Julian-Rizzo Smith jumps rite into the fite
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.
BATTLERITES HARNESS THE ADRENALINE PUMPING ATMOSPHERE OF MATCHES, AND CAN QUICKLY CHANGE THE TIDE OF BATTLE
Battlerite's heroes are charismatic and memorable even without the aid of background fiction
Matches are hectic and resolved quickly