Radical Heights launches into “extreme early access” as it says in its ingame loading screen.
The latest game by Lawbreakers studio “Boss Key Productions” or just Boss Key launched their take on the battle royale gamemode today. Radical Heights is a crazy 80s styled theme and of course the usual deal with looting, shooting and rebooting into a new round. Apparently the game is a “5 months passion project for the studio” according to Creative Director Zach Lowery. Players can join the frantic action on Steam for free or they can buy a founders pack worth 13,99€ for some cosmetic items and ingame currency that can only buy additional cosmetics inside the game.
The state of Radical Heights at launch
Now, I’ve just tried to play a few rounds of Radical Heights with a friend together and sadly I have to report: Duos at this moment that I played it, was not working because my friend was sadly not coming up as online in my friendlist, so that we could form a squad. Squads as a gamemode version will come later to the game by the way. As long as the friend system doesn’t work, it’s not of much use anyway. While playing, also the friendlist just disappeared completely, both for me and my friend that tried to play it. Alright, time to play solo then… if it worked. Now, I tried to restart the game a few times, trying to fix matchmaking somehow miraculously, yet the only thing that finally got me into a match was a complete PC reboot. So… I guess it was my system that caused the problem partially. The friend list still doesn’t work as of writing this article.
How does it play like?
Now, after finally being able to start a match in Radical Heights, I gotta say, it’s quite… something. The player movement feels quite good. As soon as you jump on one of the bikes it gets just… jank. Completely jank. I thought the motorbikes in PUBG were uncontrollable when using boost, but the bikes just do a thing on their own. What’s good however is the start of a round, you’ll be dropped into a lobby where the different stations are explained to you and how the ingame currency system works. In Radical Heights there are basically two ways how to get loot. One: drop somewhere near buildings and try your luck inside to find helmets, armor, guns and of course bullets. The game completes its weapon set with explosive grenades, flash grenades and healing items. Two: have money, cash it out on ATMs and just buy weapons and ammunition at vending machines. Weapons come in different ratings, from white to at least blue from what I’ve seen so far. Stats for weapons are displayed when picking them up, as you can see in the screenshot below.
You’ll start the round with locked weapon and item slots, giving you only one weapon and one item to use at a time. But luckily you can find backpacks and weapon holsters, simple keys basically, that open up these weapon and item slots. I assume this was placed into the game so people with a large funding won’t just drop into the game, buy all their slots full with extremely good weapons and then to dominate, but rather to have them limited to only one weapon and needing them to search around for those slot openers. While cashing out at an ATM, you can only get 100$ per draw, leaving you quite vulnerable and open if you’re not inside with the ATM. This process takes quite a while, I’m not sure what will be better, trying to get as much funding on your character as possible, or just to get a quick kickoff for the match to buy one weapon right away and then trying to find the rest of your inventory as you go.
Now, let’s run through a quick session of Radical Heights, in case you are not too interested in trying the game out right now, even though it’s available for free. The round starts with you dropping right away on the map with no plane or bus taking you over the map first. While you have no parachute like in Fortnite or PUBG, you can still fall quite far, ending your initial setup stage with a quick dodge roll to eliminate any deadly velocity. This leads to everyone running around roughly at the same time, leading also to a rapid minimizing of the player amount inside of the match after a few minutes of silence. The quick roll off from your drop is quite fitting for the game, which is placed inside of a gaming show in the year of 2023. In case you care for some lore in your game. The game show has purposefully the crazy colorful 80s aesthetic, keeping it true from the hair cuts from that era down to the shoes.
How does the mode end?
As you progress through the match, Radical Heights does not use a circle to bring you closer together, it actually uses quadrants on the map, turning them basically “off”, so you have to check the map on a regular base. Using quadrants instead of a circle actually makes this version of battle royale quite true to the movie Battle Royale. You can actually see on the map which quadrant will be turned “off”, leaving you open to go into these areas for a quick loot, or having you drop somewhere inside the save quadrants. Whatever you chose, you will as usual have a limited time window with a countdown that will early enough warn you should you be inside of the zone once it shuts down. Finally, leaving only one quadrant open for the players to move into, a circle will appear and slowly draw you and the rest of the combatants closer to each other. This is when the game will be quickly decided and who will win the “You’re the best” screen, alongside of a cover version of Joe Esposito’s “You’re The Best Around” as the winner soundtrack.
My hot take on the game so far
It’s quite a lot of fun right away. A few initial fixed will give the game a proper setup in which it can thrive as an early access title. We have quite a fun, casual battle royale game on our hands from what I can tell. Yes it is on a technical level not as far developed as Fortnite Battle Royale is right now, nor does it go into complex attachment systems and realism like PUBG does. Radical Heights is here for a good time, fun aesthetics and a less deep gameplay experience for now. The excitement of the Battle Royale genre, when listening for steps, running to get you first weapon and getting those kills down in the game are already here. Now all it needs is some time and updates to polish the experience and we should get something quite good. I for one will come back later again, after the initial problems have subsided and me and my friends will have a good and fun time in Duos and Squads together.