PAX West 2018 Hands-on: Breach

Gods are real, and the creatures of mythology exist. Unfortunately, all of them want to wipe humanity from the face of the Earth.

That’s the distilled essence of Breach, an upcoming multiplayer action-RPG from developers QC Games. The devs were in Seattle during PAX weekend to show off the alpha build of the game in multiple off-site demos, with private sessions at the century-old Seattle Tower and a public hands-on at the nearby GameWorks restaurant and arcade.

We had the opportunity to try out the game at one of the Seattle Tower sessions, playing a couple of multiplayer rounds LAN party style. While the developers did say that Breach can be played single-player (with teammates being AI controlled), the game is obviously built with a multiplayer focus, which meant that Fusionx and myself teamed up with three other attendees for our session.

Each session of Breach is essentially a mini dungeon crawl. Each player selects a class from a selection of nearly twenty, offering up a surprising amount of playstyles. Being the kind of person that prefers to stay out of the fray and pick off enemies from a distance, I naturally found myself drawn to the Sniper class. Other available classes run the gamut from fairly standard (such at the up-close-and-personal Assassin) to the creatively off-the-wall (the Lich class, which hides an object in each dungeon room and becomes pretty much invincible unless said object is destroyed).

Classes are also able to be individually leveled up and customized, although we didn’t dive into it too much during our demo session. Taking a glance at the customization menu, though, I saw the ability to change out equipment as well as some kind of gems that offered up perks such as powering up certain attacks or giving you more stamina for dodging enemies. Not every one of these equipped buffs is available immediately though; each player can select to use one at the outset of a dungeon, earning the ability to activate more as the team clears various tasks during the game.

While there were five of us in the session, co-op teams max out at a total of four players, which is where Breach introduces an interesting twist: the “Veil Demon.” The fifth player can take control of this creature to work against the other four, empowering and taking direct control of monsters, creating traps, and summoning powerful enemies in an effort to take the main team down. The player controlling the Veil Demon in our session really took to his role quickly, managing to eliminate our entire team before we were halfway through our dungeon.

Jumping into the gameplay itself, the controls are rather simple. The game is played in third-person, with basic attacks mapped to the mouse and various class-specific special attacks mapped to the number keys, immediately making me think of an MMORPG-style of control. It took me a bit of time to learn what exactly all my skills did (despite having access to a cheat sheet at the press of a button), but by the end of the dungeon, I had a pretty solid grasp on the basics of my class.

Breach definitely feels like a game designed to be played in short spurts. Each dungeon lasts maybe 15-20 minutes, taking your team through five or six rooms each with their own task to accomplish (or, in the case of the Veil Demon, to keep your opponents from accomplishing), capping off with a boss fight. Tasks ranged from simply killing all the enemies in a room to collecting various items and bringing them to one specific area. One task we came across a couple of times, which was something like gathering energy from around the room and depositing it in one place, was one task that I was unable to really figure out how to do. I was unable to find any kind of collection point, nor did there seem to be any guidance to one. With each room’s task being on a timer, coming up against this one was frustrating.

Reaching the end of the dungeon (after finally figuring out to dodge our resident Veil Demon’s traps) we came across this dungeon’s boss, the Egyptian god Anubis. Being a Sniper, I of course stood back and let my team tank the damage while I took potshots from afar. The fight wasn’t too much of a challenge, despite the gimmick of the boss occasionally going invincible, requiring us to destroy a pillar in the boss’ room to make it vulnerable again.

At the end of it all, despite not being much for multiplayer games, I can say that I had a good time with Breach. Enough so that Fusionx and myself took another go at it over at the public GameWorks demos. If anything, it’s the surprising amount of playstyles available that has caught my attention, along with the fact that gameplay is done in quick 15-minute bursts rather than in long play sessions.

QC Games is planning a slow roll-out of Breach, with the first invites to a new alpha build expected to come out soon. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can sign up for an invite to the alpha at the game’s website.