Battlerite is an isometric, champion-based arena combat game. It uses a small team structure and a much more fast paced combat system to make the fighting more exciting and force most game-deciding actions in each match to be split second decisions. It also uses elements from free to play games like purchasable crates for cosmetics and a quest system that offers chests as rewards.
First things first, Battlerite is in early access, and in this case, it’s a game that’s planning on going free to play once it fully releases. This is something to keep in mind throughout the whole review, as of writing the game costs $20 to purchase, while players who decide to jump in later will be getting an improved experience and saving money. That said, if the game sounds interesting, some may want to jump in right now, and for them, that’s entirely possible and gives users a chance to give feedback on balance and bugs prior to release.
The game is a multiplayer-only title that focuses on having intense and fast-paced 2v2 and 3v3 engagements with very little interference. It borrows mechanics from other champion-based games like roots to hold enemies in place and charging ultimates by dealing damage to enemies or finding pickups placed around the map. Unlike its contemporaries, however, the focus on being fast-paced is enforced by the mechanics in an appropriately harsh manner. Matchmade games are decided by a best of three rounds series of fights with a two-minute timer on them. When the timer hits zero, a circle will appear on the outer edge of the arena and start closing in towards the center of the arena, and anyone caught outside the circle takes damage every second.
Battlerite can be found on Steam for $19.99.
Being a multiplayer-only title that focuses on champion-based combat, this game lives and dies based on a couple different factors. The community has to be large enough that matchmaking times don’t take far too long, the champions have to be interesting and/or fun to play, the cast has to be reasonably diverse so the gameplay doesn’t get too samey, and lastly the game must be properly balanced to keep the sense of intense arena combat and skill that keeps the whole package exciting. Battlerite does a decent job of keeping their cast of characters interesting and mostly balanced. The champions are split into ranged and melee attackers and a set of support characters built around buffs, debuffs and healing in various ways with damage dealing as a secondary objective.
Something worth mentioning here with the game is the appearance of the community, while Steamcharts reports seven thousand to four thousand players a day depending on the time, it’s not uncommon to run into an issue where the matchmaking will take several minutes to put players together. This is odd considering the game consists solely of 2v2, 3v3, training and A.I. modes to play in, so the player base isn’t being diluted by playlists for DLC in any significant way. Unfortunately it gives the appearance that the community is smaller than it really is, hopefully, this is something to be fixed sooner rather than later. It’s also weird to see a bug like this in a game that’s been so far relatively bug-free as far as we could tell. The worst experience so far being the game soft-locking after a multiplayer match which required closing the game entirely to fix, ouch.
We’ve covered the small bugs and what the game needs to do to be successful but not the actual gameplay. To put it in a sentence, it’s perfectly serviceable. It doesn’t introduce any crazy new ideas to champion-based games or does anything especially unique with being an arena combat game outside of forcing a faster pace with the round timer. The champions are generally enjoyable with no real slumps or standouts in the cast and there is a bit of choice both in how your team composition is made when playing with friends as well as how the champion is built. After every round regardless of win or loss, each player can choose one of three preset “Rites” that alter the character’s abilities. Some of them are focused on rewarding more skilled play like reducing the cooldown of an ability depending on how many targets are hit by it, while others serve to improve abilities or create advantages, like improving the healing done to allies and damage done to enemies when using a teleport ability that phases through targets.
This is the strongest aspect of the game, by offering each player their own set of choices, each match can play out differently in a way that legitimately impacts the overall game, as the split second decisions have much more impact in a game that lasts a maximum of ten minutes as opposed to something like League of Legends where decisions can be corrected or accounted for over the course of over forty minutes to an hour. Each character build can excel in a specific circumstance and bring a level of synergy to the team that wouldn’t exist with the base characters, like having a character root the enemy in place to setup for a penetrating shot that punches through all of the rooted targets from a Jade in stealth. It’s the best selling point for the title, and potentially the only one, as the game doesn’t really have much to offer outside of the fast-paced arena experience with variance offered through champions and different builds using the Rite system.
Graphically, the game is nothing special. The art style very closely matches that of other MOBAs like the previously mentioned League of Legends and DoTA 2 and following in their style all three games run very well. Maxing the game out and getting a consistently high framerate is by no means a difficult feat so the play experience will be very similar in terms of visuals, and the low system requirements won’t restrict many people from playing the game. In addition, the sounds and music are also effectively a non-element, the music isn’t anything noteworthy and just serves to a small backdrop while the meat of the game takes place, while the sound effects are all par for the course. In regards to the graphics and sound, “Battlerite” doesn’t do anything special, and while it isn’t a good or a bad thing in itself, it does hurt the game given that it has so little to sell itself on.
Overall, while Battlerite isn’t particularly groundbreaking in any way, it doesn’t need to be. It has an art style that conveys what it needs to with filler music playing in the background and builds itself on making the combat fun and diverse as opposed to making the rest of the experience particularly enthralling. It doesn’t focus on crafting a story through lore in the characters and arenas like some other recent champion-focused games have, but instead, it goes all in on the idea of crafting a fast-paced arena experience. It’s laudable that the focus is so tight on what the developers are trying to accomplish, but as a game in itself, it’s not hard to see players being left wanting with the current cast of characters and maps, as well as with a price tag that will later be dropped. It’s fun and enjoyable, but that fun comes at a cost right now, so it’s hard to recommend at the moment for anyone who’s got other games in their backlog to hit or other multiplayer-centric titles to play.
|+ Solid art style and graphics that run very well||– Is going F2P after Early Access, but costs $20 right now, along with paying money for chests|
|+ Varied cast of champions that are fun to play||– Lackluster music, lore and presentation|
|+ Fast-paced arena combat makes every match exciting to play||– Occasional odd bugs can hamper the experience|