Spellbreak, a late to the scene battle royale is making quite the splash in on gaming sites lately and for good reason. Out of the development team at Proletariat Inc, previously responsible for a semi-popular Twitch plugin called Stream Legends, the team has spent the last few years working on their own unique take on the battle royale genre and the results are in and it’s a homerun in my book.
I want to start out my jumping right in, so to speak, and since there’s no real overarching story to be had the best place to start is with the most important aspect of the game: combat. In Spellbreak, everyone is a magician and you pick your major discipline right out of the gate. Players can choose from an array of different specialities that include fire, frost, poison, electricity, stone, and wind. The discipline comes from wearing a gauntlet on your hand and the one you pick before each match is a permanent fixture in that round. After dropping in you can find gauntlets of the various specialties scattered around that will be your secondary speciality complete with the ability to combine the two into unique combos. You can drop a poison cloud and blast it with fire to cause it to explode. You can drop a wall of flame and make a firenado with your wind gauntlet ability. This feature alone adds up to chaotic, impactful and fun combat engagements as you roam the map in your squads of three.
I don’t know about anyone else but when I play games like Paladin or Overwatch, I rarely pick hitscan (bullets have no travel time and instantly hit where you’re aiming) characters. I find myself on Lucio, Hanzo, Mei, Phara, etc because my ability to predict or splash a target is much better than my ability to predict my wildly spastic latency that often has me missing targets that were right under my crosshair. Because of this all previous attempts at getting into a battle royale game have fallen short with my frustration mounting at being blitzed and dying with nary any resistance and my enemies looking like Neo from the Matrix.
Now I’m not saying there’s no skill involved in hitscan, there most certainly is - I just don’t really have it or maybe the ping living in South Korea at the time of this writing. But, and I’m going to say something controversial here, I personally believe there is a slightly higher skill cap in projectiles with a travel distance which is why I really enjoy Spellbreak. Other than some AOE abilities there’s not really any hitscan to speak of. The closest I feel you get is with the primary ability of the frost discipline, where you shoot a fast moving arrow that also leaves a trail of ice on the ground you can skate on to increase your speed.
As a result of the lack of hitscan and long secondary fire ability cooldowns, combat can be a slower paced affair with the winner more often than not being the more skilled person and not the luckier one. And while you can pick up green (common), blue (rare), purple (epic), and even orange (legendary) versions of the gauntlets and supporting armor items, the impact they make on the combat isn’t so significant that the match comes down to the most geared person. In this way, Spellbreak is weighted towards more skill based play.
Talents, Cosmetics, and Ranks
In addition to the basic combat that permeates your time in the arena there are also Talents and Ranks to consider. You see, in Spellbreak, the main discipline you choose prior to the match will determine which discipline you level up. As you rank up a discipline it unlocks different items in that discipline pool. For example as you rank up in Frostborn you will get a badge (or player icon) in addition to a talent that can be used across disciplines. There are plenty of items to get for each discipline and with some items not being specific to that specific archetype there is an incentive to level more than one to max.
Talents are also a feature you take care of before jumping into a map and are divided into three categories: Mind, Body, and Spirit. You have a total of six talent points to spend across these trees to give you passives that can be synergized in a group or enabling you to have a slightly more bursty opening shot. During matches you can find talent scrolls (up to three per tree) that will slightly increase the amount these affect your character.
A battle royale wouldn’t be complete without some sort of cosmetics shop and Spellbreak is no exception. Spellbreak’s shop gives me serious Fortnite vibes and includes a lot of the mainstays you would expect from the genre. Players will be able to purchase different outfits and skins to wear, artifacts (items with no gameplay affect) to wear, emotes, etc. They’re all easily applied and sorted through before hopping into a match in the collection tab.
Graphics and Wrap Up
I want to give a quick touch on graphics on Spellbreak. Spellbreak doesn’t attempt to be a hyper-realistic looking version of a fantasy-based world. Instead they opt for a more stylized artistic take that gives me serious Breath of the Wild vibes. True to an Unreal 4 Engine game, well most anyways, Spellbreak runs extremely well. I’ve dropped quite a few hours into the game already and haven’t had a single crash, lobby boot, or graphical lag spike to speak of. The team at Proletariat Inc. have done an excellent job optimizing Spellbreak before it’s mainstream release and I can’t give them enough accolades for that.
Will you like Spellbreak? It’s hard to say. If you want frantic building and hecticly fast paced combat engagements, Spellbreak might not be the main game for you - though I’d urge you to try it. If you’re tired of dying before you can figure out where your enemy is, or not having enough mobility to collect yourself when ambushed then I 100% recommend you taking a look at Spellbreak. It’s probably my first battle royale experience that doesn’t end after 45 minutes of frustration and keeps me playing match after match. Give it a go - I don’t think you’ll regret it.