Battlerite Early Access Impressions – Oh please no, take anything you want.. anything… just not my soul!

 

Here we are again. It’s like my gaming life has come full circle. Things started off  in 2009 when I was invited in to the League of Legends alpha. At the time LoL was pretty unknown, but since it was free I managed to convince a few of my friends to play. As the years went by we played more, and more, and more, and more. And suddenly its 2014, ALL of my friends played LoL and very regularly and we had done so for the best part of 5 years. LoL had the perfect mix of strategy, intuition, skill and grind that ticked all the boxes for an enjoyable evening of gaming. The biggest draw for me, towards the end was playing with all my friends. I grew tired of the toxic community and as such started only playing with my friends, and that gradually decreased my playing time until I stopped completely. Then came along Battlerite.

Battlerite is the successor to a popular niche game called Bloodline Champions, which in turn was a spinoff of the League of Legends (or Dota) forumla however without a lot of the baggage and core grind of those types of MOBAs. You see, Battlerite is an arena based game, without minions, without levels and without lengthy 40 minute matches. Battlerite is the core skill of a MOBA distilled down into its purest form, the actually hero vs hero combat using skillshots and strategy to outplay and outmanuver your enemy. The games are best of 3 rounds resulting in short, sweet and to the point matches. The game also reduces the number of players than are normally found in a MOBA, to either 2v2 or 3v3 varients. This means that you have a much closer interaction with your partners, but also means you rely on them much more. This can be great if you liked to play with friends you know (more on that in a second) but can be hit and miss with random players in matchmaking.

At first I thought this type of battle arena would lose a lot of the strategy that you can find in MOBAs, with the removal of minions, levels and items where would the strategy come in? Well you still choose from 3 different upgrades to your skills every round that allow to slightly adjust your play style to the situation in the arena. There is also a lot of strategy in the fighting itself, you need to balance attacking, retreating, switching your targets and who to focus on. There are also a number of orbs that spawn around the arena, the yellow ones providing charge towards your ultimate and special attacks and the green ones providing health. There is also a large orb that can be destroyed in the middle of the arena which provides a large boost to your ultimate charge and a small amount of health. Balancing whether to attack the enemy, retreat and take orbs or vying for control of the centre orb is important. These kind of decisions that you make on the fly contribute to the fast nature of the game.

I’d like to tell a funny story about the second long play session I had in Battlerite with my good friend Rob. Rob is a big Dota 2 player, and as a result he is pretty competent at MOBAs and games of that nature as Battlerite is. I myself also have quite extensive experience with the genre having played League of Legends since closed alpha. However, as soon as Rob and I hit a high enough level to be ranked in Battlerite we were thrown into the worst lose streak either of us have ever had, in any game, ever. Now I’m not sure if we were just getting unlucky with our champion choices, our inexperience in choosing strong combinations of champions, the latency between the UK and San Diego or what. But jesus fuck we lost 16 games in a row. 16 GAMES! By the 5th or 6th game we were getting pretty annoyed, by the 10th the emotions shifted to a kind of pained hilarity. The 15th and 16th games were sombre experiences of contemplating our life choices and whether we should ever play any video games ever again. I’m sure this experience isn’t in the norm, however after reading up online it seems the ranking system at that point in time was quite broken which resulted in both exceptionally good players and weaker players being dropped in the same pool and left to duke it out.

(Screencaps from the Battlerite wiki)

Despite this most despicable losing streak, which is a stake through my competitive heart, I’m still drawn back to play more of Battlerite. It has an almost perfect mix of fast paced competitive combat, and short games so that even when you lose, you can dive back in for one more game. As players of my old love League of Legends will know, one of the absolute best feelings is winning a team fight by the skin of your teeth. You get a rush of adrenaline that will have you whooping in victory as you land the final skillshot.

Of course Battlerite is only in early access at the moment which means there is a slightly limited number of champions to choose from and the balance is often skewed. Croak, Pearl and Shifu are found in so many matches due to their strength that playing against them can become tiresome, especially if you feel you have to play certain champions to stay competitive. This is something the developers are constantly tweaking however, so I expect a reasonably balanced roster upon release.

Overall, I’d strongly recommend jumping in to Battlerite now, even with the £15 early access pricetag. It’s an excellent choice in an already crowded genre, and genre fans will love it. If you are on the fence, you can always wait for it’s free to play release in 2017.

Battlerite was generously provided to MMGaming.net free of charge by the developers for this piece.

 

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