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A battle royale where you fight to the death with words, not bullets

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Somehow, it’s still a fight to the death

Where are we dropping, boys? Right onto a Scrabble board. Babble Royale, released Wednesday on Mac and Windows PC via Steam, is a free-to-play word game that pits 16 players against each other in a Scrabble-like fight until one player stands alone.

Babble Royale will somehow look familiar to players of both Scrabble and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds — there are power-ups on the board for extra points, but also to blow up letter tiles. You earn money, too, which can be used to buy stuff from a shop: not guns, per se, but vowels, consonants, and, of course, bombs. Here’s how the game works: You drop onto the board and choose a starting position, and then basically make words using randomized letters.

You’ve got to watch out for other players, who are trying to knock you out by connecting their words to yours. Likewise, to knock others out, you do the same. As in any good battle royale game, there’s a deadly hot zone that gets smaller and smaller; if you’re in it, you’ll start to lose health, until you either move into a safe area or perish.

I’ve played Scrabble all my life. It can get intense. But Babble Royale downright makes my heart race — waiting for letters to repopulate and wracking my brain for different vocabulary. Scrabble itself is a game with major strategy, but Babble Royale takes that to a whole new level. I’m still figuring out all the little nuances of the game, but was able to jump right in — and have fun — without any instructions.

It’s a free-to-play game, but there are reasons to spend money, too: You can customize your tiles, plus add hats and emotes.

Babble Royale is currently in early access. Developer Everybody House Games (made up of Hey Robot and Universal Paperclips developers) said Babble Royale is in “Season Zero,” and that the game will be expanded “with new content and features” in the coming months.