Rumbleverse is the latest free-to-play Battle Royale to arrive in recent months, but this one comes with a unique twist, rather than shoot guns you use your fists – it’s all about melee action and wrestling. This is the latest game from Iron Galaxy Studios, developers of Dive Kick and Killer Instinct Seasons.
This is a free-to-play, melee battle royale, that has a lot in common with Fortnite from a design point of view. Rather than run around the map picking up guns, this is all about accumulating moves, so you can take down your opponents as quickly as possible. If you have ever been interested in pro wrestling, then it’s likely there will be something in here for you to like too. You won’t be confined to a small ring, there’s a big city to explore, so you will be throwing opponents into buildings, slamming them off the top of cars, plus applying finishing moves left, right and centre. It’s all very over-the-top, cartoony action, but it’s also instantly fun and grabs your attention. Rumbleverse does a great job getting you into the action quickly, plus it offers up something different while maintaining some familiarity, it’s a great combination.
While the map may be big, the player count is slightly smaller than what we may be used to. Rather than 100 players on the map, we have 40. The formula is a familiar one, you are shot out of a cannon and you have to run around, grabbing food, and also picking up new moves (by rapidly reading books of course!). Rumbleverse manages to keep things simple, trimming away the layers of complexity that come with picking up weapons, armour and various scopes or equipment. The team have kept it simple, and I think the game benefits from this. Given it strips away the complexity, it also helps you get right into the action immediately. When you land you can immediately run at opponents, fists and feet flying, and try and knock out as many players as you possibly can. Finding the fun is a core concept in game development, and Rumbleverse has that down to roughly 30s when you start a match.
Combat in the game is easy to pick up, but there are layers of complexity if you want to delve into it. Punches and kicks are standard, although you can also grab opponents for moves, which you learn through picking up books and assigning to action buttons. Much like loot in Fortnite, there are rarities to take into account for the moves which include drop kicks, choke slams and various suplexes. The fighting feels great, and Rumbleverse has the smackdown feel to a tee. You have your standard attacks, guarding and grabs. Special attacks can bypass guarding, but if you miss then you’ll leave yourself open to attack. Also, you have to have eyes in the back of your head, because attacks come from 360 degrees in this game.
There’s a lot of fighting game DNA in Rumbleverse, especially given the developer Iron Galaxy Studios worked on Killer Instinct. You can rush in a superman and punch an opponent to the head to gain an early advantage, but then you can always hang back and bait opponents in, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. There’s a certain element of rock, scissors, and paper to the fighting style, but Rumbleverse keeps you engaged at almost every moment you are in open play.
There are little tricks and tips to getting around the map and using various features, which the game doesn’t do a great job of telling you about. For example, if you jump and use a boost at the same time you can long jump, which makes it nice and easy to get away quickly if you need to. There’s dodge cancelling out from special moves, plus you can do some really great combos, or fake out your opponent into thinking they can attack you. There is a training mode, but I had trouble getting in with matchmaking times of 3 mins plus, which is way too long for waiting, so I quit out.
There is one map at the moment in the game, but it’s very big, plus there is a lot of verticality to it. While Hyperscape didn’t survive the long haul, one thing it did do very well in the short time it was with us was vertical battles, and Rumbleverse does a similarly great job. Plus, climbing up buildings is accompanied by an oddly satisfying animation and audio.
Rumbleverse already offers up some great differentiation when it comes to gameplay, given its focus on melee action. However, there are a few other things it does very well in terms of keeping the gameplay fresh too. Everyone is motivated to get into battles through rewards that buff your character, and these are dished out when you hit certain damage milestones. Inflict enough damage on your opponents, and you’ll get a prize. This includes being able to regen health, which in a Battle Royale is massive. Restoring health, and dealing more damage, are all options on the table, so it’s a good idea to get in there and bash up your opponents early and often to get these buffs.
The closing circle is nice, and also brings in some real-life pro wrestling rules too with the count-out mechanic. The ring closes as per other Battle Royales, however, rather than remove your health, you’ll start a count. If that count goes to 10, you are out, which in turn creates some great gameplay moments and potential in games. You can use this to your advantage by running out of the circle to get away when you are one of the last remaining, or try and stop others from getting back in.
Gameplay aside the character creator is decent, you can choose from male and female characters, plus there’s a variety of haircuts and body shapes to take into account. In classic free-to-play fashion, there are plenty of outfits to buy if you want to, although it’s quite easy to play the game and ignore all the monetisation features if you don’t want to engage. It takes a lot for me to buy something from a game like this unless I love the developers or really appreciate the game. If they decided to add some 90s WWF skins in here, then I might find it hard to resist, but for now, Rumbleverse is going to have to work a little harder to get me to open my waller. I definitely appreciate the work being done by the team, and the game is great fun. Whether its something I’ll be returning to every week, time will tell.
One unfortunate experience I’ve had in the opening few days since release has been the state of the servers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given it’s free to play, plus it’s been widely marketed. Every game has issues on launch day, and this was no different. However, I have had trouble getting into matches, and queues for practice modes have been silly, to the point of me quitting and doing something else. Over the week or so since I have been playing it has got a little better, and hopefully, it’s only going to improve over time.
Overall, Rumbleverse is a unique Battle Royale experience which taps into two of my passions; video games and wrestling and manages to blend them together very well. It’s free to play, and widely available across many platforms, so if any of this has convinced you, then I’d recommend jumping in and giving it a shot.
Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios
Publisher: Epic Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/Series X/S, GeForce Now, PC
Release Date: 11 June 2022