When I was given the opportunity to play the closed beta of Battlerite Royale, I had some conflicted feelings about it. On one hand, it was a chance to see if the game was, after all, worth the price SLS was asking for its Early Access; On the other hand, morally speaking I was kind of fed up of so many obvious cash grabs, like the fact that I'll have 10 days to decide if I want the game at a 50% discount. In fact, my friends refused to play with me for this exact same reason. StunLock Studios has not had the best of gaming enterprises as of late.
However, in the end, I decided to keep an open mind and try it as if it were a new release without any backstory, so I'll proceed to explain my first steps into the Royale, and then I'll leave clear which ones were the good points I perceived in the two hours we were allowed to play, and then the bad points from my experience in other Royale games with similar characteristics.
Although I had played Battlerite before, and more or less I could guess how the Royale would work, I chose to run the Tutorial in order to honor my decision and to see if there was anything new I may miss.
Surprisingly, I did.
For starters I did not expect them to separate the skills in different rarities, applying something like a Battlerite when they reach legendary rank.
There are two kinds of items too: consumables and equipment, and you could say they are the active and the passive attributes for your champion. In the first one you'll find healing potions, fake chests, disguises… and in the second you'll always get a percentage of health increase, and then seldom other improvements such a percentage of energy gained, damage, and other more specific passive abilities like more damage against targets beneath 20% of health.
In overall, it was a well-made tutorial which explained all the basic concepts you need to know to jump into the fray right away.
The Royale's Good Points
Like any Royale, you first start in a common map where you can troll around while you wait for the count to reach 0, but it also has an interesting feature straight out of a MOBA like League of Legends: you can buy a set of items and skills.
Which is something that translates directly into the free-for-all map, where you'll find shops scattered throughout the battlefield in which you'll be able to buy skill upgrades or other interesting consumables in exchange of the gold you may pick up from chests and players alike.
Now, my first match with Destiny was a total failure. It had been a while since I've played any MOBA-like game and my movements were worthy of being called newbie-like. Besides, one of my favorite combos with Destiny was erased from the game along with her R ability called Mega Sphere, which I kind of understand but I would have liked for them to reach another conclusion that wasn't the total discarding of the ability.
In any case, even though I had my few interesting encounters, after losing two matches in the early stages I decided to go back to my roots and play Jade. I'd say my situation took a 180º degrees turn.
Even then, I was only able to get second place at best. I'd love to find faults in the game in order to justify it but in the end, I can't, I'm just bad. Battlerite Royale gives you every bit of information you may need, like the level of items your opponent has, varying from 0 to 50. And believe me, you haven't much to do when the difference is too high. And if you add the skill… well, you get a picture like this one:
And there is certainly more than one way to win a fight, like explosive barrels which can be thrown, potions which transform you into a rabbit, potions which give you the whole bar of ultimate… even fake chests, which are very deadly and will result in a picture like this one:
Up until then, I thought a fake chest was something like a disguise… then I realized it was something much more dreadful straight out of the idea of mimics. It shattered my dreams and crushed my soul. However, I thought it was a good way to add different options to the losing side of a trade, in order to run away or to leave a parting gift. For example, in my encounter with the Jamila above, I used a trap in one of the corners, and while running away in my mount, I went in circles until I heard the "Clack", then changed directions and successfully escaped my certain death.
All in all, I had fun, even though I got really frustrated at never even once winning first place. The map is also right about the size for 20 players to get sporadic arena-like encounters which fit the original purpose of this mode -to get players interested in the main focus of the game: the 3v3 or 2v2 matches. So, following this line of thinking I'll start with…
The Royale's Bad Points
Even though the map has the right size, it fails to encourage early to mid encounters when I found out it to be the most effective way to win the royale. How? you may ask. Well, although it's just my opinion, there are three reasons why I think this:
You get to know your champion and its matchups. your skill rotation will most likely vary depending the enemy you are facing, and the only way to learn it is by looking for fights. If you just vulture your way across the map you'll ultimately face someone who do knows what he/she is doing and will just obliberate you.
Instead of looting chest, you'll loot champions who have already done that for you. which means you'll have much better equipment that much sooner.
You need to fill your ultimate bar. You could always just pray to get an energy potion out of the incredible amount of unopened chest you may find if you go to the most deserted area in the map, but in the end is all about how your ultimate may become the deciding variable when reaching the late state of the fray. Not having your ultimate while fighting it's a big disadvantage, even more, when your opponent does have it. And, as you may guess, the most effective way to gain energy is to land skills on players, if not the only one.
Another bad side from my point would be that Legendaries are way too strong. In a Royale game like Fortnite, for example, Legendaries are potent, and are clearly an advantage… but being a shooter implies you can dodge a lot of shots while also possessing less health, so one injury may almost kill you, but not entirely, hence you have a chance at retaliation and possibly victory.
However, Battlerite is a MOBA, which means to trade damage is a given, and you will be always in the losing side when your opponent is dealing 1.2x your damage with every skill, and even more when their most basic ability, M1, is the legendary one. You can always pull a skill-stunt, but let's be honest, not everyone can get reach Pro-League level, even more, if you are a casual, which was the entire purpose of this game.
This is even more radical when the one having the most items is a Ranged Champion, who can spam their M1 attack from a safe distance and shaving a considerable chunk out of your health bar each time. And then, if you add to the fact that there are really bad matchups out there…
I don't know if the legendary chests you can find in the map are pre-designed to spawn at the same locations or not, but if they are I think It'd be a nice addition to mark them on the mini-map in order to encourage players to go to those locations and reward the winner of the brawl with the legendary. In the end, all I want is to know legendaries are not pure RNG, and that if I encounter someone with more items than me, to know it was because he earnt them. A game that comes to my mind in this manner is Realm Royale, where you need to craft your legendary skills/equipment and defend them while they are in process before actually getting them. If no one goes to fight you for it, then it's the other players' fault for allowing you to obtain such an item.
Suggestions like a little arena which only allows four players to enter then rewards the winner with a legendary and teleports them to a random location in order to avoid vultures comes to my mind. In the end, is all about players feedback.
In conclusion, I'll keep playing the closed beta sessions to come, in order to get more answers to my doubts about the game, like the one above. Yet, after looking at it with an open mind I can say that the game looks very promising, and if well polished it can reach a beautiful state… however, if you consider it's backstory afterward, then I can't say it's good enough for everything to be bygones. Not yet.