Battlerite is a team arena brawler (TAB) that emphasizes player skill, so that there are no items in the game. Players must harness unique champions to take down their opponents in a gladiatorial fashion.
|Developer: Stunlock Studios
Type: F2P Battle Arena
Release Date: September 20, 2016 (Early Access)
Pros: +Skill based non targeted gameplay. +Unique gameplay. +Very high skill ceiling.
Cons: -Moderate learning curve. -Few cosmetics.
Battlerite is a free to play team arena brawler developed and published by Swedish game company Stunlock Studios. Players will face off in teams of 3v3 in a gladiator-esque arena, where skills are all that matter. There are no distractions such as items, and the battles are fast-paced and action-packed. Choose from various champions, each with a unique playstyle. Play as a tanky bruiser as Freya, jumping forward with two titanic hammers, or as the tricky Croak, an assassin with poisonous moves.
Battlerite Key Features:
- Unique Character Designs – choose from various champions, such as an assassin or a pyro-loving creature, each with differing playstyles and unique designs.
- Fast-Paced Action – players must constantly be ready and on the move in Battlerite. The maps are designed to be like an arena, where action and bloodlust are always present.
- Clean 3D Graphics – enjoy clean 3D graphics that clearly depict characters from the environment in smooth models.
- Be Awarded for Skill – dominate opponents with skill, as there are no items or such distractions in the arenas of Battlerite.
- Spectate – join the crowd to watch champions collide in the arena, learning from master-level players or simply to enjoy the adrenaline rush.
Battlerite Featured Video
Battlerite is a team arena brawler and the most clicked title in my Steam library. I’m totally enamored. I never liked MOBAs, never liked building up to hero fights that have been nearing a climax since I first sent an energy bolt at a tower; too much pressure and time. But Battlerite strips away all the nuisances and focuses on intense team fights: champions duking it out with only their abilities, skill, and each other to rely on.
Saturday Morning Cartoon Line-Up
Battlerite has an aesthetic that looks like it belongs on a Saturday morning cartoon lineup: it’s heroes easily fall into the superhero or villain camps.You’ve got an oversized brute who needs braces, a pint-sized water mage, a supernatural frog assassin, a cuddly monster wielding time to heal allies and stun enemies. There’s fifteen in all, and for the first time in a hero-based game I had fun with each champion.
They fit into 1 of 3 categories: melee, ranged, or support. I highly suggest finding one you like from each. Versatility is always key. A team with a healer and a beefy damage dealer is more likely to see “Victory” splash across their screen than two support classes or two melee superstars.
Not that it can’t be done. Skilled players can trump a novice puzzle-perfect team combo. But matchmaking is going to pair you with players more-or-less in the same weight class so you shouldn’t be getting stomped if you understand Battlerite’s rules.
Then again Battlerite appears to be going for the any-combo-should-work strategy. You don’t see your partner’s pick or the enemy team's heroes when matchmaking—unless you’re playing with friends. There is an argument to be made that champion picking ought to occur in a lobby before the match begins so contenders can adjust their picks based on their opponents and teammates. Though, either thanks to the matchmaking system or the wide ranges of player choices, rarely is a team’s combo so underwhelmingly powered they automatically lose.
Because when you lose in Battlerite it’s almost always your fault. And dying is a chance to learn from your mistakes.
Not A Mountain But A Hill
Matches are fought in either 3v3 or 2v2 matchups, in circular arenas with a few ornaments for flavor. You’ll start a fight in your own waiting area surrounded by replenishable training dummies. Feel free to wack on them until the match starts. Then an elevator lurches into motion, propelling you towards the arena surrounded by a crowd of cheering NPCs. Matches could’ve easily started with players spawning into the arena through a beam of light. But the added cinematic touch builds tension, creates an atmosphere fit for duels to the death.
You meet in the arena and lash out abilities: stuns, pummels, shockwaves, missiles, energy bursts. Nearly every move—including healing—is a skillshot. So when you first start playing the matches are chaos. Players will be firing off skills and parrying with a finesse you just don’t understand because you’ve only given your abilities a glance. Battlerite has a learning curve; it’s not a mountain but a steep hill that will leave you out of breath.
At the start of each round you pick one of three cards that buffs one of your abilities. When I play Paloma and I’m up against melee champions I’ll pick a move that gives Ghost Wolf a 1.2 second root. Whereas if I’m in a 3v3 match and my primary role is healing I’ll pick another card that increases the amount of healing received. It’s a way to customize your character to meet the demands of the fight. They’re akin to items, but simple enough to understand since you’re only choosing between three, rather an entire warehouse.
With each match you find yourself learning a little more. When it comes to heroes you master one move at a time and then move onto another. You’ll calm down, find your niche heroes, and begin to understand the motions of a fight. Because Battlerite takes a certain level of zen to operate within its arenas: zen and understanding. Win by knowing your heroes moves, your teammates moves, and your opponent’s moves. Once you’ve played enough you’ll begin to predict your opponent and react before they act. It’s an awesome feeling once you get the hang of Battlerite’s rhythm.
