Confession time: Bloodline Champions and I have history- a short but intense relationship that ended when the game failed to fill my cravings for PvP… mainly because it just didn't have enough players and I was too often getting matched against people who never stopped playing, unlike me, and then proceeded to wipe the floor with being.
When I realized the game community consisted of just a few loyal people, I took a hit. Bloodline Champions offered a really good PvP experience that I wasn't able to find in any other MOBA game. It was simple: no big objectives, no minions… just champions going against each other until only one team remained. But then Battlerite appeared. The developers still believed Bloodline Champions’ idea was good so they decided to try again, and I'm glad they did.
If you have played other MOBA games, and feel like you want to test your mettle against other players directly, without having to worry about other aspects of a match, like towers or a nexus, then you should definitely try Battlerite. There are champions for every taste, supports, melee and ranged… but each offer a new way to take on your opponent. And now, after quite a while… it’s finally free to play on Steam.
Battlerite is not a lore kind of game. You won't find an extensive storyline to follow, but that doesn't mean the game is stripped of any kind of guideline. Every champion has a few paragraphs that explain why they are in the arena, who they were before and what their objectives are. And, let's face it, it’s not the same to be a little midget with a book who kills people, than to be a little demon summoned by a warlock who is now trapped in the book you are carrying while… well, you kill people.
That being said, Battlerite isn’t a heavy game. It's more or less only 1,2 GB of download, which makes you wonder just what it can really offer. The thing is, Battlerite is not like most games! While other games are like wide and shallow rivers, the arena brawler has little content but rewards us with great complexity. Champions have their strengths and weaknesses, and as you become more adept at them you'll start to find out which matchups are better for you and which aren't. But fear not! The game also has some core traits to deal with it:
Way more detailed now. It's almost like a mine campaign which teaches you: 1) how to use Jade, and 2) how to play Battlerite. Is definitely recommendable to complete it as it gives you several rewards – chests, tokens… and more importantly, Battle coins, which are used to buy new champions (950, 2150 and 4450 depending on the difficulty and power they have), or more chests.
Every champion has a set of talents or Battlerites that enhance some of his or her abilities. These talents can be saved as loadouts which you'll be able to equip once you enter a match, granting you just the right amount of versatility you need when facing different enemies. There are five kinds of Battlerites: Control, which specializes in any kind of status that makes it harder for your opponent to play; Survival, which offers healing options by using an ability; Offense, which amplifies the damage you cause with a certain skill; Defense, which usually grants you shields or damage mitigation; and Perks, that add a passive enhancement to your champion, like movement speed.
Arenas and Orbs
The arenas are all different. The cover you can take and the vision they grant are important factors to take into consideration when facing the enemy team. There is one thing in common though: the orbs. There are different kinds: Energy Orbs, healing orbs, and a Great orb. The first two are self-explaining. One fills your energy bar which is required to use your ultimate and certain skills, and the healing orbs allow you to recover health and the max health you lose by taking damage. The important one here is the Great orb. It’s always at the center of the arena, and grants your team a massive bonus of energy and health, which means you don't want to let the enemy take control of it.
It wasn't implemented when I played Battlerite during the early access, but it was a crucial part of Bloodline champion's gameplay and I'm glad they brought it back. Apart from the core abilities your character may possess, there are also three extra ones that cost one energy bar. These skills, in exchange, grant your character more versatility in combat: from stealth + shield, to an arrow which strikes the same target multiple times. There is a great variety and they can potentially turn a fight around.
Personally I'm having a blast playing Battlerite! The matches are short enough for you to not get drain, yet they are also very intense if you are equally matched with your opponent. More than once I've been the only one alive in a 2v1 and ended up coming out victorious. In the same manner, sometimes you are just not able to think fast enough about a way to win. I, for one, don't feel discouraged by it, but rather it compels me to study my character and recreate scenarios in my mind in order to figure out what I could have done differently to win. It’s incredible how a best-of-five match can become so amazingly puzzling and engaging. And that is not the only thing which the developers are experimenting with right now:
Two guardians, several objectives, and two ways to win: to kill the enemy guardian or be the team which has attacked more times at the end of the match. The game mode is not complicated, but it is longer than the usual brawl. It requires coordination and strategy, as the different objectives are the true way to win instead of just killing your enemies. Every objective completed charges your guardian's spear, and once it’s fully charged, the enemy guardian will become vulnerable for approximately twenty seconds. There are multiple objectives yet only one is active at a time: slay brawlers, deliver a payload, slay challenger (a mini boss)… However it doesn't mean killing the enemy team is not useful. Champions acquire experience through completing objectives or slaying the enemy, and successfully leveling up grants higher health and damage. Besides, every enemy champion will drop damage boosters which you can stack and last until dead.
And did I mention everything is Free to Play? As a player that hasn't paid for the early access nor for the all champions pack, you'll have a personal rotation that refreshes every two days – Leveling up champions, completing quests and earning achievements will reward you with experience, boxes, tokens and Battle coins.
Graphics and Audio
As I said, the game is not a heavy content one. So it’s no surprise that it doesn’t require a Master Race to be run either. The graphics are just enough to be appealing to the eye, and perform well even on potato PCs. The effects are neat too; you don't confuse a fire ball with a mud ball, if you get what I'm saying. The audio however…the audio is just great. Every character has its own voice lines, and none are out of place.
"Nothing wrong with shooting… as long as the right people get shot" – Jade, after winning a round.
They all depend on when, how and what is happening. Some are when they use their ultimate, others when taunting… and there is a great variety for every single champion. Which takes me to the variety of cosmetics which you can customize your character with: outfits, mounts, weapons, poses… All to make sure you don't look the same as the other party.
Battlerite is so far one of the best pvp experiences I've ever had. It’s a game which invites you to improve, to try and experiment with different talents and see just how far you can take your performance with a certain champion. Of course, there are tier list which tell you which ones are actually strong, yet I believe a good composition can take your team really far without having to rely on them.
If there is one thing I feel like a negative side of the game, is that you can't try new champions while playing with friends, because most of the time you get paired up with people who are practicing a team composition and… well, you get stomped. Hence, there is certaintly a great ability gap between playing as a premade team, than just playing solo and adapt to your teammates.
However, The fact that you can just concentrate in your own performance instead of the map mechanics like in so many MOBAs is refreshing, and proves that you don't need lots of details and content in order to create something fun. Stunlock Studios may have created one of the best brawlers out there. And in my opinion? It’s not news. So, will I see you in the Arena?
|+ Great complexity||– Requires a specific kind of player|
|+ A good arrange of champions||– Real ability gap between premade and solo queue|
|+ Polished gameplay||– May get repetitive given a time|
|+ Can run even in low spec PCs|
+ Great arrange of cosmetics