The Battle Royale genre just gained another contender with Radical Heights, a new multiplayer shooter from CliffyB’s Boss Key Studios.
Developed over a staggering five month period and already revealed (and released) via Steam Early Access, players are already digging into this new take on an almost played-out game mode. And it isn’t half bad!
Radical Heights brings something new to the Battle Royale table. To help you decide whether this game is worth your valuable gaming time, we’re diving into exactly what makes this game unique — here are five things Radical Heights does better than PUBG or Fortnite, and five things it does worse.
5 Ways Radical Heights Is Better
#1: The Cash System Brings Everything Together
Cash is everywhere, and earning cash is what’s most important in Radical Heights. Vending machines are everywhere, and they all require cash. You can spend cash to heal, spend cash to buy weapons, get armor, or call in supply crates from the sky. You can send cash you earn in the map to an offshore bank account, so you’ll be able to access it anytime — even in future sessions. And you’ll need all the cash you can get.
To get cash, you’ll mostly need to blast cash register and collect the money that drops. Killing foes won’t earn you any cash — this isn’t PUBG, you can’t simply scrounge up everything you need from other players. The cash earning system is pretty deep, and getting cash isn’t just a big part of the in-game action, it’s also how you can customize your character. Clothing items are pretty expensive, so saving up gives you something completely optional to grind for.
#2: The Grid-Based Map Beats Shrinking Circles
Instead of the standard shrinking concentric circles of PUBG or Fortnite, the entire map in Radical Heights is one massive grid. Each grid square is, essentially, a different “playspace” that’s been designed from scratch. Each square feels more like a small multiplayer map than an endless series of rolling hills — even if some of these locations aren’t even remotely finished yet.
To constrict the map and push players together, a big circle doesn’t shrink — instead, squares begin to fall away from the grid. There’s no reason to drop into the center of the map here, because the grid is actually much, much more random. You can start from any square of the map, and end there. Here’s hoping the team behind Radical Heights can make every square worth fighting on in the future.
#3: There’s A Fight Around Every Corner
The mid-game slump that pops up in every Battle Royale game isn’t so tedious in Radical Heights. Everything in the game — from the mystery doors to the vending machines and BMX bikes is designed to pull characters out of hiding and force confrontations. Instead of random supply crate drops, you’ll be able to call one down yourself and risk being spotted. Seemingly everything is designed with this risk vs. reward system.
That means the beginning (and end) of the game are pretty frenetic. You won’t have to search out special landing spots just to get into a fight. There are fights everywhere, and you’ll have just enough health to feel alive, take a little damage, but keep fighting. Bullets aren’t hit-scan either, but they move very fast — and your combat rolling ability adds extra mobility to the fights.
#4: No Fall Damage Whatsoever
This sounds like a strange thing to praise, but it fits into the best aspect of the game — things just don’t make sense, and who cares about the details. In this game, you can drop from a plain, fall from a skyscraper, or drop off a cliff without hurting yourself. If you’re going to die, it’s going to be because another player shot you. Even Fortnite has fall damage for some reason. Radical Heights knows that, sometimes, it’s best to play fast and loose with reality.
#5: Events Keep The Gameplay Exciting
The map is full of events to keep players visible and avoid the pitfalls of slow, monotonous, and excruciating Battle Royale conclusions. At the very end, when about six players are left, a timer appears, directing the last survivors into a final shootout that will quickly (and violently) show who’s the big winner each round. And best of all? “You’re The Best Around” plays for the winner at the end.
The final event is just one of many that drives the action forward. You can stumble into special prize rooms, where you’ll have to wait while you’re freely exposed — or you can grab a BMX bike and race to locations on the map.
[BONUS] #6: No Hackers Or Cheaters, Yet
Self-explanatory. The cheater situation in PUBG has reached critical mass.
5 Ways Radical Heights Is Worse
#1: It Reeks Of Desperation
Released at the height of Fortnite (and earlier, PUBG) Battle Royale mania, this insanely early access game feels like a complete cash grab. What could’ve been a totally soulless attempt to rake in some big bucks from an emerging gameplay style doesn’t feel quite that cynical once you’re actually in a session of Radical Heights — but the pandering ’80ies nostalgia, the “badass” style, neon graphics, and the ready-for-gouging F2P customization? This game totally reeks of desperation.
#2: The Map Is A Complete Mess
The grid-based map system is absolutely an improvement — if only the map was better designed. This map is busy. Like, extremely busy. You’ll sprint through a mall, enter a snowy cliff, drop into a late with a mysterious underground facility, and sprint through an empty beach camp all within seconds. The map a tonal mess, filled with pointless empty space and clearly unfinished.
The problem isn’t the lack of polish, but the complete lack of design — it seems totally random, with little rhyme or reason for each set piece, with large chunks of land completely barren. Hopefully this map gets a total upgrade that makes it a better place for the arcade action. Most Battle Royale maps are filled with barren stretches, but this is one map that shouldn’t have that kind of wasted space.
#3: Arcade-y, But Not Arcade-y Enough
Falling somewhere between PUBG‘s military simulation and Fortnite‘s running-and-gunning, there’s an awkwardness to the combat in Radical Heights. You can go prone (like PUBG), you’re always in third-person (like Fortnite), you’ll have to collect weapons with different rarity tiers. There’s no hit-scan weapons, bullets move faster than Fortnite, but shooting from the hip is completely useless.
The combat is actually really fun, even with the weird lack of recoil, bad animations, and weak gun sound effects. The combat roll is a cool touch that gives you more mobility in a gunfight, but like most of the decisions in Radical Heights, the logic behind it seems to amount to — “Be like Fortnite and PUBG, but not too like Fortnite and PUBG.”
#4: Everything Is Random (Or Requires Copious Cash)
Everything is randomized in a Battle Royale game mode, I totally understand that. The weirdest aspect of Radical Heights is how they’ve added an extra layer of randomness onto the already random nature of this game mode. Weapons can be purchased from Mystery Box contraptions that spit out random weapons when you drop in cash. And you’ll need a whole, whole lot of cash.
Instead of simply running around the map grabbing the random gear that drops, you’ll also have to worry about your cash. You need to shoot little cash registers to collect money. No, you can’t steal money from other players, but (as explained above) you can bank your money for later. The money and randomness is a double-edged sword. It’s great to add a little variety, but eventually you’ll start to feel compelled to just bank your cash for future sessions — maybe your next session will actually be fun, while this time you’re running around, unable to heal because you didn’t get to the money deposits fast enough.
#5: It’s Incredibly Early Access
Like, completely Early Access. This is as Early Access as you can get, which is both a good thing and a bad thing — the game itself is rough. There are incomplete pieces of geometry literally everywhere, empty textures, and only a single (ugly) character model with janky animations. The art is garish beyond belief. Also, it runs like garbage, with very little in the way of optimization. That’s a killer for competitive, online games.
These are all issues that can be resolved — really, all of the downsides to Radical Heights can be fixed as the game is refined and improved in the coming months. That’s the upside to every Early Access project.
Got your own opinions on Radical Heights? Sound off in the comments below!