Bleeding Edge for Microsoft Xbox is shaping up to be everything that the tech giant hopes that it could be — fun, exciting, and unique. After my 30 minutes of hands-on time, it’s safe to say that Bleeding Edge has potential. The real question is whether it can cut through the noise of the genre, develop a dedicated following, and balance the battle system in a way that creates addicting competitive gameplay. Although the obvious comparison to the title is Overwatch — and it’s a relatively apt pairing — Bleeding Edge still feels like it has more in common with games like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, and that is definitely to the title’s benefit.
On a surface level, the controls are incredibly easy to pick up even if you are not a fan of the hack-and-slash genre. Most of your moves will consist of simple attack, attack, attack, attack combos and a jump-attack ground-pound move. Like Overwatch, each character has abilities that work to the team’s advantage — either to get a player into the center of the fray, distract or disengage from the enemy, heal and shield teammates, or chase down a fleeing opponent. Of course, each character is also equipped with a devastating “ultimate” that can be strategically used to turn the tide of battle in your favor.
Hands-on, Bleeding Edge‘s attack system is both simple and varied, bordering on button mashing while adding the challenge of knowing when to strategically use an ability. Snappy and responsive, you never feel locked in the same cycle of moves, and can easily adjust attack patterns to confuse opponents. These moves feel like love letters to the hack-and-slash games of the past, keeping it simple enough to drop in while offering options in combat for veteran players. It remains to be seen if this formula will get stale as time goes on, but I was definitely itching for more after my brief time playing.
In team battles, Bleeding Edge‘s moves are used to earn points by controlling areas and racking up kills. Players use hoverboards to traverse the map, and then move on foot to zones, dodging environmental hazards and other teams in order to position themselves well for combat. I won’t lie — Bleeding Edge‘s multiplayer model is not revolutionary, but it serves the purpose of the game, letting the gameplay and character specifics really shine.
While they may look like knock-offs of a certain Blizzard lineup, the cast of playable characters feels relatively personable and varied. In the hands-on demo, characters are broken up into assassin, support, and tank categories, each having obvious advantages to the team. Some are more geared towards ranged combat, while others get up close and personal, and the varied character skills allow for many different successful team makeups.
For Bleeding Edge, the success of the title really hangs in the upcoming development decisions of the team at Ninja Theory. To make it truly great, they need to find the perfect balance between characters, and clearly make counters to establish a dynamic meta. In addition, game speed may need to be increased in order to create a faster, more in-your-face, pick-up-and-play style of multiplayer actions. Combine this with a well-developed lore system and a roadmap of character releases, and Bleeding Edge could be a strong first party addition to both Microsoft’s lineup and even its Esports presence.
Keep an eye out for Bleeding Edge when it drops in technical Alpha on June 27.