We spoke to Chris Pope, Game Designer from Ubisoft Montreal about Ubisoft’s new battle royale game, Hyper Scape. We got to find out some of the key differences from other games, modes that the battle royale will have when it launches, a tonne of information about its weapon and hack (abilities system) and some of the cool stuff that the studio is doing with Twitch integration.
Most AAA publishers have a battle royale at this point. What makes this one unique from the rest?
We strongly think that we bring a fresh experience to the genre, which will grab the attention of BR fans and newcomers alike. From the ground up Hyper Scape has been developed based on 3 innovative creative pillars that make if different from anything else on the market:
Neo Arcadia, a 100% urban and futuristic playground that fosters intense and vertical close-quarters combat
A unique take on the BR formula with innovations such as Hacks, Fusion, the Decay, the climactic Showdown phase and the innovative revive mechanics that make Hyper Scape a Battle Royale like no others
Hyper Scape CrownCast, a next-generation Twitch extension that rewards and entertain viewers while allowing viewers to impact the game in real time and creating unprecedented interaction opportunities between streamers and their fans.
When designing the game, did you look at things that these other games did and then try and differentiate certain features to ensure that it’s different from these other games, or was that not a concern?
We started from the notion of Game as a Spectacle – we wanted to build a game that is as fun to watch as it is to play, while bringing viewers and streamers together like never before. As BR and shooter fans ourselves, we thought that a Battle Royale would be a good fit for that experience. What we focused on after that was making the battle as spectacular and streamlined as possible, so the pace is intense from start to finish. That’s where innovations such as the Hacks or the Showdown come from.
We’ve seen varying amounts of player counts in battle royale games? Is it 100 here? Can you play in a variety of sizes (solo, duo, quad etc)
In Crown Rush Squad, the main mode available during the Technical Test, you play in 3 player-squads against 32 other teams, so that’s 99 players total. When we launch we’ll have a variety of 3-player squad and solo game modes. There will be a 100-players solo mode, Solo Dark Haze, playable as a Limited Time Mode during Technical Test. We will continue to develop and release new game modes each season, featuring a wide variety of themes, styles, and team sizes ranging from solo to extremely large teams. We know players have different preferences, so we’re working to make sure we can bring enough variety that everyone can find their favorite mode!
The premise of the Hyper Scape taking place in a virtual world is extremely interesting. Will we ever get to see what the “real world” looks like? Where have you taken inspiration from with the art style?
As gamers ourselves, we have always been excited by imagining how video-games could evolve in the near future and how that evolution would shape the players’ life – Hyper Scape is our vision of that future. We have a wide-ranging cast of characters who are all trying to find a path for themselves in the challenging world of 2054. There are many personal stories and mysterious plots unfolding in the world of 2054 and each season the story will advance as both the “real” world of 2054 and the world within the Hyperscape evolve.
While the action takes place in the future, we wanted to keep the experience grounded and relatable for today’s players, that’s why our city is a mix of classic architecture and more futuristic elements. We did the same for our characters, mixing the street culture codes of today with more cyber things such as augments and holograms
We will develop the stories of our world and characters inside and outside the game.
The idea of having hacks rather than abilities is interesting. Did you find that this is a better way to even out all 100 players, rather than characters having certain advantages due to abilities? What are some examples of hacks?
With the Hacks you can find something that fits your playstyle, but also change on the fly your loadout and strategies. Since all of them are accessible to all players, whatever Champion they pick, the potential combinations between Hacks and weapons are endless, and even more though when you play in Squad.
Hacks can be offensive, defensive or for navigation. They’re really versatile, meaning that for instance you could trigger a giant wall with the Wall Hack to protect yourself, but you could also use it to block the way of your enemies. You can also trap opponents with Hacks like the Mine that seeks enemies, or Teleport to the next rooftop to break line of sight and get the upper ground. With the creative freedom granted by Hacks, the possibilities are endless!
How does the decay work? Once a building decays, are you left in nothingness? Do you die instantly?
