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Bleeding Edge (XOne)

Bleeding Edge (XOne) - Review

by Lee Mehr , posted on 07 April 2020 / 3,600 Views

Years after grinding on a pet project originally intended as a MOBA, Ninja Theory’s Bleeding Edge was introduced as their newest IP with Xbox Game Studios.  When considering its aims there was reason to be suspicious.  For one, an acclaimed narrative-focused developer sidelining its strongest qualities for arena brawling is uncharacteristic; likewise, I doubt I’m alone in saying their gameplay is typically among their weakest virtues.  But being placed in a creative corner can sometimes work wonders.  After dozens and dozens of matches, those confines have resulted in one of their most mechanically rewarding games to date.

"Sometime in the future..." cybernetic augmentations have become a reality, as have the dystopic conditions often found in these cyberpunk narratives.  Daemon and his anarchic misfits have other plans in mind.  Enter an underground fighting ring called ‘The Bleeding Edge.’  Teams of four duke it out with the hopes of amassing an army to challenge the corrupt system.

As stated before, this background is surface-level context about the fights with hints of a structured narrative later.  Like that of Overwatch or Rainbow Six: Siege, each character has a backstory in their bio with the potential for video supplements expanding upon that in the future.  Outside of audio barks or pre-game chatter, don't expect much dialogue or grander narrative stakes at play; yet, even with this consideration, I'm still fond of the attitude and exuberance emanating from these misfits.

For what little is done from the writing perspective, the diversified roster sells me on the gameplay.  The rundown on character roles is straightforward: damage, support, and tank.  Within each of these categories come sub-categories of melee or ranged.  Aside from the emphasis on melee combat and the third-person perspective, everything I'm describing will be familiar to someone who's played hero shooters like Overwatch or Paladins.  But for all the snark brought up when comparing it to Overwatch's general aesthetic and attitude, this formula feels more enticing by not constraining you into a singular role.

Although I don't want to knock Overwatch's streamlined approach too hard, I'd say one of the toughest hurdles to returning is the expected job rendered by whichever hero's selected.  The rote mechanical understanding can be fun, but experimentation is still limited.  While Bleeding Edge is in a different subgenre, the focus remains the same.  The disparate choices of a hero’s two supers combined with the plurality of unlockable mods grants greater flexibility.  There's an assumption of your role but a nuanced split in playstyles should you make an effort to develop them.

For someone who—typically—does an ordered breakdown of the base mechanics first, I sure did jump on the Overwatch comments, huh?  Considering the comparisons surrounding it, I think it's important to firstly delineate on design ethos before baseline mechanics.  And these mechanics may rank as Ninja Theory's best to date. 

Their fondness for melee combat is well-incorporated and expanded upon in both mechanical and visual nuance.  Basic attacks are relegated to one button (X in this case), with three disparate abilities (RB/Y/B buttons) on cooldowns, and one selected super (LB) on a countdown.  With defensive counters being evades and parries, the overall set list is easy to grasp.  This is complemented by several ranged combatants as well.  The number of abilities and supers are the same, and primary attack is relegated to the X button, but how they're forced to consider their range and location can be crucial in protracted fights.

Outside of learning and sharpening your skills in Training, the meat of the game is currently split between two modes: Objective Control and Power Collection.  Control is your go-to territory capture mode where three specific locations will activate in phases.  The A, B, and C locations aren't activated all at once, so fights will occasionally funnel into capturing one point.  Power Collection is about breaking scattered canisters during the collection phase and dropping them off at an unlocked site during the delivery phase.  It's possible for your character to amass over twenty at a time, but it's incumbent on you to deliver them.  Failure to survive or re-entering your spawning base results in all of them being up for grabs. 

That, shall we say, clinical explanation doesn't sound so exciting on its own.  But the elements around those modes feel scientifically suited to me.  One of Bleeding Edge's biggest boons would be the length of each match.  The demand to reach 600 control points or 50 power cells (with kills contributing to the total) gives ample time for losing teams to make strong comebacks.  Those matches where my team was initially down but managed to win by the margins have been among my favorite gaming moments of this year. 

Extended match times aside, the design ethos around maneuvering and combat also feels deliberately slower: movement speed is toned down, it takes nearly two seconds to transition to your vehicular state, the respawn timer is roughly twenty seconds, and your stamina timer for evading is quite limited.  While it may seem constraining for an action-brawler to employ such limitations, it's not without purpose.  It's like pulling back on a horse's reins.  Giving such importance to your role and the opportunity for any character to retreat comes with advantages; those times of nearly killing someone make for nail-biting chases, but also leave you open to disregard the objective. 

These are the kinds of considerations that fuel my excitement in understanding the game.  A simple template is NOT the same as simplistic.  This is made crystal-clear by the heightened emphasis on team-oriented play. Failure isn't limited to singular responsibility but also to misunderstanding your team's makeup and under-utilizing your role.  All the interlocking cogs to consider with a squad's comparative advantages and disadvantages is part of what makes it so enticing. 

What excites even more is just how fun it is play with this surprisingly balanced roster.  The plurality of specializations ranging from trappers, harassers, heavy-hitters, and more feels substantial and engaging.  While I won’t insinuate Ninja Theory released a balanced roster akin to Chess, I would compare it to Gigantic's 1.0 state; some tweaking is in order but any team configuration can be managed.  The elder witch Maeve is the one most often accused of being OP.  Although that’s technically true, I’m a bit apprehensive on the extent, since she is a glass cannon.  Using a well-timed evade against her cage ability leaves her awfully vulnerable.  And that's something to consider with each team formation: the ability to counteract your opponents is there.  While I do believe nerfing some characters’ abilities should happen, my greatest defeats felt like actual lessons rather than gripe-fests about a stacked deck.

Another contributing factor to any character's appeal is the eccentric design and smooth-as-silk animations.  Just like with Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Ninja Theory utilize AAA-echelon expertise in this modest title.  Whether it's the kinetic brute force of Buttercup’s uppercut or Níðhöggr’s death-metal inspired toolset, every move is clearly telegraphed and feels polished.  Even innocuous extras, such as flecks of paint flying off Daemon’s sword with every swing, showcase aural & visual distinction between them that feels substantial.  Although ranged characters don't stimulate the same lizard-brain sensations in hitting someone, sound foley and visual communication of their moves is crystal clear too.

