Broken Edge breathes new life into VR sword fighting
The VR game Broken Edge may breathe new life into swordplay in virtual reality. I had the chance to duel at Gamescom 2022.
At the Gamescom booth of publisher Fast Travel Games, we were able to try out several VR games and found, among other things, our virtual reality highlight of Gamescom 2022.
Among the titles on display was Broken Edge, aimed at giving the sword-fighting genre a new lease on life. Guillaume Perreault Roy, Creative Director at developer studio Trebuchet, introduced me to the ins and outs of its virtual duels.
Broken Edge: If the blade breaks, the opponent breaks
Broken Edge offers different, historically inspired classes, all of which have their own fighting style. In the demo, the classes available to me include a samurai, an epee fencer, a knight, and a barbarian. There will be five classes at launch, with more to come. According to Roy, they are all differently complex.
To get started, he recommends the barbarian. Its huge, two-handed sword impresses with its long reach and high striking power. The disadvantage: Once the long blade is off, I hardly have anything to counter with.
This is the crux of the matter, because the life bar is linked to the integrity of the weapon. The more damage the weapon takes, the more vulnerable the fighters become. Also, sword blows parry poorly when you’re only wielding the hilt. So I have to think carefully about every attack since I’m gambling with my virtual life with every attack.
Duelists on rails
Many of my opponents wield two blades at once or carry a shield. The different fighting styles and weapons result in tactical duels. The light-footed duelist, for example, confronts me with rapier and dagger. I have to be careful of quick combinations and always keep an eye on both weapons.
My opponent is slowly pulled closer and closer to me, as if on rails, until we are standing on each other’s virtual toes. Until that happens, however, one of us regularly bites into the pastel-colored pixels. The design of Broken Edge relies on a straightforward comic style with pale colors. The environment is kept simple, but does not distract from the action.
During the duel, I try to break the opponent’s blade and thus deprive my opponent of his attack options. If I succeed in cutting off a piece, we return to the starting position and the next round begins.
Special abilities provide variety
The broken blade regenerates very slowly. The shortened weapon gives me a better chance of scoring an important body hit. At the same time, I mustn’t feel too safe and possibly concede an unnecessary dagger blow.
If I use one of two special attacks successfully, I can get a killing blow through without lowering health first. As a barbarian, I slowly swing my two-handed sword over my head or lower it to the ground to charge it. I wait patiently until the opponent approaches and a gap opens up. If I get the attack through, even the strongest knight’s armor won’t help him.
Broken Edge: Easy to learn, hard to master
At first glance, Broken Edge is a simple sword-fighting VR game. However, if you delve a bit deeper into the game’s mechanics, exciting and tactical duels emerge.
It remains to be seen whether these duels can also motivate in the long run. The greatest potential is likely to lie in the one-on-one duels between friends. At the end of the year, you will be able to settle your feuds in the virtual pastel arenas when Broken Edge is released on SteamVR and for Meta Quest 2 (review).