Spellbreak developer talks PS4, inspirations, and cross-play

Magic missiles.

Coming to PlayStation 4 and PC later this year, Spellbreak offers an enchanting twist on the battle royale formula we’ve grown so accustomed to these past few years.

Developer Proletariat Inc. has swapped out guns and grenades for gauntlets – arcane armaments allowing players to unleash a powerful arsenal of spells. As the battleground steadily shrinks, players will find themselves in the midst of a magic maelstrom, popping off skill shots, and hoarding items as they fight for first place.

We recently went hands-on with Spellbreak which is currently in closed beta on PS4 and PC. Intrigued to know more about Spellbreak, we spoke with Proletariat Inc. CEO, Seth Sivak about the studio’s inspirations, the challenges they faced, and how the game is shaping up ahead of launch.

Which games/other media would you point to as big influences on Spellbreak’s gameplay and visual design?

The core combat from Spellbreak is inspired by old school shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament. All the spells are projectiles, which leads to lots of skill shots, and there is a wide variety of movement options. We even have a rocket jump! The visual style is influenced by lots of 2D animation classics like Princess Mononoke, Akira, Avatar, and Legend of Korra. We also took a lot of inspiration from games, both old and new, with gorgeous visual effects like 2D Castlevanias, League of Legends, and Breath of the Wild.

It’s been a few years since the initial Battle Royale boom with Fornite and PUBG. Are there any concerns that the genre is starting to fall off in terms of popularity?

Battle Royale is a great game mode that has been mostly dominated by traditional shooter games and Fortnite. Spellbreak is something totally different. The combat of Spellbreak feels familiar to shooter fans but is also very unique in control and playstyle. Spellbreak also has deeper class and build choices than other games, along with in match progression. That combined with our innovative plans for ongoing content should ensure that Spellbreak has a very fresh feel for players.

Why choose PlayStation 4 as your first console to launch on?

We want to bring Spellbreak to as many platforms as we can but we knew that the Playstation 4 would likely be one of our biggest audiences. Our approach throughout development has been to be open during these early alpha and beta phases and get plenty of player feedback to help us shape the direction of the game.

What are the biggest challenges Proletariat Inc. have faced on the road to launch?

One of the biggest challenges has been to design the action spellcasting combat. This gameplay is different from any other game and has required a massive effort from the development team, with a ton of feedback from players, to get right.

Can we expect cross-platform/cross-play? If so, can you expand more on your plans for these features?

The Closed Beta currently supports cross-matchmaking and we plan to allow for cross-parties in a future beta release. We will have more announcements about other platforms and cross-play features coming up over the next several months.

Every multiplayer game has esports potential. Is Spellbreak competitive play a focus for the dev team and how are you looking to nurture this scene?

We’ve been surprised by the support that competitive play has gained so far even in beta. There is no formal way to encourage competitive play but the community has found ways to run tournaments anyway. We see that as a great sign and will look to the community as we get closer to launch to help us shape the direction of competitive play.

Spellbreak is coming to PlayStation 4 and PC later this year, but is currently in closed beta, accessible via paid founder packs. For more on the game, make sure to catch our hands on preview from the closed beta.

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Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.