XbOx haZ nO GamZ. You can’t swing a virtual cat in any game-based forum without hearing this little pearl of wisdom, but for all intents and purposes, it’s probably true. In a toe-to-toe contest with its bitter rival Sony and its dastardly PlayStation, it’s easy enough to see that Microsoft haz very few GamZ – even if they are leading the way on the service front. It’s interesting (and mildly worrying) then that no one is talking about their upcoming exclusive Bleeding Edge. It’s being developed by none other than Ninja Theory (of DmC: Devil May Cry, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West fame), and represents their first foray after being acquired by Microsoft Studios in 2018. It’s also releasing at the end of March, so let’s bloody talk about it.
Bleeding Edge is a risky little number in a couple of ways. In a world of Overwatches and DOTAs, it’s an online-only competitive arena brawler that’ll require a strong community to survive, and it’s also releasing at the dying end of an absolutely colossal month of AAA releases. It’s got all the hallmarks of the less-than-mighty battle between Overwatch and Battleborn (which battledied soon after its release), but this time it’s up against Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Nioh 2, DOOM Eternal and Persona 5 Royal to name a few. With all those bad boys on your shelf, does anyone have room for Bleeding Edge? Well if you don’t, you should make some room, not heaps of room, just a little, near the edge…the bleeding edge.
I went hands on with the game at PAX AUS last year (I unfortunately missed out on last month’s beta), and be damned if I didn’t bloody love it. Front and centre is its bizarro roster of quirky characters with unique skillsets to master and synergise. A unique roster is of course to be expected in an online brawler, but Ninja Theory really are dialling up the strange factor with their class-based gaggle of weirdos. Characters like graffiti artist-cum-samurai Daemon, cybernetic chicken woman Cass, Norwegian black metal axe-wielder Nidhoggr and negative gearing ok boomer Maeve, the characters are all incredibly distinct both visually and gameplay wise. Some slick cel-shaded visuals brings it all to life, and it’s got a clean, colourful and vibrant sheen that frames the action beautifully.
At launch the game will feature only two modes, which is probably a good idea given it will take some time for the game to gain some (robot chicken) legs, and splitting a small player base is never wise. There’s a straightforward Domination-type mode, as well as a variant of Kill The Dill With The Pill where you try and pick up power points to deposit in a goal or instead get mercilessly murdered and have them stolen by the opposition. There are plenty of options for good team play here, but no doubt there’ll be a few characters that cater to that lone wolf style.
Apart from its promising gameplay, and despite its lacklustre marketing, Bleeding Edge is also pretty well priced. It can be yours for as little as A$40 on Xbox One and it’s also on Xbox Game Pass, so there’s no reason to not jump in and give it a whirl. If this article has gotten you as excited as I have been while writing it, then there’s a ton of information breaking down the individual characters and gameplay on the game’s official site. Bleeding Edge releases March 24, 2020, on Xbox One and PC.