Breach, a co-op action RPG from QC Games, has hit early access on Steam after quite a few rounds of alpha testing and I’ve spent the last four days playing it so I can give you the skinny. I first became acquainted with Breach at PAX West (or Prime, whatever you want to call it) in 2018 when Garret, Bill and I had the opportunity to sit down with the developers in the testing room and play through a match. I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on it since then because we all left HQ excited about the possibilities of what we had seen.
Breach is an interesting game. Described on Steam as a co-op RPG, in Breach, you team up with three other players to crawl through a dungeon, slaying AI baddies and completing objectives until you get to a final boss. KIll him and the mission is over - BUT there is a catch. A veil demon will be wandering around, following you, and making things as hard as possible for you to complete said mission. They can spawn elite enemies, cast crowd control and damage spells, and even possess enemies - supercharging them and taking direct control of their actions. There are two different ways Breach approaches this veil demon - as an AI (or easy mode as some would say) and an asynchronous PvP mode in which a real person gets to be the veil demon and control the battlefield you are destined to traverse. When it comes time for a boss fight this real person makes the end of your missions really hard and it requires a group that’s really on point. While this may be a drawback for some, to me it was a welcome challenge that you just don’t see in many games lately, creating a lot of hectic, fun and clutch moments.
Breach starts off much in the same way as any other RPG game: you’ll create a character and get a brief introductory tutorial. Character creation provided plenty of options to make a unique avatar but was by no means the most extensive creation system I’ve seen. The lobby is where you’ll kickstart whatever it is you want to do in Breach. There are target dummies for you to practice on with different classes, vendors to buy classes with in-game gold (you can also purchase with their shop currency), and from here is where you can jump into co-op matches - either with AI, with players against an AI opponent, co-op against another player, or a custom match if you have a group of friends that want to play together.
I had access to the Starter Pack, which you purchase while the game is in early access though plans are for it to be free to play at launch, which gave me access to seven different hero classes: Arcane Mender, Assassin, Demon Hunter, Gunslinger, Mana Warrior, Necromancer, and the Worldshaper Veil Demon. Each of the classes is leveled up on their own as you play through missions and you earn gear as you complete missions as well. The gear you collect has passive abilities on them of a sort. In much the same way you pick which skills to level up in a MOBA game, your gear collects energy during a mission and you can unlock these passive abilities. They’ll do anything from granting you an extra health potion or dodge, charge, to allowing your attacks to be mirrored by a shadow version of yourself for extra damage. As you collect more gear you’ll find that these unlockable abilities become more unique and can change the way you approach combat.
You’ll be able to unlock additional classes with either QC Points, the (you guessed it) cash shop currency for Breach, or with in-game gold. The class prices for in-game currency are heft and will take a little grinding but it’s not on an ‘EA Battlefront 2’ kind of level - not even close. Classes have different prices and you’ll earn gold from completing missions and many of these classes can make your time in missions a little easier. That’s not to say that the starting classes are gimped in any way - they operate just fine - but it is obvious that some of the classes you can purchase a more powerful. Considering you’re never doing PvP combat against other heroes, I suppose it’s not too big of a deal.
When it comes to actual gameplay I think there is still some work to be done. The combat is fun and exactly what you’d expect from an action combat game, but in a way just doesn’t feel responsive enough yet. For example, dodging has a small but noticeable lag to it. I don’t know if this is intentional but considering damage avoidance is really important it makes it incredibly difficult to get your dodges right when a veil demon is telegraphing an attack. It makes things feel a little sluggish and not fully in your control which can lead to some frustrating experiences in your tense, chaotic moments. I should also note that about 5-10% of the time I had some sort of connection issue that would further exacerbate the sluggish feel.
All in all, I find Breach to be a fun and engaging game that is certainly in early access. Unlike other recently released EA games, it so far delivers the experience it promised to, though in a rough around the edges package. Unreal Engine was an excellent choice for Breach and the art direction is perfect for the style of game it sets out to be. I think once we see the controls and combat tightened up into a more crisp and fast-paced experience and some more maps for groups to run through, Breach will emerge as a popular dungeon running game. The veil demon makes a nice touch to the gameplay in breaking up what could otherwise be a monotonous experience and the touch of the unknown a singular powerful human enemy creates is a welcome challenge in a PvE environment. I’ll continue to play Breach and be perfectly happy with my starter pack and unlocking future classes and I definitely recommend keeping a close eye on the development process - we have a potential winner on our hands.