Bleeding Edge, developed by Ninja Theory, is a great local co-op/competitive 4v4 team brawler. Is it entertaining, and should you spend some time playing it right now? Check out our in-depth review here.
To help you decide whether or not to purchase Bleeding Edge in its current state, I will discuss my impressions of the game here.
Every Xbox One First-Party Review
Daemon, a graffiti artist DPS who is dedicated to the blade, quickly became my favorite character in Bleeding Edge. He’s a real snake who can sneak up on his enemies, slash them from head to toe with his sword, and then disappear before the rest of the opposition can react. Putting aside the flash, Daemon’s playstyle highlights the fluid, third-person melee combat that sets Bleeding Edge apart from its hero shooter peers.
The cast of Bleeding Edge are appropriately referred to as “fighters” throughout the game, as the gameplay is very reminiscent of traditional fighting games, albeit with eight players instead of two. If you’re caught in a combo, you can break the attack by parrying the follow-up blow with your sword. If you uppercut someone in the jaw, they’ll probably back up into a wall. If you happen to take a tumble and land on your arse, don’t worry; a quick get-up attack will have you back in the fray in no time. The cacophony of chaotic thuds from all the bodies flying around during team fights had me grinning ear to ear. There is also a training mode, a mainstay of fighting games, in which the player is free to experiment with the character’s arsenal on virtual dummies. It’s a great tool to have.
- Successful conflict
- Superb Heroes
- Irresistible visuals
- Disagreements in pairing
- There are only two game modes.
- Restricted personalization
- monotonous order of events
Gameplay and Performance
You are thrown into the pit with other players after a brief tutorial teaches you the basics of movement, parrying, abilities, and combat.
Bleeding Edge features 4v4 matches across two game modes and four maps: Objective Control, the game’s version of King of the Hill, and Power Collection, in which teams compete to collect cell batteries from around the map and deposit them at a rallying point. Keeping with your squad increases not only your chances of survival, but also of triumph.
Power Collection makes this much more difficult than Objective Control because teammates often go off on their own to collect cells, whereas in Objective Control everyone just swarms to the active point.
At least in my experiences as a solo player, this usually leads to one or more stragglers getting killed and your team falling behind. It’s possible to spend a long time waiting in a lobby, even if you manage to round up a group of friends.
Concerns have been voiced over the matchmaking and net-code in Bleeding Edge. It’s been reported that queue times are extremely long for groups of two or more players, and that frequent frame drops and lag make the game unplayable in some instances. These difficulties will be different for each player, but they are still important to consider when designing a multiplayer game that is played exclusively online.
Assuming that everything runs smoothly and your team is well-coordinated, Bleeding Edge can be a thrilling experience. Despite a lack of combo variety and three special abilities that operate on cooldowns, the combat is meaty and satisfying.
The roster of 12 fighters (plus one unreleased character) is split into three classes: Damage, Support, and Tank, which is a respectable number considering the game just came out. Over the course of 30 hours of play, I came to a solid understanding of how each hero contributed to the fight.
One of my favorites is Makutu, a melee tank who can both charge at enemies and aid his allies with healing and speed auras. Also, there’s Gizmo, an intriguing utility hero who, thanks to her turrets, is great at long range but quickly loses her edge in close combat.
Last but not least, we have Kulev, who is arguably the most powerful healer due to his ability to lay healing spots that deal damage to enemies over time.
The game’s modding system allows for the creation of specialized builds, and each hero has two ultimate abilities that can be freely swapped between.
Each hero has access to a set of mods that, once activated, improve various aspects of their kit. These may include, for example, lowering the cooldown of an ability or increasing its damage or health. However, the decision to restrict players to a maximum of three mods at any given time undermines the potential benefits of establishing a unique playstyle.
Story and Presentation
Bleeding Edge begins to gel most noticeably in its style and lore. The varied and interesting histories of the heroes add a level of immersion rarely seen in games with a strong focus on multiplayer. Famous British professor Kulev had his brain implanted in a robotic snake so that he could continue his work after death.
Until he decided to augment his body, New Zealand native Makutu felt like the unwanted little brother.
Daemon, the game’s protagonist, is a graffiti artist and martial arts expert who, in memory of his mother, leads an unlikely band of outsiders against corporate corruption.
These kinds of specifics go a long way toward making the in-game world feel real and the characters more compelling. For as corny as it may sound, discovering the backstories of my favorite characters gave the fights a deeper meaning than just “it’s fun to punch stuff.”
Of course, if the game’s visuals weren’t good, none of this would matter. Bleeding Edge, thankfully, sticks out by employing a vibrant color palette and punk/grunge design elements.
