120 players. An island filled with weapons and vehicles. A playing ground that shrinks in size with every passing second. Hyped by PlayerUnknown Battleground players, NetEase Games’s new creation, Rules of Survival, succeeds in bringing tense warfare to the mobile platform. However, it both fails at constructing a fully immersive atmosphere and can sometimes crash, which ultimately tempers its replayability.
Rules of Survival adapts much of PlayerUknown’s Battlegrounds’s formula. At the beginning of each deathmatch, players parachute out of a plane to land on the game’s sole locale: a decently-rendered island. To win a match, one must be the last player left alive.
While its graphics do not compare to those of console or PC games and some of its textures take a while to render, Rules of Survival does a passable job at making its environment feel alive. There are numerous houses, office buildings, gas stations, military bases, and more that relay the notion that the island is inhabited, although no natives appear during the matches.
Players can find various weapons and equipment scattered in addition to cars that can be driven throughout the island. However, driving does feel very awkward in Rules of Survival. Steering a car requires players to forego their ability to look around them for loot, enemies, or even obstacles that they may crash into. When on foot, however, the game runs much more smoothly. The controls to run, crouch, lie prone on the ground, jump, aim, run-and-gun, and shoot are laid out such that they do not detract from the space players use to actually see what is going on around them.
Gameplay itself is where Rules of Survival shines. After locating weaponry, players can either choose to hunker down and wait until the playing field has been thinned down or go on the offensive. Both methods prove to be enjoyable: the former quickly builds a sense of tension through tasks as mundane as sitting in a building and the latter provides a euphoric high through the use of quick reflexes.
The quality of competition that players are eligible to go up against rises the more they play. Everyone begins at the Bronze Tier III level, although players who find success in the deathmatches can rapidly advance their ranking.
Rules of Survival offers three options within its deathmatches: to go into battle solo, with a teammate, or in a squad of four. Players can choose to be paired with random teammates or with friends. Teammate and squad play provide the opportunity to incorporate more strategy, as one player can even revive team members within a certain period of time should one be killed.
Players can, at this point, only use one character as which to play. There is not much room for customization, which means that players will look almost identical to all 120 of their opponents.
Overall, Rules of Survival offers a solid if not spectacular experience to players. It specializes in creating tense moments of gameplay that are truly riveting, but at the same time is hampered by less than stellar graphics and frequent crashes. Rules of Survival fills a niche on the mobile market in that it allows for players to test themselves against many competitors at the same time, but its weaknesses bring down its overall score to a 7/10.