In case you haven’t noticed, eSports have recently achieved the status of “pretty huge deal.” So it surprised no one to see Amazon throw their hat in the ring with their October announcement of BreakAway, an upcoming competitive online game developed by Double Helix. In an increasingly crowded world of eSports, none can say whether or not Amazon Games Studios has a hit-in-the-making on their hands. But, based on what they’ve shown off so far, BreakAway could very well turn into something special.

What is BreakAway?

Though it may look a bit Overwatch-y on its surface, BreakAway takes a much different approach. While you can lay waste to your opponents—as with any good online competitive game—BreakAway places an emphasis on the very traditional ball-plus-goal equation found in most standard sports games. Essentially, BreakAway pits two teams of four against each other, with the objective you’d expect: getting that ball into the opposing team’s goal.

Of course, getting the ball back entails more than just snatching it out of another player’s hand. BreakAway features a cast of cartoony characters, each with their own unique array of weaponry built around a specific focus. Tanks can take a beating and push the ball forward, healers keep their team alive, snipers attack from a distance, and support characters boost their teammates and run interference. While BreakAway doesn’t feature the same huge supply of cast members as Overwatch, the role each one specializes in makes itself obvious after just a few minutes of play.

How does it play?

While more modes may be in the works, hands-on preview events so far have subjected players to best-of-five, four-on-four matches. But dropping the ball into your opponent’s goal doesn’t stand as the only way to score. Wiping all four members of the opposing team at once—before anyone can respawn—also merits a point.

The biggest wrinkle in BreakAway comes in the form of offensive and defensive structures available to every character. While the ability to place turrets, shields, and the like typically applies to only a few characters in online competitive games, BreakAway takes a completely different tack. Each character possesses the ability to place two unique structures in every match, which can be rebuilt once destroyed. And since these structures don’t disappear after someone scores a point, the last match of any given session can amount to absolute chaos—but a fun kind of chaos. It’s one thing to run the ball down the arena, but much more challenging when ramps, guillotines, turrets, and protective walls litter the environment.

You also earn currency in battle by performing well and taking out other players. Between matches, said currency can be spent on a host of upgrades, including offensive boosts, defensive boosts, and other passive bonuses. These upgrades get wiped at the beginning of every new set of five matches, but they still allow for plenty of fine tuning and important choices throughout.

Should you be excited?

With BreakAway still in alpha, it’s hard to say whether or not Amazon’s upcoming eSport will dethrone the current kings. But even in this early state, Double Helix Games has plenty to be proud of. BreakAway’s learning curve may be a tad steeper than Overwatch’s, but overcoming the intimidation factor takes roughly one set of matches per character. Even at the handful of preview events I attended, I had no problem switching to new characters when playing with and against strangers.

The real problem, then, lies in whether or not BreakAway can pick up enough of an audience to keep it viable. Part of the secret to Overwatch’s continued success can be found in its huge user base—load the game at any time of the day, and you’re likely to find a match in less than 30 seconds. If BreakAway struggles to gain an audience at first, an initial lack of enthusiasm could very well end up killing off any prospective community.

Regardless of what the future may hold, we’ll be following the continued development of BreakAway. Check back with Fandom for continued coverage of Amazon Game Studio’s upcoming eSport.

Bob Mackey
Bob Mackey is Games Editor at Fandom. Since joining the games press in 2007, he's written for sites like 1UP, Joystiq, The A.V. Club, Gamasutra, USgamer, and many others. He also hosts the weekly podcasts Retronauts and Talking Simpsons. Follow him on Twitter @bobservo.