Ju­lian-Rizzo Smith jumps rite into the fite

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Bat­t­lerite is a team-based arena brawler of­fer­ing adren­a­line-pump­ing action and a unique ap­proach to char­ac­ter pro­gres­sion. Play­ers com­pete in best of three style team death matches with two to three play­ers on each team.

Matches are quick but fun, with level de­sign en­cour­ag­ing tight com­bat en­coun­ters and fast-paced action. Two ver­sus two matches can be fun but are far less en­ter­tain­ingly chaotic and strate­gic than three ver­sus three en­coun­ters. You can play in stan­dard, pri­vate, player vs AI, train­ing and ranked matches, and there’s a short tu­to­rial for new­com­ers. In ranked mode, you gain a new player rank the more rounds you win, but you aren’t pun­ished for los­ing matches. In this way, the game’s com­pet­i­tive scene isn’t as stress­fully toxic as oth­ers. That said, there’s not a strong player com­mu­nity for Bat­t­lerite so far, as I

of­ten found my­self wait­ing sev­eral min­utes for a ranked match. In fact, in some in­stances, I played with the same group of play­ers sev­eral times in a row.

En­vi­ron­ments are de­signed around the game’s fast-paced com­bat. You be­gin each round on a float­ing isle head­ing to­wards the coli­seum. Rid­ing in on a mounted beast, you head to­wards the cen­tre of the bat­tle­field where the other team is most likely at. That said, you can use this as­sump­tion to your ad­van­tage by hid­ing in the up­per and lower cor­ners of the map to flank your op­po­nents. Rush­ing tac­tics are of­ten un­wel­come un­less you’re play­ing with a group of friends, but even then, Bat­t­lerite’s lack of a voice chat makes com­mu­ni­cat­ing with your team mid-battle dis­tract­ing.

Matches are timed for two min­utes with the arena ra­dius grad­u­ally get­ting smaller at the thirty sec­ond mark. This not only makes fights even tighter and tense to play, but also to watch. I en­joyed watch­ing my team com­pete on oc­ca­sions where I died early in a round, and even found my­self sup­port­ing them in the chat. Matches are en­gag­ing and adren­a­line-pump­ing. View­ing them ig­nites a feel­ing of ex­cite­ment that would only be am­pli­fied com­pet­ing in a tour­na­ment sta­dium with thou­sands watch­ing, much like the coli­seum fights in the game. A power-up orb spawns ev­ery thirty sec­onds and re­wards the team that de­stroys it with a re­cov­ered health and ul­ti­mate me­ter. This adds a fun power strug­gle be­tween the com­pet­ing sides, as which­ever team that deals the fi­nal blow is granted all the re­wards.

One of the game’s most unique fea­tures, how­ever, is its ap­proach to char­ac­ter pro­gres­sion. Un­like other com­pet­i­tive games, you don’t ex­actly level up in Bat­t­lerite. Rather, you level up your abil­i­ties by select­ing one of three battlerites each round, cre­at­ing your own cus­tom spec tree each match. Early round battlerites af­fect your ba­sic abil­i­ties, re­set­ting the cooldown of a skill or in­creas­ing the de­buff ef­fect of an­other. Later game battlerites can sig­nif­i­cantly in­flu­ence the tide of the battle, how­ever. The lone gun­ner Jade’s tier one battlerites can add a root ef­fect to one of her abil­i­ties, al­low her to en­ter stealth af­ter vault­ing out of harm’s way, and re­set the cooldown of stealth af­ter cast­ing an­other skill. Her tier four battlerites add sig­nif­i­cant pas­sive skills such as a 20 per­cent dam­age increase to en­e­mies that are un­der 30 per­cent health, and in­creased move­ment speed. Her tier five battlerites are nat­u­rally tied to her ul­ti­mate abil­ity, Ex­plo­sive Shells, how­ever. They can ei­ther add a 50 per­cent snare dam­age for a brief mo­ment, or re­sist dam­age taken when chan­nelling the spell by a whop­ping 75 per­cent.

Battlerites add an­other layer of strat­egy to matches, al­low­ing you to com­pletely re­build your char­ac­ter mid-game. The lack of need­ing to con­stantly worry about your equip­ment is re­fresh­ing for a hero-driven mul­ti­player ti­tle. The bat­t­lerite me­chanic helps har­ness the

adren­a­line-pump­ing at­mos­phere of matches, and can sig­nif­i­cantly change the tide of a battle, too.

