Video Game Reviews

Spellbreak: Cracking the Battle Royale Mold

The recent surge in battle royale games started with PUBG (Player Uknown’s BattleGrounds) and has since blossomed into a monstrosity that blots out the sun. While some of these games stay true to the foundation PUBG laid, others have taken a… different approach.

Very different

Spellbreak is a recent addition to the genre, and I have to say, I was in love with the premise from the moment I watched the trailer.

Battle royale… but with wizards. Sign me up! 

After playing Spellbreak for a couple of weeks, I can look at it a little more objectively. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you an idea of what makes this game worthwhile,  without screaming “BATTLE MAGE!!” to punctuate every sentence.

A Class-ier Battle Royale

One of the pillars on which Spellbreak sits is it’s class system. 

This allows you to choose one of six diverse classes before literally diving into the action, and is probably the single most important decision you’ll make going into each match. I could probably sit here and explain the weaknesses and strengths of each for the remainder of this post, but…

  • Frostborn: High range and damage with a bit of CC for when someone gets a little too close. 
  • Conduit: Rapid fire, effective at medium range, with the ability to call down lightning from the heavens. 
  • Pyromancer: Moderate burst damage with slower projectiles. Also, they can summon a wall of fire. 
  • Toxicologist: DOT with a fan of lobbed projectiles that leave a poisonous residue on the ground, and a poison cloud that suffocates foes. 
  • Stoneshaper: Moderate damage with a nigh instantaneous fissure that cleaves the battlefield (and foes) in twain while also hurling boulders at anything that moves. 
  • Tempest: High mobility with the added benefit of dispelling the magic of your enemies. Also a CC tornado. 

What makes the class system really shine is the perks each class receives throughout any given match.

You receive these perks at the beginning of each round as long as you are within the safe zone or move into the safe zone. Each one adds something to your chosen class, making you more powerful the longer you stay alive. Whether this is the Toxicologist becoming invisible when walking through their own gas cloud, or the Stoneshaper’s ability to recharge their shields with regular attacks, each perk could mean the difference between victory and defeat. 

Throw Down the Gauntlet 

Your main weapon in Spellbreak comes in the form of a gauntlet that focuses your magical energy. If you chose Frostborn, then you will be equipped with a frost gauntlet. Similarly, if you chose pyromancer, you’ll receive a fire gauntlet. So on and so forth. The gauntlet of your chosen class cannot be removed, only replaced by a higher caliber gauntlet of the same type. Your free hand, however, can be equipped with any other type of gauntlet.  

This is where the magic happens…

Literally

Say you chose a toxicologist. Well, if you happen to find, and equip, a fire gauntlet, you can now create a poisonous conflagration by shooting a fireball into your poison cloud. 

Oh, you went with frostborn? If you equip a lightning gauntlet, you can electrify the ice, and subsequent water, left behind by your projectile. 

These spell interactions are not only interesting, they’re also the cornerstone of combat. Knowing when to send an earth fissure through a wall of fire, or use your tornado on a cloud of poison to create a venomous vortex, could be the thing that nets you a win. 

Unfortunately, your enemies can also capitalize on any spell interactions, so be careful when deciding where to erect your fire wall, lest someone cast a tornado on it, consuming you in a fiery funnel.

Your Life in Runes

Runes are the lynchpin of your arsenal, and can make or break your entire match. You can only hold one at a time (unless you unlock Spellslinger), and they operate on a cooldown timer. Most are designed around getting you into–or out of–combat quickly, while others offer a boon during combat.

  • Flight: Allows you to fly for a short period of time
  • Dash: A quick burst of speed on a short cooldown
  • Wolf’s blood: Highlights nearby enemies and allows you to see them through walls
  • Springstep: A moderately high jump on a short cooldown
  • Featherfall: Launches you into the air and gives you slow-fall until you touch the ground
  • Teleport: Teleports you a moderate distance instantaneously
  • Invisibility: Makes you almost invisible for several seconds

Each is indispensable. So, even if all you can find is a Springstep rune, when what you really wanted was a Teleport, all I can say is…

Equip them!

These, in combination with spell gauntlets and your ability to hover, make for some of the most enjoyable combat this side of Apex.

A Nice (Spell)Break From Form

While Spellbreak remains true to the roots of the battle royale genre, it also brings with it new life. 

Most battle royale games wind down during the final rounds as players maneuver for the most advantageous position. Spellbreak eschews this by its very nature. The final rounds are always a frantic explosion of particle effects as mages fly, teleport, and leap about the battlefield shooting electrified poison boulders at one another. 

While some might find this chaotic, or downright disorienting, others will see a ballet of carnage that brings a tear to one’s eye. 

I am of the latter camp, and am thus giving Spellbreak a 7.5/10.

Though by no means a contender for the battle royale crown, this game offers a fresh approach to the same formula, and leaves the genre better for it. Also…

BATTLE MAGE!! 

Whew. It was rough holding that in. 

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