Despite successes on such technical fronts it's not without annoyances on its artistic liberties; namely, the outlandishness of some characters can be grating.  Most are refreshing, like a robotic snake controlling a mummified corpse, but a couple of duds are found.  A tank like El Bastardo looks like a 40-something male dancer who has finished his Chippendale's shift and donned a cowboy hat as his best disguise.  Even when examining the cast from a bird's eye view I understand the variety sometimes feeling too much for the sake of it.  But when you get past wondering why a corpulent southern-belle human/motorcycle hybrid is there, the diversified designs act as complements to the game's chaotic nature—instead of distractions. 

The elements of straightforward game design, upbeat tracks, and visually sumptuous chaos all give Bleeding Edge this unspoken harmony.  One shouldn’t anticipate deep combat systems, but that’s not where the focus lies.  It’s in the emphasis on presentation, whether considering the UI, vivid color usage, to the general polish (solid online infrastructure included), that makes it so rewarding.  Even the urban-electronic soundtrack hits that perfect mood before, during, and after fights.  The fact that David Garcia Diaz transitioned from the guttural, earthy tones of Hellblade to an upbeat revision of Jet Set Radio shows remarkable talent.

One of the most consistent qualms you'll find is the slim launch content; you can include this review to the list as well.  Yet I'm still left not feeling the sting of it, all things considered.  The first consideration comes down to the thirty-dollar retail price.  While the drawbacks of having eleven characters, five unique maps, and two modes at launch warrants it being called slim, I simply find the dynamics across all the available content to be totally engaging.  Each map is aesthetically distinct and well-crafted.  The environmental gimmicks give them a special energy and I like learning the various pathways and shortcuts.  Supplementary content like sundry hoverboard designs and fume trails are worth unlocking; that said, the current range of unlockable skins is a bit disappointing.  All of these extras are purchasable exclusively with in-game currency, though perhaps that could change.  In the end, my appeal to "quality over quantity" is intended to display my enthusiasm as merely dampened rather than outright deflated.

When it comes down to it, Ninja Theory should be applauded for stepping outside their comfort zone.  By venturing into untrammelled territory, they had to concentrate on what's historically been a less-praised quality of their titles.  Despite the odds and new ground broken, Bleeding Edge is a worthwhile multiplayer game that's incredibly satisfying across visual, audio, and mechanical fronts.  In a generation of modestly-praised hero shooters & MOBAs failing to conjure a healthy audience, it's tough to say how the team will handle successive updates.  But with the game we were given, I consistently internalized this thought after a match: "just one more game... just one more game."  The mantra every multiplayer game strives towards.

VGChartz Verdict


This review is based on a digital copy of Bleeding Edge for the XOne

Read more about our Review Methodology here

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shikamaru317 (on 07 April 2020)

I agree with this score. The game is alot of fun, but is definitely held back from greatness by having so little content on release. Just 11 heroes, 5 maps, and 2 modes was disappointing for sure.

  • +7
coolbeans shikamaru317 (on 07 April 2020)

Appreciate the comment, skika. Although I will highlight our review methodology b/c your words more reflect a 7/10. And that's an internal battle I occasionally had here, but those close battles and the team dynamics when victorious are still fresh in my head. I believe it was you, jason, and me in the party when we got that 600-599 victory too.

  • 0
Azzanation (on 07 April 2020)

The game is pretty fun, not a master piece but a good alternative to Overwatch. I had an alright time playing it. Does need a good patch of content.

  • +4
coolbeans Azzanation (on 07 April 2020)

A shame you didn't find it as enjoyable, but glad you gave your thoughts nonetheless. If you're in the mood to pass some time with it you're free to hit me up.

  • 0
Cerebralbore101 (on 08 April 2020)

The roster is incredibly small. You need 8 characters just to have a match, and this game only has 11 at launch. That's like a fighting game with a roster of 3-5 characters. If they had launched with at least 16 characters I could see the game being fun, but as it is now, you're going to see so many mirror matches, and quickly get bored of the same heroes.

  • 0
coolbeans Cerebralbore101 (on 08 April 2020)

Just like that you've driven my interest in these convos WAY UP. Anyways, the comparison to fighting games simply isn't analogous, whether discussing standard 1v1 like Tekken or brawlers like Smash. One of the key differences comes in both the individual and team permutations. The attacks and counters for virtually any 4-set are there, it just requires some teamwork and map knowledge to think of what to exploit. Comparing that to, say, a new SF launching with Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li seems bonkers.

Would I like more? Absolutely. I forgot to bring up how tanks are limited to melee-focused while Mekko (ranged tank) is coming down the pipeline. On net, I've not seen THAT many mirrored matches as you suggest. Sure, Buttercup & Nid are likely popular choices but a 1:1 squad lineup is inherently nonsensical for the losing side.

  • 0

I like to use arguments that I think will convince the other side. Even if I think my original arguments are perfectly acceptable. People tend to get more interested that way. :P

Attacks and counters didn't have anything to do with my point. But I do agree that a well played team of mostly any makeup should be able to counter a team of mostly any other makeup. I'm just talking about how it's so easy to get bored with such a small roster.

And I don't mean mirror matches as in both teams having the exact same four heroes. I mean mirror matches as in there's almost always going to be the same character fighting on both teams. A match of league in which both top lanes are Garen, but all other lanes are different champions would be considered a Garen Top Lane Mirror match. This would look like Garen Top, Garen Top, Malz Mid, Fizz Mid, Warwick Jungle, Khazix Jungle, Cait Bot, Ash Bot, Janna Support, Thresh Support.

  • 0
coolbeans Cerebralbore101 (on 09 April 2020)

Well...fine. But there's still something off about that initial framing with so few fighters. Because it still disregards some some disparities in approach. It's tough for me to see that boredom when each support has a plurality of approaches that've gotten me out of binds. Now, I'll grant you I understand that assessment in regards to tanks (as mentioned earlier). But if the considerations for balance played a part in limiting the available roster, I'll gladly take it due to bad past experiences.

