Each fighter is wildly different from the last, with barely anything to link each one to the next aside from the broad categories of attack, damage, and tank. Daemon is a stealth ninja that strikes from beneath an invisibility cloak, while Maeve is a disgusting old witch supported by a balloon who can trap enemies in magic cages. Kulev breaks the mould again by being a snake in a trench coat capable of healing groups of allies, and the newly revealed Cass is a perverse hybrid of woman and demon chicken who hurls knives and halt foes with a stun. They’re drawn in a style that’s almost Gotham City Imposters meets Necromunda’s House Escher, and each one is (presumably intentionally) more disgusting than the last.
While the beats of combat feel MOBAy, the overall direction of each match draws much more from shooters. Anyone who’s played Conquest or Hardpoint will be familiar with the concept of Bleeding Edge’s capture point mode, in which teams accrue points for holding onto one of three different zones. Rather than being constantly up for grabs, these points periodically lock off, forcing both teams to sprint for a newly unlocked point and engage in a fresh battle all over again. It’s a solid design that ensures each match doesn’t fall into stagnation, and helps teams on the backfoot gain an advantage if they can make it to a point ahead of the competition.
Map design is compact, with a little old-school arena shooter design thrown in thanks to jump pads that hurl your fighter up a level. While there’s not a great deal of verticality, there’s numerous flanking routes, which once again adds a little MOBA to the mix. Routes from spawn and between capture points can be navigated quickly thanks to a hoverboard, which most characters can summon from mid-air, helping reduce downtime. Amusingly, the hands-on session at X019 features a train track than runs right through the middle of the entire arena, and periodically lethal freight trains hurtle down the line. I’ll hold my hands up and say that I was squashed by that damn locomotive more than a couple of times.
Bleeding Edge E3 Trailer Screenshots
Bleeding Edge has a lot of elements that work in its favour. Its multitude of characters offer an array of roles to play as, and feels satisfyingly lethal when you can land your blows. Teamwork is vital, and demands knowledge not just of those on your team, but the skills of the opposition too. And the fundamentals of the match design are strong, too, especially when it comes to those rotating capture points.
Despite this, I’m yet to be won over by Bleeding Edge. I think part of that comes down to its art style, which repulses rather than amuses me. The characters are gross, and not in a way that I personally find enjoyable. And I think that the art design stands a chance of putting off a sizable amount of people who’d otherwise be really engaged by Bleeding Edge were it to have a ‘cooler’ style more comparable to that of League of Legends or Overwatch, too.
But perhaps I’m just a bit too conservative in my tastes, and people will take to these ugly heroes as well as they did to Tracer and Ahri. Hey, maybe I will too. X019 only afforded me a single match of Bleeding Edge, but perhaps after a few more rounds I may find that ugliness is only skin deep.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer. You can follow him on Twitter.