First Look: BattleriteBrutal team arena combat at its finest
Step into the arena and prepare to destroy your enemies in Battlerite, a 2v2 and 3v3 team arena brawler and spiritual successor to Bloodline Champions. Come see why this is shaping up to be one of the best arena combat games on the market.
Top-down, pure brawler Battlerite is a fast-paced action-heavy title with a surprising amount of depth and nuance. Imagine the big brawls found in games like League of Legends — strip away all of the distracting MOBA elements and focus on the exciting team fights, and you’ve got a pretty good idea on how Battlerite plays and feels.
a battle for the ages
A lot of people have been comparing Battlerite to the PVP arena matches from World of Warcraft, though I’d place it more towards if Heroes of the Storm had a pure arena mode, as kits and mounts are fairly similar to Battlerite‘s.
If you’ve played Bloodline Champions, you’ll feel right at home here — the gameplay is almost identical. Not too surprising given that the developers of Bloodline Champions are also the team behind Battlerite, making it something of a sequel, or at least a spiritual successor.
Two teams step into the arena, battling it out to the death with various abilities on short cooldowns and a basic energy resource system. Wiping out the enemy team nets you a round win, with three needed for match victory.
Battlerite is certainly very easy to jump into; characters are distributed across melee, ranged, and support classes, each of which shares common attributes. Character design shines through here as it’s usually obvious from just looking at a character how they’re going to play and whether they’d be interesting to try out.
You have the standard archetypes of course — the mindless hulking warrior, the noble fighter, the pyromaniac mage — but the game does a good job of injecting personality into each character with their quips and attitudes. You can expect plenty of delightfully cheesy one-liners from the cast, such as time manipulator Oldur’s line of “I’ve tried eating the sands of time. It was very… time consuming.”
Gameplay itself is fairly straightforward — you have a half-dozen or so skills at your disposal, each with varying but short cooldowns. Skills are unique to each character, though classes will share similarities; supports for instance often have a shielding or immunity granting ability among their kit. Abilities are restricted only by their individual cooldown timers, and basic abilities don’t require any resource.
Each character also has advanced abilities, which cost energy, generated by dealing damage with basic abilities or by striking a respawning orb of energy in the center of the arena.
Advanced and ultimate abilities consume energy on use, making their use more tactical and very important. While advanced abilities use one or two quarters of your possible energy supply, ultimates require a full bar, meaning they’ll take long to fill and will have to used effectively to be worth the expense. Fire off a good ultimate, however, and you’ll typically take out an enemy.
While each character has an advanced ability and an ultimate, they also have EX moves — enhanced versions of their basic abilities, such as changing an area explosion into an area snare effect, or adding debilitating status effects to their attacks. One gripe we have with Battlerite is that these aren’t really taught to you in the game (while the tutorial covers everything else), and it’s easy for newer players to completely miss them or get confused when fighting champions who seemingly use abilities they’re unfamiliar with.
At the start of each round you’re also able to select one of three battlerites that will affect you for the rest of the match. Each battlerite affects your abilities in some way, such as adding damage-over-time effects to an ability, giving you a temporary speed boost after jumping, or improving healing effects on allies.
Choosing which battlerite is best comes down to a lot of factors — your team composition, that of your enemy team, and how things have been going. If you’re struggling, you may want to focus more on survival battlerites that reduce incoming damage, though you’ll miss out on boosts to your own abilities. It’s an interesting tactical addition that adds an extra layer of planning to each match.
Character customisation follows trends of recent games like Overwatch in that progressing through daily quests (such as “Play 4 games as a particular class”) and levelling characters through continued play nets you loot chests, which hold a variety of player avatars and character customisation, such as different color schemes or appearances for characters, weapons and mounts, or alternate victory poses.
While ultimately launching as a free to play title with optional monetisation such as buying a character outright instead of grinding in-game currency for it, buying into the current Early Access program at USD $19.99 (or local equivalent) nets you all current and future characters forever; if you’re a fan of Bloodline Champions or similar games and expect to put plenty of hours into Battlerite, this is a no-brainer and excellent value for money.