Though I’ve spent most of my life playing multiplayer titles like League of Legends, Fortnite, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, fighting games have never really been my thing. It was only when I played MultiVersus in August that I finally took a cautious but enthusiastic step toward the genre. But after that first taste, I couldn’t help but want more. That’s what led me to play Brawlhalla, a free-to-play cross-platform fighting game that I’ve spent the last week with.
Developed by Blue Mammoth Games and published by Ubisoft, Brawlhalla had already been on my radar due to all the positive buzz it’s received since initially launching in 2017. After spending a fair bit of time with the game, I’m not convinced that the shakey experience I had reflects all that strong word of mouth.
After launching the game, I was immediately met with a messy menu of icons and buttons, some of which made me feel clueless about their purpose. Navigating this menu didn’t take long, but I sure wish I had some help. Brawlhalla lacks guidance across all levels, especially with its gameplay. The game doesn’t include a proper, in-depth tutorial that explains the mechanics or combat system; I just had to wing it and hope for the best, which made my initial hours with it quite overwhelming.
Brawlhalla features many modes, most of which are pretty straightforward, such as free-for-all and one-versus-one. However, things get a little more complicated with the game’s roster. Brawlhalla players can choose between fifty-six characters (known as Legends), each of which are unique and excel at different combat styles. Arcadia was one of my favorite Legends, since she could dash around the battlefield and dish out heavy damaging blows. But if I got tired of close-quarter combat, I’d use Orion for his short-range weapons that allowed me to swoop into battle with a rocket lance while keeping safe distance from enemies.
These Legends are locked behind varying paywalls that require earnable in-game currency to unlock. I regularly found myself frustrated when I’d stumble across a cool-looking character, only to discover that I would need to grind out the funds to even give them a shot. The game includes a rotation of free-to-play Legends every week, so I at least wasn’t stuck playing just one or two cheap, beginner-level characters for hours on end. However, since these characters were randomized weekly, there were occasions when I didn’t enjoy playing them simply because they didn’t fit my playstyle. When this occurred, it quickly became a nuisance to grind out the funds using characters I didn’t like playing, only to purchase the Legends I wanted.
While I can’t say with certainty whether some of these characters are overpowered, I definitely felt outmatched during most games. Then again, that may just as well have been because of how fast-paced combat was; reacting to my opponents’ moves seemed near impossible to pull off with any consistency. Most of my gameplay experience was a mix of button-mashing, dashing across the battlefield, and falling to my death because I got continuously knocked off the platform. I struggled to keep up, and I had trouble figuring out if that was due to balance issues, the game’s lack of tutorials, or just me sucking at fighting games—or some combination of all three!
That said, I can’t deny that the combat felt invigorating during its best moments. I may have felt like trash when I was just getting beat up over and over again, but in the times when I was finally able to gain a foothold and start fighting back, I enjoyed Brawlhalla. It took longer than I wanted, but once I figured out how combat worked on my own, I was able to move around the battlefield and attack fluidly.
One big change that helped me eventually get over the hump of being able to play Brawlhalla was adjusting the control settings. The standard preset control layout for mobile is horrendously positioned and makes tapping the controls feel even more challenging than winning matches. It’s worth taking the time to configure the button layout to your liking before playing Brawlhalla.
If you can get over the messy menus and some notable gameplay problems, Brawlhalla has something fun to offer. The game’s ranking systems, events, cosmetics, and many more bits of content will keep dedicated players busy for a long time. It also features cross-play, allowing you to battle with your friends across mobile, PC, and console. There were some sizable hurdles to get over before everything clicked for me, but now that it has, I find myself itching for another brawl. But then again, that could just be my newfound fighter spirit emerging.
SCORE: 3 STARS OUT OF 5
PLAY IF YOU LIKE:
• MultiVersus. If you enjoy playing MultiVersus for its collection of cartoonish characters, you might like Brawlhalla. Feel free to read my in-depth thoughts on MultiVersus on TapTap. • Injustice 2. If you like playing Injustice 2 for its fast-paced and dynamic combat gameplay, you may enjoy Brawlhalla.
💬 Have you ever played Brawlhalla? If so, which Legend is your favorite? And if not, where do you stand on fighting games? Let me know in the comments!
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