The Decay is our unique way of shrinking the game playground while the match progresses. Instead of a circle that gets smaller over time, in Hyper Scape, sectors and full districts collapse one after the other until only one sector remains. The Decay can affect Neo Arcadia through many different organic patterns, which makes the flow of each match unpredictable. It’s visually unique and spectacular as players see buildings and streets progressively dissolving in front of them, eventually collapsing back into the Hyper Scape. Players caught in a sector after it has collapsed will take damage over time until they get to safety.
Do guns have different attachments/are there different tiers of guns or is it purely just those fusion guns?
We really wanted to streamline the experience to make it fast-paced and intense from start to finish. In your inventory you have space for 2 guns and 2 Hacks at the same time. Fusion allows you to upgrade your equipment ON THE GO without having to manage an inventory or fiddle with attachments. If you find another sample of a Hack or weapon that you already have equipped, it will fusion with the first one to create a more powerful version. We don’t have attachments or rarity levels for gear.
Does having eliminated enemies being able to ping enemies take the surprise element out of the battle royale? Can you only die and come back once per game?
Hyperscape matches are full of surprises and because echos can see enemies, it means you need to be alert and move quickly after knocking out an enemy, as they will be reporting your location in hopes of being revived on your remains!
We wanted to make sure that teamplay was both a tactical and fun experience, even when you’re down. So if an enemy downs you while you’re playing in Squad mode, you’re still part of the battle. You turn into what we call an Echo, and will remain so until you get revived. As an Echo you can’t of course shoot nor use Hacks but you’re immune to damage and you can still move in the world, pinging enemies for your Squad. You’re visible only to your squadmates, enemies can’t see you.
To get revived, you need to find a Restore Point, which is a place where an enemy has fallen. This system creates lots of emergent mini-stories and contested areas on the map, as very often several teams will try to secure the same enemy Restore Point to revive their own downed squadmates. And what better revenge than getting revived using the Restore Point of the one who downed you… You can become an echo and be revived as many times as you can find and use enemy restore points, but watch out, others may be looking to use those same restore points!
The showdown is an interesting concept. Being able to capture the crown sounds like it’s better suited to a more passive player. Do you feel like most matches will end in this way or by the standard one man standing?
As soon as you pick the Crown, you will get revealed for all other players, so you and your Squad should be ready to defend it against all remaining opposition. For us the Crown Victory is one of the 2 ways to win a Crown Rush game, it adds another tactical layer to the game: will you go for the Crown and defend it as best as you can? Will you put traps around the Crown, trying to prevent anyone else to get it? Or pick all remaining players one after the other? Or maybe you will change your strategy on the fly to adapt to your enemies.
If the champions don’t have special abilities, are the differences purely cosmetic?
All Champions have the same capabilities, they can all use all Hacks and all weapons, they have the same hitbox… That doesn’t mean that their differences are only cosmetics. Each of our Champion has a personal background and a specific motivation to fight in the Hyper Scape. We will reveal more about our characters season after season.
I must admit, the premise has me quite excited in comparison to other battle royale games. Do you think this might become a franchise? I could totally see this playing out in a single player campaign?
Hyper Scape is for now a PVP experience exclusively. Players have access to a tutorial area including a firing range where they can try out every weapon and every hack.
How long has this been in development?
The game has been in development for over 2 years.
Do you see this taking off in the esports arena? Does Ubisoft have great ambitions for this?
Hyper Scape is an intense FPS Battle Royale experience that we think will get the attention from the most competitive players. It’s for the community to decide if it will become an Esport or not – for now our biggest focus is to fine-tune our core experience based on our Technical Test findings and player feedback, while supporting community initiatives to organize tournaments.
The Twitch integration is interesting. How do you keep balance in the game if certain players are getting advantages/disadvantages? Will Twitch players only be matched with other Twitch players?
With the Hyper Scape Crowncast Twitch extension viewers on Twitch can vote on game-changing events, such as lowering the gravity on all the map or providing infinite ammo for a short period of time. All those Events affect all Contenders, they’re designed to make the battle more spectacular and surprising – they’re not a way to advantage or disadvantage a specific player.
The matchmaking is managed at the game level, so all players will be matchmaked together, whether they’re watching on Twitch or not. We are working on a Squad Invite feature for Hyper Scape Crowncast, allowing streamers on Twitch to invite their viewers directly into their Squad.
Hyper Scape is set to release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One this year.