Char­ac­ter de­sign is well var­ied if not ar­che­typal. Char­ac­ter classes are de­fined by their choice of weapon rather than stats, and are ei­ther a melee, ranged or sup­port cham­pion. A short char­ac­ter bio in the char­ac­ter se­lec­tion screen gives a brief back­ground on a char­ac­ter while cre­at­ing a sense of world build­ing. Char­ac­ters are hy­per­bolic and fan­tas­ti­cal, re­flect­ing their im­age as coli­seum cham­pi­ons.

Ashka, the gnome-shaped masked py­ro­mancer, was a per­sonal favourite of mine. Light­ing him­self on fire, he vi­o­lently charges into en­e­mies, fires fire­balls in mul­ti­ple di­rec­tions and casts walls and erupt­ing holes of molten lava. His nim­ble and ex­plo­sive be­hav­iour is not only charis­mat­i­cally ridicu­lous, but makes him a di­verse ranged user. His area of ef­fect spells can dam­age an en­tire team and help him and his al­lies get out of harm’s way.

An­other more de­monic and im­pos­ing hero, Ruh Kan, con­sumes en­emy souls and pulls foes to­wards him for dev­as­tat­ing melee at­tacks. He joined the Bat­t­lerite coli­seum bat­tles af­ter be­ing awo­ken by a grave rob­ber. A ma­jor­ity of char­ac­ters’ back­sto­ries are left un­der­de­vel­oped, but the car­toon voice act­ing and cos­tum­ing bring these cham­pi­ons to life. Char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion is so of­ten un­der­whelm­ing in arena mul­ti­player ex­pe­ri­ences, so it’s wel­com­ing to see some at­ten­tion to cre­at­ing a world and like­able if not hy­per­bolic per­son­al­i­ties. There’s also a lot of in­tri­cate player de­tails in Bat­t­lerite’s rank­ing sys­tem that ex­tends its po­ten­tial as a com­pet­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. es­ports fans will ap­pre­ci­ate the at­ten­tion to de­tail in player stats, as score­boards mi­cro­man­age and cal­cu­late each player’s in­volve­ment in a match. Namely, your over­all dam­age, pro­tec­tion, and your over­all du­ra­tion in dis­abling en­e­mies. The game also mi­cro-cal­cu­lates each of these stats, de­ter­min­ing the per­cent­age each of your spells and sta­tus ef­fects had on your over­all performance, let­ting you know which spells you use of­ten and whether you’re play­ing ef­fec­tively.

The death re­cap pop-up icon de­tails the mo­ments lead­ing up to your death too. The me­chanic lists the sec­ond-by-sec­ond mo­ments of your demise, in­form­ing you why you died and sug­gest­ing ways to im­prove. A spell that charges you to­wards the en­emy and var­i­ous en­emy at­tacks for in­stance, sug­gest you fo­cused too much on rush­ing and left your­self vul­ner­a­ble and over­whelmed. It’s a great me­chanic that adds a fur­ther layer of depth, and could eas­ily be taken into ac­count when com­men­tat­ing a match.

Daily and weekly chal­lenges en­sure the game’s longevity, too. These chal­lenges of­ten en­cour­age you to ex­per­i­ment with other he­roes, re­ward­ing you with weapon and char­ac­ter skins found in chests for play­ing a set of games as a ranged or eastern orig­i­nated hero.

Play­ers can upload their matches to the game’s com­mu­nity net­work, as well. Here, they can view tight com­pet­i­tive games that they, other play­ers, and the de­vel­oper Stun­lock Stu­dios have up­loaded, learning from the action and im­prov­ing their game.

Bat­t­lerite is an in­ter­est­ing ad­di­tion to the es­ports scene. De­spite shorter com­pe­ti­tions than other com­pet­i­tive games, the in­creas­ingly tight en­vi­ron­ments and com­bat make it en­gag­ing to both play and watch.


Bat­t­lerite's he­roes are charis­matic and mem­o­rable even with­out the aid of back­ground fic­tion

Matches are hec­tic and re­solved quickly

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