The Best MOBA Release In A Long Time
The MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre is one of the largest and most successful trends in the past half-decade of gaming. Many companies have seen the massive interest in this genre, and want a piece of that MOBA pie – for better or worse. I’m of the sound mind that most, if not all, popular trends in media aren’t inherently bad, but it’s unfortunate that most of the time this quantity does mean a decline in quality. I have played many MOBAs in the past couple years with varying quality, and, with more coming out each year, the genre does feel like it is stagnating. Battlerite, however, is one of the best MOBA games to come out in the past few years, and that’s because it goes back to basics. It’s one of the most polished, fast-paced and accessible MOBAs out right now, and it’s all about fighting.
An Accessible MOBA?
The most difficult aspect of MOBAs is the extremely high learning curve. To get to a point of even of average skill level in casual play is incredibly difficult, and will test your patience in this genre. Macro teamplay, objective knowledge, character knowledge, and the specific MOBA’s mechanics is all present and accessible. Battlerite is all fighting for the most part. Battlerite feels like it emphasizes the “arena” aspect of the term MOBA, more so than the other games in its genre. The goal of the game is to eliminate the enemy players in a battle arena within a certain amount of time. You have multiple characters that you can use to attain victory and, if you eliminate your opponents in a best of five, you win the match. While the perspective and controls scream MOBA, Battlerite’s core feels more similar to a fighting game.
The game does have more complex mechanics that I will get to later, but it really is about beating the crap out of your opponent until they run out of HP. And by taking out items, large objective-based maps, and reducing team size, you get a game that is more accessible to get into and understand. Also, due to the nature of the game, finesse and knowledge of mechanics are incredibly important to play well. While there are modifiers in skills, for the most part this game is a battle of timing, knowing range, and matchup knowledge. In a lot of ways Battlerite is very similar to a fighting game, just with a different camera and control scheme.
Easy to Learn, Hard to Master
This game is simple in concept, but it still has some MOBA ingrained in its blood. What makes Battlerite different however, is how easy it is to pick up these specific mechanics that would normally take much longer to get the hang of in other titles. This is the crutch of MOBAs; while they are some of the most played video games of the current decade, they are hard as hell to get into. A key strength of this title is the accessibility that most games in this genre lack.
For example, there is a neutral objective in the game, an orb that spawns in the middle of the map occasionally that gives health to you and your team. This is easy to understand — damage the orb to give health. However, the trick is that whoever last hits the orb gets the healing effect, giving the opportunity for the enemy to snipe it from you. So coordination and proper macro knowledge, on top of finesse, is important to secure this easy to understand objective.
Another is example is the characters roles. Like other games in this genre there are roles that characters fall into, such as ranged DPS, melee DPS, tank, and support. However, because the game’s main modes of play are focused on 2v2 and 3v3, there’s more diversity when it comes to team composition (at least in casual play). Because of the variety it also makes learning character matchups more diverse than a fighting game, but not as difficult as a traditional MOBA. These elements make for a game that is easier than most to understand, but still rewarding and difficult to master.
A Colorful Cast of Weirdos
A big selling point of these games is the character roster. In a lot of ways, the art style and characters aesthetics may define what MOBAs a player may gravitates towards. I’ve played Battlerite since early access, and have seen the roster grown quite a bit to its current stage. I can safely say that not only do the characters feel unique and different mechanically, but are also varied in appearance. While they are varied in terms of character archetypes and looks, the game also does a good job of presenting this colorful cast without it feeling jarring. It makes for a game where a badass assassin, time altering goat man, and a lich can be seen next together and just look appropriate.
There’s also more ways to customize the roster with mounts, weapon skins, and alternate character skins. All of these aspects can be obtained with chests that can be earned by playing matches, or purchasing them outright. I think it important to say right now, that all the purchasable items in game do not affect the gameplay. There is no pay to win aspect in this title, it’s purely for cosmetics, not to gain currency and exp faster.
Another great aspect of the game aesthetically is the actual arenas themselves. The arenas vary in layout and aesthetic, keeping matches diverse each time you play. There are also day and night versions of these arenas, just to keep things visually varied. Overall, I like the game’s theme and art. I think the best thing about the game’s aesthetic is that, because of the more cartoony art, it will age better than those that go for a realistic style. And for a game that will continue to update and be played way after launch, that is an extreme benefit.
Battlerite does many things right. Matches don’t take an hour to complete, it’s accessible, it plays and looks good, and there’s a lot to learn for those willing to commit to the game’s meta. It’s a very weird task to review a game that may look drastically different in a couple of months. MOBAs by design are not meant to be static, they change and adapt to growing meta trends. I’ve had the joy of playing this title before it fully launched, and I have to say the game has grown and changed for the better. With only more features and characters to be released in the future, there’s very little reason to not at least give Battlerite a try. This title is probably “the” most accessible MOBA out right now, all without sacrificing the depth and teamplay that has made this one of the most popular genres in gaming.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Stunlock Studios ; Developer: Stunlock Studios ; Players: 1-6 ; Released: November 8, 2017 ; MSRP: Free
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Battlerite provided by the publisher.