I see. With that considered, you're not off the mark there. Although I would say my anecdotal experience has resulted in that happening less than you'd think. It feels like less than 50% of the time I see a scoreboard with 8 unique characters.

  • 0
Cerebralbore101 (on 08 April 2020)

The game is incredibly one sided for most matches. This is because, like League of Legends, all it takes is a single player not sticking with the team, and off doing his own thing to throw the match. As far as I can tell the game lacks any rubber banding elements to allow a team to regain their balance. In League, if most of your team is dead you tower hug and farm. What do you do in this game if you have one or two downed teammates and the enemy team is being aggressive?

  • 0
coolbeans Cerebralbore101 (on 08 April 2020)

So, this assessment is statistically more accurate then the mirrored matches one. I'll give you that. Although it can be temporarily frustrating, I've also found those moments of team wiping due to someone's idiocy often gets them in line to focus as a team. As far as rubber-banding goes, there's really only the help of kiting and/or heading back towards base for your team to respawn. This isn't counting the objective-oriented methods too: grabbing power cells or claiming unguarded territory.

It's true these don't add up to the same level as League. Personally? I'm glad for this heightened demand on teamwork. Being harsh on this is what makes these objectives more engaging to me.

  • +3

Having played way too much League in my life, bad players continue to be bad. When people do wise up, it's usually only after the opposing team fails to end the match quickly. League has ways of giving people time to recoup, and rethink. But even then, I'd say 70% of goofball players, keep wandering off on their own.

How does kiting or retreating to base help rubber band? I would imagine that a team of 4 can grab more power cells or claim more territory than a team of 3.

Being harsh for mistakes would be fine, if the game just ended once one team got a commanding lead. Games are fun when the outcome is unknown. When a team gets so far ahead that both sides already know the outcome, the match becomes less interesting. Maybe BE needs a vote to surrender button?

  • 0
coolbeans Cerebralbore101 (on 09 April 2020)

I'll take your word for it, but considering the lifespan of BE post-launch it's unfair to determine if players won't learn here. It could court a different audience that's more malleable in tactics--as I've sometimes witnessed.

I would say those were improper examples on my part, as those are more 'pressure-release' mechanics than say...MK's blue shell or something with rubber-banding.

Absolutely agree on the fun factor. Although I'll have to call back to anecdotal experience to emphasize why outcomes aren't so locked as you suggest. Two games with randoms are still in my memory: down around 225-250 point in Objective Control & 33-6 in Power Cell Collection. Probably my two best comebacks yet, and I joined the Power Cell one late. I guess I would say you have a point regarding weaker safeguards/rubber-banding (atm), but the avg. time gives ample opportunity for team to knuckle-down and reorient. Also agree on having a vote to surrender option. I'd probably never vote for it b/c the stings of defeat tend to fuel later matches, but it's a fair request to make. lol

  • 0

I really do think that players simply aren't going to adapt quickly enough. League's biggest problem is that it's free to play, easy to learn, but hard to master. This is just a recipe for getting a lot of players that wander off on their own, even after losing repeatedly. I think BE mirrors this recipe, and then adds a bit of fuel to the fire, making it even worse. BE isn't free to play, but it is easily accessible on Gamepass. And given that BE has abilities, and cooldowns just like league, it's pretty easy to pick up and learn. And I think we've already agreed that the game demands even more teamwork/positioning than League. So the hard to master checkbox is there too, alongside elements that exacerbate these issues.

I know it's still possible to make great comebacks, as your anecdote attests to. But I also think that unless Ninja Theory goes in to do a large overhaul of how matches work, a majority of matches will be one sided.

  • +1
Cerebralbore101 (on 08 April 2020)

The art direction and character design are just bad as a whole. Don't get me wrong, I like the Snake Zombie, and the Ninja. But Buttercup, the Sumo guy, and Chicken Lady are all ugly as sin. El Bastardo is unoriginal and bland. It's like the entire game's art direction sits in this uncanny valley between cartoony, and realistic. Look at early Civ 6 characters for a good example of what I'm talking about. A lot of the cast are just overdesigned in general.

  • -1
coolbeans Cerebralbore101 (on 09 April 2020)

You leave my Buttercup alone!!! I simply don't buy into it being bad overall. As I mentioned in the review, Bastardo is generic. It took me hours before noticing the weird robot-eye on his cowboy hat as the novel thing about him. In regards to art direction for the environment & action? The vibrant cyberpunk aesthetic looks great and there's plenty of interesting visual quirks scattered around environments.

And for the all guff against the kitchen-sink approach to characters, it doesn't stick for me. The main consideration that sticks for me is how much it sells the tone of this world: the no-holds-barred approach of character designers going nuts matches the anarchistic nature of this crew.

  • 0

I wouldn't call it vibrant. There too much of an overuse on neon color here. When you make so many things a laserbeam, or bright light, or hot pink it just loses its strength. Think about how in the original Star Wars movies the only really bright things are lightsabers, engines, and laser beams. Everything else is mostly old degraded equipment. Bright things are either used sparingly, or take up little of a shot, so when they do get use, or dominate a shot, they are important. In contrast, your 3rd from last screenshot has at least five neon-thingys standing out. One character is entirely bathed in an orange neon light. Another is shooting a large yellow beam, that dominates the screenshot.

Your second screenshot is another good example of this. The neon lines in the belly of the sumo character, the hot pink all over the gun of the engineer, the glowing eyes, chest, belt, of the shaman. I swear, if these guys had designed Iron Man, they'd have given him an arc reactor on every major limb, and his crotch to boot!

So in rebelling against the principles of good character design, they are selling the tone of the world they live in?

  • 0
coolbeans Cerebralbore101 (on 10 April 2020)

Ah-ha! Now that's a spicy question! The problem is your implicitly framing it like there's a split before & after the comma, when that's not the case. Visual coherence with the larger context of this world SHOULD be considered as an aspect of 'what makes for good character design' just like color usage, shapes, and angles. Let's run with Star Wars.

