Battle royale games have been steadily ramping up in their popularity over the last five years or so. An offshoot of the survival genre, battle royale games focus on a central theme that differentiates them from more ordinary survival fare—a bunch of survivors/prisoners/contestants are dropped off on an island and have to quickly scavenge for weapons and supplies. One of the main goal always includes taking out everybody else and living to be number one.
The Culling was arguably the first battle royale game to really garner any significant attention, at least the first dedicated one. Although H1Z1 had a battle royale mode before The Culling it wasn’t fully-fledged within the burgeoning subgenre. And of course Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (with the oddest title in gaming history) took the gaming world by storm with its gigantic map sizes and simplified, accessible-to-the-masses, arcade-y action.
Unfortunately, time hasn’t been kind to battle royale-style games. H1Z1 (formerly known as H1Z1: King of the Kill) has steadily angered its player-base with patches that they say are ruining the game. The Culling’s developers didn’t listen to their base at all, and everyone abandoned it. Meanwhile, the most successful of them all, PUBG, is plagued with many bugs and server issues, and of course its main problem—hackers.
Indie game developer Outpost Games couldn’t have picked a better time to debut their brand of battle royale game, titled SOS, in January 2018. Whereas in other games of this sort, everyone is more or less a nameless, digital automaton without a shred of identity, in SOS, players take the roles of one of sixteen different contestants that are totally unique and just oozing with flare and flavor.
SOS’s setup is certainly similar though—you start off on a jungle island with nothing and quickly have to scavenge for weapons and other useful items. But that’s where most of the similarities end. SOS goes much more in depth with its reality show backdrop, and encourages players to roleplay with their chosen avatar as much as possible.
For example, my first game consisted of me introducing myself to all of the other contestants (as did they) and amazingly, everyone playing really hammed it up. I then deployed to the island (called La Cuna) in search of whatever weapons and survival gear I could muster up. I quickly ran into my first couple of fellow contestants, who were teammates, and guess what happened? Instead of immediately attacking me they began chatting me up with in a hilarious and good-willed way.
After I responded with my own wisecracks they high-fived me (SOS’s way of officially allying with other players). We then scavenged around together until running into another solo player who acted nicely with us. Little did we know, the loner was playing a ruse and tried to lead us into an ambush that his buddies had set up. We ended up getting tipped off to it and annihilated the other team. Shortly thereafter, we made it off the island together.
In SOS, not only do you have to have to worry about other players, but also AI beasts called Hupas. Hupas are tall, wiry creatures with sharp claws that can rend you to shreds in seconds. Therefore, it is much wiser to team up with others in order to take them down.
Your main goal is to locate one of three relics that have been carefully secreted somewhere on the island. In order to locate them you have to investigate ramshackle island villages and Indiana Jones-style lost temples. Once you find a relic you’ll be able to fire a red flare up in to the sky, which in turn will call in a rescue chopper to airlift you off the island.
What’s interesting about SOS is that since there are three relics, three contestants can potentially make it off of the island. This makes each and every game a mix of comedic dialogue with others, devious setups, bouts of heartfelt cooperation, and even a little heroic self-sacrifice here and there.
For instance, I watched a couple of games where one of two remaining teammates sacrificed themselves to the enemy in order to get their friends to safety. They literally waged suicidal gunfights against foes who were pursuing them and the relic-holder.
In all, SOS is a great mix of humorous interaction, role-playing, deviousness, and unpredictability. Even though it has but one location so far, La Cuna Island, every game plays out in such a unique and dynamic manner that it has a great amount of replayability. We’ll see how it develops further.
SOS features outstanding graphics that make its survival gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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