By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
After all these years I have to admit something; I actually got tired and am done with the current generation of MOBAs. I just cannot touch them anymore without getting extremely bored and tired of the same old mechanics I have been playing since the first mod came out on Warcraft 3. Ever since then I have played them on and off but slowly started to enjoy the grind less and less. Most of the MOBAs of today are extremely fun to play, but still require you to build up and farm for a set period of time before the team battles start and the game actually gets going. And god forbid you make a mistake during the farming period as you will be further behind while waiting to get stomped by superior unstoppable foes. What a waste of time. But what happened to the idea that kickstarted the MOBA genre? Well Battlerite brings this back, in a new action packed team arena brawler.
Before the original DOTA was made, arena brawlers were also a favorite mod to play in Warcraft 3. I used to enjoy them a lot more, and despite most of them being incredibly unbalanced, they were always a joy to play. Unfortunately there wasn’t really a proper arena brawler made over the years, some tried but needless to say most of them simply failed. But Battlerite has arrived as new interest in MOBAs is waining, hoping that it will spark the interest of the jaded MOBA fans with a radical concept: fun without endless twenty minutes of farming. In Battlerite you brawl it out with the skills you are given. Instead of buying items you get to choose upgrades that will define your build.
I know, I know… the last few years a lot of publishers have found a new way to rake in money before the game is actually released, and the early access tag most games are granted now is a way to ‘scam’ people out of their money. Why should people have to pay up front for a game that is eventually going to be free to play, or might end up cancelled all together? And I know Battlerite might seem like just another gamble where you will have to hope there is actually enough content in the current stage of the game, and the game doesn’t all turn into shambles upon release. But I have to admit, after playing only a few hours a couple weeks after this early access start, this is the most polished early access game I’ve experienced. The only element really holding it back is the lackluster champion roster. But for now the few bucks I have paid to play the game have definitely been worth it. And the amount of updates and content we’ve seen added in the past few weeks make me think that the developers are definitely in it for the long run.
Currently you can only play the game in a two versus two, or three versus three modes. And although you can choose between standard and ranked matchmaking, you can still choose to do the practice mode, or play against the AI to get to know the game better. Before you start a game up, you first get to choose your champion. This can be done by clicking on the champion in the middle. Once a champion is selected, you’ll find an information tab on your left hand side listed skills and skins. Yes this won’t be an arena brawler without skins, but since the game is going to be free to play, and the skins can be earned without paying a dime, it’s a nice addition to the game. On the right hand side you will find the champions. Currently all champions are freely accessible but I reckon you will have to buy them and get to play with a ‘free rotation’ every single week once the game launches.
Enough with menus and speculation though – let’s jump into gameplay. You are first brought into the practice grounds of the arena where you will wait on your teammates and enemies to load up. Here you are able to practice a few moments against a couple of dummies, and get to talk about a strategy if your team wishes to do so. When everyone is loaded in fully, you are brought up into the arena on the platform you are standing on, and the battle commences. Moving your champion around is done by using the WASD keys, and the mouse is used to aim your spells in the right direction. Every champion has a basic left mouse button attack, and a skill on the right mouse button as well. Other skills can be found on the surrounding buttons of the movement controls, including a special ability and ultimate. By using your auto attacks and spells you charge up energy; when you have saved up four bars of energy you can use your ultimate, and this ultimate can easily turn the tide of the battle so make sure you don’t miss.
Battlerite really sets the definition of brawling in the right direction. The game isn’t too fast paced, but not too slow either. I really think the pace of the game is right on the sweet spot to appease a wide range of gamers, with characters offering the diversity to please most MOBA mindsets. Since the right set of champions is always important in arena brawlers like these, the game is best played with friends trying to chain a combo of spells to blast your enemies away. Every so often you will see a circle in the middle slowly build up. When the circle is full a ball is spawned, and can be destroyed to regain some health. So make sure you have control of the middle, or else you will have to fight for it, since you do not want to grant the enemies that health back, along with the accompanying energy boost. Around the middle also spawn small little orbs that also give health and energy so make sure to use those.
State of the Beta: Great
I might have grown tired of MOBAs, but Battlerite has shown me the way of the brawler. From the moment I played, I have been intrigued and playing every day since. The games aren’t too long, so if you are getting wrecked you are only stuck in the game for a couple of minutes, unlike MOBAs where an hour of your time might be wasted by a friendly Russian that decided that doing the laundry during your game is a better way to spend his time. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, Battlerite is really well polished for an early access game. Despite the game going free to play early next year, I think spending the few bucks today is more than worth it. All about the eSports hype coming with launch next year!