The plethora of inspirations George Lucas had are so visibly communicated with the scenery, characters, etc. The dirty stormtroopers on Tatooine, the grimy bath 3PO takes after going to Skywalker Ranch, seedy cantina, etc. Narratively following pulp adventures & epic tales, visually following the dirty aesthetic found in westerns & samurai films. So it should come as no surprise light shows, neon, or 'flavorful' color choices aren't vomited on-screen because it'd run contrary to the established tone. Bleeding Edge, on the other hand, is operating on a very different plane. One we can call 'cotton-candy cyberpunk.' Harnessing the 90's-edge attitude found in stuff like Jet Set Radio or that Marc Ecko-licensed game, and amping up an anarchy of sensibility.

Woah now! I think we're branching off into a much more complicated topic when assessing that 3rd-last picture. Because now there's a discussion to be had about in-game visual communication versus more concept-art stuff like environments & characters. We're now talking about what these characters do in action: Miku's super to heal, Kulev's first aid ability, and Basterdo's light looks it was taken at the wrong time. I believe he just ticked his shield ability in this screenshot, b/c I don't recall it continuously gleaming to that extent. For me? That just communicates a need to overemphasize what's currently occurring in this battle. And, going back to my previous statement, that visual overload harmonizes with this world's tone.

On the second picture, Makuta/Makuto falls towards the lower-end of designs I like but the neon belly works for me. I get a vibe that's it's a Maori or Polynesian inscription for his implant. Your Iron Man idea sounds awesome! :P

  • -1

Yeah, visual coherence should definitely be considered just as important as color, balance, proportion, unity, etc. But it shouldn't take precedence over all those other elements combined. If for example you write a game's main story about eyeball world, where every character is a mass of eyeballs, in human form, the character design sure is coherent. But having everyone, and everything be eyeballs isn't going to look good. Or at the very least it is going to be a massive challenge to make it look good, without sacrificing all those other elements of design.

Having played Jet Set Radio Future, I can say that it wasn't anywhere near as overdesigned, or in your face as some of these designs from BE are.

The 3rd-last picture as a bad example then. Sounds like you just snapped the camera as exactly the wrong point in time, where everybody was casting their ults or something. So I'll just withdraw that as an example.

If you like the Iron Man idea, I can see why you like the design of BE. It just rubs me the wrong way though.

  • +1
coolbeans Cerebralbore101 (on 11 April 2020)

Well...sure but I guess this'll come down to what extent it's included into consideration. Because before sitting down and Ralph McQuarrie or Ninja Theory's art director put colors on characters, you're trying to wrestle with what you're trying to communicate. I don't know if that means visual coherence/tonal consistency OVERRULES all other principles, just that it's on a different wavelength when considering how to approach character design. Eyeball world example hits another pitfall with character design: avoiding a 'sameyness' in all regards. I think that's why you and I click when it comes to Bastardo: for all of the maximalist designs found elsewhere...why'd you go with what seemed like a default character preset?

Agreed. Future isn't going for as wild a direction. Hey now! You shouldn't knock the crotch-reactor Iron Man until you've seen it in action.

  • -1
Zenos (on 07 April 2020)

Not in a million years.

  • -1
coolbeans Zenos (on 07 April 2020)

'Tis the truth, homes.

  • +1
Cerebralbore101 Zenos (on 07 April 2020)

This game sits at 66 on Opencritic. The overall critics' consensus is that this game is trash.

  • -4
coolbeans Zenos (on 07 April 2020)

So...argumentum ad [critic] populum then? Or do you actually want to discuss some points?

  • +1
Cerebralbore101 Zenos (on 07 April 2020)

Critics aren't the general populous. They would be akin to well informed individuals in a particular field. But yeah, I'll discuss points when I have more time. COVID is really keeping me busy at work and doing a ton of OT right now. -_-

  • -1
coolbeans Zenos (on 07 April 2020)

Right, but I added the [critic] qualifier because the point remains: throwing what a collection of other people think isn't an argument. I've gotta say I'm surprised to see "well informed individuals" tied to the avg. game critic as well, given the...questionable history they tend to have. But that doesn't make the point invalid, only saying you should consider the optics there.

Anyways, feel free to make an original comment if you don't want it caught in this reply chain. And no rush in making it as I'll keep an eye on comments anyways.

  • -1
Cerebralbore101 Zenos (on 08 April 2020)

Throwing a collection of what other random people think isn't an argument. Throwing a collection of what several people who were paid to carefully consider a piece of art's merits is an argument. Argumentum ad populum isn't that much of a fallacy when dealing with subjective things.

Questionable history?

Consider the optics? The average consumer is misinformed and lacks taste. What they think of critics is irrelevant. The user scores for this game are right in line with the critic scores anyway, so for once they agree, that the game is bad.

P.S. I put actual criticisms of the game in another comment on this article.

  • 0
Cerebralbore101 Zenos (on 08 April 2020)

P.P.S. Make that three comments. The system doesn't allow for paragraphs unless you are in a comment chain for some reason.

  • 0
coolbeans Zenos (on 08 April 2020)

Actually, subjective things such as art is when argumentum ad populum could be universally applied. But even if you're to disagree with that, your argument still doesn't work. For whatever meritocratic standard you hold for game critics I'M also a part of this group. So, again, your first comment is just thrusting the argument that 'most of your peers don't think as highly of the game therefore it's shit.' This does nothing to the argument, and is already toppled by you actually coming to the table with your own points. And just like you being hypothetically critical of a universally-adored 95%+ game, I'm not going to respond with dull reasoning like "critics CAN'T be wrong/misguided."

Also, you need to pick a lane in regards to the optics comment: "Avg. consumer is worthless in their opinion. Who cares what they think? Oh hey...they're in line with critics too!" That aside, if you want to push forward with elevating game critics' status then...fine. I was bringing that up b/c I was surprised by that part, and predicting how the avg. viewer would respond (thumbs up/down).

