An exciting perspective on the wrestling scene

Professional wrestling video games have primarily focused on reproducing the excitement of in-ring action since the sport’s earliest virtual steps. Some have taken wrestling to new worlds entirely, like the lucha libre version of Guacamelee on the Metroid-Vania plane and the upcoming RPG WrestleQuest. Rumbleverse is the newest member of this experimental group, built with an obvious admiration for professional wrestling and the injection of spandex and baby oil into the battle royale genre. While it probably won’t usurp Fortnite or Call of Duty: Warzone’s spot at the top, developers Iron Galaxy have created an incredibly fun base that, with the right support, could turn into something beautiful.


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The vibrant world of Rumbleverse

For players versed in battle royales, Rumbleverse follows a familiar path. Forty players are dropped onto a map, then compete on the increasingly tight battlefield to crown a single champion. Starting up for the first time, it’s quite evident that Iron Galaxy has set itself a firm identity for the Rumbleverse, situating its cartoonish-looking “rumblers” in Grapital City, a metropolis dedicated to the spectacle of professional wrestling. .

Exploring a cityscape is nothing new to gaming, with large open cities being a staple of the medium since the early 2000s. So many titles end up creating rather bland and simple settlements, but with Rumbleverse, Grapital City has been meticulously crafted, imbued with the spirit of professional wrestling from its foundations. The streets are populated with tongue-in-cheek gags about the testosterone-fueled world of the square circle, with billboards for protein and gyms, bench presses at bus stops and a personal favorite being a skyscraper simply called “The Body Building“.

Rather than choosing from a selection of skins to coat your characters like other battle royales, Rumbleverse offers a more detailed mode of customization. Clearly understanding that building your own grapplers is one of the most fun parts of wrestling games, Rumbleverse lets players choose their avatar build and dress them up with a selection of clothing options, singlets and tights. from traditional wrestling to more zanier options like a complete chicken costume.

While Rumbleverse isn’t exactly venturing into uncharted territory with its cartoonish aesthetic, it’s truly impressive how good the game looks. Grapital City and the rumblers themselves are all polished, while the slams, crashes, and wall-climbing leave their mark on the world, all show just how much care has gone into building the Rumbleverse.

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Learn a new grip

When writing ‘pro wrestling + battle royale’ on paper, a question that immediately jumps to mind is how does combat work? Melee combat has rarely worked well in a battle royale setting, with heavy hitters like Fortnite, Warzone, Apex Legends, and PUBG all having a shooter at heart. The answer Rumbleverse has found is surprisingly satisfying.

In Rumbleverse, players have a basic move set that can be upgraded with loot. Upon landing in the game, players can perform basic attacks like single strikes, dropkicks, and elbow strikes, as well as “vicious attacks”. These act like Rumbleverse’s heavier strikes but harder to execute, requiring grabbing an enemy just to land. Things get interesting when adding special attacks. Along with finding weapons like baseball bats and steel chairs, players will find magazines and manuals that teach them new moves that can then be equipped, possessing a maximum of two at a time. This is another area where the Rumbleverse’s love for wrestling shines through. In this first iteration of the game, the loot pool includes crisp strikes like huge uppercuts and superkicks, powerful grapples like chokeslams and Castagnoli-style swings, to even think like poison fog and a rocket jump, you throwing through the air ready to drop an elbow from the sky.

A great idea implemented in Rumbleverse is the use of perks. As you deal damage to your opponents, you score more points to unlock a new perk in that turn. Along with pushing a more aggressive style of play, rewarding the brave and the daring, these perks have a noticeable effect on gameplay. Some offer passive bonuses like reduced stamina costs and bonus damage, while others offer the ability to rest and regain health, which is a real game-changer.

Rather than mashing buttons to pull off all the best moves, Rumbleverse requires a more considered approach. Along with managing a stamina meter, players can block strikes and dodge grappling hooks, adding a few things to consider when facing off against an enemy. In the early hours of Rumbleverse, getting to grips with battle tactics can be somewhat frustrating when moves don’t connect, or you can’t block in time, sometimes feeling like you’re being crushed by a punching opponent. movement after movement. But, most of the time, you come out of a skirmish evaluating and learning, thinking about what you could have done better and how to improve your game next time.

When the Rumbleverse fight clicks, it clicks big. There are few things in the game more satisfying than standing on top of a building, spotting two players fighting in the street below, and landing a perfect 30-foot elbow on both of them, or a bouncing suplex on the roof of a car and throwing the throw an extra block, knocking out an opponent on impact.

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The final verdict

Many games have entered the “games as a service” sphere over the past few years, with more failures than real successes. A title doesn’t have to be a monumental success like Fortnite, with the gaming landscape supporting many multiplayer communities. For Rumbleverse, it definitely has the potential to carve out a place for itself in the ecosystem.

With its first season dropping on August 18, accompanied by a Battlepass that modern players are well used to, the developers of Iron Galaxy have their sights set on Rumbleverse as a long-term project. On examination, it is indeed “Rumbleverse 1.0”, with more depth to come as more content is added. But, with this launch build being the simplest and most basic iteration, it really shows just how fun Rumbleverse is to play. Even without a checklist of weekly challenges or a battle pass to level up and get through, the end of one round still evokes the desire for another. For every instance where a battle with another player leaves me frustrated, there are five Rumbleverse instances setting up some of the hottest multiplayer moments in recent gaming memory.

Straddling the worlds of battle royales and professional wrestling, the Rumbleverse probably won’t be for everyone. However, if you land in Grapital City prepared for a wrestling-shrouded battle royale, rather than an in-depth wrestling sim, you’re bound to find a good time.

Rumbleverse Rating: 4/5

Game tested on PlayStation 5.

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