When one thinks of Ninja Theory, the thought of single-player action-adventure titles often comes to mind. While the British development team is known for titles like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice or DmC: Devil May Cry, their stable is mostly empty of original multiplayer titles. Not since Kung Fu Chaos has the developer made a multiplayer game (not counting their help on Disney Infinity). It seems that’s about to change, as they’re gearing up to release Bleeding Edge, a third person team action title with a unique flair. GotGame had a chance to check out the newest build of the game, even having a chance to try future content.
Bleeding Edge is hard to describe at first glance. On the surface, it might look similar to games like Overwatch or even Anarchy Reigns. Once you get your hands on it though, it becomes clear that it’s a while different beast. Bleeding Edge pits players in a 4-vs-4 fight to gain supremacy, fulfilling game objectives and eliminating opponents. Players will pick from a cast of characters from three different classes: damage, support, and tank. Each character is unique and brings something different to the table.
Currently, there are two game modes, Objective Control and Power Collection. Objective Control puts three control points on the map that unlock over time. Being there to claim a point and defending it is key to winning this mode. With Power Collection, on the other hand, this takes a more of an exploration approach. There are several power cell containers around the map, and players have to collect them and unload them when their drop point opens up. Both modes are pretty fun, though surely Ninja Theory has more modes to plan.
One of the most striking things about Bleeding Edge is the aesthetic, as characters designs are, for lack of a better term, bleeding with style. Every character has a look that tells a story; one that places them in this vibrant and crazy world. For example, Kulev is a Cambridge professor who dies and transfers his consciousness into a robotic snake, taking host in his own taxidermied body. Gizmo is a mini-gun toting badass from Australia who also happens to be an engineering prodigy. There are currently eleven fighters set to release at launch, but they all have stories to tell.
Part of why these characters are so unique is the way the characters show off their interesting augments. In a dystopian future setting, robotic augmentations and implants are as common as tattoos and piercings. Many of these augments are illegal, and one of the key characters, Daemon, invites the misfits of society to New York, attempting to create a data breach utilizing underground fights. Since this is a multiplayer game, story isn’t the primary focus. Despite this, it helps to bring personality to this cast of characters.
Getting to the gameplay, as mentioned earlier, every character is incredibly unique. You’ll have melee fighters as well as combatants that rely on range to deliver their attacks. Each fighter will have a variety of skills, and it’ll take a bit of practice to fully master them. They’ll even have super abilities, each character having two options. One handy ability is the dodge mechanic, which can help get out of a tough situation. If you practice, you can even perform a parry and block attacks with the right timing. In a lot of ways, it’s like a third person MOBA, but with you in full control of your character. The fighters even have a mount of sorts, using either a hoverboard or their own augments.
While I haven’t had a chance to play as every fighter, the ones I did try left quite an impression. In my first match, I gave Gizmo a try, utilizing her technical engineering to take on my opponents. She has the ability to construct robotic turrets as well as a jump pad that helps her and allies gain new heights. Adding in her mini-gun, which increases rate of fire the longer you shoot, it can be devastating. As for her supers, both are pretty amazing in their own right. One summons a giant missile for her to ride, giving the player control of movement toward their enemies. The other super summons a mech wielding a flamethrower, giving Gizmo more firepower to help in a pinch. Thanks to her, I was able to deliver over 19,000 damage in my first match, with most other players not coming close.
Buttercup is another tank, and she uses her motocycle aesthetic well in her gameplay. She can release an pool of oil that will slow down enemies that touch it, and she can swing her chain around in a large area of effect. Her chain can also be used to grab onto foes, pulling them back toward her. When mounting up, instead of bringing out a hoverboard, she simply changes her position and rolls like a human motorcycle. If the player attacks while in this form, she’ll slide into opponents with a special attack. Her supers include a fiery burnout attack, as well as a buff that gives health, lifesteal, and increases damage.
One of the upcoming characters, Mekko, was also in this build. Mekko is a Japanese dolphin that was a corporate experiment, ending up gaining hatred for humanity. After Daemon rescues him, he starts to see the Bleeding Edge crew as family. Mekko is a ranged tank, and currently the only character that can block incoming attacks. He deploys a shield that takes damage and fills up a bubble that can upgrade abilities. His lifeline ability acts as a tether that can share health with allies and even pull them from danger. His safety zone ability creates armor for himself and allies, and even gives a lifesteal buff. As for his supers, he has a bubble that can trap an enemy, or a sonic attack that pushes enemies away in a wide spread.
I played as other characters like Kulev and El Bastardo, but not for very long. They were fun for the amount of time I played with them, but I didn’t even use them long enough to use a super. Kulev has a passive healing ability that makes him a valuable asset, though I had trouble using his normal abilities effectively. El Bastardo was great when I was playing with him, though I made the switch to him too late. His ability to gain armor by attacking and his launch attack are forces to be reckoned with. Finally, I got a bit of time with the healer ZeroCool, who has great abilities too. He can summon a wall to separate foes and even grant allies a temporary extra life. His healing is also pretty effective, making him one of the easiest healers to pick up.
While the characters all have two super abilities, that is just one option for customization. While I didn’t play much with it, characters can all utilize mods to alter there stats. Using credits earned from matches, they can apply them to these mods to customize their options. If you want to make a character more offensive, you can raise their attack stats. This could make a healer into more of an attacker. Defensive buffs, adjustments to abilities, and more await those in the mod section. Players can also personalize their characters with skins, emotes, and hoverboard decorations.
Being that this is Ninja Theory’s first multiplayer title in a long time, they’re definitely still learning to improve their game. The level design seems to work pretty well, giving a mostly symmetrical map for players to navigate. One thing that might help is some better indicators for certain environmental hazards, mainly trains. In a busy match, it can be easy to get hit by a train if you’re talking a lot on a headset. Power-ups don’t feel effective enough either, mainly since they only work for one player. It might help encourage teamwork to give allies a slight boost when picking up power-ups.
Levels themselves are aesthetically pleasing, giving off a punk graffiti vibe in various locales. The post-launch map, Landslide, is a map in Mexico that uses trains in the center. These trains aren’t as dangerous as the others, but they can still catch you off guard. One of our matches actually ended in defeat when one of these trains killed one of my allies. The trains carry a shield power-up, and the map works for both the current game modes. It’s a simple map, but a pretty fun one all the same. Jersey Sink was a pretty cool urban map too, though it that was where the trains were the most deadly. Finally, Sky Garden, which was easily my favorite map, is the temple in the sky. With cool architecture and a pleasing look to it, it’s a start contrast to the mayhem that unfolds on its grounds.
While I enjoyed my time playing Bleeding Edge, I still feel like I need to play more. I still have characters to try out, stages to explore, and mods to test out. There’s a beta for the game coming on March 13th, so maybe I’ll jump in and play more then. Even then, the game officially launches on March 24th, so it won’t be long now. Preorder the game to have access to the next closed beta. If you have Xbox Game Pass you can play in the beta as well, and the full game will also be available to play on day one. Look forward to more about Bleeding Edge in the coming days, including interviews with the developers and more.