  • 0
Cerebralbore101 Zenos (on 08 April 2020)

Not sure what you mean by your first sentence. Vgchartz isn't recognized by Opencritic as a "top outlet", and review articles on vgchartz don't even get a fraction of the audience as most other sites. So don't try to put yourself on their level. You're barely more than a random forum user. Coming to the table with extra arguments doesn't negate previous arguments.

Yes, yes, it's the other critics who are wrong! You are the only one that has been fair with this game! Those other critics with years, maybe decades, of writing and gaming under their belts, just don't know what they're talking about! Also the MSM is just wrong all the time about Trump! Only Fox news gets it right!

I don't need to pick a lane, because I'm using a dilemma style argument. If the average consumer's opinion is worthless, then your "consider the optics" comment is toothless, and you are wrong. If the average consumer's opinion has value, then they agree with critics and you are still wrong.

  • -1
Cerebralbore101 Zenos (on 08 April 2020)

P.S. Sorry for the Fox comparison. I meant to edit, but the comments section is not a place for long forum posts. I can't even delete and rewrite here. -_-

  • 0
coolbeans Zenos (on 08 April 2020)

I'm contesting that appeal to majority could almost be considered a universally-applied fallacy, which you seemed to downplay in your previous comment. And now we're going to move the goalposts? My self-assessment reflects 1:1 with what you PREVIOUSLY said: someone who is a.) paid and b.) carefully consider a piece of art's merits. There's no doubt in my mind I fall under those INITIAL considerations you made, which is why I'm going to put myself on that level. And another thing: this isn't the only site I write for. It's hilarious how you brought up 'critics' with a broad brush and now pirouette when I use myself as an example. "Yes, you're classified as a 'critic' on OC too, but just one of those that's barely more than a blogger!" That's the problem: your initial comment isn't an argument.

Putting aside the obnoxious political comparison (which you've recanted), like...holy hell! I haven't made nor suggested that other critics are "wrong" about Bleeding Edge. That's kinda the nature of subjectivity: two rational actors can come to different conclusions about a game, movie, book, etc. I'm still flabbergasted to see you go from actually making thought-out points to this nonsense.

"But that doesn't make the point invalid,..."'s almost like it was toothless BY DESIGN. Because, as I've previously alluded to, I'm still taken aback by this unique veneration you presented for game critics in the beginning.

  • 0
coolbeans Zenos (on 08 April 2020)

*universally applied to subjective fields

  • -2
Cerebralbore101 Zenos (on 09 April 2020)

The difference is that when something is subjective, and a large group of people like it that can be considered at least a strong inductive argument. It can be overthrown by multiple strong inductive arguments against it though, but it isn't considered an outright fallacy, in this context.

It's kind of hard to move the goalposts when Opencritic's criteria for what they consider a "top critic" hasn't changed in years. "Top Critics" are counted in the actual average score. Prominent youtubers, and smaller publications are listed on Opencritic, but not counted in the actual average score, due their longstanding policies. The goalposts weren't moved at all. You simply misunderstood where they stood from the beginning. All I did was open the playbook, and show you where they've been since the start. Or do you want to accuse the Opencritic team of retroactively conspiring against you?

I'm sorry that I asked you to go get a metaphorical stick,and you came back gleefully with an entire tree trunk. Now, I'm over here trying to explain that a stick and a tree trunk are two different things, and you're over there crying "MOVING THE GOALPOSTS!"

Does the other site you write for have recognition as a "top critic", under Opencritic's standards?

Yes, when it comes to subjective subjects nobody can be legitimately, objectively wrong. But you accused me of saying that "critics CAN"T be wrong/misguided". Your previous accusation flies in the face of what you are now admitting about subjective topics.

  • 0
coolbeans Zenos (on 09 April 2020)

That's the problem: implying an inductive argument like what avg. critics think reaches a conclusion or 'truth' on the matter goes against a subjective medium like games already. And if we go by the metric of multiple inductive arguments...then you're inherently admitting the "66 OC score" response was overthrown before it was introduced. I wrote a 1500+ word review putting the game through evaluation FIRST and your comment only made argumentum ad [critic] populum. So let's do as you've suggested and throw it out. In some ways, you already did by bringing your perspective. lol

But it's much easier to move them once you've rhetorically muddied the term 'critic' in later comments. Quote after the Opencritic 66 one: "Critics aren't the general populous. They would be akin to well informed individuals in a particular field." YOU'RE the one who introduced this expansionary language about what class of individuals we're talking about here, which is why I was surprised to see them placed in such high regard. And just as OC has longstanding policy in categorizing Top Critic so too do they in respect to Critic in general. So, it's rather cute of you to emphasize that previously degrade me to 'barely more than a random forum user' all the while. At least your condescension is moire consistent than your arguments.

And can you PLEASE move past these dishonest tricks of mind-reading:

  • Every other critic is wrong!
    -OpenCritic is conspiring against me!
    -Fox News is the arbiter of truth!

    You've swung and missed thrice now. Couch this unfair tactic.

    No, the other site isn't registered as a 'Top Critic,' though I'm suspicious of how much that's due to the EiC not submitting all of his past eligible content; however, it's been on MetaCritic since the 6th generation. Yes, I'm the one introducing this other site, but given the flimsiness of how we're defining 'critics' it ought to be valid consideration.

    Insofar as not introducing false information into the review? Absolutely agree.
    I never put those words into your mouth though; HOWEVER, considering the ascended position you seem to put critics (as a kind of nebulous group) within this conversation I'm within my right to test the limits on your initial argument. Let's set up the hypothetical in your case: Grand Theft Auto IV is the worst one of the 3D games, Breath of the Wild has some abysmal qualities, Metal Gear Solid II's bait 'n switch ruins the game, Gears of War series isn't above a 6-7 overall, etc. After you've written a modestly-long essay, you're within reason to expect better arguments than "the top critics say..." after rationalizing your points.

