bikes.
Still, considering that the entire game was made in just five months, it's almost impressive. Almost.
Radical Heights offers some interesting new ideas on a genre that's starting to wear a little thin, especially when it comes to how the map shrinks and the way you accumulate in-game currency. On the other hand, it's definitely a little rough around the edges, even to the point of frustration.
If you're starting to get bored of Fortnite or PUBG and want a new battle royale experience, you might as well give Radical Heights a shot (assuming you have access to a Windows computer). But most people will probably be better off waiting until the game is at least a little more polished before jumping in.
Credit: Boss Key Productions