Battlerite Royale: Hands-on

I’ve never played a Battle Royale game before, as I’m not a big fan of deathmatch style game modes; but as a big fan of Battlerite, I was interested enough to give this version a go. It hasn’t done anything to convert me to the genre.

As far as I’m aware Battlerite is the first, or at least one of the first, non-shooter brands to attempt a Battle Royale style game. Currently it supports a 20 person game. What it did reconfirm for me is that the rosters in MOBAs really could do with being let out of their respective arenas to tackle other genres. The freedom to move around a big map with the highly mobile Battlerite champions was definitely fun. Since Battlerite has refined that already, the Royale spinoff feels really fluid and open even though there were lots of tight enclosed areas.

Presumably because they couldn’t think of a better way to do it, you also get to airdrop your champion in from the sky, choosing where to land in the new map. These comprise a few areas of different biomes but other than the layout, none of the areas are different enough to to dwell on. The main thing to keep in mind is that the area you can fight in without having your health drain away will get smaller as the match continues (sound familiar?). However, unlike Battlerite, the final circle doesn’t seem to shrink or if it does it doesn’t do it anywhere near fast enough. Which means the more slippery champions can run away from melee and slowly chip away health or heal up with very few consequences.

Of the games I played I only picked Croak and Thorn, who are characters I’m very familiar with. Both are melee and neither of them are effective at self healing (or at least not in my hands), and I struggled to keep close to the enemies I did find most of the time. With the one game I played as Thorn I wasn’t able to get any kills, but I did survive right up to the final three, within that final circle. I just had my health chipped away by Blossom and Ashka who are both Ranged, with Blossom also having strong healing and invulnerability. The other games as Croak didn’t go nearly as well even though I managed to get a few kills.

The combat is still as sharp as ever, but it’s also changed a great deal in ways that make it feel less refined. Taking another departure from Battlerite is the lack of… well…  Battlerites. The complex series of modifiers to your abilities seems to have disappeared in favour of granting abilities through pickups either found in loot box type things, or bought from one of the shops littered around the map. While I don’t mind getting abilities that way, I’m not a huge fan of them not having the tweaks that set Battlerite apart from other MOBAs. It’s true that there are powerful items you can equip, but it feels like they’re just imitating the competition rather than doing their own thing. Battlerite was about having a set of skills and using them to your advantage, loot involves luck more than skill.

I don’t dislike what I played, but this feels homogeneous where Battlerite has its own presence and specific style. I thought the initial fan reaction of chasing a trend might be a little harsh, but it’s difficult to see it any other way when it really isn’t doing anything unique that the others aren’t already. I’m trying to give it a fair chance and I’ll try it again given the opportunity, but I’m not sure I’d be interested in it when it releases. Battlerite’s appeal is in constant fighting on a fair field. It was bucking the trend by removing the laning phase and the slog towards destroying an opponent’s base. You also knew that an opponent wouldn’t just have more powerful items or abilities. This has too many variables based on random chance, rather than the upfront battles I’m after.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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