Platform: PC, Xbox One
Genre: Action, Free to Play
Developer: Stunlock Studios
Publisher: Stunlock Studios
Release Date: November 8, 2017
Battlerite is Stunlock Studios followup to their previous game Bloodline Champions. And, well over a year ago, they were kind enough to send us the All Champions pack for free. So I’m in a decent place to give it a review. Especially since it finally left Early Access and went Free to play on Wednesday. And I’m just going to hop into the meat of this, since while multiplayer games can have good lore, it’s not really a focus of the game.
I’ll start by saying that I’m not good at this game. And I get the feeling a lot of players won’t be, either. The default hotkeys are very fiddly to deal with during play, because hitting them means the loss of your left or right movement.
That’s a problem, because positioning is key, as well as dodging since almost everything in the game is skillshots. long story short, if you don’t have a gaming mouse with some extra buttons to map both normal and ex abilities to, you’re probably not going to be having a fun time with a reasonable win ratio. I’ve probably won one out of every four games I’ve played, and I’m sort of stuck with the default.
If I’m being totally honest, the game just feels like you’d want a controller. The problem being that you would invariably suffer thanks to mouse aiming. Not to mention the fact that there’s no way you could map everything comfortably if you did. Still it always felt like it would help me, considering my giganto hands and stupid fingers. Especially since I suck at WASD movement. Plenty of people will tell you it’s superior, but a thumb is not a finger, and mine’s the Moe to my hand’s’ Larry, Curly, Curly Joe and Shemp. What I’m trying to say is, your experiences may vary, despite what the git gud part of the userbase might say. Though proper champion selection can help. And a gaming mouse with a bunch of extra buttons.
All of the champions are well designed, I’d argue. That said, some are just better choices than others. For example, they have markings for if a character is beginner friendly. Some that aren’t so marked, however, are probably better picks for a beginner. A good example would be the Support Hero, Poloma. She’s probably more straightforward and tougher than at least 2 of the beginner friendly supports, but is somehow not beginner friendly. The same can usually be said of new heroes before an update, but that’s par for the course. There are still combinations that will give a definite edge, so things aren’t totally balanced.
And, I’m going to be honest; while the Free to Play release improved things a bit, you’re still going to keep running into the hardcore fanbase that bought the game early access, loves it, and will run a train on your sorry ass. These are the people that fully accept the game and see no flaws, in a “if you’re not going to be as good as I am, why are you playing” sense.
That said, the release increased their peak playerbase by roughly 5 times what it was in previous months. Though I’d argue having the servers die on the first night the game was available wasn’t great.
They fundamentally changed an aspect of the game in the last update. Before, each round you chose a rite (a boon to an ability on a character) and you could tailor it a bit to who you were fighting. Now, it is a somewhat Paladins-like build that you set up and choose at the beginning of a match.
What you’ve got is what you’ve got the entire game, so don’t choose the wrong thing. They also updated the UI, making it far more (unnecessarily) complex than it was before. I’d argue these changes weren’t exactly for the better but it is what it is.
It’s also important to note that this isn’t a standard MOBA. It’s pretty much all 3v3 (or 2v2) teamfights, no laning. Even in the new mode that sort of simulates the standard MOBA setup of map goals and the like. Splitting up is a death warrant; getting singled out by the enemy team is a death sentence. It has a very high skill ceiling, but it also has a very high learning curve, if you didn’t intuit that by the rest of my review. The former’s a good thing for any game, but the latter can keep people from picking it up in the first place.
All in all, Battlerite is either your cup of tea or it isn’t. I can’t say I was terribly fond of it during the time it was in our streaming rotation. It’s very hard to get into, even if you’re familiar with MOBa’s. You might feel differently. And the best part is, you don’t have to take my word for it, since the game has gone Free to Play. So, at the very least, you should give it a decent shot. You never know, you might love it.
“Battlerite is a bit rough around the edges; but those that it strikes a cord with will probably love it.”
[We were provided a copy of this game for review]