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  • Spellbreak battles are full of splashy elemental explosions and floaty acrobatic dodges.
  • He went that-a-way!
  • Some people just want to watch the world burn.

It feels like just yesterday that PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite: Battle Royale were introducing the world to the fun and excitement of the battle royale genre. But in the three years since their relatively sudden rise, we've seen countless copycats big and small remix the same basic "many enter, only one survives" shooter gameplay.

At this point, it takes something pretty different to stand out from the crowd, and Spellbreak might just be one of those special battle royale standouts. Ahead of the game's relaunched and expanded closed beta today (which includes PS4 support for the first time), we got an advance look at some serious updates to this unique take on the genre.

Spell-ing bee

As the title implies, Spellbreak tries to set itself apart from the pack by replacing gun-toting battlers with spellslingers in a genericized fantasy setting. The class-based setup gives different players control of various elemental powers through the use of upgradable gauntlets, and the differences between each set of powers are far from cosmetic. The fire gauntlet sends out slow but powerful flying fireballs, while the stone gauntlet can send a directional earthquake attack, for instance. Each gauntlet features its own charged attack as well, such as letting a pyromancer lay down a mighty wall of fire for area-based protection.

Each class starts with a specific gauntlet that's locked to its character the entire time, and that gauntlet receives special class-based bonuses. But players can pick up secondary gauntlets for the opposite hand to mix and match powers. After you charge up an area-of-effect tornado with a wind gauntlet, for instance, you can zap it with a bolt of lightning to create a roving electric cyclone that can stun opponents.

While most battle royale shooters focus on bullets that hit their targets practically immediately after you shoot, spells in Spellbreak tend to travel more slowly through the air and often land with a wide splash damage area. This often leads to a cautious cat-and-mouse game of positioning, where dueling players feel out the risks and rewards of their relative distance from opponents. Too close and you don't have time to dodge incoming attacks. Too far and your own attacks probably won't have much impact. Having the high ground can be a huge advantage in this style of battle, but it also puts you at risk because every nearby player will immediately see you and seek you out.

I like to move it

Locomotion takes on an added importance in this slower spell-lobbing battleground, and Spellbreak puts a lot of focus on movement abilities that make it easy and fun to dart and dodge around the world. This starts with an extremely pleasant double-jump that transitions easily into a one-second hover. Besides making it easy to climb up small ridges and over encumbering walls, the easy floating makes three-dimensional positioning crucial to each engagement in a way that feels much more natural than the usual bunny-hopping or vertical fort-building. It's not quite the free-floating jetpack gameplay of the Tribes series, but it gives a small taste of that same freedom.

Beyond that basic movement tech, each class also has its own specific ability to get around the maps and battles more quickly or stealthily. A pyromancer can dash through a wall ofRead More – Source

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arstechnica

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