If you are looking for a new multiplayer arena fix, Bleeding Edge is the hybrid combat experience for you. The game melds the fighting and hero shooter genres, giving you a wild and entertaining online experience. The game oozes style with quirky characters that scrap it out in a cyberpunk dystopian future. Developer Ninja Theory is no stranger to developing games of a high pedigree with titles like Heavenly Sword and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice on their resume.
If you are looking to add more fisticuffs to your online arena battles, it’s time to drop the gauntlet with Bleeding Edge. Let’s explore all the cybernetic battleground has to offer!
Platform(s): Xbox One and Windows 10
Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Genre: Arena Shooter
ESRB Rating : T (Teenager)
A cyberpunk affair
Even though the game focuses primarily on online 4 v 4 battles, it still has a light backstory to give players more motivation to fight. In the not so distant future, the world is ruled by corrupt governments and powerful corporate interests. The central character is a New Yorker named Daemon who loses his mother to the powers that be. Fuelled by revenge he forms a gang called Bleeding Edge and recruits augmented soldiers via his fight club.
When it comes to hopping into battle, there are quite a few options to get you started. There are twelve different fighters to choose from, each with their own unique attributes. They essentially boil down to 3 classes: damage, support and tank. Each character has their own interesting personality with a small backstory, it would have been nice to see it fleshed out more.
Fortunately, the real showstopper with Bleeding Edge is its combat mechanics and they are stellar.
What really helps to set Bleeding Edge apart from the rest of the arena-based shooters is its focus on melee combat. Its fighting system would be right at home with games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Mastering combos to slice and dice opponents is essential to victory, doling out massive damage. You also need to balance defensive skills like evade in order to break combos otherwise you’ll be completely overwhelmed.
As much as there is a big focus on melee, you can also select characters with ranged abilities.
Each one of your player options in the game are cybernetically enhanced, allowing you to upgrade parts for an edge in combat. Before dropping into battle, you can modify certain elements of your fighter as you level up. I had quite a bit of fun playing as Zero Cool, a healer character type. Supporting offensive drives and working together is satisfying and a lot of fun.
A massive arsenal
There is no shortage in how you can attack your opponents with a wide variety of tactical options. While on the battlefield you have a super and three other abilities at your disposal to attack, evade and block. The 3 special moves can be used once, then go into a cooldown before they can be activated again. These moves are unique to the player type, giving you an opportunity to experiment with different characters and figure out which suits your playstyle best.
Striking the perfect balance
Bleeding Edge is all about balance, you need to fill the roles of soldier, support or tank to give your team the best chance at victory. Being too “top heavy” with attackers or having no healer will expose you right away. Thankfully, you can pick a different player type every time you respawn in a match.
The game is fast paced and depends on teamwork and communication to emerge victorious. For players coming from the Overwatch camp, this should come as no surprise, you need to work together to win. Everyone needs to carefully play their role, and when they do you can have some great mid, to end of match momentum swings.
At the same time being on the other end this equation can be frustrating. Make no mistake, the heart and soul of Bleeding Edge centres around teamwork and balancing attacks and defence. If you can maintain this via communication and smart roster selection, you’ll have a blast!
The graphical style of Bleeding Edge lands between Borderlands 3 and Sunset Overdrive. If you’ve played these titles, you’ll know this is a good thing! The cartoony style fits the over-the-top characters and their bombastic world perfectly. The maps ooze style from graffitied alleys to vistas in the clouds it’s a visual treat. The on-screen effects are non-stop with explosions, lasers, projectiles which all combine to offer some great eye candy.
The music and sound fx are good, with exception of a few of the character voiceovers being a little overcooked. None of the audio tracks really stood out to me, but the sound of the arena’s calamity checked the boxes it needed to.
Marks for style and presentation
The menus and user interface in Bleeding Edge are incredibly clean and easy to use. Your first time playing the game everything is designed to get you into the action quickly. The top menu option is “FIGHT” and that’s what we are here for! Jumping into the fray you’ll be match made into one of three game modes, Control, Objective Control and Power Collection.
Control offers up a single point on the map where both teams vie to capture the area. The zone shifts around the map and the first team to hit the scoring threshold is the winner.
Objective Control has both teams move quickly across the map and capture multiple points.
Power Collection has you and the squad picking up cannisters and delivering them to an objective point for a set amount of time. Each team has a collection and drop off period which leads to some interesting skirmishes.
Ninja Theory cleverly added player points for kills in addition to area captures. It’s a smart way to keep everyone engaged for the duration of the match by rewarding kills. This extra step keeps things close and often leads to some wild finishes.
Mapping the battlefield
The included maps are fun and interesting, flowing well with each mode. Their scale is great, not too large or small for the high-tempo action. There is also a nice level of verticality and short cuts to discover to help keep things fresh. The one downside is there are only 5 maps in total, hopefully this is something that Ninja Theory looks to bolster in the near future.
Perfecting your super solider
The other menu options are Training and Workshop allowing you to fine tune strategies and re-augment your player.
The workshop allows for upgrades of all sorts to help better suit characters to your playstyle. Here you can equip mods to your fighter offering bonuses to various types of close quarters, ranged and other forms of combat. Cosmetic upgrades can also be made to your player’s hover board, emotes, and skins giving you some extra flair.
Step up to the Bleeding Edge
Bleeding Edge is a fun romp in the arena shooter genre with added twist of melee mechanics. It offers addictive team-based gameplay that will get your adrenaline pumping. It’s easy for newcomers to pick up and play but difficult to master providing players with a good challenge. There is quite a bit of upside to Bleeding Edge, but it lacks a lot of content to go toe-to-toe with similar titles in its genre. If Ninja Theory can increase the playable characters, add more maps and modes the foundation is extremely solid to build upon.
+ Tight gameplay mechanics
+ Fun melee twist in arena combat
+ Wild cast of characters with a variety of combat options
– Lack of game maps and modes
– Very few skins and emotes
– No ranked play
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF BLEEDING EDGE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5