It would be fair to say that we were slightly boggled when we heard about Ninja Theory's (DMC: Devil May Cry and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice) upcoming title. Bleeding Edge is an online 4v4 multiplayer arena battler, which is especially surprising since the studio is known for its fairly spectacular single-player experiences. With this being said, when we got to take a look at the trailer for the title at Xbox's conference earlier this week, we were pleasantly impressed. In fact, even more so, when we managed to get hands-on with the game at the Xbox Showcase event which took place shortly after the conference.
As mentioned earlier, Bleeding Edge is a 4v4 team-based multiplayer affair, which plays similarly to the likes of Overwatch. The game also shares a similar approach to classes as Blizzard's shooter, giving the opportunity for characters to be picked from one of three classes, those being; Assassin, Support and Heavy. It's a setup that means strategy and team play are critical for success.
When we got into the demo, we started with a brief introduction to the game's mechanics. This tutorial gave the information on how to move, aim, jump and use abilities. Perhaps the most interesting feature of this was getting to understand how the multiple ultimate abilities work. Unlike Overwatch, Bleeding Edge lets players choose one of two ultimates, which can be game changing in several ways and also vastly alter how each fighter plays.
After we absolutely smashed this tutorial, we jumped into a quick 'dojo' session, which is an experience that allows you to test and connect with each of the playable fighters in the game. In this demo, we had the opportunity to test ten different characters (which is almost the full roster set to be available at launch, whenever that might be). The only exceptions were two characters who are seemingly unannounced but do appear on the fighter list. Whilst we did manage to try each of the fighters in the dojo, we are only going to focus on two here, as they were the ones we played in an actual game.
Once we finally made it into a match, the team we played with, which consisted of three other players, was pitted against another team at the showcase. The game mode that was available in the demo was a variation of 'domination' modes we've seen before, except zones were not necessarily active at all times. As for the other ways to play the game, we are yet to hear about them but there's sure to be more - or at least we hope there will be.
To start off the game, we chose ZeroCool, a character who has abilities that allow him to separate teams with a giant digital wall or provide a continuous stream of healing to needy allies. To go with this, his ultimate abilities allowed him to either resurrect an ally in battle or temporarily buff allies with added armour when in proximity. Needless to say, ZeroCool performed the role of support exceptionally, but unfortunately suffered greatly when being pressured by enemies, even with the game's dodging mechanics.
After being sent back to spawn a few times with ZeroCool, we thought it was time to change fighter. Bleeding Edge lets players change characters at will, provided they are in the spawn area for their team. Since we were the only support on the team, we stayed playing the role but this time using Miko, a cybernetically enhanced warrior from South Africa skilled in the art of healing.
This fighter was much more enjoyable and whilst she was more challenging to get base value from in a fight, she allowed us to manipulate the enemy team more, ultimately giving new chances to help our own allies. As a brief summary, Miko's ability-set provided the opportunity to chain-heal allies, deploy a barrier to block against enemy projectiles, and finally freeze enemies at will. Her ultimates, on the other hand, gave her the ability to place every team member in stealth whilst also revealing enemies, or alternatively create an incredibly potent healing beam which most enemies would struggle to fight through.
It is worth mentioning that each character has its own mount which allows them to traverse the map faster. These are similar to the mounts in Paladins, another team-based title. They can be summoned at will, the only cost being a short cooldown. As well as this, each fighter's mount is unique from the rest. Most use a hover-board which has design features to reflect the character, but a few use entirely separate mounts. For example, Maeve, an elderly assassin who can cast lighting from her fingers, rides upon a so-called Hover-Bubble which is essentially just a metal orb that floats around.
During our time with the title, the game played flawlessly. We didn't experience any glitching or bugs and each of the characters seemed to fit perfectly. From what we've seen, there was no single stand out character who enveloped everyone else on the game's roster or seemed too strong, which says a lot for how the game is balanced. On top of this, the dynamic environments were absolutely brilliant. Sure, the jump pads were great fun, but seeing three people get mulched by a heaving train, sending them straight to spawn almost brought us to tears.
In summary, based on our first look, this title may just be an invigorating addition to the multiplayer brawler scene. We can't quite say as of yet whether Bleeding Edge is going to be potent enough to knock Overwatch from its throne. That said, provided the title keeps heading in the right direction, Blizzard should definitely start preparing for a fight.