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Cerebralbore101 Zenos (on 09 April 2020)

Just because something is subjective doesn't mean it lacks truth entirely. For example: If you were given the task of saving pieces of music from a doomed planet earth, would you solely pick out songs you personally liked? Or would you have the intelligence to try to save songs that were culturally or historically important? I have a feeling, given such a situation you would be frantically googling the history of music, and trying to save as much of the musical culture/history of earth as possible. Your own personal tastes would take a backseat. This is because how good food, or a game, or music, is can't be boiled down to "This is what I like, and this is what I don't like." There's something more to it than that. Something that I can't quite explain or put my finger on. But it is definitely there.

All those scores that contributed to the 66 Opencritic average came with their own 1500+ word reviews, and multiple inductive arguments of their own. If this were just a generic poll, where Top Critics simply submitted a score sans review text, you'd have a point here. But it's not. Again, all those reviews came with their own arguments. Please stop trying to regulate my argument to "Argumentum ad populum".

Expansionary language? Explaining the obvious isn't expansionary language. Do I have to define everything to a level that would make even a patent lawyer blush? C'mon man you know full well that there's a difference between polling the general populous and polling professional game critics.

Regular "Critics" on Opencritic aren't used in the Official Score. That shows how much they regard them.

I'll move past dishonest tricks of mindreading, when you move past the dishonesty of insisting that adding arguments is somehow an admission that previous arguments were wrong. Also, when you move past the dishonesty of repeatedly attempting to apply logical fallacies where they don't apply. Those two tactics of yours are a form of dishonest mind reading in themselves.

Got it the other site isn't registered as a Top Critic (hence you don't write for any important publications, which raises you to the level of little more than a blogger). Please ask your EIC why it isn't. Speculation on that front isn't going to get us anywhere. Also, if the site was good, and was around during the inception of Opencritic, it should have gotten grandfathered in. The fact that it didn't raises a red flag.

Well under your hypothetical, I almost certainly wouldn't say those things about those games. But suppose I did. Suppose you countered with "Other critics disagree". I would have taken that as a serious rebuttal, and not attempted to regulate it to "Argumentum ad populum" like you just did. I would have gone through what I felt were the most common complaints/praises from those other critics, and explained why I disagreed with them one by one. And in cases where I felt they were factually wrong, I would have shown why they were factually wrong. In fact, I've done all those things in these forums quite a few times. I'm sure you can find me doing those exact things in the old Xenoblade 2 review thread, or the Xenoblade discussion thread.

It's clear to me that you want to be a professional game critic, and yet when I point out that professional game critics largely disagree with you, you take offense. Why? This seems to me like someone that is semi-pro, wanting to go Pro, but gets angry whenever somebody points out that modern NFL players largely disagree with their training methods.

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coolbeans Zenos (on 10 April 2020)

Although I'm willing to go along with your situation, it's worth noting just how amped-up we're bringing this to explain our disagreements with critical avgs. & objectivity. We're now looking at the last 'music, game, etc. you can take with you' in comparison to a more casual, succinct review methodology. But even with this example, I can't deny that my own personal biases and blind spots in regards to music genre and taste WILL have an implicit effect on the 500-song library (for the sake of having a limit). I have more investment in saving classic rock and uninterested in the subgenre movement of grunge, for example, even if that means not preserving that boil. Overall, I sympathize with the point of striving to go beyond "this feels good therefore highest score" kind of thinking. As stated here (and offline with some posters), I strive to use the methodology as my guide b/c of what you're saying. It's worth noting: you're arguing about this implicit, unexplainable truth of quality on a site that's yet to even award a game a 10/10. Regardless of where we rank by these aggregate sites, it's safe to say this team harmonizes with you're putting across here.

-"All those scores that contributed to the 66 Opencritic average came with their own 1500+ word reviews..."

Well...I'd be careful in making that claim. Not to say that may not be the median (and I'm sure several wrote more than me), but I think your assumption of all Top Critics is misguided if you're willing to say this with such confidence. Which is why it's still so...weird to me (which doesn't invalidate an argument on its own). And no, I'm not going to stop 'regulating' a fallacious argument you started with as I see fit. I spent the time & effort expatiating on why I believe BE hits this threshold and your inciting comment was the equivalent of "nuh-uh I know a bunch of big boys who say differently." Also, if this Top Critic threshold is all that really matters why can't I be given consideration when a Top Critic outlier scores it HIGHER than me? Like...WTF is this? Or must there be a wave of currently-unpublished Top Critics that buoy up the score before that can happen? That's why your initial "66 OC" argument falls flat compared to your own original arguments: there's none of this pretense.

-"Expansionary language? ... Do I have to define everything to a level that would make even a patent lawyer blush?"

Demanding a level of specificity isn't that hard to ask. Because look at where you started (66 OC) and what supplementary angles you took that made me consider myself (or this site) as part of the "critics" pool: paid, carefully consider an artistic work's merits, and popularity [site-related]. I've already explored my personal interpretation and I'm not sure you're aware of VGChartz's overall popularity. I crunched the numbers for some of those lesser-known Top Critics and our numbers dwarf them going by Alexa rankings and whatnot. That's not an argument AGAINST their achievements, but again this just highlights how insincere you seem to be in singling out both me and this site. Like you present this vaunted, idealized version of critics early on but then designate me & this site--despite following basic standards--of those OTHER 'game blogger' critics.

-"I'll move past dishonest tricks of mindreading, when you move past the dishonesty of insisting that adding arguments is somehow an admission that previous arguments were wrong."

Don't think you get off easy by incorrectly equating my approach to yours. Unjustified you may find them, I've kept by accusations based around what you've SAID and explained as such. You've poisoned the well on two separate occasions that personify me as some weird dejected writer who thinks every other prominent reviewer of Bleeding Edge is wrong and OpenCritic has some secret beef with me. I'm totally willing to look past this but, PLEASE, don't pretend we've both been as tactically dirty with each other.

-"Got it the other site isn't registered as a Top Critic..."

Sigh...okay, so this gets into aggregate site politics and I hope it doesn't distract from the rest of the convo. The best way to explain OC and MC is like manual and automatic transmission. Once Marc & his review editing team gives your site the thumbs-up, your hypothetical job as site owner/EiC is strictly review content. Post your finished stuff and someone (or something) will copy-pasta the summary and score. EiC's have to manually insert their site's link, review game selection, score selection, yada yada yada. And that's where the problem comes in for them: going through a lot of past work making up for lost time. He didn't consider putting their stuff up until I came along.

