One of the many upcoming Battle Royale games aiming to provide the genre with something a bit different, Radical Heights is in Early Access on Steam and hoping to mop up everyone who isn’t quite happy with the current duopoly.
Sporting a very strong ’80s aesthetic, you’ll don your mullet and short shorts into battle against 99 other retro warriors in a sick, futuristic TV game show — all while spectators at home watch.
There are a few key things that sets Radical Heights apart. So if you’re thinking about trying one of the newer Battle Royale challengers, see if any of the below items takes your fancy.
Noise and Information
In a genre already obsessed with noise, Radical Heights has an even larger emphasis.
Every little package, wrapped and bow-tied, will pop out a wholly unwelcome moment of confetti and party noises when you open them. Basically every time you loot, anyone in the surrounding area is alerted to your presence.
The same goes for any smaller thing you might be able to punch or shoot for cash, like the many cash registers strewn about. Everything makes noise. Surrounding players can either wait for you to come out after looting, or toss a grenade inside.
The pinnacle of this is Radical Heights‘ pressure pads, which you’re forced to stand on while the theme sting for the maniacal show you’re in plays in its entirety. Doing so will open up a door with three prizes behind it.
Or, as sometimes happens, players in a nearby bush will wait until the door is open and pop you in the head. The theme song is quite loud, and goes for five seconds.
It’s pure risk/reward. And it’s one of the best things Radical Heights does.
Banking Your Winnings
While certain areas make you vulnerable to attack while waiting for a prize, there are others that force you out in the open as well: ATMs and vending machines.
Radical Heights‘ banking system allows you to save some of the cash you’ve built up throughout a match for later. Maybe you’re not that confident you’ll win, so you want to give yourself a better chance later. Maybe you’re super confident, and don’t need the money right now.
In the future, you can then spend that money at the start of a match to give yourself a nice advantage. So far, we’ve mostly seen people try their luck at the start, and if they see someone coming, they might do an emergency vending machine stop.
Dealing with these ATMs is intentionally slow. You can only deposit $100 at a time, and the mouse cursor doesn’t stay over the “Deposit” button, which disables quick clicking. A lot can happen while you’re standing in the street trying to deposit $1,000.
The system opens up questions about how fair a game really is when some people are betting on themselves by paying for early-game advantages. But it’s super early stages, and perhaps a mode will come along in which everyone is equal.
Instead of using a random circle to funnel player activity, the entire map in Radical Heights is divided into a grid. Bit by bit, grid squares will go red on the minimap. You’ll get sufficient warning, and there are still a few minutes to loot before you have to get to a safe area — but the longer you wait, the more chance someone will be entrenched and waiting for your dash of death.
As we mentioned in our introductory article, the game could benefit from speeding this process up. If a lot of players die quickly, grid squares being denied at a faster rate could help with pacing.
— JoshOG (@JoshOG) April 19, 2018
The map also doesn’t seem to be particularly built around this system. That is to say, we didn’t notice any intelligent level design around grid square borders. It’s more as if a map was created, and then divided up into grid squares afterwards.
We would’ve liked to see some interesting level design to enable plays and counterplays around the borders, as players try to deny their rivals access to the safe zones.
Dense Building Districts
There are some dense apartment blocks in Radical Heights. While these buildings are quite bare on the inside in terms of decorations, we can suspend our disbelief and say they’re perhaps construction sites. Yeah. That’s it.
These areas provide a bit of verticality to the map. One could even say they allow you to climb to…nah. We won’t go there.
There’s also a lot to be found for anyone exploring them. We pretty much always ran into a weapon, armour, and some ammo.
But for those extra weapon slots, you’ll have to do some killin’…
Extra Slots Demand a Kill
You get one weapon slot to start with in Radical Heights. For another one, you’ll need to take it from someone else.
In-game, these are presented as holsters. You can still only have so many at once, but after a few kills you’ll have enough for a nice variety of weapons for different situations. Much like Fortnite, you’ll want to have solutions for different problems. Long range, short range, etc.
You can also buy a weapon slot from a vending machine, if you’ve got the money banked up.
You’ve probably already noticed (it’s hard to miss) the rampant ’80s look of all the characters. Radical Heights leans heavily into retro chic. It’s a fitting theme, given the “deadly game show” setting is heavily inspired by The Running Man and Smash TV.
But one thing people who love the ’80s often fail to realise is not eveyone’s on board the nostalgia train. Whereas to some, ’80s style is “so bad it’s good,” to others, it’s just bad. We expect this choice of aesthetic to be polarising.
Most of all, Radical Heights celebrates this divisive decade in its unlockables. That means all progression, everything to look forward to, is tied to mullets and Madonna. If you’re not a fan of the ’80s, it’s a less than exciting thought.
There’s an interesting system here — only after you’ve discovered an item in the world can you then buy it with in-game currency. But it’s not interesting enough to make you like neon wristbands, if you don’t already.
So far, Radical Heights‘ biggest influx in players has been from Fortnite‘s servers going down for a spell. That seems to have returned to its normal equilibrium though, and not too many people have stuck around.
What looked like a boon for Radical Heights could in fact have been a curse, as its spike in interest came at a time when the game still had some bugs and other issues to work out.
One of those “other issues” being, very early on in our time with Radical Heights, we came across a hacker who won the game without even trying. This player was able to see enemies from infinitely far away and would shoot them as soon as they were in range, whether or not there was foliage blocking the line of sight.
It’s a problem any game will have to solve if it gets popular enough, but Radical Heights isn’t at that stage yet. We don’t know if we just got really unlucky, or if Radical Heights is just easy to hack.