When Bleeding Edge was first announced as a new title by Ninja Theory, the world was a bit surprised, to say the least. The studio isn’t exactly known for its multiplayer games and the first title they announce after the Xbox Game Studios acquisition is a 4-v-4 Team brawler. We’ll find out today if it was worth going off the beaten path.
Bleeding Edge is a Team-based game where victory hinges on picking a good mix of heroes for your squad. Luckily the cast of augmented anti-heroes has a decent amount of variation so you’ll be able to master a few personal favourites allowing you to pick the missing puzzle piece for a well-balanced team. But who are these folks, and why are they fighting each other?
The game doesn’t really give a lot of exposition on the matter. If you’ve grown used to Blizzard’s hero-centric games in the past couple of years, you’ll miss having a cinematic with a backstory for each character. In Bleeding Edge you’ll have to settle for a short written bio and a single “We fight, because we like it” intro sequence.
Luckily the visual design of the brawlers is highly inspired and their abilities do a lot of the talking for them. The game launched with 11 characters to pick from and with number twelve following shortly (a dolphin riding a quadruped tank of all things)
There are three different classes. First off we have the (high DPS) attackers:
- Daemon: A Stealthy sword & graffiti wielding ninja
- Gizmo: A gun-wielding ranged attacker with automated turrets
- Maeve: A life-draining witch with useful cages to deploy
- Cass: A feathery lass with sharp talons
- Níðhöggr: A black-metal playing axe/guitar wielder
Then you have your Support characters:
- Zerocool: Rides around in a hovercraft and will be your main healer
- Kulev: A voodoo zombie controlled by a robotic snake (AoE curses)
- Miko: A South-African witch doctor that can heal & freeze enemies
And finally, we have our HP & Defense-heavy tanks:
- Buttercup: Rides around on a giant wheel and wields saw-blades
- El Bastardo: A living sword tornado from Mexico
- Makutu: A kind-hearted New-Zealander with a rugby-player physique
Now that we’ve briefly gotten to know the cast, what exactly are we putting them through? You have two different game-types in Bleeding Edge, in the classic Objective Control, you’ll be fighting over three zones that you’ll need to capture and hold. Your score will keep ticking up (killing opponents will also give you a few points) until it reaches 600.
The other mode, Power Collection, is slightly similar, only you’ll be collecting battery cells that spawn on the map and you’ll need to deposit them at drop-off zones, ideally uninterrupted.
The five different levels do make up for the lack of variation in the game-modes: These are outrageous arenas with environmental hazards that can easily kill you out of nowhere if you’re not paying attention: A train might run you over or you could get hit by missile strikes. Combined with the need to stick close to these key locations, it adds a thrilling element of danger into the mix.
So we have two game-modes, five arenas and (soon) twelve characters to play as. Where is the incentive to pick up the controller and come back to the game? For me, it’s experimenting with the modifiers you can buy/earn & equip.
You see, each character has three skills, two ultimates and a few passive abilities and there are modifiers for each. Picking a different load-out seems subtle enough but could entirely alter your playstyle.
Take Daemon the Ninja, for example, you could have him make better use of his stealth by giving him more opportunities to activate it and give you an attack boost when you come out cloaking. I feel like there are many different combinations left to explore and I’ll definitely be trying out a lot of them at least until I’ve earned all the achievements.
You can also spend some hard-earned money on customisations, but sadly the skins are rather lazy pallet swaps. The only real visual change you can apply is to your hoverboard and their trails. Oh, did I forget to mention the hoverboards? I should have started the review mentioning the hoverboards, right?
What makes Bleeding Edge different from other similar games is that it has a slower pace and thus allows for a more tactical approach. Your hoverboard will be your best ally in traversing the levels fast enough to get back into the fray after being killed.
Playing as a team is perhaps the biggest factor that will decide your enjoyment of Bleeding Edge. There is no matchmaking and no character queue, so if you’re playing with random internet people (most of which are just diving into the game for a few “free” brawls because they have Xbox Gamepass) then you’re going to have a bad time facing a team that does cooperate.
When you’re playing this with a team of friends all connected through voice-chat, that’s when the magic happens and that’s when the game will click: Suddenly you’ll be developing tactics, ways to single out opponents and ambush them or how to draw the attention from the opposing team while one person sneaks to the Objectives and earns you the win.
One last thing I’d like to bring up is the insane amount of data being stored, and I’m not just talking about kill/death ratio and character stats: Every single match you play gets recorded and can be viewed again from any characters perspective or with a free-roaming cam. For people trying to capture cool footage of the game, this is a dream come true.
Bleeding Edge is a fun 4-v-4 brawler and best played with a team of friends. You’ll have a blast while it lasts, but what it offers in wildly interesting characters designs, it’s lacking in longevity.
I hope the game will be expanded upon and give me a reason to come back to it after the New-Gamepass-Title effect has worn off.
- Interesting Characters
- Slower pace allows for more tactics
- Good level design/hero balancing
- Exellent performance
- Insane amount of video data being stored
- Characters don't have a lot of backstory
- Not a lot of longevity and no real feeling of progression
- Lacking content