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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Spellbreak is a free-to-play fantasy battle royale game available for download on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows based PCs. Players take on the role of newly awakened mage in a world where magic's outlawed. Players fight against other outlaw mages and other enemies in winner takes all, last mage standing matches. Players use a variety of different elemental based spells as weapons, picking up and swapping out other elements over the course of the match, even combining elements for more powerful attacks. There's no blood or gore in the violence, with defeated foes simply disappearing into exile and leaving power-ups behind. There's no sex or profanity, but players might still get exposed to offensive commentary from others via in-game chat options. Finally, though the game's free-to-play, there are constant less-than-subtle pushes to buy additional cosmetic outfits and accessories from the in-game store using virtual coins either earn through gameplay or purchased with real world cash.
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What's it about?
SPELLBREAK is a free-to-play fantasy action game that pits mage versus mage in a spell slinging battle royale where skill, cunning, and luck all come together to find the best of the best in magical combat. The game takes place in a world where magic use is considered illegal. Those whose latent magic talents are awakened are labeled VowBreakers, or "Breakers," outcasts hunted for violating the strict edict of Vow Mandate. Now, your goal's to survive and to thrive, fighting against those loyal to the Vow Mandate and other outlaw Breakers seeking to build their power and collect rare artifacts scattered throughout the realm. To do so, players will dive into The Fracture, an area filled with chaotic elemental forces and ancient forces, and battle against more than forty other Breakers in solo, duo, or team matches. You'll use your specialized elemental skills to eliminate to opposition, or combine your magic with a secondary spellcraft to unleash powerful combination attacks. You'll also collect useful loot from arcane vaults and equip powerful relics that can change the course of battle in the blink of an eye. Win or lose, take what you've learned into the next match, earning valuable experience and unlocking even more latent magical talents along the way. You'll test your mettle and prove yourself in combat, and you might even become powerful enough to alter the fate of the entire world.
Is it any good?
Battle royale games are all the rage these days, either as an extra multiplayer option for bigger franchise releases or as standalone titles trying to carve out a niche in a crowded marketplace. Spellbreak falls squarely into the latter category, standing out from the pack by replacing firearms and hand grenades with spells and sorcery. This makes for some unique gameplay options, such as flight, teleportation, and flashy magical attacks. Players start with one elemental set of spells and can pick up an additional set in the field. This opens up the ability to combine elements into even more powerful attacks, such as shooting a lightning bolt into a tornado to whip up a devastating electrical windstorm. There's a lot of fun to be had in figuring out some creative combinations to wipe out the opposition. In fact, there's a lot of fun to be had in most part of any match, though sometimes the game seems to be its own worst enemy.
Most battle royale games drop all players into the match on equal footing, with no player more or less powerful than any other. Spellbreak skips past this idea with its levelling mechanic. Players earn experience in matches and level up their characters to unlock the usual batch of accessories, badges, and other cosmetic goodies. But players can also unlock new talents, which are special permanent abilities tied into their chosen class. While this gives players an extra goal to shoot for, it also means that newcomers or casual players can often get dropped into a match where they're already at a disadvantage. Another big factor hurting the game is population. Maps are hefty in size, but the number of mages in any given match is relatively small in comparison to other games, with only about 40+ players per match. Even in heavily populated matches of other battle royale games, it can take a while to find other players. Cut that population in half, and Spellbreak can often wind up being a lonely experience that misses out on its fullest potential.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in gaming. Is the impact of the violence in Spellbreak affected by the fact that there's no blood or gore shown in the game? Does the cartoonish art style lessen the impact?
What are some of the ways that some games use microtransactions to expand their content? How much do free-to-play games rely on microtransactions, and how hard do they push players to make purchases?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Pricing structure: Free
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Proletariat, Inc.
- Release date: September 3, 2020
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Violence
- Last updated: October 20, 2020
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