At PAX West 2017, a detour took me over to Amazon HQ for some time with their upcoming hero-based sort-of-sporty third-person battler breakaway. During this time I played several matches and got a sense of what it’s all about.
Moving the ball up and down the field is a push-pull endeavor that teamwork is absolutely essential for. You can pass the ball to willing teammates down the field and this is an extremely effective way to move the ball – as you are an immediate target holding the ball and incoming damage will send it flying out of your hands and have everyone scrambling for a pickup. One of the coolest experiences I had during the course of the matches was running far ahead of the team right into the opposing goal and catching an incoming pass to score – as I was playing a rather squishy-built range DPS character, I probably had all of 2 seconds left in enemy territory before I was going to die and it was a fairly intense moment.
Moving the ball isn’t the only way to win. Eliminating the other team from the board will also score, something that gets more and more likely as the game goes on – each death results in a higher respawn timer, so charging out blindly into the field is often a bad idea. A viable strategy is definitely simply slaughtering overextended opponents that are focused more on scoring with the ball than killing other players, so working out a balance with your team of stopping power and good points to push is a solid idea.
Any time you’re at base healing or while you’re dead, you can check out the shop. It’s a fairly MOBA-esque selection of passive items to equip your character with from damage, to life leech, to cooldown reduction. If you’re doing a lot of damage to the other team, you can often finish a match with a full kit of powerful boosts.
Breakway also includes a focus on “buildables.” Depending on your character, these can be anything from damage-dealing ballistas to shrines that put down healing fields around them. While these can be destroyed by the opposing team, aggressive positioning of these objects can heavily influence a match.
In my 30-minute session, we completed two full games. I played as ranged damage dealers both times, one a traditional high-damage archer and another a bursty-blasting shaman. I’m actually not sure how I feel about Breakaway right now – there is a lot going on here, with many mechanics and systems coming from various genres into one big melting pot. I’m concerned that despite many differences that Breakaway does from the genre template, the hero shooter market is simply too packed with titles right now and Breakaway will simply get labeled as yet another entry into a huge pile of games. We’ll see if Breakway can land a slam dunk as it moves up the field closer toward release!