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Bleeding Edge

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Developer: Ninja Theory
Release Date: March 24, 2020

About Chris Barnes

There's few things I'd sell my soul to the devil for. However, the ability to grow a solid moustache? I'd probably sign that contract ... maybe ... (definitely).


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PC Review - 'Bleeding Edge'

by Chris Barnes on April 21, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Bleeding Edge offers a one-of-a-kind experience that fuses third-person action combat with competitive online team gaming.

Buy Bleeding Edge

Ninja Theory has built an impressive portfolio of games over the years. It has nailed rock-solid action games with the DmC reboot and flexed its narrative strengths with Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. Now, it's tackling yet another genre with Bleeding Edge: class-based action multiplayer. With an exuberant color palette and highly stylized character designs, Bleeding Edge tries its best to stand out from a crowded genre, but in its current state, the game doesn't offer enough.

Folks will be quick to label Bleeding Edge as an Overwatch clone since it's a competitive multiplayer action game with a cast of bright, quirky characters. After playing Bleeding Edge for nearly two weeks, it scratched my MOBA itch. The longer time-to-kill and melee-focused combat lead to lots of chase-down scenarios. Players have a sliver of health left, but you can't finish them off without a ranged ability. Some characters do have ranged weapons, but most of the time, you'll use special abilities on cooldown timers to catch up to opponents. In MOBA fashion, you also have a hoverboard that lets you flee battles and traverse maps. The mechanics reinforce the need to work as a team and single out enemy opponents if you want to succeed. It's a necessary callout for those looking for a multiplayer game where you can do your own thing. Those who prefer the "lone wolf" approach may want to look elsewhere.

The gameplay is quite snappy, and I enjoyed some of the character abilities once I got a feel for the controls and utilized the lock-on capability. I can see the argument for wanting a more skill-based game that requires quick reflex shots and pinpoint accuracy, but the lock-on capability lowers the floor of the required skill level (good for game and genre newcomers), and it forces players to focus on objectives and learn important team synergies to tip the scales in their favor. The developer has also added a pinging system to increase team coordination for those who refuse to use headsets in-game. I found the pinging system to do more harm than good, though. I frequently ran into situations where I attempted to ping an objective marker for my team, only to ping a power-up item between myself and the objective. I'm not sure the game has enough to keep newcomers engaged long enough to learn the finer gameplay elements.

With two gameplay modes, 11 playable characters, and a limited number of maps, there's not enough content in Bleeding Edge. The game only costs $30 and is available via Xbox Game Pass, but that shouldn't excuse the underwhelming variety in the game. Games within the MOBA genre offer a vast pool of characters to select from to keep every match fresh and engaging. Overwatch has a healthy character pool and a ton of maps to choose from. I get that building up to that level of content takes time, but Ninja Theory needs to start releasing content quickly if it wants to keep players around for the long haul. Even additional skins would help. Bleeding Edge also drops the ball in that realm by offering color shader alternatives to the base character models. There are cosmetic unlocks for your hoverboard mounts, so you can customize the board and its trail, à la Rocket League

Beyond that, you'll unlock ability modifiers for the characters, so you can spec out builds depending on how you'd like to play. You may choose attack buffs if you want a more aggressive tank, or you can dump all your mods into your ultimate ability if you want to tip the scales of a battle. I don't think the modifiers impact the gameplay enough, though. Every little stat bump makes a difference in these types of games, but an uptick of one or two percent isn't anything earth-shattering. Ninja Theory is focusing on the hoverboard cosmetics and ability modifiers, which don't do enough to mitigate the biggest issue: lack of variety. This is a detriment to the game's long-term prospects.

As stated, Bleeding Edge offers two gameplay modes. The first one has players focused on capturing points and defending against the opposing team. The maps have three total objectives, and the game cycles between various active points at any given time. Points A and B may be active for the first two minutes, point B may be active for two minutes after that, and so forth. Between each cycle of active points, there's a brief period of time to take a breather, grab some health pick-ups, and check out the map to see which point(s) will be active next. 

Power Collection, the other game mode in Bleeding Edge, is an enjoyable experience. A match cycles between two phases: collection and delivery. The former has teams roaming the map and destroying power cells that you'll stash away for delivery in the upcoming phase. After all the cells have been collected, delivery points activate to turn in your cells (any number of points may or may not become active during that phase). Turning in 50 cells results in a victory. Delivery of the cells is critical to success, since a death results in you dropping all of the cells you've collected, giving the opposing team an opportunity to cash in on your greediness. Moreover, the game indicates how many cells each player is currently holding (including the enemy players). This adds a fun spin to the game, since it helps you determine who to focus on in team battles. At the time of retail release, these are the only game modes available.

Having only two game modes highlights the underwhelming maps that much more. There are very few maps in Bleeding Edge, and for the handful that are present, there's little appeal to them. It's shocking how lifeless the world feels. The one saving grace to the maps is the environmental hazards. With objectives placed directly on train tracks and player-activated fires, those oblivious to their surroundings will often suffer comedic consequences. It took me a little while, but after the fifth or sixth time of having my body squished by an oncoming train, I learned to be more aware of my surroundings while capturing objectives. 

With situations like that, there's certainly fun to be had in Bleeding Edge. The gameplay is solid, and I enjoyed my time with the title. It just needs more of ... everything: characters, game modes, maps, and skins. Microsoft and/or Ninja Theory certainly seem to be aware of this shortcoming, if the game's price tag is any indication. That doesn't change the fact that the game desperately needs more content if it wants to keep its audience; otherwise, Bleeding Edge's matches might not be so bloody in the very near future.

Score: 7.0/10


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