ZeptoLab’s battle royale Bullet Echo is at once a unique and typical PVP tactical team shooter. Some of the game’s nuances are fresh and engaging, but the fundamentals feel like a rinsed, repeated version of the same ol’ same ol’. Automatic shooting and limited field of vision are exciting features, but can they excite players enough to balance the unbalanced and pay-to-win elements?
After players vote which section of the map their squad will deploy from, they assume the role of their character from an eagle’s eye view. Squads navigate through rooms and hallways to hunt enemies, collect ammo and upgrades and avoid the ring of fire—a lethal circle around the map that slowly contracts to force enemies closer and engage in more combat. Players’ lines of sight and ranges of fire depend on the characteristics of their chosen character. Some heroes have long ranges of fire and sight but very little health. Others have short ranges of fire and sight and a lot of health. Sound familiar? Thankfully, there is enough variety and balance in the heroes’ attributes to suit various player strategies. Character options follow commonplace stereotypes, such as the rebellious soldier, the stealthy one with a mask, and the juggernaut with a big gun.
I found the first several rounds of gameplay exhilarating. The flashlights and stealthiness tap into Metal Gear: Solid nostalgia. Not knowing what lies beyond and behind walls and corridors cultivates an anticipation similar to what’s felt when playing a horror game like Silent Hill. Pretty soon, however, patterns emerge and the game gets stuck on repeat. Players with Level 30 juggernauts who have seven times as much health and triple the amount of firing power mow down entire squads. Players with Level 40 snipers one-shot kill from distances so far, they cannot be seen on the map. The DEFEAT soundtrack perpetually screams from your phone and the VICTORY song is as rare as Bucks and Player Cards. What are those you ask?
Unbalanced and Pay to Win
Several currencies that serve to summon players’ wallets rule Bullet Echo. The game employs a huge collection of resource types. By way of gameplay players can receive Coins, Trophies, XP, Player Cards, Bucks, and Batteries. Coins, Trophies, and XP are the easiest to come by; Player Cards, Bucks, and Batteries are the most difficult. Wanna guess which ones players need most?
Player Cards and Bucks are responsible for upgrading heroes. Each hero requires 35 player cards to upgrade to the next tier, and each tier consists of ten levels. Heroes level up through gameplay; players must use Player Cards or Bucks to upgrade to the next tier when heroes reach Level 10. The higher the tier, the more capacity for Power, Health, Damage, and Armor. Tier One is Level 1-10, Tier Two is Level 11-20, so on and so forth.
When playing a character consistently, it is easy to reach Level 10, but if a player does not have enough Player Cards to upgrade to Tier Two, they may use Bucks to upgrade instead. However, since Bucks are as difficult to come by as Player Cards, Bullet Echo promptly directs players to the Shop whenever in-game funds are insufficient. One can decline and patiently wait for the impossible or purchase 80 Bucks for $1.99, 600 for $9.99, or the most popular option: 4000 for $54.99. The app does not fail to remind players of other in-app purchases that purportedly enhance gameplay. Many of which retain the same “discounts” for days on end. I wonder which bundle and deals the players with Level 30 Juggernauts and Level 40 snipers purchased.
The crux of Bullet Echo’s self-proclaimed uniqueness is the automatic firing feature and the limited field of view. The automatic firing feature is hit or miss, literally. It takes both thumbs to navigate around the map, so it’s nice to not have to press an additional button to shoot. However, since the hero shoots as soon as an enemy enters his red cone, it’s easy to unintentionally give away one’s position and waste a bunch of bullets if not ready for engagement. The limited field of view feature is such a miniscule difference that you probably didn’t pay much attention to the description of it in the second paragraph nor will you in the game.
There’s no question that these two features are unique, but they do not add much value beyond allowing ZeptoLab to insert “unique” in the game’s description. Bullet Echo is compelling for a short while, but the hands reaching into your pockets are a major distraction. There are better games to get you through lockdown.
It’s not terrible nor is it the greatest. It can be fun, but there’s nothing new of consequence. If you’re willing to throw some cash around, it might be a good fit for you.