Spellbreak's mage-based battle royale turns you into a magical superhero

(Image credit: Proletariat)

I played some Spellbreak earlier in the year: it's an upcoming battle royale from developer Proletariat that ditches the guns and grenades in favor of mages armed with magic spells. It was in alpha at the time, and is now readying for a closed beta on the Epic Games Store—and by the way, we've got 250 keys for the closed beta to give away.

Spellbreak drops a few dozen mages into an arena, where they search for magical equipment: enchanted gauntlets that fling spells, boots and belts that provide buffs, and other enchanted gear that can add teleportation, invisibility, and other powerful effects. Spells can often be combined: for instance, wearing a fire gauntlet lets you place a burning wall of flames, and a stone gauntlet lets you hurl a boulder through the air. Hurl the boulder through your flame wall and now you've got a burning boulder ready to drop on someone's head.

Spells also include electric blasts, toxic fumes, ice magic, and wind powers that let you summon tornadoes, and many of these powers can be combined with each other. There are also several classes of mage to choose from, each with their own signature powers, and you level up during the match giving you access to even more abilities. 

We once speculated what a Marvel battle royale would be like, and Spellbreak is the next best thing. With all the powers on display, it really makes you feel like a magical superhero.

There have been some improvement and additions to Spellbreak since I played it back in February. An Apex-like ping system has been added, letting you quickly communicate with your teammates by clicking the middle mouse button. One click lets you point out a spot on the map or an item of interest, while double-clicking lets you signal that you've spotted an enemy.

Jumping has changed as well—as is befitting mages, it's now a levitation system. You can still tap the spacebar to leap into the air, but if you hold it down you'll rise higher and remain aloft until the meter expires. It feels good and it's easy to use as a double or triple jump or as a glider to drift down from tall towers.

My favorite way to get around, however, is on ice. Using ice magic, you can lay down a long lane of frozen turf and skate along it, and anyone else, friend or foe, can use it that way too. And be careful if you're standing on it when the ice melts: if someone throws an electric bolt into the puddle, you'll get a brutal shock, and if a fireball comes along you'll be scalded by steam.

There's a lot going on in Spellbreak with all the spell combos and other powers in the mix, so there's a pretty steep learning curve. But it's fun, fast-paced, and the effects are both beautifully done and easy to read. Even when an area is being bombarded by fire, ice, toxic gas, electricity, and other effects, you can tell what's going on pretty easily.

Here's a look at Spellbreak's roadmap as it enters closed beta. There are plans for additional modes beyond battle royale, which is great: I'd love to see those creative and satisfying spell combos used in other ways.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.