Radical Heights trampolines awkwardly into Early Access

High-flying action

It’s been a thrilling 24 hours for Radical Heights, the new free-to-play battle royale shooter from LawBreakers studio Boss Key Productions. Within the past day, the game has been announced, trailered and launched into Early Access, but not before becoming embroiled in a short-lived pay-to-win controversy. Unsurprisingly, it’s not been the smoothest of launches either, with players currently as likely to wind up stuck in a tangled heap of limbs in the lobby as placed in a match.

Somehow, Boss Key managed to court controversy before Radical Heights was due to launch, through the announcement that the Founder’s Pack pre-order package for the game would include a lifetime 10% persistent cash booster. The key twist of the game, outside of it’s ’80s game-show stylings, is that you can cash out a portion of your prize-money takings from each round, win or lose, and use them in later matches to give yourself an early boost through gun vending machines. It’s not hard to see¬†why giving a small subset of players this perk would be a questionable decision. Thankfully, Boss Key backed down from this move and instead offer an additional bundle of Rad Gems to Founder’s Pack players, a premium currency used to buy purely cosmetic costume pieces.

So far, I’ve managed to get into one and a half matches. My first was a solo-queue round where I encountered no real technical problems, but found my adventure through this impressively tacky retro game-show world cut short about ten seconds in by a headshot from an unseen assailant. Somehow, I managed to bank $71 in my persistent account despite this. My second match was less successful, as you can see in the screenshot up top. The match began as normal, but failed to teleport the players into the game map, causing them to spawn on top of each other in wingsuit poses in the lobby room.

Eventually, the tangled mess of limbs began to wiggle itself loose and players began looking for weapons. Some found them. Others just took to beating their fellow players to death bare-handed. I bounced off a trampoline up to a high ledge where I lay in a corner on the top floor, laughing and waiting for death. So far, so good then. Further attempts to jump into a match left me stuck, seemingly endlessly, on a loading screen. A news ticker in the game encourages players to ‘Embrace the jank’. I feel that it has embraced me already, and I would quite like it to let go, please.

While this is merely conjecture, I’ve got some concerns regarding the financial stability of the studio. It’s no secret that LawBreakers tanked, something that few studios can afford, and Boss Key Productions have been keen to reiterate that unlike their Nexon-backed previous game, Radical Heights is an entirely self-published title. In short, the studio are shouldering any and all financial risks on this one. It’s a risky gambit for the studio, headed up by former Epic lead Cliff ‘Don’t Call Me Cliffy B’ Bleszinski, and one that I hope pays off for the sake of everyone working there. This one might take a while to find its footing, though.

If you’re feeling like a winner, or just curious, you can grab Radical Heights free via Steam here. It’s a relatively lightweight 2.2gb download, although it decompresses to around twice that. Technical issues aside, it should be noted that at present, only male avatars are available.

10 Comments

  1. Freud says:

    First they got Overwatched and now they are going to get Fortnited. They really walk into these things, don’t they?

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      With LawBreakers, it was just poor timing. Overwatch just happened to be developed in parallel.

      In this case, they’re trying to get their slice of the Fortnite/Plunkbat pie. Unfortunately, when you’re trying to lure players away from giants like that, you’ve got to have something really solid to show on day one.

  2. Hoot says:

    Can you say “sad cashgrab”? I don’t even play Battle Royale games (aside from the odd game of PUBG with a select group of friends) but when I watched the trailer for this I could smell the desperation on it.

    I actually smelled it. Through my monitor.

  3. mitrovarr says:

    Considering that Overwatch is putting on an event right now they stand a pretty good chance of being Overwatched again.

    • Excors says:

      Normally, when any multiplayer shooter game that could potentially compete with Overwatch is having an open beta or EA release or launch or free weekend in an attempt to build a critical mass of players, Blizzard announces its own free weekend for Overwatch in what might be a total coincidence or might be an attempt to nobble the other game.

      In this case Boss Key only announced their game yesterday, so Blizzard wouldn’t have had an opportunity to undermine it. I guess Boss Key decided they’d just have to undermine themselves instead.

  4. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    Normally I’d say ‘painfully 80s’; but in this case I’m going with
    just ‘painful’.

  5. Kez says:

    This is just so cynical. Are they really this creatively bankrupt?

  6. Syrion says:

    While I agree that it does look like a textbook cashgrab going with a very generic and by-the-numbers theme that is currently totally hip… it does look kinda fun.

    I have just recently found any interest in the Battle Royale “genre” via the surprisingly fun mobile port of PUBG (which actually deviously and unbeknownst to you pits you against high and then ever-decreasing numbers of bots to give you instant gratification, but that’s another story), and it seems to me that that genre is far from satisfied, yet. The major problem with Radical Heights seems to be its lack of any interesting features, but I like the asthethic, generic as it may be, and it seems to value fun movement, which I often miss in third-person games. So, I’m eager to give it a try and see if it has more in spades for the future, or just never evolves and thus probably fades away.

    Also, the style highly reminds me of Monday Night Combat, which was so much fun while it lasted. Too bad it was so short-lived.

    • Syrion says:

      Hey there, past self! I entirely understand your eagerness and optimism, unfortunately at the moment Radical Heights really isn’t the game you’re hoping for. In our TL;DR-times, all you need to know is one word: unfinished. Or here, have a second one: rushed.

      For starters it doesn’t run well at all on my ageing laptop. This doesn’t have to mean much, but having just played Fortnite as well, that one looks and runs much better. More importantly much of the game world actually looks unfinished, too. Several buildings seem to have only placeholder textures and absolutely no decorations in them, some half rooms which are half filled, half empty. This is so obvious that I suspect it might also be a glitch on my system, but that would hardly be much better.
      Speaking of the movement, it’s not fun. Rather “clunky sub-par third-person shooter standard”. Sprinting locks you in a forward motion, which I always find irritating, and bikes, the only vehicles, handle like somewhat agile tanks. The bike controls are actually eerily similar to GTA San Andreas, although far less entertaining.

      Apart from that, it’s fairly enjoyable, but entirely basic. I don’t think it’s terrible, but so far it’s merely a serviceable foundation and in my opinion quite a few ways off being worthwile at all. Fortnite seems rather fun, though!

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