Exclusive hands on: Bethesda’s Brink – at last a unique FPS?

Last month Matt and I had the opportunity to get our hands on Splash Damage/Bethesda’s new FPS, Brink, and I have to say, things are looking pretty damn good!  Brink’s “hook” has always been its addition of  free-running, but I was surprised to discover that the free-running element is only a tiny portion of the game.  The real “meat” of Brink is its high level of customization and frantic class-based multiplayer. So wait, another class based multiplayer online shooter? Well…yes, but before you cry “been there done that“, let me explain why Brink is actually pretty damn unique (and a lot of fun). First and foremost, players will have the ability to level their character throughout the single player campaign, and then take their character, levels and all, to the online multiplayer arena. Yep, this means that all those kills that you accumulate during the single player narrative actually give you experience in the multiplayer. The best part about this feature? You won’t have the displeasure of starting multiplayer at level 1… we all hate level 1.

The Story

We actually had the opportunity to talk with lead writer Ed Stern who explained why Brink is a bit different from other post-apocalyptic FPS worlds (Rage, Boarderlands, etc.). The bulk of Brink takes place on the Ark, a gigantic man-made city-sized flotilla. The Ark was an experimental self-sustaining prototype community that was never meant to hold a ton of people. When the Earth’s oceans began to flood, the Ark became an incredibly hot commodity. The warring factions fighting for the Ark include the descendants of the original builders and the refugees that want to take it as their new home. Players will have the opportunity to choose a side, Security or Resistance, in an attempt to hold and/or take the Ark. While Matt and I didn’t get a chance to play the single player campaign, it sounds incredibly unique and fun.

The Classes

The player can choose between four unique classes, all of which have their own special abilities and movement types. I spent a good amount of time with the Operative, who could not only move like a ninja, but could also steal enemy identities and hack enemy radio trasmissions. While I had a hard time taking down the “heavy” solider enemies, I found it very entertaining to use the ledges and terrain to flank groups of enemy troops. I’m a huge fan of class based multiplayer games, and Brink seems like it’s going to be incredible to play with a group of friends.  Tactics and coordination are going to be key… so make sure you have friends.

Check out this video of Brink’s rather robust skill trees.


The multiplayer session we took part in consisted of a wide variety of game-play modes, seemingly all rolled into one. For instance, in one segment of the mission our team was tasked with the assassination of an AI controlled character that was moving to an extraction point. The enemy team was attempting to protect this character and stop us in our tracks. While most of us have played (and hated) escort missions in games before, this felt new and unique. Having two heavily armed factions battling over one individual was nothing short of mayhem. Soon after that scenario was over, we went back to fighting over territory by holding key points and eliminating the opposition. Good times indeed!

A Strange Mix of Influences

Trying to describe this game is difficult. If you combined the “gritty” feel of Modern Warfare’s weapons, the unique classes and playability of Team Fortress 2, and the speed and movement of Crysis 2, you’d make a baby Brink. The game-play was smooth and fluid, characters can use cover, crouch, slide, and melee. Guns have a great weight and “feel” to them.

You’re either going to love or hate Brink’s artistic decisions.  While there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of character customization options, a large number of character customization options looked as though they were hand pick out of the closet of a post apocalyptic raver.  I think it’s safe to assume that some gamers (a lot) will abuse the hell out of this much freedom.  What does that mean?  I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up seeing legions of pink puffy jacket wearing Juggalos when the game ships this May. Sometimes allowing the player to have so much freedom can diminish the overall experience (See: Goaste Black Ops clan tags). Oh, that link is totally NSFW.


The Experience

I’m excited about Brink. I feel as though it brings enough innovation to the table to make for a totally unique FPS experience.  While it borrows heavily from some other games it takes a lot of those old ideas and infuses them with a truck-load of personality to make for a highly enjoyable multiplayer experience. Nice job Splash Damage.

PUBLISHER: Bethesda Softworks

DEVELOPER: Splash Damage

RELEASE DATE: Spring 2011 (May 10th!)

PLATFORM: Games for Windows / Xbox 360 / PlayStation®3 system

GENRE: First Person Shooter

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. BRINKcountdown

    FYI: small typo at the end: “Spalsh Damage.” 😉

  2. Ash

    I uhm… have NO idea what you’re talking about 😉

  3. Scott

    I’m really digging the art for this game, as well as a very early review X-Play did a while back. Looks like it’s shaping up to be a blast.

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