Throughout matches, load screens, and the in-game workshop where you can buy new mods and skins for each hero, this upbeat energy remains.
Presently, there is not a great deal of variety in terms of cosmetics, as most of the skins that can be purchased are essentially just color schemes.
More options for layout mean that heroes can travel between locations much more quickly than they could on foot alone. Different boards can be customized with a wide range of decals and graphical effects. Lacking in customization, the game may never gain the traction it needs to attract more players.
Power Collection is like an ultra-violent game of football.
The two game modes in Bleeding Edge, objective control and power collection, are more akin to the hero shooter genre. There are three predetermined areas on each map that your team must control for a longer period of time than the opposing team in order to win in objective control. It’s very reminiscent of Overwatch’s “Control” mode. Power Collection, on the other hand, is more original, playing more like a violent version of American football. The goal of the game is to collect power cells from canisters that appear at random locations around the map and then deposit them at designated touchdown zones to earn points. Power cells will explode out of your body like a jackpot from a slot machine if you die while carrying them. Though both methods are effective at getting people to fight, I find that power collection gives me more satisfaction.
I learned how dangerous Daemon could be, even with the odds stacked against him, during a particularly tense match. Zero Cool, a professional gamer from Brazil with a knack for healing, did a fantastic job of preserving the opposition’s health during battles. Nidhoggr, a black metal guitarist who will gladly trade licks for your life, was acting as the healer’s personal bodyguard. Nidhoggr made the mistake of wandering a bit too far from Zero Cool while the two of them were keeping watch at a capture point during an objective control game while I lurked in the shadows nearby. I activated Daemon’s invisibility, sprinted in, and unleashed hell on poor old Zero Cool, quickly reducing his health bar by half. Nidhoggr saw me and ran back, madly slashing at me with his axe guitar, but I escaped danger with a well-timed evade. Then I used Daemon’s ultimate, Shadow Strike, and the ensuing barrage of blows reduced the already-injured Zero Cool to ash and lopped off a significant chunk of Nidhoggr’s health, too. He attempted to flee, but two shurikens to the back put an end to that.
It’s disappointing that the camera struggles to keep up
Thrilling gladiatorial battles like this one have a major caveat, however. It’s a shame that the camera has trouble keeping up with the lock-on mechanic in Bleeding Edge, since the game focuses so heavily on close-quarters combat. When your target is constantly moving from one end of the arena to the other, causing your point of view to wildly sway, it can be very disorienting. And while I’m getting beaten up in the corner by the whole enemy team, the camera seems to think it’s really important that I get a good look at the inside of my character model. Of course, lock-on isn’t required, but in my experience, most encounters are tedious without it. When I wasn’t able to lock focus, all I could do was fumble with the camera in an attempt to keep up with the fast-moving characters. The options are both bad.
A Double-Edged Sword
Zero Cool, a healer, is usually my favorite class, but playing as him paled in comparison to Daemon. Zero Cool should, in theory, be flawless because, as a ranged fighter, he is immune to the camera wonkiness that plagues up-close battles. He is, alas, the polar opposite of everything that is exciting and new in Bleeding Edge. Never once did I enjoy sitting on the sidelines and watching him heal his allies and occasionally chip away at the bad guys with his pathetically weak pistol. His playstyle is far too similar to that of Overwatch’s Mercy, specifically her weakened state.
The experience in Zero Cool made me realize that using a bow or other ranged weapon is a waste of time in Bleeding Edge. The key to maintaining forward momentum in a match is to push the pace, fight to the very end to achieve your goal, and thrash anyone who stands in your way. Meanwhile, I could only watch from a distance, as everyone else got to participate. A safe distance for healing, but too close for effective sniping or other ranged tactics. They’re too far away! I need to get closer,” Zero Cool is always telling me. The dog’s persistent barking serves as a warning that head-on attacks from a distance are ineffective. It’s a tough spot to be in because you don’t want to be in the middle of the action, but your options are severely limited if you stay at a safe distance. Bleeding Edge is not a sniper’s paradise, although the distance may change depending on the character you choose to play as. Lock on, and auto-aim will take care of the rest, eliminating the agonizing wait for the perfect opportunity to land a headshot. Zero Cool’s pleadings for a closer encounter carried a note of irony. Inwardly, I agreed with him; the fight was boring if I wasn’t right in the middle of it.