Arena Interior Decorated
No matter what map you spawn on they’re essentially the same: a largely circular arena with symmetrically placed barriers imbued with one of several themes. An interior designer must’ve modeled each one. One features a demonic goat skull with flames licking its eyes, surrounded by bones that look like raptor claws. It’s the little touches that give a map feng shui. Not that you’ll be able to pay much attention to the decor. Battlerite’s fierce teamfights punish you for becoming distracted.
And you’ll need to pay attention to opponents that disappear from your radar. In the center of every map sits a respawnable globe that restores health and grants attack power to your team—if you get the last hit. Ball breaking is an easy way to charge up your ultimate, so take cover watch out if the enemy team snags it.
The orb is a great way to lure players to the middle of the arena. It localizes fights and gives players an incentive to dance around each other while waiting for the globe to respawn. Otherwise you would see players sprinting around the entirety of the arena, biding their time until they can make the ideal move, or trying to restore their health after eating an attack.
It’s The Little Things: Health And The Shrinking Fight
As you take hits you can regain some health by collecting green espers stationed on the outskirts of the map’s central point. But you’ll never recover your health back to full. Taking damage decreses your maximum health pool. It means you can’t juke opponents in an endgame 1v1, collecting health pockets until you’re back to full. Instead you’re stuck with your low maximum health, forced to fight with whatever remains. It’s a great system to make matches quick and builds anxiety as enemies feel the pressure to dodge attacks while returning fire, because one false move and their dead.
And as the match proceeds an ember border will shrink on top of the arena, limiting the amount of space left to fight. The idea is to force players to meet in the middle to speed up the match. It’s a great mechanic that prevents endgame floundering, and can lead to innovative strategies: pushing opponents outside of the periphery to force damage on them.
"Beat On The [Bot]"
If you want to learn new heroes challenge yourself against the AI. The computer is competent enough to make you work for the kill without laying down a beatdown. They’ll often neglect some abilities so you can practice on them like they’re a moving dummy. But it works. The AI mode is a brilliant way to run through the roster of heroes until you’re comfortable enough with their skillset to challenge other conscious beings. I always face AI first, players second. And I highly suggest you do the same.
I would like to see future AI difficulties, where the highest tiered AI is like facing IBM’s Watson. There’s a sense of accomplishment in beating computers when their well-trained, whether it’s in Chess, Super Smash Bros., etc. And higher-tiered difficulties will better acclimate players to unfamiliar heroes, whereas the current system only demands a patchy understanding, while the demands of other players galvanizes the need to learn your full skillset.
Everyone Gets A Number
Battlerite’s most interesting aspect is its ranking system. Every single match against other players is ranked. You can’t escape the MMR. There’s some positives and negatives here but I’m leaning towards the overall positive camp. Always ranked play means that players are more inclined to play their best every single match, because their MMR is on the line. There’s no room for playing lazy or throwing matches just to screw around, as what happens in unranked Overwatch.
The negative is that if you care about your rank, you’ll never try heroes you don’t feel comfortable playing. Players find their groove—Paloma every day—and become one hero shows. It’s a bit of a detriment in a game predicated on a roster. The solution? Stop caring. As someone who doesn’t care about their rank and prefers variability in my champion games I don’t mind the always-on-ranking. But I can see why some people may see it as a turn-off. There’s a larger question here about how ranked play affects the player but I’ll leave it for an editorial.
What’s The Catch?
No catch. Battlerite will be free-to-play when it launches out of Early Access. Buying into Early Access grants you all current and future champions, which I found well worth the price. Otherwise you can wait for the day the “Free” button is added to the Steam page..
There is an in-game shop where you buy chests with money-fueled digital currency. But chests do nothing more than unlock cosmetics: weapon skins, costumes, mounts, avatars. And you earn chests by completing daily quests or by accumulating in-game currency. There’s nothing you can buy that gives you an edge over your opponent.
Final Verdict - Excellent
Battlerite accomplishes exactly what it sets out do: an exciting and challenging pick up and play hero brawler. It is one of the most polished titles to release into Early Access, and any criticisms I can muster are minor. The only thing I can offer is that AI difficulty scaling would be a nice touch. Otherwise, Battlerite is an excellent addition to anyone’s library who enjoys skill-based teamfights and fast-paced matches.
Operating System: Windows XP/Vista/7
CPU: Dual Core from Intel or AMD at 2.8 GHz
Video Card: Intel HD 3000 or better
RAM: 2 GB
Hard Disk Space: 2 GB
Battlerite Music & Soundtrack
Battlerite Additional Information
Developer(s): Stunlock Studios
Publisher(s): Stunlock Studios
Beta Release Date: 2016
Steam Official Release Date (F2P): November 8th, 2017
Development History / Background:
Battlerite is a MOBA published and developed by the Swedish gaming company, Stunlock Studios. Stunlock Studios is known for also developing Bloodline Champions. They announced the release of Battlerite in early March. The game officially went free to play on Steam on November 8th, 2017.