Spellbreak has a pretty appealing pitch: it’s Battle Royale but everyone’s a wizard. This means that in traversal you can loft yourself into the air for a short period, which meshes well with your surprisingly brisk running speed. It means that you have a huge fantasy isle of Hyrulian hills and honeyed stone to gad about. And it means that when you reach the last two minutes of every Battle Royale game where people emerge into the same tiny patch of ground everyone’s a wizard.
Seriously! These final moments. I’ll be standing on a bluff, wizarding around, and then a huge wall of flame will emerge from the east. Lightning will zap through the air from the west. The south will become a swamp of toxic green goop, and the north will shake with seismic activity. It’s an end-game that truly feels like the world is ending – perhaps only the luminous Atomega can beat it in that category. And deep down there is an intricacy that has kept me at it for ages.
Let us step back a bit before I get to that. Spellbreak’s Battle Royales tend to be around half the size of Fortnite’s, which makes for a game in which you spend quite a bit of time by yourself. That’s fine, I guess, because you’ll be scavenging loot and opening chests, and there’s a lot to unpick here. You choose a class before launching into the game, and this just means that your right hand – and the right trigger and bumper – will be themed to a specific elemental attack. Fire, lightning, stone, wind, that sort of thing. All elements have their own quirks and a spammable attack on the trigger with something bigger that needs a charge on the bumper. Fire is a fireball on the trigger and a wall of fire on the bumper, for example. Ice allows you to hold the trigger and snipe, zooming in. Rock has you either sending a fissure through the ground or lobbing a massive boulder. It’s fun!