Bleeding Edge review: fun third-person action, but Ranked and more game modes are needed

By Sean Carey,
Ninja Theory is back – this time, with something a little different. Bleeding Edge is a third-person multiplayer action game with a heavy reliance on teamwork and strategy. The game is supported by an interesting cast of characters and varied combat. While that is enough for now, Bleeding Edge needs to do a lot more to live up to its full potential.

Bleeding Edge

Teams are made up of four with players picking from a wonderfully diverse and colourful set of eleven characters. These characters are split up into classes, Damage, Support and Tank. Fighters make up a mixture of pure melee, ranged and a combination of the two. There's enough variety here to suit all play styles. Daemon is a brightly coloured ninja who can use stealth to sneak up on enemies and deal serious damage. Kulev is a ranged support character that hangs back from the action to protect allies, while Makuta is a tank with a huge health pool that can disrupt the enemy by bouncing them out of objectives. Each character has been designed well — you can really tell that Ninja Theory has put a lot of love and effort into the look of the fighters. They’re all interesting and feature their own unique and funny personalities.

Once you dig deep with the characters and really get a feel for each one and their unique abilities, you'll soon realise there is a complex combat meta hiding underneath their colourful facades. Each character has a standard attack, three abilities and a super that charges over time. Some can evade out the way of attacks at the cost of stamina, while others will have an increased base movement speed or a different ability — Makutu, a hulking Maori, can switch up his stance to move faster. It's quite a lot to get your head around at first and will require some dedication to figure out what works for you.

Luckily, thanks to player feedback in alpha testing, Ninja Theory has implemented a training area called the Dojo. Here you can experiment with all the different fighters, their abilities and play against AI. Finding those one or two characters that fit your play style is key to Bleeding Edge, but not as key as playing with the team.

Bleeding Edge gameplay

Simply put, if you're not playing with the team, you're not going to enjoy Bleeding Edge — you will be killed off quickly. Playing as a lone wolf isn't really an option. It can be done to a certain extent, but ultimately the team comes first. Of course, this throws up a myriad of issues if you're playing with others that don't care about the objective. More often than not, I would find myself in lobbies with players that would charge straight towards the other team or split off in different directions. It was frustrating, and after a while, it became tedious.

Bleeding Edge has launched with two game modes and five maps. The two game modes are Objective Control and Power Cell Control. While both are fun, they probably aren't enough to keep the majority of players engaged for long enough. The former is your standard point-capture affair while Power Cell Control offers up something a little different. Players need to collect Power Cells that spawn around the map and deposit them at a collection point. There's a collection phase and a deposit phase — to get the most out of this game mode, the team needs to strategise. Do you want to run interference and keep the enemy team busy while one person sneaks off and collects Cells? Or all go for the Cells together? Again, communication is key, and if you don't have a team that's willing to play the objective or talk, you will be punished. The game makes use of a ping system, which does a good job. It's easy enough to direct people and tell them where to go – but if they don't listen, you'll be chalking up a loss.

Bleeding Edge release date closed beta

However, once you do get three other players who are willing to work together, Bleeding Edge provides one of the most satisfying combat experiences to date, and it will have you itching for more. Pulling off team-combos feels sharp and is incredibly rewarding. Communication is key to this. Luckily I found a group of players where we could coordinate our attacks and game plan. That being said, if you don't come across players who are willing to work together, or have friends to play with, your experience will wildly vary from match to match. A dedicated ranked mode would have somewhat alleviated this problem. Ninja Theory say that this is on its way, but to launch without ranked play in a game that requires such cohesion in a team throws up a significant issue. Separating the player pool from those who want to take the game seriously and those either new to it or just playing casually is a must. Ranked can't come soon enough.

Bleeding Edge's five maps are a highlight, although slightly too big in some cases. Some fighters can ride on hoverboards that allow them to zip around the map quickly. This is adequate and works for the most part, but sometimes there can be dead periods of just travelling from one end of the map to the other. Other than that minor issue, the maps are great. They are varied enough and feature plenty of environmental hazards that can be used to a team's advantage. Landslide, for example, has trains that circle the objectives. Not only can these be used by healers to stay out of the action and support their team, but they can also become a weapon by freezing an enemy on the tracks before a train comes around. Every map has a hazard like this that can be used in a number of different ways and provides several tactical options. However, one downside is that you can't pick which map you want to play on ahead of the game, or which mode you are playing. The option to choose what you want to play and where isn't there, which, along with the missing ranked mode, is disappointing.

Bleeding Edge release date closed beta

One area that further expands the combat meta is the Mods system. Mods allow you to change up certain aspects of a character including, damage of an attack, base health, cooldowns and more. Up to three Mods can be equipped to suit your playstyle. Using the metal rocker Nidhoggr, I found that upping his base attack damage and extending the range of his Boomitar ability fit the style of how I played. There are hundreds of combinations of Mods that can be equipped, and they add an extra layer to the game. These Mods can be earned by levelling up your account and characters. They can also be bought using in-game currency. Cosmetics, boards and emotes are also bought using a different in-game currency called Credits. Both are awarded for completing matches, playing the objective and kills. The payouts, however, are quite low. I've completed games and have sometimes been awarded around 18 Credits for completing a match and a good number of kills. Emotes cost upwards of 600 Credits and skins are a couple of thousand. It's going to take some time to earn enough for one skin. At the moment, the incentive for playing is slightly out of reach.

Overall, Bleeding Edge is a great game, although its potential hasn't been fully
realised. A couple of new game modes alongside a ranked mode are needed to keep the game from getting stale. The ability to choose what map and what mode you want to play are also sorely missed. Aside from these issues, Bleeding Edge has some of the most satisfying combat and team play that I've experienced in a long time — especially when it's carefully executed with a team who are on the same wavelength. Taking time to learn all about the well-designed fighters with their different abilities and experimenting with Mods is crucial. You'll need a little dedication to get to the bottom of the meta. Once you do, you'll be in for a great third-person action experience, even more so if you're playing with friends.

Summary

Ninja Theory's first multiplayer outing could be something special, but it's a lack of game modes and a dedicated ranked mode stops Bleeding Edge from taking on the other big team-based multiplayer games. However, the game does feature some superb third-person combat and team play. Working together with a group of friends or dedicated players has never felt so satisfying. The varied cast of characters is exciting and fun to play with, while the Mods system adds a layer of customisation to the game. Bleeding Edge is worthy of your time – hopefully more so in the coming months when fresh content is added.
3.5 / 5
Bleeding Edge
Ethics
The reviewer spent nine hours hacking, slashing and mind-controlling enemy teams while earning seven achievements in the process. A digital code was provided by the publisher for this review and played on PC.
Sean Carey
Written by Sean Carey
Sean joined the team as a Staff Writer for both TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies in 2019. He games across all platforms and is always looking for an excuse to replay any of the Metal Gear Solid titles.