It’s hard to remember a time before the Battle Royale format was so vastly popular with gamers of all ages, and how it has attracted so much media attention. Yes, Fortnite, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Apex Legends, amongst others, possess a truly huge following of fans. There’s much fierce debate within the gaming community about whether this is a good or bad thing, but that is a discussion for another time. One thing is for sure, it will take something special to muscle in and compete with these giants of the genre.
Enter Cuisine Royale then, a new online multiplayer Battle Royale game which promises “realistic weaponry, mystic traps and demonic rituals”. As with the vast majority of such games, Cuisine Royale is free to download and play, but there are many additional purchase options available. The most expensive bundle will set you back an eye-watering £83.49. As you might expect, each will contain special weapons, outfits and varying denominations of the in-game currency, which here is golden crowns. It’s also easy to forget, but as Cuisine Royale is an online-only multiplayer game you’ll need Xbox Live Gold in order to play it at all.
The key, of course, with such a game is to keep players interested as the only mode available to play is a giant deathmatch, ala Battle Royale. Cuisine Royale keeps you engaged in the same way as its rivals, through mechanics such as daily tasks, achievements, challenges and more. “Weird West: Path to Valhalla” is the current season, and there’s a story book available at an extra cost to accompany it. This allows you access to unique daily challenges and ultra rare items.
You can play as one of two characters to begin with, but can unlock a further couple and they all possess their own unique ability. Clyde, for example, has the “beast” ability. This allows him to temporarily surrender control of his body to a beast personality. The beast is fast and agile, but vulnerable to bullets. Each character has a different feel, so it’s best to play with each one at first to find the most suitable character for your style of play.
Hand in hand with this is the ability to upgrade your character with new gear. Each item has a rarity rating, the best and least common items being “epic”. As you play you’ll earn XP and collect resources. You can then craft epic items, amongst others, in your workshop. Like with any Battle Royale game, the continuous improvement element is designed to keep you regularly coming back for more.
Of course, in Cuisine Royale you can also customise your character, taking every effort to make them look as cool as possible. This is only right as they’ll be your representative on the virtual battlefield. There’s limited options at first (to begin with you’ll be running around in your undies), but as you level up you’ll start to unlock more options. Why not be competitive and look awesome in the process?
Anyway, you probably know how it all works, but I shall briefly run through things for the uninitiated. Tens of players are dropped into a huge battle area and it’s a case of fighting it out down to the last man standing. The difference in Cuisine Royale is that you randomly spawn, instead of dropping into the battleground when you choose to from a balloon or a plane or whatnot. At regular intervals the area of play will reduce (the blue circle on your radar) and if you’re outside it when that happens, you’re toast. Keep an eye out for the yellow dot on your compass – that will guide you to the centre of the map, and to safety within the white circle away from the enclosing blue walls of death. You can play solo, as a duo or in a squad of four if you fancy rolling with some backup.
There are plenty of weapons, armor and other items to loot as you play, with a noticeable World War II theme. This is potentially due to the developers borrowing from another of their games, Enlisted, which is set in the era. You’ll also notice trenches dug around the map which provide an ideal place to hide out and regroup. The settings are fairly standard, based very much in the real world.
The only twist to this are those mystic traps and demonic rituals I spoke of earlier. The rest of the game is pretty much ground in reality, apart from these abilities which can see you inflict all sorts of antics on your enemies. This can range from slowing their movement to simply catapulting them into the air. Some will also speed up your collection of souls, usually done once you kill an enemy player, which once you have enough will allow you to use your unique character ability.
For this season at least, Cuisine Royale has a wild west theme to the action. The battleground is fairly well populated with buildings and scenery to explore, managing not to feel too vast and empty. You can enter pretty much every building you see, but make sure you close the doors behind you. Leaving them open is a telltale sign to your enemies that you may well be nearby, or at least have been through that area. As your opponents will not show on your radar, you’ll have to rely on the volume of gunshots, footsteps and those visual clues to determine where they are, which really adds to the tension. This is especially true when you’re down to the last few players, enclosed in a small area and you know if you get killed it’s game over.
Cuisine Royale feels like a simple port from PC due to its style – shown by some of the options and the rather odd dual cursor and button selection setup in the menus. But perhaps the biggest tell is the size of the on screen text. It’s too small to be easily readable on a TV, it not having been altered since those PC gamers were sitting nice and close to their monitors. That said, the game was originally released on the PC back in 2018. It doesn’t feel like a lot, if anything, has been done to enhance the look and feel of the game for console since its initial launch. It’s a real shame – a missed opportunity – but not a deal breaker.
I’m glad to report the matchmaking is nice and quick though, which is encouraging stuff for an online-only game. There’s no cross play here, so maybe a few people jumped from PC to Xbox? Who knows. What I still haven’t figured out yet is the “cuisine” part of the game. I know you can wear pots and pans as armour, but I’d like to have seen further kitchen elements included.
I’ve always found the controls, specifically choosing weapons, cumbersome in any Battle Royale game. Fortunately it’s not quite the same story here, although it’s still a little clunky for me. There are on screen prompts to help you, each is denoted with either Y or a direction on the D-Pad to switch weapons with. Other notable actions include holding X down to reload and B to crouch, crawl and sneak about. Pressing the left thumbstick down will see you sprint, and A will make you jump. It’s all pretty standard for the genre, therefore if you’ve played any of Cuisine Royale’s rivals you’ll most likely pick up and play straight away.
The question with any Battle Royale game is how long you will be kept entertained. It offers one style of play and that’s it. Some players can play for hours whereas others will get bored pretty quickly. That decision is down to you, however Cuisine Royale on Xbox One is free to play, so in that sense you’ve got nothing to lose. Unfortunately, the additional purchase options means there’ll always be someone out there with better gear than you.
Cuisine Royale is a solid, enjoyable game with a wacky persona. It doesn’t do anything new or particularly different to stand out above its rivals on Xbox, but it’s still worth checking out nonetheless.