Christian Carlo Ceguerra
You have been lied to all your life
Magic is yours to use
And I can show you how
Come with me
I’ll show you what it means
To be a Vowbreaker
— Avira Emberdane, Spellbreak
Wouldn’t it be cool for magic to exist in real life? Imagine, being in control with the order of nature, casting tidal waves, tornadoes, or earthquakes on a whim. With the right incantations, you get to summon storms, blizzards, or maybe heavenly bodies to aid you in your situation. Magic trumps science, therefore you trump Newton, Einstein, and other scientists; you’ll literally break the meta, breaching the laws of physics: being in control with gravity, force, motion, speed, and so on — and, of course, create miracles and cures with your chants and eventually heal the sick… or maybe give vision to the blind.
However, this is reality, where science, history, anthropology, literature, myth, religion, and faith — with everything tangible and intangible as proofs — have their own unique ways to support, contradict, or cancel one another out in answering the question of whether or not humans were actually given the gift to wield magic. (Mind you, Skyline College actually offers ANTH 180 or Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion, a survey course on the remnants and accounts of magic through the lens of anthropology, but that’s another story.) Fret not, however: Whether or not we humans have mana or chakra wielding entities, Spellbreak brings the mystical world to our computer screens.
Spellbreak is a spell-casting battle royale developed and launched by Boston-based developer Proletariat. Inside the magical realm of Hollow Lands, a maximum of 42 “Vowbreakers” outwit their fellow sorcerers with the use or combination of six elements: fire, ice, earth, wind, lightning and toxic. Altering the traditional gunslinging meta of battle royales (think of it as PUBG, Fortnite, Rules of Survival), rifles, frags, explosives and ammunition have no place in this game. Vowbreakers’ prime weapons are gauntlets, which they equip on their left hands (as primary), and another gauntlet which they can loot for defense, utility, or amplification of their damage output through organic elemental combos.
As a Vowbreaker, your class would be classified based on the primary gauntlet of your choice. These endow you with the power to wield and use a respective element to aid you in your battle. Common gauntlets can be obtained before the start of the game with your primary element (on your left hand), while your secondary can be obtained ingame.
Frostborns allows players to snipe and blast an icicle that leaves icy trails which players can walk in to accelerate. Wearing ice gauntlets also allows the wielder to release a wave of cold and chilly air that freezes nearby enemies and blocks some projectile. Tempests send a series of air cutters that can deflect projectiles and allow you to summon tornadoes, hampering player movements as well as pulling them to the center. Conduits send rapid bolts of electricity and call forth lightning to strike an area and leave damaged players shocked, briefly restricting themselves to use sorceries and runes. Stoneshapers strike the ground to send off a temblor that travels in a straight line and ultimately catapults boulders that can be enchanted as an ice ball or meteor with ice and fire gauntlets, respectively. Pyromancers are known to shoot heavy damaging fireballs that leave a burning pillar and firewalls that both ignite enemies hit. Lastly, Toxicologists sprayshots corrosive poison and hurls a poisonous cloud that melts off armor per second.
One of the most popular elemental combinations is fire and toxic. Sending off a fireball into a toxic cloud transforms into a toxic bomb which deals a great deal of damage, while spraying toxic to the wall of fire increases the damage over time significantly. Meanwhile, firing lightning bolts at a summoned tornado allows it to be charged, shocking players inside the tornado’s area of effect.
Each elemental combination allows players to be adaptable depending on the tactics they will employ to make sure they’ll be the last one standing. Players can manipulate their opponents’ element for their own advantage or can be the cause of their character’s demise. You can block off your opponent’s lightning bolts using the sorcery “Flash Freeze”, however they can turn the tides of the battle by electrifying your ice trail, damaging and putting off your escape.
Equipment, Runes, and Consumables
Like any other online games, the driving force that drags players to consume and spend thousands of hours playing is entertainment, appreciation, and fun. Although, some may argue that they are playing to beat the game… and be number one. Whatever your reason for playing is, winning games and being hailed as the last one standing can be achieved with the help of equipment which heightens the gaming experience through higher damage outcome, higher mobility, and with an increase with survivability — and that’s why there’s loot.
Loots are best effective based on its rarity: common, uncommon, rare, epic, and legendary. The more rare your item is, the better stats it could give.
As mentioned above, opening chests may give you your secondary gauntlet, ergo secondary element. It is best to change both of your gauntlets based on its rarity, to further maximize your damage potential.
Amulets, belts, and boots or other equipment that can be looted through chests, vaults, and player drops. Amulets enhance your maximum mana capacity for your spells. Belts provide additional damage protection as armors, increasing tolerance with damage. Lastly, boots increase your Vowbreaker’s swiftness and movement speeds.
Picking up scrolls provides additional stats that provide protection and utilities. Mind, Body, and Spirit scrolls allow damage amplification and reductions, mana conservation, additional cooldowns, movement speed boosts, and etc.
Aside from gauntlets, runes provide additional mobilities that help aid executing attacks and combos or can be used defensively to flee, evade or as escape. Invisibility, flight, leap, and vision are some of the benefits runes can provide.
With the use of the Invisibility Rune, I was able to hide in plain sight and position myself and land a direct attack.
Lastly, consumables come in two forms: health potions and armor shards. Consuming potions regenerates health points, while consuming armor shards recovers missing armor.
Leveling up and finishing daily quests grants you gold, which can be used for cosmetics in the shop. Like equipment, cosmetics are also varied based on its rarity. The game’s main cosmetics are outfits, which players buy or retrieve from events, to customize their battle outfit and their Vowbreaker.
Artifacts are floating objects or entities that complement the Vowbreakers’ outfit, style or mastery. Cloudbursts and afterglows are additional aesthetics for its designated player movement, while badges, cards, titles, emotes, and triumphs are extra embellishments in the player’s interface.
I’m pretty down with Toxicologists and Pyromancers being epically buffed, especially with how high their damage output and have massive areas of effect. Toxicologists’ puddles are overpowered as having a mistake to land on those not only damages per tick, but also creates a slow effect which allows other players to make you an easy prey for combos and spams. Pyromancer’s fireballs are also frustrating as it’s explosion still deals a lot of damage even if I myself were able to dodge the projectile itself. Both of these elements have the highest possible combos too, compared to Frostborns and Stoneshapers. Toxicologists’ sprayshots and Pyromancers’ fireballs are also not single target, compared to Conduits’ lightning bolt and Tempests’ air slashes (although it is arguable since Tempests have the ability to deflect and Conduits’ bolts are fast and rapid).
Hollow Lands is a pretty big and vast map, which is both good and bad. Having a big map allows more time to prepare before engaging in battles, but having to find opponents in a very wide area is pretty taxing. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to more instances, maps, or realms Vowbreakers can contest in.
For someone who’s not a big fan of battle royale, I’ll say this game’s a little bit tougher than I expected. It’s unique game design gives a feel of arcane, an experience that is far different from my experiences as a spell-casting and magic wielding entity on different role-playing games: No more cast time, no more cast interruption, no more catalysts required to cast or invocate.
Like poetry, Spellbreak is an avant garde of battle royales — It’s distinct and highly magical.