It's hard out there for anything MOBA-like these days. Like any MMO releasing in the wake of World of Warcraft, almost every MOBA-inspired game releasing in the shadow of League of Legends or DOTA 2 is regulated to the same pile of afterthought. The biggest crime in video games would be to let Battlerite suffer the same fate, because it's truly one of the most refreshing and promising concepts on the scene right now.
I'm not the only one who thinks this way. The Steam reviews tell the same story. Battlerite has taken the team arena scene by storm since its early access debut, and the power of word-of-mouth through community hubs like Reddit has driven Battlerite's ascension to the upper levels of Steam's top-seller list. Sunspire Studios in on the verge of blowing up.
Of course, this couldn't of happened if the game wasn't actually good. Taking cues from their first game, 2011's Bloodline Champions, it's actually becoming more and more disingenuous to call Battlerite a MOBA as I type. It doesn't have minion waves, towers, a Nexus, items, or jungles. All of the strategy game point-and-click mechanics are gone. This is a third person action game for all intents and purposes. It gets straight to that action, too. Without the slow burn of a laning phase or constant needs to go back to a base and spend gold, every round is essentially the most hectic parts of team fighting. Be it 2v2 or 3v3, as soon as the bell tolls, you are locked into a dramatic fight to the finish.
Each of the 15 playable characters have a set of six skills (not counting your basic attack and EX skills) that range from long-range sniper shots to quick dodges to stuns. Competent play involves properly weaving these together into combos, with some characters more combo-dependent then others. Take Freya, for instance. All of her abilities cause the debuff Static. When an enemy is afflicted by Static, each of her abilities has an extra effect while also consuming the condition, like slowing the target or lowering a cooldown of hers. The order in which she uses her abilities dictates the sort of effect her combo will have on an enemy.
This sort of tactical play gets even more nuanced with the introduction of the namesake battlerites. Every round, players can select from three different modifiers to their abilities. Pistoleer Jade's first round of battlerites can either alter her Stealth ability to make her immune to damage for a second during its activation, cause every shot from her revolvers to lower the cooldown of Stealth by a small portion, or reload her guns instantly whenever she hits with her Disabling Shot. The beauty of a system like this is that it allows you not only to craft a particular Jade playstyle for yourself, but you have options to modify your abilities based on the enemies you'll be facing. They're important decisions at the beginning of each round that can really give you the edge, but no battlerite feels outright overpowered or impossible to counterplay.
The arenas themselves are small yet well decorated with obstacles and corners to hide around. You never feel like you're just an idle player away from danger off in a corner somewhere, because it only takes a few seconds to reach from one end of any given map to the other. After a short duration, Energy and Health pick-ups begin to spawn, adding objectives to squabble over when things get desperate. As time goes on, the boundaries of the map begin to narrow, doing damage to anyone outside the perimeter. This ensures that every match ends with minimum stalling, and I can't applaud that enough.
Battlerite is such a pleasant surprise. It's a simple concept that takes the best things from hero shooters like Overwatch, MOBAs like Heroes of the Storm, and even a fighting game or two, and blends them into something that feels so quick and unique. As this game and its community grows, I am very excited to see the heights in store for the project. If you're out there in Beta Land, let us know how your Battlerite sessions are going on Facebook and Twitter. And if you need some information, or have some to share, come to the Official Battlerite Wiki!
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.