General game information
Game name: Battlerite
Release date: 20 September, 2016 (Early Access) Full release in the first quarter of 2017
Price: US$ 19.99 for the Early Access version (granting access to all existing and future Champions) Free to Play after the game leaves Early Access
Genre: Multiplayer online battle arena
Developer: Stunlock Studios
Battlerite is a multiplayer online battle arena game (or MOBA, as most people call that kind of games) dedicated solely to battling other human characters. Instead of fighting over control of lanes, killing minions and destroying towers, players only need to concern themselves with killing the enemy team’s champions.
Thanks to this laser focused approach to MOBA trappings, Battlerite feels both fast and fun, even for gamers that would normally avoid these kind of games. Without having to think about specific item sets, lanes, and such, players can just dedicate their time to killing the enemy team. In many ways, Battlerite is more like a fighting game than a MOBA, as there are no random elements and everything hinges on the player’s skill. Item sets are replaced by Battlerites, passive buffs that can be chosen at the beginning of each round. Every player in the match can see which Battlerites have been selected by the other combatants, and choose their own accordingly.
Matches are fast paced and usually take less than 10 minutes to complete. In order to achieve victory, one of the teams must win three rounds, which usually last less than two minutes each (and if a round goes over 2 minutes, the map starts to shrink) Players don’t spend time picking characters, since that’s done before the match even starts, something that gets rid of the “pick that, no, pick THAT, the one you picked is useless” banter that may happen in games like League of Legends or Dota 2.
Another change from more mainstream MOBA games is that gamers will control their champion with the W, A, S and D keys, instead of pointing and clicking. The standard attack is mapped to the left mouse button, and the rest of the abilities are on the right click and the Q, E, R, F and keys. Depending on the character’s role, the right click ability may be a powerful ranged attack or a heal, while the Q is usually reserved for counters or stealth modes. Every character has an ultimate ability that requires a resource called “energy” in order to be used, and that’s mapped to F. Energy can also be used to power EX versions of some of the regular abilties, adding even more strategy to the game (EX abilities are more powerful, and add different bonuses, but if the player misuses them, they lose energy that could have been used to fuel their ultimate ability)
Battlerite‘s maps all share a common design, with a central area that can be controlled by either team, providing benefits such as energy and health pickups to gamers who decide to hold it. Walls and other decorative items provide cover for ranged characters, though once the round timer expires all combatants should head to the center, lest they suffer a coward’s death at the hands of the walls of death.
Currently, the game features 2vs2 and 3vs3 matchmaking, and the ability to create private lobbies in which gamers may face off in 1vs1, 2vs2 and 3vs3 engagements. Playing with friends will usually yield the best results, as voice chat is a hard to beat tool in team based games. Those who don’t wish to play with friends can take advantage of the game’s fast matchmaking, though every match won or lost will count towards their ranked progression, something that may bother competitive gamers.
Battlerite costs US$ 19.99 during its Early Access phase, and players who purchase the game before it exits Early Access and becomes Free to Play will gain access to all current and future heroes. As it is the norm with MOBA games, there is an ingame shop which sells different cosmetic items such as skins, mounts or poses (which can also be acquired through other means, such as completing daily quests) Gamers interested in supporting Stunlock Studios can also purchase a DLC pack known as the Ultimate Fan Edition, which will give them access to exclusive cosmetics and a 10% experience boost that is also shared with everyone in the same lobby as an Ultimate Fan Edition owner.
Overall, Battlerite feels like the perfect game for people interested in fast paced competitive combat. Developers Stunlock Studios have managed to successfully implement the fun parts of MOBA games while leaving out the mechanics that slow down the pace of the action. If the community keeps growing, Battlerite could very well be the next Free to Play hit on Steam.