From the studio that brought us titles such as Hellbade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Heavenly Sword along with the 2013 edition of Devil May Cry and my personal favourite,Kung Fu Chaos, comes their latest hack and slash style of game. Developed by Ninja Theory and published by Xbox Game Studios, Bleeding Edge aims to be a stand out online only game in a market that’s a little saturated at the moment, with certain games like Call of Duty, Fortnight and Apex Legends all more or less dominating the market. What makes Bleeding Edge different from most other online titles? In this hands on review we take a look and see if it can hold its own.
Bleeding Edge is a 4 V 4 online brawler that uses a combination of close quarter melee combat with dynamic 3rd person action. Set in the not so distant future, there is a roster of 12 characters to choose from who are all part of an underground fight club for people with augmentations. These are enhancements and modifications used to try and give them the edge in battle. Each character falls into a category of sorts such as the “melee tank”, “ranged damage” or “support” which are like medics.Every character can be customised to suit your play style and over time you can unlock additional skins and mods to personalise them to stand out from the crowd. The design and general feel of them is similar to that of Overwatch but with a slightly more adult aspect, such as one Mexican character being called El Bastardo.
There are two main game types to play and these are Power Collection and Objective Control.Power Collection is a fight for power cells that are scattered around the map. When collected they have to be brought to a deposit station to be banked. Objective Control involves capturing and holding objectives around the map that become available at different stages throughout the match. Both modes can be played over 5 maps that are available from launch with more to come in future DLC’s along with more characters and mods no doubt.
There is a very strong emphasis on team play during matches. I can’t stress enough how bad an idea it is to go all out on your own because nine times out of ten, you’re going to regret it. The team that manages to stay together and have a useful medic generally wins out and it can be frustrating to be part of a team that doesn’t adhere to this tactic. Too many times I have tried my best to capture objectives to be let down by teammates that go walkabouts at the worst moment.
The combat itself is fine to an extent, but at times when there are 4 V 4 battles taking place it can get very hectic and the screen is just a blaze of fireworks, lightning and sparks so it’s hard to see exactly what’s going on. Even using the lock on feature gets complicated sometimes when enemies run behind walls or get knocked back by one of your own teammates.
Audio / Visual
The overall aesthetic to Bleeding Edge isn’t bad at all, with some nice attention to detail and level design that feels like some time and attention were spent on them. Use of the Unreal Engine 4 graphics engine makes it more than easy to look at and some clever textures and character design makes the cartoonish appearance look more gritty and realistic.
Having some really talented composers on board like David Garcia Diaz has helped with the futuristic sense to this game and I have to say the main theme is a catchy one to say the least. It reminded me of an early Xbox One title, Sunset Overdrive, which I think was an under-rated game at the time. Style wise it had a lot of bright colours, cell shading and an amazing soundtrack that I feel Bleeding Edge makes a reference to. Rock, dance and techno music are constant throughout and this helps to keep the tempo up during gameplay.
The elephant in the room for me when it comes to Bleeding Edge is the fact that at launch it retails for €29.99 on the Xbox store for the standard edition. Keeping in mind it is available to play for free from Xbox Game Pass, I still find it hard to justify even the relatively low price tag. There are plenty of options to play online games totally for free at the moment as long as you have an online subscription. As mentioned before, games such as Apex Legends, Fortnite and more recently Call of Duty’s Warzone mode are all available without purchase and offer the same and more when it comes to the amount of content.
Bleeding Edge has just the two game modes with 5 maps and other than that there is not a whole lot more to the game. Throw in the issues that it has experienced since launch, it’s not been the best start to life. I’ve been playing since early alpha access back in July of 2019 and upon release, gamers were still dealing with the likes of localisation problems, severe lagging and, on Xbox, achievements are failing to appear. This all leads me to believe that although at its core Bleeding Edge is a good game, there just isn’t going to be the fanbase generated to sustain it in the long run. When you think that two weeks after Call of Duty Warzone was released, 30 million people had played it, I fear those numbers will never be reached in the lifetime of Bleeding Edge.
Trying to be unique in the online gaming market is becoming increasingly difficult and this is mainly down to the most popular titles being of pre-existing genres like FPS, MMORPG or RTS and that when a new one does come along, unless its groundbreaking or redefining then its not going to last very long. Sadly for Bleeding Edge, I don’t feel its groundbreaking in many ways or neither has it redefined the genre. Worth a go if you have Xbox Game Pass and a nice break from the more popular titles at the moment, just not for long.