The battle royale genre is its own battle royale, with titles constantly competing to be the number one choice for players. Ring of Elysium, tipped to be the next PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, is one of the candidates fighting for a place at the top.
The first thing you should know about Ring of Elysium is that it’s free to play. You can pick it up on Steam or directly from the game’s site. However, developer Aurora Studio needs to make money somehow, so there are plenty of in-game transactions to test your willpower.
The in-game purchases are entirely cosmetic. You can unlock new characters, character skins, weapon skins, accessory skins, and even vehicle skins. You earn a little bit of currency as you play. But if there are things you really want, you’ll almost certainly be dipping into your wallet to purchase them.
The popular thing for battle royale games to do now is have seasonal passes that give players access to unique loot for a limited amount of time. The passes also have challenges for players to complete for more loot or in-game currency.
It’s a good strategy for a game that relies on people doing the same things repeatedly. By giving players challenges, it forces them to play the game in different ways and gives them goals to work toward. Nothing keeps a player going like a goal.
Each new battle royale tries to be different from all the others in some way. Ring of Elysium has three things to differentiate it — one that changes the way you play each round, one at the end of each round, and one at the very start of the game.
The aspect that changes the way you play each round is where you “drop” out. You don’t begin a round by jumping out of a plane, or party bus, or whatever the next battle royale is going to use to push the envelope. In Ring of Elysium, you choose from a grid where you want to appear on the map. Aurora Studio have used this style of “drop” because of the backstory they’ve create for the battle royale.
You’re trapped in an area with a natural disaster coming in hot — literally — a wall of ash. A rescue helicopter is en route, but it can only save four people, not necessarily from the same team.
And that brings us to the major difference at the end of each round: you don’t win when you kill all the other enemies. You win if you can climb into the rescue helicopter without getting gunned down. So, multiple people can win.
While these two aspects of the game are unique, they do create some issues. The start of a round can be very slow, because players tend to pick places on the map that give them enough space and time to loot before engaging. The chaos that comes with dropping out of a plane and finding other players coming down next to you makes for a much livelier start.
When you do get to battle in Ring of Elysium, it’s really engaging and gets you onto the edge of your seat. The gunplay is great, the headshot audio is very satisfying, the terrain has variety, and it looks stunning — except for the ash wall, which for some reason looks like it came from the ’90s.
The dynamic weather creates a very different feel depending on if it’s calm and sunny or a torrential downpour with lightning illuminating your surroundings. The stormy weather is really, really well done — better than any other battle royale. Because of these things, each engagement feels unique. There just needs to be more of them.
As for the end, trying to climb into the helicopter is tough. It’s an interesting challenge, but it’s not very satisfying. Maybe they just need to improve the end scene — give it more drama. Or incentivize you to be the first one in — at least that would create some urgency to board the helicopter.
Right now you’ve got to battle your way across an entire island, climb the ladder of death to get into the helicopter and then… wait for others to join you. It’s underwhelming.
The third unique element that Ring of Elysium has is the ability to choose a unique kit at the start of the round. Currently you can choose between a hang glider, BMX, and grappling hook. In contrast to the other two features, this one is awesome. It sets Ring of Elysium apart from other battle royales and makes for some incredibly fun gameplay.
The different kits make for different play styles, which, again, creates variety in a very repetitive genre. You can get out of a tough spot by jumping off a cliff and gliding away, do tricks on your BMX as you speed across the terrain, or zip between buildings to get into advantageous positions with the grappling hook. These abilities alone are enough of a reason to try Ring of Elysium.
Each season Aurora Studio seems to be changing the map and some of the kits; previously the map was a snowy mountain and you could ride a snowboard. It’s a great way to keep the game fresh. Many battle royales suffer because they fail to release new maps or make changes to the one they have.
With a few tweaks, Ring of Elysium could be one of the top battle royales out there. And you can be sure tweaks will be made — it’s still in early access after all. Unfortunately, with all the choice given to them, gamers generally don’t have the patience to wait for things to improve, they just move onto something better. And it seems that’s what is happening.
In recent months the player count has been dropping, meaning wait times for games are longer, and when you play solo, you’re often playing in maps that aren’t full.
However, if you play squads you’ll be able to find a game almost instantly and the map will be full, so best to stick to that for now. The decrease in players could be entirely due to the release of Apex Legends and the recent updates to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Meaning once people get fatigued with those games again, they’ll return to Ring of Elysium.
All battle royale games go through ups and downs. Hopefully Ring of Elysium can ride out this dip because, despite some shortcomings, the kits give it something that no other battle royale has.