It’s time to put up your guns and unleash some arcane pain. Spellbreak is one of the hottest new battle royale sensations and one that has you slinging a deadly grimoire of spells instead of tossing grenades. Developed by Proletariat Inc (founded by industry vets from Harmonix, Insomniac, and Turbine) this isn’t the studio’s first game though it’s by far their most ambitious, arriving on PS4 and PC later this year.
Currently in closed beta (which can be accessed via Spellbreak’s founder packs), we spent some hands-on time with this latest battle royale contender. For those who have played games such as Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Realm Royale, there are plenty of familiar touchstones here, from the initial airdrop into each match to the shrinking play area and scavenging of loot.
However, while it mimics those core battle royale beats, Spellbreak is dressed up in a way that will beguile many shooter fans. If it wasn’t already made abundantly clear, munitions have been completely replaced with magic, so instead of bazookas and sniper rifles you have fireballs and ice arrows.
There are six different schools of magic encompassing elements such as ice, wind, earth, and fire, as well as poison and lightning. These are bound to six gauntlets, each with their own primary and more powerful secondary attacks. For example, the flame gauntlet will blast rocket-like fireballs and can also be used to summon walls which deal burn damage to those who come too close.
In Spellbreak you can dual-wield gauntlets which can lead to some interesting combos. You may not realise it at first, but the more you play the more you’ll see how certain spells can complement each other, such as targeting a whirlwind with lightning attacks to create a small storm. Players can also slot additional spells such as a teleport or temporary invisibility to further refine their playstyle.
The initial learning curve comes simply from trying to work out what each spell does. Spellbreak’s six classes are fairly balanced though you’ll inevitably find yourself warming towards two or three, whether it’s the reliable Pyromancer, brutish Stoneshaper, or devious Toxicologist. You’ll be required to choose one as your main class before launching into battle, with any points earned unlocking additional perks and abilities.
At first, it can be hard to get a grip on how effective your spells are: which ones deal big damage and how others may dupe or incapacitate enemies. However, after getting several matches under your belt – riding solo, with a partner, or in a trio – you’ll find your bearings and upon doing so the rest of the jigsaw pieces should fall into place. For instance, sifting through the various different items that litter the battlefield can be daunting to start with, so you’ll have to quickly develop an eye for what you need and what should be left behind, stocking up on armour shards, health potions, and upgrades.
From what we’ve played of Spellbreak so far, it’s a fun and frenetic multiplayer romp with plenty of room to grow. The battle royale genre may have plenty of competition as it is, but Proletariat Inc. have imbued their creation with their own supercharged style of spell-slinging action that will no doubt find its own coven amidst the legion of battle royale fans out there.