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Broken Edge

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Fast Travel Games
Developer: Trebuchet
Release Date: November 2022

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PC VR Preview - 'Broken Edge'

by Andreas Salmen on Sept. 8, 2022 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Broken Edge is a VR multiplayer fantasy sword-dueling game where you embody historical swordfighters.

Easy to learn, difficult to master: It's something that you hear very often in video games, but it's often an empty phrase. There are genuine exceptions. Some games are incredibly effective at onboarding a player into the experience, continually unveil additional layers of complexity, and reward skillful players for learning how to pull them off.

Broken Edge might be such a game.

It's a one-on-one VR sword combat game that prioritizes realistic jousting over hectic flailing, and it rewards those who have mastered the combat system for their respective character. We had the chance to try an early demo under the guidance of Creative Director Guillaume Perreault Roy from developer Trebuchet, and we were both overwhelmed and excited for the title's November release date on the Quest 2.

In broad strokes, Broken Edge is about two combatants and their swords hacking away at each other. You can choose from five character classes, with more to come. There's the Marauder, a powerful but fragile choice — the proverbial glass cannon — and our character for the brief 30-minute demo. Each character possesses their own distinct weapons and style. The Samurai fights with quick and precise strokes, while the Barbarian has powerful and wide attacks that can end foes quickly but may leave you open a tad longer than preferred. Since each character plays differently and requires a different strategy for success, we only have a limited feel for how the final product will play, but we're feeling cautiously optimistic.

There aren't many VR dueling games, which is a shame when you look at the likes of Blaston, the next-best reference point for a 1v1 VR multiplayer title. What we are still sorely lacking is a sword dueling game and a proper fencing experience. Broken Edge is shaping up to become that game — or as close as we're going to get for now. While that is excellent news, I am slightly concerned by the barrier to entry. While swinging your sword happens quite naturally, the skill ceiling seems relatively high, which could spell bad news for newcomers if the title isn't properly gated from experienced players. That becomes tricky in the VR landscape, which often has to deal with lower player counts, especially in multiplayer games. Ultimately, the online play is what will keep Broken Edge alive, and from what I can tell, it has the makings of an addictive online experience with some combat depth.

How you're playing will highly depend on the chosen character class. In our case, the Marauder can deal huge amounts of damage with a massive two-handed sword. As such, we deal the most damage when using both hands and swinging slowly — exactly how we would naturally move a sword of that size and weight. If you start hacking away at unrealistic speeds, you may still hit your enemy, but you will barely leave a scratch. More critically, you'll likely open yourself up to a counterblow.

While we have seen the other classes and can deduce how those may feel different when played to their strengths, it's only a guess at this point. We'll have to wait until the game's final release to see how the classes and their available weapons will actually differ. The goal remains the same regardless of your chosen class: Defeat the opponent by hitting them with a weapon. You'll also need to make decisions about whether you're attacking or defending, and you need to weave those decisions together fluidly.

A clever mechanic to support this back-and-forth in a gamified way is the concept of sword breaking. If you defend a stroke with your weapon, it will break where it was hit and shorten. Even if you don't hit your opponent directly, forcing them to block and hitting their blade close to the shaft can still open them up to massive damage. If they manage to block you with a partial sword, the roles are reversed. That creates interesting exchanges that constantly force you to make risk-reward assessments about the next best move. Even after 30 minutes, I still struggled to get all the mechanics straight, and I hadn't even been shown some of the more advanced mechanics that require precise timing.

Although I only spent a short amount of time with the headset, I enjoyed my brief glimpse into Broken Edge. Having an excited creative director acting out sword combat certainly helped in showcasing the passion at play. Broken Edge looked beautiful and ran well during our demo. The only real downside is that we didn't even get close to seeing everything that my character class had to offer — or any of the other character classes, for that matter. It was enough to get excited. If Broken Edge releases with some capable tutorials to help players get the core mechanics down quickly, it could become a staple. The gameplay would also need to deliver on the promises. As long as the game's post-launch support and player base are reliable, we could be in for a dueling treat when Broken Edge launches this November.

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