Splash Damage’s Brink is now free

Splash Damage’s 2011 first-person shooter Brink [official site] is, out of the blue, now free. Swing by Steam and its yours for keepsies – it’s not a free-to-play conversion, just Brink being set free. Publishers Bethesda don’t say why they’ve done this (perhaps to celebrate QuakeCon this weekend?) but hey, thanks. Brink does Splash Damage’s usual Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory sort of class-based and object-driven action, this time taking it to a dystopian futurecity and introducing a natty parkour system. I didn’t play Brink for very long back in the day, but I do still fondly remember the parkour and bold, battered character faces.

So! It’s the future and everything sucks. A rebellion and the rozzers are fighting for control of a floating futurecity that was once utopian but now overpopulated, and we get to join in. Levels push the two teams towards objectives that involve escorting NPC vehicles, destroying barriers, hacking, carrying, and generally trying to stop the others by shooting their faces off. They are such wonderful faces, bold and craggy – a bit like Dishonored’s striking visages, and indeed one of the character artists later worked on Arkane’s game.

If you played either Enemy Territory or Splash Damage’s newer Dirty Bomb, you get the broad picture. It has parkour too, which really opens up levels, though only the lightest weight class can pull the sickest moves. Oh, and it can be played as a campaign with bots.

Brink is pretty neat but I was put off by all the cruft added over Enemy Territory. Cutscenes at the start of rounds ruined the pace of playing several matches, persistent progression to unlock weapons is always a bother, different character weight classes and weapon customisation options added complexity but not much fun, and… I missed the simplicity and didn’t have enough friends playing to keep me going.

Not every Brink bit is free. The cosmetic DLC packs and the biggun adding new maps, weapons, and other bits all still cost money. Agents of Change isn’t expensive, though, and is on sale.

A couple thousand Brink players have popped up since it went free, so now’s a good time to play.

Disclosure: several chums worked on Brink.


  1. Zorgulon says:

    I remember this being an interesting proposition back in the day. I think I played it on one of the free weekends years back and it just didn’t grab me at all.

    I remember thinking the parkour movement mechanic was a cool idea that would change the often clunky crouch-jump climbing you normally have to do in FPSs.

  2. zind says:

    I really really liked this game, but whatever about it clicked in my head just didn’t do so with any of my gaming pals. We gave it a couple weeks and then I just couldn’t get anybody to join in with me. I’m excited to hop in again, but I doubt it’ll keep me for long at this point.

    I really thought it was splendid though; having body type and special abilities and weapon loadout all separated lent it (IMO) a lot of depth, and I had a great time building out all sorts of character presets. There were quite a few balance issues where some class abilities were almost useless, and a lot of weapon configurations were just flat bad, but at the time I cared a lot more about fun than any of that, and Brink certainly delivered that for me.

  3. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    Something about the character’s look was bothering me and I finally figured it out. They look like neanderthals. I don’t mean that as an insult, I mean they really look like reconstructions of homo neandertalis. Compare to this concept picture of a neanderthal in modern clothing: link to cdn.sci-news.com

    • Unclepauly says:

      Neandertals had all different skin colors so I don’t know why they keep choosing the palest. Another tid-bit, they had bigger brains than us.

    • haldolium says:

      It’s called Caricature. It’s based on exaggerating features. link to en.wikipedia.org

      • Vilos Cohaagen says:

        LOL, gosh that was a bit of a patronising reply to a simple observation. I know what caricature is — I don’t need a wikipedia article about it. Beside the fact that if it was caricature they are all caricatured in exactly the same way which is weird.

        I was merely pointing out that they look like neanderthals.

  4. zulnam says:

    Brink current players: 2098
    Lawbreakers current players: 294

    Damn, Bethesda. That’s a cruel joke. Funny, but cruel.

    • fish99 says:

      What was Brink at last week before it became free though?

      Those Lawbreakers numbers are shocking though.

    • Unclepauly says:

      U.S. Mornings has almost no players, LB is closer to 1k at night

    • Askis says:

      Peak daily concurrent players on the 23rd
      Brink: 2621
      Lawbreakers: 746
      On the 22nd
      Brink: 666 \m/
      Lawbreakers: 788
      And the 21st
      Brink: 13
      Lawbreakers: 975

      So while Lawbreakers has been on a decline, Brink only has this many players because it’s free now, probably going to drop back a lot over the next week.
      Unless people take a genuine liking to it now, which I doubt.

  5. Nelyeth says:

    I remember being absurdly hyped for this game. I was into Call of Duty back in the day, and this game was going to be much better, or so I thought. I mean, class-based shooter, with parkour, and getting to customize body type and load-out ? I expected a dynamic FPS with RPG elements. Got it right when it was released, and played it for two weeks, before selling it for half the price. After that, I dropped out of the FPS genre altogether. Things might’ve been different had Titanfall 2 been released at that time instead of Brink.

  6. Snargelfargen says:

    I had a lot of fun with this at release. The parkour movement and the absence of one hit KO’s made for some really fluid and shifting battles, especially the escort missions. If you enjoyed ET or UT Classic, or even Team Fortress, you’ll get something out of this.

    Sadly a couple of the maps have problems with bottlenecks, and support after the game’s release was pretty lacklustre. I remember the abilities added by the DLC being next to useless. That, combined with a disastrous release (driver issues made it not work on ATI cards for the first week) killed the community before it really had a chance to get going.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Update: It runs great on a surface pro. I forget how to do anything. Which is funny, because apparently my rank is too high to join most servers.

  7. Kirudub says:

    Yeah, I also bought it on release; while it was fun enough, there were other MP games out that had more to offer to me at the time (BF2). I recall that latency was a problem with Brink, and I would often mag-dump in an enemy point blank and have them kill me, skipping off with 100hp.

  8. Petethegoat says:

    Got it on release with a friend after being pretty excited for it. It really was terrible. You have the whole parkour system, but the levels do absolutely fuck all to let you use it in any sort of interesting way. The COD4/MW2 games had better parkour, and they didn’t have parkour.

    I downloaded it anyway to check it out, and everything is just as stilted as I remember. The cutscenes like Alice mentioned, having to hold down a key to do anything useful for your team, like giving them ammo or healing them.

    When I played the Dirty Bomb beta a year or two ago, it felt like they’d taken Brink, removed the only interesting part of it (the parkour), and stopped there. Didn’t spend long with it and I’m probably horribly biased against them, but it feels like Splash just aren’t great at the FPS thing.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Dirty Bomb has no lag at all for me. I’m 300 miles from the closest server and I get 24ms. Rarely does shots feel off.

    • Orageon says:

      Well I guess it’s a matter of perspective. As far as I am concerned, Dirty Bomb took away most of the crap in Brink and they made something proper and brilliant in the genre, much more in line with what Brink should have been.
      I miss Brink’s visual customization though. Otherwise, Dirty Bomb is a worthy representative of team/class shooter.

      Splash Damage still breathe and can do great stuff.

      The dream for me would be a remake of ETQW or some kind of ETQW2…

  9. April March says:

    I played a free weekend. I didn’t regret it, but didn’t buy it either – mostly because even during the free weekend player numbers were tiny.

    I like that if you don’t care about the parkour stuff you can pick the burly body and you get an advantadge for it.
    I used the burly body with the starting cop outfit that’s just a prim and proper copper outfit with tie. I think it looked dashing.