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Battlerite Royale Early Access Review

Remember when developers were ham-fisting zombie survival modes into everything? That’s battle royale now. Everywhere you turn — no matter what platform you game on — your favorite developers are riding this wave with varying degrees of success. I’ve always thought that PUBG and Fortnite were a good starting point for this genre, but that there would be more interesting things coming down the line.

I had a few glowing things to say about Hunt: Showdown, as it represents a fun twist on a formula that’s running face first into stagnation. Battlerite Royale completely ditches the typical shooter mechanics of battle royale games, yet I wouldn’t necessarily say it breaks new ground. It has outstanding potential to reach gamers that haven’t bothered with the genre yet. If you’re wondering whether this MOBA-fused-with-battle-royale works, I think it does.

Nailing the basics

Battlerite veterans will immediately notice that many characters have been tweaked to better fit this royale format. I imagine that much of the game’s development had to focus on rebalancing the champions to suit the much larger scope of a battle royale. One of the things I love most about the original Battlerite is that it strips away so much of complexity from the loadout building, seen in games like Dota 2, without sacrificing the nuances people love about the combat. Battlerite gets right to the core of what makes MOBAs appeal to me personally: It puts huge emphasis on the coordination of team fights.

The pace of the game feels just right, especially with the changes they made from the beta version (such as the option to buy two abilities in the beginning, rather than just one). Team fights can be tense, especially when you’re out-geared and have limited escape options. Rounds can be over in just a couple minutes if you lose an early fight, and they never last too long, even when you survive until the final few players. The flow of early, mid, and late game is something that many other battle royale titles have struggled with, and it seems that Battlerite Royale has hit a good stride very early in development.

The ability to rez your teammates without having to crawl around like a drunk person looking for your keys is a massive boon to the game’s pacing. I can’t tell you how much YouTube I’ve watched while my friends finish the last few painstaking circles in a round of PUBG. In Battlerite Royale, there are resurrection points throughout the map that allow you to channel your teammate back to life, which gives the surviving member of your team more incentive to escape or win the fight. I’m not saying this feature belongs in all battle royale titles, but I hope to see something like this incorporated where appropriate in other games.

If you enjoy the mechanics of Battlerite, then the combat sequences in Battlerite Royale will generally feel familiar. However, with an enormous map in comparison to Battlerite’s small arenas, the dynamics of combat change simply because players have the option to run and hide. This means that you have to play smart and pick your battles wisely. If you find yourself approaching enemies with a significantly higher gear score than you, you’re probably better off backing up and re-engaging when you’re better equipped or trying to catch them off guard later.

The addition of loot

Gear is a brand new concept to this franchise. Battlerite is all about creating an even playing field and letting skill shots and strategy largely determine the round’s outcome. In Battlerite Royale, players are competing for loot orbs that you have to attack to break open. That means that in order to get better loot, you’ll have to make some noise. Traditionally, making lots of noise in a battle royale game is a bad idea, but here we see a system that forces players into drawing attention to themselves. This is another mechanic that encourages combat and drastically reduces the time you will spend wandering to loot without any player interaction — which is something that can make a round of PUBG a boring, tedious slog.

You will be looting to upgrade your champion’s abilities, fill the four gear slots that provide passive buffs to various attributes, and fill three slots for consumables like health potions, traps, etc. I had concerns that adding a loot system where players earn better versions of their character’s abilities would work against what many people love about Battlerite (and I’m sure there are some hard-core fans that feel like that’s the case), but I think the loot functions nicely in the Battlerite Royale formula.

A little ways to go

For all the ways Battlerite Royale makes gameplay smooth, the in-game HUD and map leave a bit to be desired. As of this writing, there is no way to mark a location on a map for your teammate to see. This seems like it’s so basic that a patch will make it right sooner than later, especially since the duos game mode will likely be played most often.

It can also be difficult to instantly recognize where you are when looking at the map. When you pull up the map, you and your partner show up as blue markers, while everyone else is marked red. When flying in on your dragon (that looks like Falcor from The Neverending Story) it’s a pain to figure out which one you’re on. I like the fact that they have multiple vehicles from multiple angles dropping players throughout the map, but it makes it all the more confusing when you can’t immediately pinpoint your location when looking at the full map.

Overlooked Necessities

Battlerite Royale also needs a way to get paired up with strangers, but right now you’re stuck playing solo mode unless you’ve got a friend online. How am I going to connect with other players and make friends when all my interactions with them are as adversaries? Social aspects of the Battlerite Royale aren’t just lacking — they’re barely present.

As a small complaint, I hope they add more and more easily-reached achievements that earn players loot chests. I’d like a steadier flow of loot chests; I don’t find their current system to be anything offensive or greedy, but there could be some improvements in the way you earn cosmetics.

Battling Correctly

If you have any interest in the genres that this game mashes together, you owe it to yourself to give Battlerite Royale a try. No doubt there is progress to be made as far as in-game quality-of-life features and balancing solo mode, among other things, but playing with a friend can be a tremendous amount of fun, and you really get a sense that the developers put some thought into the environment.

7

The Verdict: Great

Trying to knock out the last couple of teams as The Death Vortex closes in on your back is every bit as thrilling as other entries in this genre. Positioning, resource management, and quick thinking — all the staples of a good battle royale — are well represented and delivered. Stunlock Studios had an opportunity to slump out another battle royale game, hope for a spike in loot crate purchases, and move onto the next project. Instead, Battlerite Royale wears the battle royale hat with pride rather than cynicism.

Adam Wheeler
Written by
October 19, 2018
Published in Action

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Adam Wheeler loves his computer, his cat, and his work-from-home lifestyle. When he feels the motivation to put on pants, he tells jokes on stage. With no real distractions in his life (friends, relationships, a reason to go outdoors, etc.), he is able to provide in-depth analysis of games and the culture that surrounds them. Adam almost never has anything better to do.

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