Bleeding Edge is the upcoming multiplayer online game from Xbox Game Studios’ very own Ninja Theory. The game is set to release on March 24, 2020, and will be available on Xbox One, PC. The game will be available on launch via Xbox and PC Game Pass as well. This past weekend, Xbox Game Pass subscribers received a tease of the game for the first time outside of the alpha previews that have been running prior. I have hundreds of hours in games such as Smite, Overwatch, and Team Fortress 2. I was very eager to dive in and take a look at Ninja Theory’s first attempt at an online multiplayer-focused title. While keeping in mind that this was a beta test and not a finalized product. Let’s talk about both the good and the bad from this past week’s Bleeding Edge beta.
Bleeding Edge Official Release Date Trailer
Heading into a beta, typically it is better to keep expectations low when it comes to connectivity and server related issues. Betas are often used to break the game, and stress test servers so that the team can make adjustments before launch. However, in my over 7 hours with the Bleeding Edge beta, I only got disconnected from the game twice. This only occurred while I was idling at the main menu. With no in-game crashes or bugs during my time playing, it was very impressive considering the state many multiplayer games launch in. This has increased my confidence in the game with its launch being just over a month away. To have server related issues ironed out now is a massive advantage. You only have one chance to make a first impression. We have seen many service-related games such as Rainbow Six Siege and No Man’s Sky turn complete 180’s and become generation-defining successes. Xbox Game Pass certainly played a part in Sea of Thieves’ slow burn to becoming the juggernaut that it is today. The fact remains that not every game should bank on consumers wanting to give a game a second chance. It appears Ninja Theory realizes this with how polished Bleeding Edge Beta was to experience.
Many third-person shooter multiplayer games end up feeling very similar in their core design because of the limitations of the genre. Run from cover to cover trying to outmaneuver your opponent in order to get a kill shot angle on them. Bleeding Edge focuses heavily on melee-based combat, with a heavy focus on using abilities and ultimates to deal massive damage to your enemies. While many people have been quick to compare the game to Overwatch, I feel like that comparison falls short. Bleeding Edge’s overall requirement of teamwork, and how important cycling your abilities are is more similar to MOBA hybrids such as Smite or Paragon (RIP). The melee combat feels smooth, which should come as no surprise considering Ninja Theory’s history with games like DMC: Devil May Cry and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. The hit detection was great, and there were no moments where I had to question whether or not my attack had landed. The control layout was quick and simple to learn. The addition of a fully fleshed out tutorial that breaks down the basics of the gameplay was well done. It wasn’t long before I found a character that clicked with my play style and I quickly found myself at the top of the leaderboard quite frequently after. This is great for a pickup and play multiplayer game, but it will be interesting to see how high the skill ceiling reaches once the game has been out for a few months. After all, this is just the Bleeding Edge beta test, many people are just trying to get a feel for the game.
Teamwork makes the dream work is a phrase that will quickly become associated with Bleeding Edge. In order to win games, you MUST work together to contest objectives. There are no one-man army performances that will win a game. 99% of the games that I played were often decided by how well my team worked together to take out specific enemies. While this might be a downside to some, as someone who plays these types of games its a breath of fresh air. In a 3v3 match of Smite, it is possible for one player to singlehandedly lead a team to victory. This seems almost impossible with Bleeding Edge which will hopefully force players to focus on working as a team versus hunting for the kills.
Some Rough Spots
While the combat felt good, there was a disconnect between the overall speed of the game and how characters maneuver. Bleeding Edge has massive maps, which can be navigated by using your hoverboard. Which when playing the domination style game mode, utilizing your hoverboard to navigate the map is a key part of success. Overall the base movement speed of the characters felt very sluggish. The combat is so flashy, its a little jarring for the base movement to feel so slow. Hopefully, this will be an issue they choose to address. If you were to boost all the characters base movement speeds a touch more, it would overall match the combat better.
Character roster was another issue for me personally. We have seen plenty of games launch with lackluster map and character roster line ups in the past. With games like Overwatch and Rainbow Six: Siege all being criticized for these mistakes. As it stood during beta testing there were 6 damage characters, 3 healers, and 3 tank characters. I am ok with the 6 damage characters as there is enough variety to keep things interesting. However, if you are relegated to playing Tank or Support your options become a lot more limited. In MOBA’s, typically players love to lock in DPS characters first, with very few wanting to play tank or support roles. Having fewer characters in these roles I feel will only inflate this issue. Having 5 characters in each class would have been a much more desirable spread. This issue could be sorted out very quickly depending on how fast Ninja Theory adds new characters to the game. The post-launch support of titles like this is a huge part of what can make them successful.
I was not a huge fan of the 4v4 team set up as it made the maps feel very empty due to their massive size. The map sizes could easily support a 5v5 or even a 6v6 scenario. However, with the 4v4 aspect at some points, we found our team rotating around the map in the same direction as the opposing team. Which led to some downtime in between encounters which felt very awkward and made the games feel slower. Decreasing time inactive in combat seems like a positive for Bleeding Edge, because unlike other MOBA style games you are not farming in a lane or grinding for levels. It is all about that intense feeling of team battling and getting the upper hand on your opponents. Hopefully, as the game progresses Ninja Theory will add more game modes and maybe experiment with overall players per match size.
Bleeding Edge Beta Final Thoughts
Bleeding Edge is Ninja Theory’s first attempt at an online multiplayer-focused game. From what we have seen so far they have nailed it. Having stable servers in the beta gives me much more faith in the final product leading up to launch. The combat feels good and offers a tight team focused experience for those that are looking for a different kind of multiplayer game. The game will most likely have a good launch considering the $30 price tag and is available day and date in Game Pass. However, Bleeding Edge’s maximum potential and success is up to how the game is supported post-launch. Frequent addition of characters and more modes will be a surefire way to keep this game in people’s minds. With how competitive this space is, it cannot be understated how important this is. I now eagerly await March 24th to get my hands on the final product.