So, that's just some background. But putting all of this aside, I should ask: are you determined to slot anyone as a 'critic' and not one based solely on their 'Top Critic' badge on Opencritic? Or did you have the presumption of classifying a reviewer as a 'game critic' if doing work for a site that's approved on Metacritic and was historically approved on the now-defunct GameRankings?

-"I would have taken that as a serious rebuttal, and not attempted to regulate it to "Argumentum ad populum" like you just did."

Well if that's how you sincerely believe, I guess we have different values when it comes to that approach. Stepping away from games, I think we see better case studies for this in film. For example: good luck trying to get away with posting a MetaScore or's thoughts on a Last Jedi rant video. Both in perception and (I'd argue) argumentation, you're on lower ground.

-"It's clear to me that you want to be a professional game critic, and yet when I point out that professional game critics largely disagree with you, you take offense...."

I'm just more bothered by considering this as a valid rebuttal. I mean...I'm used to disagreeing with popular opinion and I'm an inherently-stubborn guy on my opinions. And I'm also more annoyed at how you think you have my number. I know you're being more honest and sincere in this assessment, but it's still annoying how you're trying to assess my headspace and standing in this argument. Sure, full-time job of reviewing sounds cool but I don't buy that how not occupying that space doesn't allow me to call myself a 'critic.' You're talking to somebody who was personally approached to review games for sites before there was an OC, some considered minor players and (at least) one that was on both MetaCritic & Gamerankings. That's why this nebulous 'level above forum user' class you've designated as just doesn't stick to me. It's not like I left some reviewing womb with Sea of Solitude.

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coolbeans Zenos (on 10 April 2020)

To clarify one part: Marc and his editors is talking about MetaCritic and how they operate. Opencritic is where you (or EiC usually) manually fill in on the back-end. Sorry about some other issues.

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Cerebralbore101 Zenos (on 11 April 2020)

Sure, not every single reviewer would have written a 1500+ word paper. Perhaps some of them stopped at 990 words, or 1488 words. The point is, they all gave their own arguments, and weren't just dropping scores down, sans review text.

It's not the high score that disqualifies you from consideration, it's the lack of being marked as a Top Critic. I don't expect every single Top Critic to be picture perfect in their review scores. Everyone has that one game that they love, but most other people don't like. Or vice versa. A Top Critic occasionally getting a score here or there, way wrong (this usually happens once a year per critic), shows that they are human. What's important to me is the strength of all of their scores added together, and the strength of all of their praises/criticisms being considered as a whole.

What specifically are these other sites that have a lower Alexa score?

Right, and I had the accusation of you thinking all the other critics were wrong, based on your previous statements too. Quote-"I'm not going to respond with dull reasoning like "critics CAN'T be wrong/misguided."" But the difference here is that once you clarified that you mean critics can't be factually wrong, as opposed to wrong in their scoring, I dropped the accusation. You on the other hand have repeatedly tried to bend my words into some admission of my initial argument being dropped. Even after I explained to you that I prefer to use arguments that the other side will actually accept, regardless of actual validity. An argument can be sound, valid, and perfect in every way, but what's the point if the person you are trying to convince refuses to accept it? At the very least add in more arguments, that they might find convincing, even if you really want to keep on hammering home the initial argument, that you know they'll keep denying.

The Opencritic conspiring against you question was rhetorical, and the Fox News thing was intended to have been edited out. If this were a regular forum post you wouldn't have ever seen it.

Hmmm. Your explaination of how OC works seems contrary to their FAQ. Quote (Opencritic's FAQ) "Publications can submit review metadata themselves using OpenCritic's homegrown content management system (CMS). For more prominent and notable publications, OpenCritic uses web crawlers that scan for new reviews every 10-25 minutes. When the crawlers discover a new review, OpenCritic's system extracts the necessary review metadata."

But I get what you're saying. Basically this EIC hasn't submitted enough content to cross the Critic to Top Critic threshhold. What really gets me though, is if this other site you work for has been around since the PS2 days like you said, and if this mystery (to me) site carries as much weight as other publications, then why weren't they just grandfathered into Opencritic at the start? This raises a red flag for me. At least without knowing specifically what the other site is.

In general yes, I would accept a publication being on Metacritic/Gamerankings as a "Game Critic". For clarification, "Game Critic" in this sense would be regarded as synonymous with "Top Critic". But I can't guarantee this acceptation for every single publication that was included on Metacritic/Gamerankings. For example: If you were to reveal the other site you write for as Playboy, I'd scoff at it for obvious reasons. Or if you were writing for a resurrected, that was Gametrailers in name only, without any of the original staff, I'd scoff at that too. (Hypothetically, just imagine if some company bought all the rights to Gametrailers, and brought it back sans original staff.) There were a few sites on Metacritic/Gamerankings (MC/GR was run by the same company BTW) that just didn't have any business being included in any aggregate reviews gaming site.

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coolbeans Zenos (on 11 April 2020)

So, I think I've found an advantageous spot to whittle down this comment chain since you've clarified some things that were foggy before. This actually touches on something I wanted to ask in my previous comment: is the elevation of 'Top Critic' on OC, and/or the historical background of acquiring such status, is the lens through which you elevate a review's implicit value? If so, why cement your claims in a moving target? Getting a gold star w/ 'Top Critic' isn't set in stone there. They're capable of reevaluating any site to give a thumbs-up/thumbs down on said status. OR I could just as easily become a casual contributor for a less-popular Top Critic and throw my first-published review on your message board saying "HA-HA!" Which means: ALL of the hair-splitting delineations you've thrown at me between 'game critic' or 'one level above forum user'-critic will have aged like air-temp. milk. That's why for all the words I've typed in this comment chain, my brain feels like it's on cruise control compared to your own original points in your OG's. It's a DIRECT challenge of my assessment by someone who isn't an automaton, who's giving their honest subjective reading about the work in question.

