Switchblade Review: High Octane Competition
One thing that I am always looking out for when testing a new game that’s in it’s early days, is whether there is potential for large-scale competitions and tournaments.
Don’t mistake this introduction as a total write off, let’s not be too hasty, there are many other factors we need to tear apart before we can make any sort of judgement on this one. Or if you prefer the judgement, phase shift your way straight to the Verdict.
A low player count could simply be a result of poor marketing and limited brand awareness. I for one, hadn’t heard of Switchblade and only found it due to browsing through some of the newer additions to the Playstation Store.
I talk a lot about a particular Epic Sandbox that I won’t name here, but let’s face it, you all know which one I am referring to. Well that game skyrocketed to insane and unforeseen popularity over the last 12 months, but only after several years of being looked over.
A quick glance at the Gameplay.
The basic premise of Switchblade is easy to grasp: Your team must knock out Defense Towers surrounding the enemy’s Power Cores. Once the towers are suppressed, the shield around the core will lower and you can attack it.
There are multiple targets for you to knock out, so the race is on to be the first team to destroy all Cores.
This is only achieved through using the right combination of vehicles and their various roles: Artillery, Armored, Fighter, Scout, and Tank. Each role class contains a selection of vehicles for you to choose between, with ranging stats and weapons.
It is also important to work together with your team as one player has very little chance of attacking a target and defending themselves simultaneously. This is an area that we see a current issue given that almost every game right now is filled with Bots, which are notorious for not following your lead. But, you can get a feel for what this future team work will be like by playing the current AI filled matches.
At the moment, the available game modes are limited to Tutorial, Quickplay (5v5) and Broadcaster, a mode for those looking to spectate a game and possibly call it like a play by play on a live stream. This seems unusual and rather unique, but it is most likely an attempt to get fans to help promote the game. The flaw here, once again, is that due to a lack of active players there are rarely games available to spectate that have more than one human player.
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Let’s dive into the controls and gameplay for a second.
This will be easy to cover because at the moment, Switchblade is only available on PS4 and PC, but for now we will focus on console play.
Movement controls are set by default to the thumbsticks, with the left being used to drive your vehicle and the right being reserved for aiming.
The aim structure is 360 degrees, and straight up, think of it like a dome on wheels, with your crosshairs able to cover every inch. Because both the left and right thumbstick controls react completely independent of one another, the overall movement and aiming feels smooth.
Obstacles in the terrain are unforgiving, there is no clipping of a stone and simply being knocked sideways. No, instead it will completely halt your moment which shows a limitation in the in-game physics when it comes to interacting with elements of the environment. I am sure this an something that will be addressed over time and improved through patch releases.
Each vehicle has a main weapon, two upgrade weapons which are unlocked during gameplay, and a special weapon that charges as you deal damage, get eliminations, or support your team. These weapons are set by default to the triggers L1,L2,R1, and R2.
What other Features are on offer?
If you purchase the full game it comes with The Founder’s Pack.
16 Exclusive Founders Vehicle Skins
3 Day Battle Points (soft Currency) Boost
500 Bit Cash (hard Currency)
Once you are in the Lobby you will notice 5 different options you can browse through.
- VIEW STATS
Here you will find all of your available Vehicles, Boosts, Currencies, and Bundles. Like most games with the option to customize and upgrade your inventory, there are ways to speed up the process by purchasing additional Bit Cash rather than slogging it out and grinding away to claim the rewards. The Boost section refers to your Battle Points which are earned during matches and later used to purchase Skins for your vehicles.
Everone wants to be unique, so having a feature that allows for customizing your character in a vast number of ways is perfect.
Lucid have provided us with interchangable options for Body Type, Flight Suit, Head, Hair, Eyes, Make-Up, and Emotes. Each category has several variations to choose from but at the moment it seems rather basic and rushed. This is a feature that really lets players show off their individuality and right now the choices are sparse. Of course, we are only seeing the very beginning of these cosmetics and surely more will be added over time.
True competition needs 100% transparency when it comes to each individual player's progress and achievements. This ensures proper, ranked match making and allows for various Leagues to run simultaneously, moving players into the appropriate tier depending on their performance.
In the View Stats area of the lobby, you can find information for the current season and the last. You will find your overall Rank and who made Superstar status.
As of now this seems a little empty. Additional information such as your Total Battle Points Earned, Total Eliminations, Average K/D, Total or Average Match Statistics, and Streaks, would make this feature feel more useful in the long run and help players to take pride in progress they make.
To the right of the Lobby, a Twitch option stands out as if trying to grab your attention. However, this could be unintentional and simply be caused by the distince shade of Purple and Twitch logo. When selected, a pop-up appears and takes you to the Switchblade Twitch Channel. On PS4 this seems a bit clunky as it opens the web browser, interupting the gameplay. My personal preference when a game wants to feature Dev Streams or highlighted clips, is to have the videos load in-game rather than be taken to a Third Party application.
At the time of writing this, the channel has 610 Followers, but no featured clips. Overall, this seems like a feature that will sit relatively unused until we see a surge of players register.
When it's time to join a match, head to the centre of the Lobby floor. From this menu you can select Quickplay, Tutorials, or Broadcaster. Other modes are blacked presently including Competetive Ranked, so hopefully we will see them active soon.
THE GOOD NEWS
- Easy Default Controls for PS4 and smooth actions in-game.
- Structure of a standard match is fun and stays fast paced.
- Lobby design is a fun, Environment is detailed an beautiful.
THE BAD NEWS
- Respawn cooldown area completely takes you out of the moment.
- Missing social features, limited game modes, limited maps.
- Lack of quick menu forces player to walk to the desired Menu.