Bleeding Edge: A mixed bag of team-based multiplayer action

Ninja Theory
Ninja Theory /

Bleeding Edge is the latest game from Ninja Theory bringing team-based multiplayer to Xbox One and Windows 10. With high highs and low lows, is Bleeding Edge worth a play in today’s crowded multiplayer market?

I’ve been playing a lot of Bleeding Edge on my Xbox One X, which was first shown at E3 2019. The latest game from developer Ninja Theory and published by Xbox Game Studios, the game launched on March 24 for Xbox One and Windows 10. It features 4v4 team-based combat where you focus on objectives. Teams feature roles like Damage, Support and Tank, as you work together to either capture points or delivery capsules, depending on the game mode.

Bleeding Edge features a really awesome art style, unique and diverse characters, and a killer soundtrack. There’s a lot to love about this game, but it’s also been a frustrating experience at times.

Let me cover the things that are awesome first. I’ve already mentioned the art style, soundtrack, and the characters list. Each character is really unique, and each is genuinely enjoyable. It isn’t really a shooter, as there’s a lock-on targeting system, and most characters are melee. So having the ability to lock on and focus on an enemy, as well as having active dodges and parrying, is a really satisfying combat experience.

Bleeding Edge is a very team-based game that really works better with players communicating. You don’t have to be the best video game player in the world if you work together with your team. The game shines if you can get a group of four together, communicate objective rotations, when to peel for your support, and who to focus. It’ll make for a great ranked play game … whenever that becomes available. The gameplay is very polished and it knows what it wants to be and what it wants to accomplish. Ninja Theory has potentially carved out a unique space in the competitive multiplayer world.

Bleeding Edge
Ninja Theory /

Now for some of the negatives… which can all be fixed and/or improved. Let that be known, after investing some time into Bleeding Edge, I have absolute faith in Ninja Theory to make the necessary improvements to this game.

First off, it feels like the release is unfinished. Even though the characters are enjoyable, there are only 11 of them. For the tank role, there is one clear powerhouse. Granted the game is just over two weeks old, but a more robust roster and some character tweaks could balance things out a bit. The characters also have a very weak selection of skins. There were a couple released as part of a punk pack (came with Game Pass Ultimate and pre-orders) that are truly different and look great. But the rest are recolors. That’s disappointing considering there’s no sense of progression without a ranked system in the game, so you have little to strive for. Granted, you gain currency to unlock mods that affect how your character plays, but you gain it at such a slow pace that it’s not quite fulfilling. More skins are desperately needed ASAP.

Another area of concern is the solo queue experience. This isn’t the type of game where you’re going to be able to 1v3 or 1v4 a team. Even 1v2 is difficult with the time to kill so low and healing so dominant (2 healer teams really bring fights to a crawl). So if you’re playing a healer in solo queues, you’re often not getting players that work together and communicate. And you’re definitely not getting any protection or tanks peeling for you. Solo queue is just… not a great experience. It’s often a very one-sided match. I have no numbers to back this up, but in my experience, players often go into multiplayer games solo or in duos. So you need a good solo queue experience.

Bleeding Edge
Ninja Theory /

As I mentioned, there’s no ranked play at launch, which is weird considering it’s a competitive team game that seems built for ranked. That’s a big miss in my book, especially when there’s a lack of content.

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Finally, while solo queues doesn’t have terrible queue times, groups of three or four players regularly have long queue times. I don’t know if there’s a quirk with matchmaking or if the player base isn’t big enough. I’m hoping it’s not the latter.

When I’m playing with a couple of friends, Bleeding Edge is a top-notch competitive experience that makes you feel rewarded for a hard-fought win. Ninja Theory has crafted a cool, stylistic combination of combat, characters and visuals.

There just needs to be more substance. I think with a couple of updates, Bleeding Edge can regularly fill a spot in many players’ multiplayer rotation. In their most recent developer update, they mentioned they’re adding some amazing skins and community requested features, as well as a new fighter. The question is if players have the patience to stick around.