Breach is the mutant child of League, Left 4 Dead, & Diablo
At PAX West this year, we had the chance to be among the first people in the world to play Breach, the ambitious new genre-brending ARPG from QC Games. GC Games is made up of a lot of folks, but two of the founders are familiar names in the MMO world - Dallas Dickinson and Gabe Amantangelo (two names you may most recently remember from SWTOR, and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning). Breach is a combination of mechanics and genres that make for something pretty unique in the F2P space, and we’re lucky enough to say that it also plays pretty dang well to boot.
At its core, Breach is a third-person Action RPG with shared hub city and loads of instanced randomized dungeons. Monsters, loot, challenges, and events are all randomized, but the final boss is always “known”. Think of it like a third-person Diablo boss run. There’ll be an overarching campaign in the official release, which they’ll add to with new levels and story cinematics, but the bulk of the replay value here is all about co-op dungeon running.
Play together forever
There are 20 classes right now in the game, with loads more planned, and they’re all separated into different schools of magic. Everything from the arcane, to the techno to the necro is represented here, and each class levels up independently - think of it like FFXIV’s jobs. The thing about Breach though is that you never have to worry about being too high or too low for your friends. You may be a level 20 mage, and your buddy may be a level 2 gunslinger, but since all progression is horizontal - about increasing options, not just power - you can always play together.
And while your character’s looks are independent from their stats (outfits and the like will be purchasable with in-game currency and real money), you still make progress via unlocking new skills, finding new gear that changes your stats, and getting gems that change how you perform (like League of Legends). In fact, Gabe made sure to mention that Breach is following the LoL model for F2P. You’ll have a free rotation of classes to try every week, and those you don’t have will be purchasable with gold earned in game or bought in the shop. Plus they will have “packages” that include all classes at launch for example. Nothing that changes your stats will be purchasable.
You’re a Demon!
I’ve gotten this far into the article without mentioning the Veil Demon. Breach is also a 4v1 game, not just a pure co-op RPG. If you so choose, you can decide to pick up the mantle of a Veil Demon, a sort of otherworldly creature that torments and fights against the players as they make their way through levels and to the bosses. You’re sort of stuck between the worlds, so you don’t fight the players directly, unless you possess the enemies in the level - which is awesome. You also can lay traps and impede their progress in loads of different ways. It feels kind of like playing the Dungeon Master, and the Veil Demon has its own classes and progression to work through too. But fear not, if you just want to play against the AI, the game will let you do so too.
Oh-oh, it’s Magic!
Combat is a mix of tab-targeting and skill-shots, akin to something like Guild Wars or ESO. I played through our dungeon as the healer class Arcane Mender, but I also managed to swap in some different skills from other classes before the run. That’s right, as you level up classes, you can actually make your own unique custom build from all their available spells/skills, as long as they’re in the same school of magic. So you can’t mix and match necromancy and gunslinging, but you can take any skills from the arcane magic school.
What’s interesting to me is that before each dungeon run, whether you’re solo, with randoms, with your guild, or whatever - is that you’ll have a time before each run to see a list of what kinds of monsters you may be up against and you’ll work with your team to pick the best classes and builds to fight with. Again, taking a page out of the MOBA playbook and allowing players to strategize and adjust before going in.
Each dungeon has a set layout, but the challenges you face and the monsters you fight against will be random each time, as will the rewards. And you don’t get said rewards until the end of each dungeon. Leave early, rage quit, you get nothing. Even the losing team, if the AI or the Veil Demon wins for example, will get XP, loot, and so forth. Just not as much as they’d get for winning.
Combat worked well with both mouse and keyboard and controller, and it’s clear that Breach is intended to come to console, even though the launch focus is PC. It’s a very player-friendly, casually minded game that you can pick up and play for hours or just one run at a time if you’ve only got 15 or 30 minutes to play.
I’m curious to see both how much content is in the final product, and how fast QC can add new levels and classes to keep the game feeling fresh. Right now though, when we were done, I immediately wanted to try more classes and levels. That’s a good sign. Breach’s first alpha is expected to start within the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for more thoughts here at MMORPG.com.