Another week, another battle royale arrives at my doorstep, this time with a subtle but sweet note attached: Please kind sir, take it in, and treat it like family. I must admit I’ve never been one for tending to young ‘uns, but this one here seems to have caught my attention. Maybe I’m getting old, maybe it’s these pale four walls (sriously, I’ve been in this room for months now. Is the pandemic over yet? Send help!), or maybe it’s the lack of anything to really stick with me for that quick hit of PvP goodness, but I’ve been playing Spellbreak almost exclusively since its launch a couple weeks ago.
Rather than just recap the game in general, I want to discuss what makes Spellbreak shine – specifically, its combat, class design, and the powers that differentiate one from another. So put on your robe and wizard hat, equip that gauntlet, and join me for some high-flying magical escapades.
Different classes for different playstyles
In most of the typical battle royales I’ve spent any amount of time in, there hasn’t been a real class system. Instead, players all start with the same weapon and immediately begin the hunt for the best gear in the game. This lets everyone start the match on an even playing field, at least unless the RNG gods offer you good loot early. Spellbreak, on the other hand, actually provides some unique gameplay based on your class choice.
In Spellbreak, the chosen class locks you into using its associated gauntlet as your primary weapon. When you are in a match, you don’t get to switch this one for a different type of gauntlet, but you will be able to upgrade it if you find a higher-tiered version. Now, the class differentiations aren’t as deep as a proper MMO class, but it does offer some pretty cool advantages and perks.
Each class has four different skills that activate the further along in the match you’ve survived. If you play as a Frostborn, your spell leaves an ice trail that players can skate on giving you increased mobility. If you’re a Toxicologist, the toxic blobs you throw at opponents will leave sticky puddles on the ground, adding a small DOT effect and slowing targets temporarily. However, players that simply have the frost gauntlet or the toxic gauntlet on their offhand do not get these bonus enhancements to their spells.
It really adds an amazing change of pace compared to many other BRs. It also allows teams the ability to coordinate and choose classes that can complement each other.
A BR that offers build customization too
Spellbreak also has a talent system offering even more depth of choice. No, this isn’t a crazy branching talent tree with a multitude of options, but it does give you the ability to make choices that impact your gameplay. Do you like to play like a glass canon? Take the Recklessness talent and get that damage boost. For me, anything that allows some build diversity is a good thing. And for a BR, I think these sorts of options are fantastic.
The talents are broken up into three categories from which you can equip one of each. They all have different effects from damage boosts, to increased levitation, and even improved loot. You’re given six points to spend on equipping these talents. This forces you to think a little about your build, too, because the more powerful ones cost more points to equip.
The classes, and the talents, allow you to actually create a build and give you some connection to your character. You don’t feel like a generic, bland avatar that’s no different from the one next to you – or the ones in countless other games that have gone the hero route. This is a topic for another day, but I don’t love games where you play as some hero, along with a hundred thousand other players who are the same hero. Let us feel like our character is uniquely ours.
The magic combo system is the real star of the game
I’ve described the classes and the talents above, but the single most immersive part of Spellbreak is definitely the combo system. Instead of picking up different flavors of kaboom sticks, you’ll find magic gauntlets attuned to one of six different elements. Each gauntlet has two spells it allows you to cast.
While the spells themselves are neat, it’s the way these spells can work together and combo off one another that is truly a wonder. If you throw out a poison cloud and then hit it with a lightning bolt, it zaps and shocks players in and around it. If instead you shoot an ice arrow into it, everyone gets frozen for a few seconds. Fireball? Oh yes! That fireball flies into the poison cloud exploding in a wonder of smoke and fire. It’s serious fun. That first time you land a perfect combo on someone and the only thing left is a beautiful golden orb and a fairy ring of loot, you’ll feel like a true wizard too.
The best part is that almost every spell combos with one another, which really lets you come up with great ways of taking down your opponents. Even better, if you are playing with a coordinated team, you can really mix and match and play up your combos together.
It’s obvious there is a lot of room for expansion of this system, which is even more exciting. More gauntlets, more spells, and even more combos would be a blast. At the same time, I can see the combo system being the broken spoke on the wagon wheel. With every new gauntlet added to the game, it wouldn’t simply mean adding two more spells, but adding combos with every existing skill. It could become troublesome, but it could also be chaotic fun!
Spellbreak easily tops my battle royale list
I’ve spent more than a handful of hours playing the flavor-of-the-month BRs. But I have to hand it to Spellbreak, it has that secret sauce that keeps me queuing up for another round of pain.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Ashes of Creation Apocalypse, though – may it go gently into that good night. One thing that both these games had going for them was the high fantasy element. It’s no secret I prefer swords and boards to guns and grenades. So having another entrant to the fantasy genre for BRs is a big win in my book.
I’ve been itching for a new quick shot game to fill up my nights. I can only take a brutal hour or two of Valorant for so many weeks consecutively before I have to accept that I’m not going to get any better at it. And while it is OK to be mediocre at a game and still enjoy it, I am simply too competitive and angry to do so. Spellbreak has stepped up and filled that space admirably, although I’m not much better at it either!
Have any of you given this new BR a chance? At the current cost of free, there’s really no reason not to try. If you have, what are your thoughts on it compared to some of the other BRs? Are you as much a fan of the class and magic system as I am, or does it over all seem too similar to the other games?