I'll give you a quick link of our site's standings. See how the numbers and %'s rank up compared to several niche 'Top Critics':,,, etc. etc.

-"Right, and I had the accusation of you thinking all the other critics were wrong, based on your previous statements too."

Woah, you're missing the forest for the trees here. The point was to challenge your initial approach back on you. Let's go to movies and take The Last Jedi for example. Let's say you spent a few hours after the theater considering the aesthetic & narrative qualities of it and arrived at "it kinda sucks" (HYPOTHETICALLY). What am I honestly contributing if I say nothing more than "but a bunch of older men & women who've a tenured history in reviewing films disagree on the whole"? My argument: virtually nothing to someone like me who has a tendency to go against the grain already. Last I checked, I'm currently on my own 'score island' for a few games.

-"The Opencritic conspiring against you question was rhetorical, and the Fox News thing was intended to have been edited out. If this were a regular forum post you wouldn't have ever seen it."

But it's really unfair to utilize against me rhetorically. You can at least acknowledge that, right? As much as you dislike my diagnosis of 'ad populum' or goalpost-shifting in your previous comments (which I think we're at an impasse on), my accusation of 'poisoning the well' is practically undeniable. And I think you recycling your Fox News explanation (which you've recanted) helps supplement my point; NEVERTHELESS, I'm totally fine not bringing this up again if/when the convo. continues.

-"Hmmm. Your explaination of how OC works seems contrary to their FAQ."

For all the slight annoyances in this chain, you may have assisted me with my other EiC's dilemma. I was given completely different information on his end, so perhaps heavy lifting can be done on OC's end.

-"In general yes, I would accept a publication being on Metacritic/Gamerankings as a "Game Critic".

Fair enough. Since your modest qualifiers don't appear to apply against me, I'll be more open about them. The other site I'm talking about is DarkStation. This site's owner/EiC approached me back during...very late 7th gen too. (Separation is my newest review on that page) waybackmachine can show you them on gamerankings.

My first interaction as a 'freelance contributor' (or what have you) was asking EiC "Hey. Why aren't you guys on OC?"

In closing, I'm going to harmonize with what I mentioned at the beginning. There's a really strange, sometimes-contradictory train of thought you seem to have regarding who gets to be classified as "game critics." Like, you give this front of an ivory-tower outlook about Top Critics, but then present supplementary definitions that are more nebulous. So, when I consider other game critics "my peers" it disrupts your classification despite VGChartz riding in line more with your expectations. As an example, between VGC and OC-Top-Critic Gaming Nexus, VGC is the one that pays. There's performance-based change to be made. Proof for Gaming Nexus:

Being a 'game critic' is a more democratized system than what you may perceive with film criticism. The likes of Roger Ebert and most others during his prime had some filmmaking history tied to their belt and/or had a formalized education. You're not looking at that with respect to games. Games journalists? Sure, there's more educational history there. Regardless of where you classify me as 'semi-pro' or 'pro' or whatever in between, I'm still confident 'game critic' applies to me in the same way someone will call themselves a baseball player. Even if he's in AA hoping to strive higher up, someone randomly going up to him saying "baseball player doesn't quite apply to you champ" seems silly. That's...what he's literally doing. I lied. This comment wasn't short. lol

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Cerebralbore101 Zenos (on 11 April 2020)

I forgot to mention the film critics thing. I've always found that both film, and music critics are far less disciplined than book, or game critics. I think that has a lot to do with the huge difference in access accessibility between these four mediums. Watching a film is a relatively short ordeal. The same can be said for a lot of albums, but not all of them. The majority of games and books however, require a much larger time commitment to complete. The accessibility issue goes beyond time though. Lots of games require experience in the genre to review properly. If somebody were to review an RPG, during his first ever RPG playthrough gamers are sure to notice. On the flip side, somebody reviewing TLJ who knows very little of Star Wars, compared to even a modest fan, is going to get a free pass from most of the movie-going public.

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coolbeans Zenos (on 11 April 2020)

I know you've just jumped on this singular topic, and I had just previously vomited a lost of stuff to go through, but I wanted to come back on the film critics portion and maybe you can clump my last two comments together.

I think that's a great to highlight the stark differences between a film & game critics. So, I'm going to try synthesizing your point with what I made before. Perhaps critics operate on two separate thresholds when it comes to WHEN we decide to hold them to more esteem. Like an acceptance and accreditation thread between them. The barrier is either foggier or clearer depending on the medium. Film & music gets a tougher pass at acceptance AND THEN accreditation b/c the experience is so passive. The hurdles are widened based upon your history (educational, professional, or otherwise), which is why Roger Ebert gets that stature based on his body of work AND learning of film both on & off the field. The games barrier gets an easier pass once reaching the acceptance level because it communicates a level of competency in said work. But our problem comes in by how stretched-out you still seem to think the NEXT hurdle is for me to reach "game critic."

I know I'm hemming and hawing at this point now, but I just want to emphasize how casually I assume that definition. I just pick up games and write about them; it's just taken a more consistent, official turn now. Whether it's what I've previously mentioned or when I've done stints like a couple official reviews & previews for N4G a few years back. Technically a news aggregate site, for sure, but I still had to present professionally and likely gave more exposure to a number of individual game sites put together. None of this elevates me to something EXTRAORDINARY, but I thought it's done enough for me to hit that foggy accredited threshold.

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JRPGfan (on 09 April 2020)

Lee Mehr is it just a coincidence, that every PS4 exclusive you rate, you massively under score, compaired to metacritic.
While the oppersite seems true for xbox exclusives?

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coolbeans JRPGfan (on 09 April 2020)

Uh oh...they're on to me! I'll admit that were I given full duties of PS exclusives of 2019 (1st or 3rd party) it'd be pretty bad with the exception of Days Gone. But in respect to xbox exclusives? I're literally interrogating someone who's first exclusive, Gears 5, is 10+ points below the critic average and I wonder how it got so high with early-release tech issues. Or if you count 'timed exclusives' then Blair Witch really harms your argument.

But I'm sensing that whatever explanations won't challenge your assumptions. Maybe I'm wrong on that.

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