Bleeding Edge is not a snipers’ paradise
Since Bleeding Edge makes the fatal error of lacking a role queue, I was forced to play the healer more often than I would have liked. If you select the healing role before entering matchmaking, you will be locked into that role for the next match to ensure a balanced team composition. The lack of a role queue in Bleeding Edge is a huge bummer if you’ve ever lost a match in the early stages of Overwatch because nobody on your team was willing to take the plunge and play a character who wasn’t a damage dealer. One team will likely emerge victorious once the two have clashed if it has a more evenly distributed distribution of roles. Many times, I was forced to pick Zero Cool grudgingly because our team couldn’t win without its share of the holy trinity’s healing power.
Living On The Edge
Even if you’re cast in a role you don’t like, you can still customize your fighters to make them more enjoyable to use. Bleeding Edge’s character creator is a shining feature that allows players to tailor the game to their preferred fighting style. The ability to give your character a one-of-a-kind look and equip special gadgets that give your attacks more oomph has me over the moon.
When it comes to competitive games, I’m usually not particularly interested in “carrot-on-a-stick” progression systems; however, Bleeding Edge’s modification chips, which are unlocked as you play, are a different story. Each fighter has three augment slots that can be used to equip mods that provide passive benefits, like increased health, or active benefits, like reduced cooldowns for their abilities. Similar to Diablo’s gem system, but with a futuristic twist, this is how we can describe the cyberpunk aesthetic. Because I can’t resist the allure of a good theory, I’ve recently gotten into the habit of meticulously reshaping fighters to my liking.
The spectral burst-damage expert Glass Daemon was my first truly evil concoction. To make full use of Daemon’s Cloak ability, I ditched all of my physical defense mods. Before anything else, I put in the Clippin’ mod, which shortens the Cloak cooldown by 0.3 seconds after each successful melee attack. Then came Ghostin’, a technique that allowed users to remain invisible for an infinite amount of time. Finally, Trickin’ rounded out the package with a 30% damage increase after emerging from stealth. It was very satisfying to see Daemon transformed into a cunning, deceitful scoundrel.
It was a lot of fun playing a match right after finishing this structure. My team was trying to capture a point, but Buttercup, a tough as nails biker woman with an unabashed southern drawl, was standing in our way. Buttercup’s tankiness makes him an unfavorable opponent for a damage dealer like Daemon in direct confrontation. With the help of the Ghostin’ mod, I was able to sneak around from a tall building and patiently wait for the right moment to attack, at which point I pounced down with all my rage and knocked her to the ground. She got back up and went to town on me like I owed her gambling money, yanking at me to make sure I couldn’t get away (sort of like Roadhog in Overwatch). At this point, Buttercup had about half health and I had one foot in the grave, but thanks to my Clippin’ mod, I was able to Cloak again, grabbing a health pack invisibly in front of her, and then using the damage boost from Trickin’ to quickly dispatch of her. I was even able to steal all the batteries she was transporting! I loved being able to see the results of my mod choices in action, like how Buttercup might have won if my build hadn’t been so good at sneaky assassinations.
What Genre is Bleeding Edge?
Nonetheless, Glass Daemon’s skull frequently cracked on the concrete floor in the middle of a team fight, sending me back to the respawn screen. He has shockingly low health to begin with because I disabled the default mods that boost HP. Therefore, facing off against multiple opponents exposed the flaws in my build. It’s a relief to know that each player character can swap between three different editable build templates in the event of death. When games escalated into fistfights, I was prepared with a sturdy body type.
Daemon was a brawler before I started tweaking him, but I wanted him to play more like a ninja. Every fighter in Bleeding Edge comes with their own set of mods that are just begging to be customized to your liking, so there is a lot of room for even crazier builds. One match I saw a Nidhoggr who would throw his guitar like a devil’s boomerang. It’s situational, but this attack works best when used to stop a fleeing foe. However, he had mods installed to shorten its cooldown and amplify damage, and he was using it to deal significant damage from a distance even if his opponents were at full health. Why I love mods so much is because they are such powerful vehicles for individual expression.
The Final Verdict
Bleeding Edge is easy to dismiss as Microsoft’s transparent attempt to break into the hero shooter market and steal players away from established titles like Overwatch and Paladins.
After all, aside from switching to third-person and adding a melee-focused combat system, the game makes no real effort to differentiate itself from its predecessors. Considering this, one might wonder if Bleeding Edge adds anything new to the genre it claims to love so dearly.
Despite the game’s potential, Bleeding Edge appears to be arriving at the party way too late.
It’s easy for game makers and publishers to miss the boat on a passing fad if they aren’t nimble on their feet. Thus, if you are already a subscriber to Game Pass, there is nothing to lose by giving Bleeding Edge a try.
Justin enjoys discovering and recommending underappreciated games to his fellow gamers, and he is a fan of both indie and triple-A titles. His duties at GamingScan include overseeing the company’s social media accounts and reporting on the newest and greatest games.