For the past few months I’ve been searching for an online game to really pull me in and become a new regular part of my gaming rotation. Valorant held that coveted title for a couple of months. I had a good time playing at first, but eventually the truth set in: I’m just not good at FPS games. It doesn’t look like any amount of game time was going to change that fact. And in a game like Valorant, where a clean headshot takes you out of the fight instantly, it was too much for me. It wasn’t rage-quit-inducing, but half my game time was watching other people play. So I chose to move on.
Lucky for me, along came Spellbreak to free me from my sad slump. While I still get completely owned here too, it’s nowhere near as painful since I can’t be one-shot from someone I never saw coming – at least not usually (looking at you, Frostborn mains!). Even though Spellbreak stands out from the other battle royale games, the BR craze never really pulled me in long-term before. But now Proletariat has added a new 9v9 deathmatch mode called Clash. If you’re like me and enjoy a mad, mad, mad, mad brawl then strap in: This mode is crazy.
9v9 all-out brawl is perfect for Spellbreak
I can never say it enough: Give me more game modes with intense battles and little downtime. That is exactly what the Clash mode offers and fully delivers. It is totally crazy with spells flying at you from every direction. This mode is perfect for someone as undisciplined as I am. As soon as I make first contact, I just start blasting.
Spellbreak’s version of a deathmatch puts players in two teams made up of three squads of three. The goal is simple: The first team to 54 kills wins. One thing of note is that the kills-to-win number can change. I haven’t noticed whether that’s due to how long the match is taking or uneven teams can change the win count. When the match begins you are still playing in the same giant map as in BR, except you are only allowed to spawn on your team’s side of the map. Also, just as in BR, the map will shrink down to focus the players in a small area. You begin by running around and gathering gear as usual, but once you enter the circled area, things get insane – in the best way possible.
I actually think it goes a lot further than just being a good mode for general fun and mayhem. I think it’s a great mode for learning how to use the skills and for getting better at actually landing shots on your opponents. In most battle royales, you might end up in four or five different combat encounters if you make it to the end of the round. If you are just starting out with a game, that doesn’t really give you a lot of time to get your bearings and get accustomed to the skills and best way to track your opponents. Sure there is a practice mode, which is important and useful to have, but nothing compares to an actual fight.
That is where this mode really shines. Even after only a handful of Clash mode matches, I think I’ve already improved my aim and accuracy tremendously, although that might just tell you how bad I was. There is an extremely short respawn cooldown; I think it’s 10 seconds or so. After that, you are immediately sent back into the fight with all the gear you had prior to death. So, after an extremely short time frame, you are right back in there slinging spells. On a side note: I think it’s impossible to write about Spellbreak and not use the term spell slinger – impossible, I say!
In a a typical BR round, you can be eliminated on your first encounter and then pulled out. Not only does that force a reset on your skills and anything you picked up, but the downtime takes you right out of “the zone.” It’s not to say that Spellbreak’s downtime between matches is long either. I actually think the matches pop pretty quickly. It’s just that it isn’t conducive to learning to fight an opponent. Clash remedies that. You just keep going. It lets you just get right back in there and get comfortable fighting. It’s fantastic.
The mode could benefit from a little more structure
Now, while I am having a blast playing the Clash mode, it isn’t without its faults. As I mentioned, the combat is essentially nonstop leaving you no way to recover or reset yourself from a fight before you get right back in it again. I’m not sure what the solution is yet, but I have some ideas.
In this mode, there aren’t any health potions that drop. Every time you spawn you do have two small shield potions, but any damage you sustain will be with you until you die. So even if you fight and then peel away, eventually you’re just going to get chipped away at until you die. Perhaps when a player is killed they should drop a health potion. Or, if you assist in any way to a kill you gain some small percentage of health back. I think there is some room for experiment here that can keep the intensity of the nonstop combat high, while also rewarding or offering players some means of staying alive.
Also, by the middle of the round, everyone basically has a full legendary set on. There are so many players killed that gear is just littered everywhere. It also gets to the point that nearly everyone is geared up with the same gauntlets too (or at least it feels that way). I wonder if it wouldn’t be better in this mode to only have a single piece of gear drop – just to keep the matches from becoming too homogeneous. When a fight feels like everyone is geared exactly the same, most of the strategy for an encounter go out the window (although Clash is so wild, there’s not that much time for strategies anyways!)
Thoughts on the inclusion of lore
It wouldn’t be right for me to not make note of the lore that is being added to the game slowly as well. Essentially it is being built as a set of weekly quests. The game has already had dailies since launch, but the weeklies are new. We are currently in week two. Week one was a little bit of lore about Pyromancers, so the weekly quests were focused on fire damage and the like. This week is about the Tempest with quests revolving around using wind skills.
For a BR-style game, I don’t mind this format of adding lore into the game. However, something that is an odd choice is that when the week ends and a new set of quests and lore are available the previous ones are removed. It isn’t clear yet whether this removal is permanent or the quests and lore will rotate back in at a future date or not. So while the lore and quests are very tangential to the game itself, it is still a shame if that bit of information and those quests are gone. New players, or ones that just happened to not play that week, might not get to see it in game, and that just seems like a bad choice to me. If anything, they should be set up as some sort of achievement list that players can try to track on their schedule.
Well Breakers, I’m having a ton of fun playing Clash mode – so much so I nearly forgot to get this column together! It’s been quiet here in my Spellbreak columns, but I hope some of you are up for giving the game a shot. If you haven’t played yet, what are you waiting for? For those of you that have, what are your thoughts on the Clash mode? Are there any other modes you’re hoping they’ll bring to the game next?