Super Animal Royale launched earlier this month and is the next Free To Play title in Stadia’s growing catalogue. Free To Play is always nice but doesn’t automatically make it a good game. So is Super Animal Royale worth your time? Read on below.
For a long time, the amount of Free To Play games on Stadia has been very limited. Where other (cloud) platforms have dozens of games to choose from, Stadia only had four games on offer. And while these games are definitely good, with the likes of Destiny 2 and Hitman being included, in this case more is better. Adding to that, with the large influx of new users due to the two year anniversary deal on Premiere Editions, this may be the perfect time for Super Animal Royale to launch onto Stadia.
Super Animal Royale is a Battle Royale game with a twist. Battle Royale games generally place a large number of players on one big map (64 in this case) with the goal of being the last man standing. As time progresses and the amount of surviving players decreases, the safe zone of the map becomes smaller and smaller. This is to ensure you eventually have to engage other players. Step out of the safe zone and you gradually lose health. You can do this concept solo or in teams. The last person or team standing wins the match.
The concept sounds simple, and it is, but is highly addictive. A few years ago it became insanely popular due to Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (Also on Stadia), with Fortnite following that (And becoming one of the most popular multiplayer games ever). Eventually everyone wanted a slice which led to well known games such as Call of Duty Warzone, Apex Legends and so on.
So, with the history lesson out of the way, what makes Super Animal Royale different? A number of things, which is impressive in this genre. First of all, note how most of the Battle Royale games are first person shooters. Not this one. Super Animal Royale follows the general concept but it’s gameplay is that of a Twin Stick Shooter. Which means, you get a top down view and control your character mainly with the left stick for moving and right for aiming. It’s a popular sub genre for co-op action games, but new to Battle Royale games. And it’s a great combination.
But that’s not all. Most Battle Royale games focus on realistic settings or at least something not far from that. Super Animal Royale’s setting is about an abandoned safari park where 64 murderous animals parachute to become the last one standing. Far from the more realistic settings of its competitors. The dialogue and world map is full of jokes and puns regarding this setting and rarely becomes too much. It’s perfectly executed. Everything you can find in the game thematically fits into the setting.
Now more about the gameplay. Before you enter the arena, all 64 players ride a giant eagle into the fray. It basically flies over the island in a straight line and you can decide when you want to hop off and parachute to the island. There’s a ton of different zones on the island, each with its own themes and types of battlegrounds. Recently, a beaver dam was added for example which has lots of walkways and offers a pretty open battleground, perfect for snipers. Or maybe you want to fight in an abandoned warehouse with a shotgun and close quarters. Plenty of options.
Like with other games in the genre, when you parachute into the combat zone you get nothing more than a melee weapon. The first thing to do is find a weapon. The entire island is littered with weapons of all kinds, ranging from common to legendary rarity. The rarer the weapon, the better it’s stats. One of the most fun things about the game is dropping on the island with a giant group of other players. It literally becomes a rat race in some cases to get to that first gun. That doesn’t guarantee success though, because the result is more often than not you’ll have to fend off multiple players with their melee weapons. This concept is also what often makes Battle Royale games so addicting, because surviving until the end is not just about skill but also a little bit about luck. Getting that epic weapon right from the get go might get you through the first 5 minutes.
Whenever you kill an enemy, they drop everything they’ve had on them. So sometimes it might be all about watching two top dogs duking it out and finishing off the remaining player. Just to get all that juicy gear they just dropped. However, this works both ways. Every encounter can go in any direction. Going head to head with another player may result in lots of players joining in, resulting in a mass shootout. It sometimes pay to go about stealthily to increase your survivabilty. But sometimes you’re just out of luck and run into a group of other players, no matter how you play.
The weapons you can use are generally familiar to many players. From AK 47’s and pistols to rifles and shotguns. However, there are also some weapons which are fitting for the theme, such as Sparrow Launchers.They’re somewhat like crossbows but use sparrows as bolts. An impressive achievement is that most of the weapons actually feel competitive. They all have a distinctive feel and use. Ultimately, it’s all about which weapon “feels” great for you. The only weapon I rarely see used are bows.
Apart from weapons, there’s also a lot of other items strewn about. Health juice which you can use to replenish your health (Although this takes time, so you can’t do this mid battle), body armor to give you extra survivability, several power ups which add new effects to your character and much more. Sometimes you’ll come across red supply chests which generally hold better gear than you can usually find. And once in a while, a mole will enter the battlefield with a treasure chest which contains the best items in the game. However, every player will see it on the map. So going there is high risk, high reward.
The game can be played solo, against 63 other players who also play solo. Or you can play in teams of two (Duo’s) or teams of four (Squads). Playing alone or in a team definitely offers a different way to play the game, as you need different tactics for both. However, teaming up with friends is extremely fun and definitely recommended since it’s free. Another interesting mode is some form of Zombie mode. All players drop on the map with some players being zombie chickens and the others survivors all part of one big team. The goal is to survive until time runs out, but whenever the zombie chickens kill a player, that player returns as a zombie player. A mode well worth checking out!
The game also offers a lot of customization options. You start out with four types of animals to choose from, but as you progress through the game and level up (You gain experience from playing matches), you’ll unlock all sorts of animals you can play as. You can further customize these animals by gathering their DNA from completing matches. On top of that, you can customize clothes, hats, weapons and much more. I’ve seen awesome combinations so far, such as a tuxedo wearing crocodile, foxes with a Robin Hood outfit and dogs in jail outfits. Where absurd outfits feel out of place in most battle royale games, due to their realistic setting, in Super Animal Royale it all comes together really well.
Now the big question is, since it’s Free To Play, what’s the catch? Where are the pay to win mechanics? I have found none. There are microtransactions but it’s purely for cosmetics. And they can all be earned by playing the game as well. Super Animal Royale perfectly executes the Free To Play business plan and sets an example for others in the industry.
But that’s not all Super Animal Royale executes perfectly. Stadia players, or cloud gamers in general, can get behind the vision of being able to play your games on every device without any hassles. Super Animal Royale offers full cross-play and full cross progression between all available platforms (Stadia, PC, Playstation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch). You can play on Stadia on your phone in the morning and carry on with your account on your Xbox. And that’s not all, cross-parties are also a thing. A feature coming to Stadia in the near future. It will allow you to team up with players from other platforms as well, eliminating every barrier to play together and play your way. In my opinion, the developers of Super Animal Royale set an example here of how every multiplayer game should be in the future.
From a graphics perspective, Super Animal Royale does an incredible job to make everything feel in place. The zones are cleverly thought out with puns to be found everywhere. The color palettes all match up, making it obvious when you’re transitioning to another zone. And the sound effects add to the contrast of cute but deadly animals fighting it out.
You may have noticed I have only had good things to see about the game so far. Are there any negatives? There are, no game is perfect. However they are so minor compared to everything the game does right. For example, the question remains how fun the game will be after playing non-stop for weeks or months. But that’s a problem with the genre in general. And for the low cost of free, is that really an issue?
For me personally, this comes close to a perfect game. It’s very enjoyable, sets itself apart from other games in the genre, can be played in so many different ways and is also the perfect game to just start up when you have a 15 minute break on whichever device you want. I’d argue that this should be the game everyone should play first when trying Stadia. Because it’s so accessible and fun. I know I’ll be playing this regularly for the next few months and if you haven’t done so yet, definitely try it!
Pros / Cons
+ A unique way to play a Battle Royale
+ Every game is different, yet still a lot of fun
+ Tons of customization options
+ Free To Play done right
– Longevity depends on the content to be added
Review Score: 9,5