If the success of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout has taught us anything, it’s that it’s possible to make a successful battle royale without the use of guns or crafting. As the genre becomes increasingly popular, it’s interesting to see the different spins developers add to the ‘last person standing’ style of play. Spellbreak‘s twist? Fantasy.
Taking place in a battlefield called the Hollow Lands, players control magic-wielding sorcerers in a free-to-play competition to be the last team left alive. Spellbreak tries to set up a story involving a war between different super-powered beings, but it honestly lost me after the initial cutscene. Thankfully, story means next to nothing in a competitive experience like this.
Before every match, players select an elemental power they want to use. These include fire, electricity, poison and others. Every player has a primary and secondary fire, each doing different levels of damage. For example, the fire-based class allows players to shoot fireballs as the primary, while building a flaming wall as the secondary.
Overall, the gameplay in Spellbreak is interesting, yet still a bit uninspired. Running around large maps that gradually shrink is fine enough, and shooting beams of lighting from my right hand after throwing a large boulder with my left feels satisfying, but at the core, it still feels like just another battle royale. Honestly, Spellbreak could pass for a season of Fortnite if Epic decided to roll with wizards as the theme instead of superheroes or spies.
However, what does set Spellbreak apart from the competition is the progression system — in a way, it’s almost like an action RPG.
The type of elemental power a player picks before a match has its own progression chart, and the more it’s used, the more buffs it gains. These can range from a reduced cooldown period for special attacks, to increased damage. It reminds me of the way weapon loadouts work in other shooters like Call of Duty, and these buffs carry over every time you start a new round. It encouraged me to find the ones I liked and keep grinding as a means to improve them.
Picking up resources and collecting loot is also a huge part of the Spellbreak experience. As players fight it out, they’ll grab health, shields and gauntlets that provide powers. I liked the idea of tweaking my RPG build on the fly, and I was mixing and matching different elements while finding rare pieces of loot.
Now, like most free-to-play games, there are microtransactions and cosmetic items. A copy of the Founder’s Pack was provided for coverage and included in-game currency along with some costumes. The store page has a rotating set of outfits, emotes and other miscellaneous things, but still feels a bit barren.
Spellbreak has a lot of work to do if it wants to prove itself in the already-crowded battle royale space. The fantasy theme and the progression of powers are interesting, but it’s still a bit too generic to recommend to those already invested in other battle royales. However, I look forward to seeing how it develops.
Spellbreak is currently available on PC, Switch, PS4 and Xbox One. It is free-to-play with various editions that include cosmetic items.
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