For the last few years, the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre of games have been saturated, especially in the eSports scene. With games such as DotA 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Smite and a whole plethora of popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena(MOBA) games, it’s hard not to see why games which take the same approach end up falling out of grace. A small game called Battlerite has started to create ripples among the community and it may very well be one of the few titles that is able to actually encapsulate the true definition of a MOBA.
While the game is currently in Early Access, the team, Stunlock Studios, is focusing on introducing new content while continually balancing the game. Despite the game costing $19.99 USD, Battlerite also features in-game currency. This currency can either be bought or earned through the playing the game, and can be used to purchase chests, which unlocks new skins and poses, taking the Overwatch approach to funding game development.
With that said, Battlerite took to Early Access in October and garnered respect for its fresh cast of champions and its fast-paced gameplay.
Battlerite has two different team sizes. Teams of two, or three, will fight against each other in small arenas. Every player has access to the current lineup of champions whose purposes depend on the three major archetypes; melee, ranged and support. Each match is played in a best of three rounds. Each champion has up to seven abilities to use in battle, with two abilities having a powered up ‘EX’ form. As characters attack or heal, they build up ‘Energy’ which is basically a meter that can be used to unleash more powerful EX versions of abilities or a character’s Ultimate ability.
In the game’s current state, there is no meta team composition. This is due to the Battlerite system, which is a multi-tiered upgrade system that changes the effects of a champion’s base abilities. For instance, in the first round of the match, the melee spearman Shifu can choose between increasing the duration and reducing the cooldown of his escape ability Fleetfoot, or giving his Impale skill the ability to heal back a small portion of his health, or adding a root effect to his ranged Javelin skill in order to catch up to foes. After every round, players will get to choose a new Battlerite for their abilities. Each Battlerite upgrade is categorized under various different terms, depending on their intended purpose. For new players, this easily allows you to make informed decision based on whether you require Survivability, more Offensive capabilities, or want to help allies with Support oriented abilities. With such a versatile range of options, gameplay never feels stale.
Having clocked in just over 20 hours, I have had an incredible deal of fun playing with all of the unique characters. The most fascinating part of the game is that, no matter what, all players are on even footing. There are no level advantages or item advantages that would force a team to feel overwhelmingly dominated. Instead, the game runs entirely on skill and reading how players build their Battlerite. Additionally, games are fairly short, with a five minutes timer on each round. Once five minutes passes, the arena starts to close in on itself, and force players to fight or face death outside shrinking arena barriers.
As mentioned before, the game is still in Early Access and is continuously being worked on. With frequent mini tournaments and support from professional eSport players, the game looks like it’ll be receiving a big jump in support. Meanwhile, the team is currently working towards the release of Jumong “The Beast Hunter” as the next new champion. According to the short preview video, Jumong will be a ranged character that focuses on zoning the opponent with traps and quick dodges.
After a month of Early Access, the game continues to exceed expectations, with new, creative ways to play with characters. With more characters, balances and bug fixes expected to come, the future for Battlerite looks extremely bright. With continued support, the team hopes to keep pumping out quality content for the foreseeable future. Battlerite is available on PC for $19.99 USD.