Battle royale is where it’s at right now. You can tell because of last year’s hysterical headlines proclaiming that Fortnite is bringing about the collapse of human civilization due to its addictive, rage-inducing effects.
With Fortnite and PUBG dominating the genre, it must be a daunting task for rival developers to break in. Aurora Studio, in partnership with Chinese communications supergiant Tencent, is one of the very few who have managed to pull it off.
Not only does the game, which is free to download, have a huge community of active players, but it managed to score an impressive 8.5 on IGN.
Overall, Ring of Elysium sticks closely to the tried and tested battle royale formula. It sees you and 59 other players spawning on an island and duking it out for a spot on the rescue chopper that shows up at the end of the match.
There are just four seats on this chopper, so, mathematically speaking, the vast majority of combatants are doomed to perish on the battlefield.
Keen battle royale players will already have picked up on a couple of key differences between Ring of Elysium and the other giants in the field.
For one thing, there are fewer players in a match than usual – 60 to Fortnite’s 100. For another, you spawn at a place of your choosing before the match begins, removing the slightly random element of dropping in from above. And for another still, there are more opportunities to win since the chopper generously carries four.
Incidentally, this often creates an amusing bottleneck during matches whereby mischievous players camp at the extraction point – a swinging rope ladder – taking out other players who attempt to board. The final moments in a match frequently feature two or more such scoundrels warily circling each other under cover.
Otherwise the usual ingredients are here, including supply drops, a huge variety of weapons and ammo secreted in practically every building, vehicles to commandeer, and the all-important shrinking battlefield.
In the first Ring of Elysium map – the one that IGN reviewed – this shrinking was the result of a blizzard that closed in on the playing area in timed increments. In the latest map, the balmy Europa Island, the blizzard becomes a flaming wall of volcanic ash. Fail to reach safety in time and you’ll have to trudge through this choking cloud, hoping you have enough health to make it out.
These include a BMX, a hang glider, and a Just Cause-esque grappling hook, along with associated weapons. For instance, if you go for the grappling hook you’ll start with a shotgun. You don’t need to feel too constrained by this weapon choice, however, since you can always head for the closest building and swap it out for something more to your liking.
Another new feature is the submarine, which you can use to shuttle between the islands in Europa. There’s a genuine sense of exploration in the submarine as you descend into gloomy underwater caves, and even encounter a majestic colossal squid.
And that’s not the only new feature. Aurora Studio has also introduced three new tactical backpacks that you can choose from before you spawn.
As with the original map, the primary appeal of the tactical backpacks is that they give you a way to get around quickly right from the get go. This is essential since both maps are vast, and there are relatively few players to find in them.
This can make for some lonely matches, at least until the ash cloud shepherds everybody into a progressively more intimate arena.
It’s no surprise that IGN gave season one of Ring of Elysium such an impressive score. For a free early access battle royale game it ticks a lot of boxes, and the new Europa Island can only make it more appealing. If you’re on the lookout for a new battle royale fix, Ring of Elysium is a good place to find it.