Battlerite is an early access MOBA that has you pick from a plethora of unique and powerful characters and do battle in deadly arenas. The spiritual successor to Bloodline Champions, this game will entertain you and thrust you into an already established community of diehard fans.
Developer: Stunlock Studios
MonsterVine received a copy of Battlerite for previewing purposes
Games in Early Access never promise a complete game, and that the game won’t have bugs, but Battlerite impresses in these regards, due to it being one of the few Early Access games I’ve played that had the amount of content needed to match its price tag. The game boasts 19 playable characters in its current state, as well as 4 maps, and nice, albeit simple game modes to try out.
Battlerite seems to be your average, everyday MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena), and in certain aspects, it is. This happens to be fine, because where it is average, it makes up for it in other ways. The game allows you to face off against bots and even play a tutorial and a mode against dummies to test abilities, which for people new to MOBAs is very helpful. Battlerite shines through its online versus modes more than these intro materials though, allowing players to do private matches in 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 formats, which is always a nice feature for gamers who like to play with friends. The most commonly used game modes though have to be basic matchmaking, which allow players to face off against randoms in 2v2 and 3v3. There is a party function that allows you to play across all games modes with 1 to 5 of your friends (depending on what game mode you play), which is what I tried out for most of my time with the game. I personally struggled with the difficulty curve, finding that fighting bots was not enough of a challenge, but going into matchmaking was difficult, but for anyone with experience in MOBAs should find little to no trouble.
Of the 19 characters, I gave most of them a try, my favorites of which were Jade, a gun-slinging human female that boasted impressive ranged abilities, as well as close range, and Ruh Kaan, an axe-wielding undead being that is tough to best at close range. Each character stays true to the MOBA play style, with multiple abilities that you must strategically use to your advantage in battle, and that have a recharge once used. The abilities were defaulted to left and right click, which were the basic, non-recharge attack, and then to the space bar, Q, and E keys, which were the better attacks that had a re-charge and had to be used strategically. The strongest abilities are mapped to R and F, both being abilities that built up over time, F key acting as a “super” or “ultimate” ability. Most characters had 1 to 2 abilities that acted as defensive skills that allowed for someone to retreat or avoid damage for a short period of time. This is also true for characters that have support abilities that help out their team. While some characters resembled characters from Blizzard’s wildly popular Overwatch, particularly a character named Jumong, who is an archer, akin to Hanzo from Overwatch, the abilities differ enough that I believe that the fighters work well and are original for the most part.
While I did enjoy the game, I did have a problem with the maps. This was mainly due to them being re-skins of the same bland formula, which is basically a circle that draws combatants to the middle, with a few walls for cover. It’s not as if the game ever tried to advertise more than what it is at its core, which is a MOBA. It still would have been cool to see more variety, specifically in layout because the only real differences in maps are the color palette or theme for the map and where the cover is placed. Seeing a couple more maps (there are only four) and to see that the maps had more differences in play style or strategy, would have given the game slightly more longevity.
Top-down video games have never been my style in terms of preferred gaming experience, but Stunlock Studios’ Battlerite made me question why I have always felt that way. Battlerite does a good job of blending team-focused gameplay and strategy with arena combat, and that is what makes it worthwhile. The variety in characters keeps you coming back for more, and even had me wanting to try out each character. While some of them were more difficult to use than others, I saw potential for each to be efficient on the battlefield, and for each to have a collective of fans and diehard supporters. While a couple did resemble characters from other popular games of the same archetype, Stunlock did a fine job making the abilities and aesthetics of each character unique and original as much as was possible. Battlerite is a fun and competitive game that I, a first-person-shooter and console-loving gamer, would recommend to anyone with a PC that has a desire to challenge themselves, fall in love with a character or two, and break away from the gaming norm.