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Spellbreak Hands-on Impressions

Slinging Spells And Taking Names

Joseph Bradford Posted:
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When I last played Spellbreak, the battle royale game from Proletariat, I really enjoyed the concept. Spellcasters who float around a battlefield slinging spells at each other all to see who is the last man standing. It’s a cool take on the genre, but it was missing something during the last closed beta. 

Proletariat may have found it with its latest addition to Spellbreak as it gears up for its next closed beta, which starts on PS4 and the Epic Game Store today. 

For those unfamiliar with the experience, Spellbreak has you take on your opponents with elemental gauntlets as your primary weapon. Each gauntlet gives you access to a primary attack, such as a flame gauntlet letting you throw fireballs or an ice gauntlet that turns into a bow and arrow for the snipers out there. Gauntlets also give you a sorcery spell that can be used to great effect on the battlefield, such as a wall of fire to corral enemies or plumes of poisonous fumes to suffocate your opponents. 

Almost everything - including your ability to levitate around the battlefield - runs on Mana. You augment your mana, run speed and more by putting on equipment with varying degrees of rarity that you find throughout the map. Some items boost your overall mana pool while others increase run speed. 

New to the beta since I last played was a new talent system. This system has you choose talents from three different trees - Body, Mind and Spirit - which confer certain bonuses to your Mage as you progress through the battle. You have a total six points you can devote to your talents and each talent costs between one to three points to slot. This means you aren’t going to be able to slot the “most powerful” talents in each tree, causing you and your teammates if you’re running with more than one Mage to be selective - especially as talents will affect your whole team. This means you needn’t run with the same talents, but can mix it up to spread the benefit around. 

These talents are leveled up through the use of scrolls you find on the battlefield alongside your spare gauntlets and equipment. Runes - items you pick up that confer a major skill at your disposal, such as the ability to fly out of danger or even turn invisible to sneak up on an enemy - now also very in degrees of rarity, a change from the bog-standard runes from previous betas.

You’ll earn talents by upgrading the rank of your Mage classes through gameplay. The more you play, the more of these talents you can unlock, such as Spirit’s Vital Stone which will resurrect you once with 10 health should you be killed on the battlefield. These skills are powerful when you find the right balance and can make the difference sometimes when taking on the other powerful Mages in the arena with you.

As you level up, you'll also earn cosmetics you can unlock for your class, such as new skins or an amulet that hovers behind your back as you fight. You can also unlock different elemental trails while you levitate or when you drop into a match, adding a bit of flair as you sling spells around the map.

Spellbreak is still a ton of fun to play as well. The fast and fluid movement of your characters really lends itself well to you feeling like a bad-ass Mage, floating around the battlefield looking for targets. You can still use elemental synergies, such as throwing a tornado with Tempest and setting it ablaze, causing a fiery, whirling deathtrap to draw in unsuspecting Mages. 

I was able to play through a few matches of the new version of Spellbreak with Seth Sivak, the CEO of Proletariat, over Discord last week, and it made me remember why I really enjoyed it back in October when I first checked out the battle royal. Spellbreak injects that breath of fresh air in the battle royale genre it so desperately needs. Battles over gauntlets, mana vaults (chests with powerful items inside) break out almost immediately when you drop, giving you wall to wall action when you play. 

We had a match where almost instantaneously we were defending ourselves from three different teams - and somehow we made it out alive. I took to falling back into my old reliable build from previous betas - my Pyromancer with a stone gauntlet as my backup while Sivak went Stoneshaper as his class. Sealing off escape routes with my walls of flame and hurtling boulders at the spot I anticipate - and usually guess correctly - they will move towards will never not be satisfying. Frostborne - the Ice Class - is also still a ton of fun, especially laying down a layer of ice on the ground and skating around like I’m in the olympics. Everything about how Spellbreak plays makes me want to stick around for one more round, even if I stink at the game overall. 

We ended up winning our second match due to our enemy accidentally falling off the map - there are large crags in the earth where falling to your death is inevitable - and while our play session was done I was yearning for more. Right now the closed beta has hit both PS4 and PC, so it’s never a bad time to jump into the action and sling some spells with your friends. Spellbreak is a lot of fun and it’s a change of pace for a genre that has become stagnant. Sligning spells and hurtling giant rocks at your friends will never get old - and Spellbreak has this in spades. 


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore