PAX West 2017: Brawlhalla

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

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Brawlhalla 2

The platform fighter genre has been growing over the years. After having been dominated by the Super Smash Bros series for so long, new competitors are starting to enter the fray, with games such as Rivals of AetherBrawlout, and BrawlhallaBrawlhalla has been available on PC for some time, having released back in 2015, but the game is still in early access and also just entered open beta on PS4.

The game is free to play on PC, and is playable on PS4 through Founder’s Packs that have all the characters unlocked. Ordinarily there are 6 free characters at any given time, which rotate similar to games like League of Legends. Characters can be unlocked by purchasing DLC or with currency earned in-game. The game will eventually be available for free on PS4 as well.

Brawlhalla 4

My demo time consisted of several games against the developer, playing the time-based mode as opposed to stocks. At first, the game seems like it would play similarly to the Super Smash Bros series, as another platform fighting game. The core mechanics are the same; increasing the opponent’s damage causes them to be launched progressively further by attacks, and your goal is to launch your opponents off the stage. However, that’s about as far as the similarities go. Brawlhalla has a weapon system for each of its characters; each one has two weapon types associated with them, and whenever you pick up a weapon during combat it will be one of those two types. Each character’s loadout is unique, and which weapon you pick up determines the attributes of some of the character’s attacks. When learning a character, it’s important to be comfortable with both of the character’s forms, since there’s both can and will appear during combat and there’s no way to determine what a weapon will be when you pick it up.

Aerial game is also quite different from Super Smash Bros; each character can jump twice as opposed to once in midair, and touching a wall resets the character’s jumps. This means that recovering from being launched works significantly from other games, focusing primarily on getting back next to the stage to take advantage of the ability to reset the midair jumps to get back up onto solid ground. It also means that jumping off to finish someone trying to recover is significantly safer than in other games, as long as you stay near the stage itself to jump back up.

Brawlhalla 3

Even putting aside the different weapon types available, there’s a lot of diversity in the characters themselves. As it stands there are 34 characters, with the developers adding more characters and weapon types over time. Their designs are all over the place, while still maintaining a consistent style and overall aesthetic. Visual effects in combat are bright, colorful and cartoonish, and the sound effects give a nice sense of impact to each attack.

As a free game, what you’ll get out of Brawlhalla at any given time really depends on how you feel about the characters available at that time. However, in general, it’s a fun, energetic fighter that’s easy to get into even if you have no prior experience with the genre. Especially since it’s free to play on PC, it’s worth at least giving it a shot to see what you think of it.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.