So…Radical Heights?

Radical Heights need to crawl before it worries about flying.

I, like many others, jumped into (or from) some Radical Heights over this past weekend. Boss Key, the current home of Cliffy B and the makers of Lawbreakers, released this very early access battle royale game with an 80’s vibe and not much else. Though they jokingly refer to it as “Xtreme Early Access” that is not an inaccurate statement (not in their context). I spent just shy of two hours jumping into matches, finishing as high as second and having more than a few early deaths. This is certainly battle royale, if in the rawest form possible. The biggest issue is that everyone wants to get their opinion out there to be on the right or wrong side of history when the game finally does (assuming it does) finally hit full release. We fell victim ourselves in our most recent podcast calling the game dead on arrival (my words specifically).

The biggest issue I have, especially now that I’ve played it, is that this game is far too early to say much of anything about it. Some big name streamers and online personalities are talking about the game’s “potential”, but that potential is hardly apparent this early. The game is lacking some textures and sound effects, lacks satisfying weapon feedback, and frankly doesn’t feel that good to play. If this wasn’t Boss Key (well, if this wasn’t Cliffy B) and Fortnite hadn’t been down for a day or two I wonder how much we’d actually be talking about this game. It feels like a perfect storm of getting the developer back into the news by announcing they’re moving on from Lawbreakers and then capitalizing on the bad publicity to bring out a new game that certainly lives up to claim that the game has only been in development for five months.

Radical Heights beats you over the head with it’s 80’s game show vibe, but that’s all it really has. While buildings and the environment lack even basic textures at times, the prize doors and gun vending machines all look pretty alright. I like these additions since it brings something fresh to the genre, but it’s clear that the development time has thus far been invested almost entirely into the aesthetic to the detriment of the actual battle royale gameplay. Most of the time I couldn’t even find a gun, but the game makes sure to push its cash mechanics down your throat as much as possible.

Cash is a major mechanic of Radical Heights, but often for the wrong reasons. The idea is you can find cash and prizes (a cool idea to be fair) as you play and you’ll keep most if not all of it when completing a match. You can put your cash into ATMs around the map to guarantee your loot or to withdraw money to use at the vending machines, some of which dish out top-tier weapons and armor. Players who invest a lot of time into the game can buy their way to victory, in theory, so long as they have the skill to back it up. You can also find cosmetic items in the world that you can later buy with your cash. It’s not a great system and will likely turn away a lot of the core battle royale fandom, but much like the rest of the game, it’s tough to judge this early.

My biggest issue is that it takes a lot of cash to purchase these items, like thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, but it would take several hours of play to purchase even the common gear unless you are winning regularly and are especially frugal with your earnings. Alternatively, you can buy a separate currency and purchase cosmetics with real money. Yeah, the game is barely anything more than a few coolish ideas at this point and they have microtransactions. There isn’t even a game here yet that’s worth a damn, get this garbage out of here.

It’s a shame that the gameplay isn’t my biggest gripe with this game, but it is just so forgettable at this point. It is raw and feels bad, but I expect that based on everything else in the game. I feel like this will be a non-issue by the time the game is in a judgeable form. Lawbreakers wasn’t a bad game, it was a game that never found an audience. Boss Key can make a quality shooter. I worry about everything else surrounding the gameplay, and I worry if trying to get this game out there so quickly will eventually hurt the game long-term. If you feel the need for another battle royale game, you can try this, but don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that this is the next big thing. We are months away from this being a product worth judging, so I’ll hold mine until the game is in a more finished state. Frankly, I’d stay away for now and come back when that version of the game exists.