Xbox One, PC
March 24, 2020
Xbox Game Studios
Bleeding edge is plagued with problems. There’s no other way to put it. No way to be polite about it. At a time when society has abandoned the Hero shooter and moved on to the Battle Royale, Bleeding Edge stands atop the crowd and cries “give us a try, we’re Overwatch but with 3rd person melee.” And then it promptly falls flat on its face. Because Bleeding Edge is a massive misstep. And no number of flashy visuals and cool music can fix that.
Before I jump into the dissection of how this game is bad, I want to start with some positivity. The art direction and music in this game is genuinely good. Character designs feel like the love child of Cyberpunk and League of Legends. This Cyber anarchist punk feel the environments and menus have is a style that I can really dig. And while character designs may be different takes on racial stereotypes, at least they look like they belong in a dystopian future. As a metalhead weeb, I was particularly fond of Nidhoggr and Daemon, the cybergoth and spray paint samurai respectively.
The music, with its low bass and electronic twang, helps cultivate the futuristic feel of the setting. There’s not much else to the world-building outside of this though. Aside from a few scraps of the story here and there in the bios, its all very devoid of story information. Which is strange, because, from the trailers, it looks like someone put a lot of effort into building a narrative. But it’s just absent. I couldn’t even figure out what the ‘Bleeding Edge’ was supposed to be. It feels like someone just thought up a cool name and worked backwards from there. And it kind of leaves the world feeling a little directionless. In fact, directionless is the perfect way to describe most of the experience.
One of the biggest problems with the game I had was people leaving during a match. We’d be Halfway through a game when one or two of our players would just disappear. Just pop and they’re gone. And suddenly, in a game that’s all about strength in numbers and coordination, we’re down a few players and struggling to keep up with the enemy. But in all honestly, I can’t blame them for leaving. Because after 10 minutes of gameplay, I wanted to leave too.
Each game mode is long, arduous, drawn-out, and boring. Objectives take too long to complete. There are too few players on the field. And each fight boils down to who can spam melee the fastest. The only strategy is to team up and curb stomp your opponents like you’re in a Glaswegian bar-fight on a Saturday night. Forget balancing your team. Forget trying to pick the right hero for the right situation. Forget trying to figure out the meta. There is none. Uncoordinated, graceless tickle fight brawls are the meta now. No balance, just fists.
The only reason I didn’t join the leavers and also bail mid-match was because of the potential penalty. The game warns you that if you leave, you will be marked as a leaver, and placed in matches with other fellow leavers. It felt like the game was holding me hostage the entire time, gun to my temple, threatening me with the hose if I don’t collect the power cells like a good little girl. I get the need for such a punishment, I really do, but the whole situation had me feeling trapped.
And let’s not get started on the fact this entire game feels unpolished and rushed. Almost every feature here is lacking. Characters only have 3 emotes each on average. Outside of DLC, the skins are literally just re-colours, like some shitty palette swap from Street Fighter. There are only two kinds of game modes, which as mentioned above, wear out their welcome fast. There are not enough game modes, there are not enough maps, there are not enough skins, there’s not enough emotes. There is nothing here to keep me playing or make me care.
To top it off, some characters control like a shopping trolley at an ice rink. The number of times I felt like I was slipping and sliding around trying to hit something was immeasurable. and then there’s the fact that movement felt so slow that not even hover-boards could save it. The game has no sense of speed. When you ride your board you feel like you’re moving at a glacier’s pace. When you run, you feel like you’re sprinting in place. The game is in no rush, and so neither should you be apparently.
Hell, they even messed up shooting. All the ranged characters feel weightless and floaty when they try to aim. There’s no impact behind the shots. And like the movement, it’s so slow. This makes it impossible for those characters to be playable. Hell, one of the shooters is the games token healer, and you can’t use him because he handles like dog dookie. Then there’s the fact I couldn’t enter the workshop menu without one of the characters T-posing on me; trying to assert dominance as if their life depended on it.
The unpolished gameplay and lack of content make Bleeding Edge feel like an early access title. And if it was, I would pretty be forgiving for almost all of it’s faults. Early access games have room to grow, they have time to take on community feedback. But this is not an early access game. This is a full-fledged, full-priced release. This is what’s apparently considered a finished product. It’s a joke. Like a Vanilla Ice concert, it’s all style and no substance. This game needed more time in the oven. More features added. It feels like it was just rushed early because they realised everyone would be bored and desperate while trapped indoors. Well, I’m sorry, But I’m not that bored and I’m not that desperate.
Bleeding Edge was made by Ninja Theory, and that makes this all so much worse. I am a huge Ninja Theory fan. I love their games. Hell, I was even one of the few people who liked DMC. Ninja Theory makes good games. So playing Bleeding Edge, and seeing the Ninja Theory logo at the start is so disorientating. Because this is not a good game; This is poorly balanced, unpolished dreck. The only thing that makes it playable is the fact it’s part of the Xbox Game Pass, making it essentially free to try. This game is a creative afterthought, and it feels like Ninja Theory knows that. There was barely any build-up to this game; no real promotion. Just a couple of trailers, and an unpolished product.
- Cool character designs
- Sweet lo-fi beats
- Unpolished gameplay
- Directionless design
- Lack of content
- Game modes drag on
- Shoddy controls
Bleeding Edge is a game I wanted to love. I wanted to enjoy this game. I wanted to lose myself in its neopunk futuristic aesthetic and cyberpunk world-building. I wanted to drown in the killer lo-fi beats. I wanted to just fall love with this game. But Bleeding Edge is fundamentally unenjoyable. A game chasing a dead trend. A game where the more I came back to it, the more I grew to despise it. This game isn’t Overwatch. This game is more Battleborn. And playing it felt like a chore. Going through matches and grinding for levels was slow and painful; like a tortoise walking over thumbtacks. It’s not an experience I can recommend easily. Maybe if they worked on it, really gave it the old spit, shine, and polish and a handful more game modes, I would consider coming back. But as it stands now, it’s just not worth it.