Epic Games proudly announced Battle Breakers today, making the most of their Google Development Day keynote at the ongoing Game Developers Conference. Developed on Unreal Engine 4, naturally, Battle Breakers is a tactical role-playing game made for cross-platform play on both PC and mobile devices. The quirky game will be free-to-play when it launches, but for those who are interested Epic is allowing players to pre-register on the official website (or Google Play). Pre-registering unlocks the Dark Beastman character in-game at launch.
According to the announcement, Battle Breakers will feature hundreds of recruitable heroes including ninjas, knights, robots, and dinosaurs. Players will level their heroes, then battle their squads against an equally crazy selection of monsters from space. Donald Mustard, Worldwide Creative Director at Epic Games, describes Battle Breakers like this:
“The team at Epic had this crazy idea that if we combined our passion for zany 80’s Saturday morning cartoons with our obsession for tactical turn-based RPGs, we might just create something awesome and unique. If you’re anything like us you’ll be humming the Battle Breakers theme and grinning from ear to ear as you battle your way to victory.”
While Battle Breakers may be a shift in tone for Epic Games, which is also currently working on Paragon, Fortnite, Robo Recall, and the free-to-play Unreal Tournament reboot, there is precedent. After all, Epic Games is the studio responsible for the Infinity Blade franchise on iOS. On top of their successful mobile history, it’s very clear that Epic is experimenting with different monetization models for their modern games. A free-to-play gacha game is a low-investment, potentially high-reward opportunity. It fits their current style perfectly.
Battle Breakers appears to be a gacha game, a hugely popular genre of mobile games in Asia regions, though that’s as-yet unconfirmed. Gacha is based around the player acquiring characters or units in-game through a sort of randomized draw or “roll” based on percentages. It’s often described as lighthearted gambling, considering gacha games typically allow players to buy more random draws, but never specific units themselves. Think of it like Overwatch‘s Loot Boxes or Dota 2‘s Crates, except the core gameplay is based around the randomized draws.
Fire Emblem Heroes is a recent gacha release and Battle Breakers does look similar in many facets. Both feature selections of “hundreds” of units from which to make a squad for battle. We can assume Battle Breakers also features an energy system that replenishes over time based on the screenshots (“+4 in 02:57”), limiting how much players can do at any given moment without paying for more energy. Battle Breakers even seems to feature a similar color-based rock-scissors-paper combat system. These features are all extremely common in gacha titles, for better or worse.
Battle Breakers is currently in development and is planned for release later this year on PC, iOS, and Android devices. Epic Games did note that the game is in pre-release testing in the Philippines, so launch might not be too far away.