Before the announcement.
Rewind time back to E3 2018. Phil Spencer comes on stage and makes it clear that they have a clear strategy for their next-gen first-party output. Moments later, five new studios were added to the Microsoft Studios list. The Initiative, Compulsion Games, Playground Games, Undead Labs and one that made people dream the moment it was announced.
Ninja Theory, the developer behind cult classics such as Heavenly Sword (2007), Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2009) and very recently Hellblade (2017), was very open about their desire to stay independent and to create games focused on the game experience in contrary to games limited by the game’s monetization and budget. The announcement of the studio joining Microsoft caught many people (including myself) off-guard.
So when you consider a very talented studio that always was limited by budget but managed to pull off technical achievements and you partner that studio with a company like Microsoft, you immediately get many people hoping for more.
A project built by passion.
One year later at E3 2019, Ninja Theory officially unveils their first game under the Xbox Games Studios banner. The reception was mixed with some looking forward to the game because of the cool-looking action combined with great looking character designs. However, some felt like this was a pretty bittersweet announcement coming from the idea that Ninja Theory could push the boundaries for story-driven action games with that Microsoft added money.
Rahni Tucker, director of Bleeding Edge, has always been a fan of online action multiplayer-heavy games. Aside from the Platinum-made game Anarchy Reigns (2012, Sega), the online melee-action genre has been very quite sparse. The team at Ninja Theory made it clear that they’re building a game for a very niche audience.
What’s the game?
Bleeding Edge is a Player-vs-Player focused online game. Two teams of each four players battle it out in diverse looking arenas.
There are a total of twelve characters, one of them has yet to be unveiled. The cast features prominently melee-focused characters. All characters also have three distinct abilities (active/passive) and two Super abilities. There are three classes: Assassin, Support and Heavy.
There are two main game modes: Powercells and Objective Control.
In Powercells, you and your team collect power canisters scattered all over the map. In order to get power, you need to destroy the canister. Once all the orbs are collected, an objective will appear on the map where you can deposit the power which will raise the team score. If you die while carrying power, you will lose all of your power and it allows the opposing team to steal your power.
Objective Control is very similar to your typical King of the hill-like game modes.
At launch, there will be four distinct maps to play on. Each map has a neat little gimmick to it that you better keep in mind when playing a match. On Boneyard, there will occassionaly be air strikes which damages players and sets them on fire. My favourite one being the train on Jersey Sink. Since you are invested so much in fighting the other players, you’ll probably won’t see this train coming and which results into a insta-kill.
Bleeding Edge refers to the group of characters that you’ll be able to play as in-game. One of the tropes that I’ve currently seen in many multiplayer games is the universe being overly focused on the “good vs evil” aspect. Stuff like Overwatch, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, etc all feature characters that are part of this trope.
This isn’t the case with Bleeding Edge. It’s all about a bunch of modding enthusiasts who want to go out in an arena to show-off their abilities in combat.
It immediately feels like a breath of fresh air. I don’t feel annoyed when a game does use this trope but Bleeding Edge feels right with this narrative direction.
While Bleeding Edge releases on March 24th, there will be two additional closed tests. The first one will be on the 14th of February. The final test before launching on the 13th of March.
Anyone with an Xbox Game Pass subscription or who has pre-ordered the game will get access to these two tests. If you’ve played the closed alpha before, you’ll obviously get access as well.
I’m personally really hyped for playing Bleeding Edge. I don’t expect it to be a critical darling or a commercially amazing game. However, I see myself playing the game on a regular basis. I sure hope that there’s some sort of post-launch content support planned for the game.
Stay tuned to XboxERA for more Bleeding Edge news.