Battlerite Royale Leaves Early Access

After a quick, five month run in Early Access on Steam, Battlerite Royale has hit it’s full free-to-play 1.0 release. I learned of the game prior to picking up a copy, though the purchase price unlocked all champions and gave some founder bonuses, so I’m not peeved about the free-to-play full release. I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve had with the game already, and wrote some impressions on it back in November when I first got started. This isn’t exactly just throwing the game out into world though, as this 1.0 update brought with it some significant changes.

You can read the full patch notes here, but I’m going to take a moment to go over some of my thoughts having played for a few hours post release.

The first thing I noticed that had changed was bits of the UI. There were some new details added, but also introduced is the concept of a “season” which seems to be popular with online multiplayer games as of late. Most lobby based PvP games have something like this where you earn rewards by playing, but if you buy a special pass for a monetary fee you’ll unlock even more skins and things and typically these items are “exclusive” to that season — this creates more desire in some players I’d assume. This season ties in with a new star leveling and season leveling system, which you’ll see more of below:

Quests are of the same “Kill 4 Players or Break 100 Loot Orbs” variety, but newly added are season quests. Complete these and get stars. Get ten stars and move up a season level which corresponds with the battle pass and extra goodies. Basically it comes down to just playing the game and you’ll earn some stuff one way or the other, but there’s an option to throw some money at the game to earn extra rewards. There are also a couple of packs you can outright buy that provide new skins and mounts. Alternatively you can earn in-game currency and buy chests which will get you some skins and avatars and mounts, etc. It’s a typical free-to-play model and I don’t really see a need to spend money to have fun.

Another big part of the new patch was the release of three more champions to choose from. Strangely enough, they are all ranged characters, and that has thrown the distribution of melee/ranged characters off a bit, but I’m sure there are more champions being ported over from Battlerite, along with brand new creations coming down the pipe. I tried all three and enjoyed both Oldur and Taya quite a bit. Pearl seems too support oriented to be viable solo, and it appears that there is still only the option to duo and you have to have someone on your friend’s list to even invite them. I’d imagine that an auto fill for duos or a group queue should be something in development, but I haven’t read anything about that specifically yet.

The map has been revamped a bit, and you can see one of the brand new zones above, and the ice sure is slippery. This is the north end of the map, they also added a new trader’s market zone at the south end and the extra space seems to help you avoid those early skirmishes allowing you to gear up a bit before fighting. There were other tweaks such as the movement speed of characters across the board, and more specific champion adjustments that you can check out on the patch notes I linked to above. Overall I think it was a successful early access run and that the game feels like it’s in a good spot. Outside of adding more characters/skins and perhaps continuing to expand the map, I would only suggest the matchmaking for duos and perhaps a group of 4-5 queue.

If you haven’t checked the game out yet, now’s the time — it doesn’t get any cheaper than free!

Thoughts on Battlerite Royale

The ever growing genre of Battle Royale games has seen quite a few entries in recent years, now overtaking the Survival Sandbox genre that came before it, and the wave of MOBAs before that. Starting with H1Z1 and culminating in popularity with Fortnite, the genre has no signs of slowing down as many studios are throwing their hats into the ring. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds was the game that saw the most success early on and was later eclipsed by Fortnite, who tacked on a BR mode to their survival game and hooked anyone with a pulse that’s under 18. Soon, other companies with established IPs have begun to try and jump on the bandwagon, but after playing a few of the first BR games, it was clear something would have to be done to change up the formula a bit. H1Z1 and PUBG are more straight forward shooters, while Fortnite has a cheesy building mechanic. Others that have come along like Realm Royale, attempted to change things up with classes and abilities that are picked up in chests on the battlefield rather than just weapons and I found this to be a suitable idea. They later scrapped the classes idea though, and I lost interest afterwards.

Enter Stunlock Studios and their foray in the BR world. These developers have been around for a while, creating a MOBA called Bloodline Champions back in the early 2010’s that fell a bit short on popularity but was an interesting enough concept. Instead of traditional lanes and towers with a base to destroy, they focused on purposely designed characters in a more arena style brawler. Skill shots and WASD movement powered the combat, and it was a good time but lacked a macro game. Later, the company essentially redesigned their game and called in Battlerite, a game that I picked up and played but apparently only wrote about once. I said then that the lack of a macro game would probably hurt the game’s longevity, and though I played it through Early Access and a time or two after release, I never really could get that into it. I enjoyed the character design and the combat was lovely but unless you dedicated serious amounts of time to it you weren’t going to progress far.

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Anyway, the company had been talking about adding a BR mode to the game, but then decided to create a spin-off title instead, calling it Battlerite Royale. I’ve known of the game’s existence for some time, but it was not free to play. The original Battlerite wasn’t either, you had to pay to get into the Early Access period but did release as a free to play title after version 1.0. I assume this game will follow the same pattern. I was interested but didn’t want to spend the money on it. However, this past weekend the game was free to play on Steam so I took the opportunity to check it out.

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As this genre grows it’s become clear that these types of games are made free to play so that they can monetize cosmetics and other account features that don’t really affect the gameplay but give people something to work towards. Battlerite Royale is no exception, but it seems that it is fairly monetized at this point. The various currencies are earned at a decent clip, with diamonds being the premium currency that essentially speeds up your purchasing power. Each round you play will net you some gold, which can be used to buy chests. Chests then contain outfits, mounts, poses and weapons for in-game use, along with avatars for your account. You’ll also earn chests as you level your account and the individual characters. I’ve earned a bunch of cosmetics by just playing the game, so I don’t feel like there is a need to buy diamonds but I’m sure there are people out there who would.

The gameplay is similar to that of Battlerite, in that there are some of the same characters along with the same sort of WASD movement and skill shots. I rather enjoy the control scheme, with abilities tacked onto both mouse buttons, Q, E, R, F and the space bar. This is similar to how I set up my hotkeys in League of Legends so it feels perfect. What’s different here is that you start with a set amount of gold and pop into a lobby. Here you can buy a couple of your abilities at their lowest rarity (green). Each ability can be leveled up to Legendary, a full three tiers higher than when you start. You’ll find your abilities throughout the world in orbs that have to be smashed to reveal their contents, along withe being able to buy the Legendary upgrades at vendors that are scattered around the map. It takes a bit to get your full loadout and then proceed to level up the skills. On top of this there are four items slots you can use, and these items will give you passive buffs, and each can be upgraded through the same four tiers. Lastly, there are consumables like health potions and traps that can be picked up and used in your battles. Games start as you expect, with a drop in method from a flying dragon, and you’ll use your mount to speed around the island, either avoiding others or fighting to the death, all the while trying to avoid the poison cloud that shrinks as time goes on. I’ve almost instantly died and have had my best finish at #3. I believe there are 40 players per round, so not as much as other BR games but there feels like more depth here as well. There are also daily quests and achievements that will get you more currency/chests that will keep you coming back for more.

I ended up enjoying the game so much that I picked it up. It was on sale for $13.99 and I already had some money on my account so I figured why not. I’ve been playing it daily and have moved up to the Silver league and feel like I’ll be playing it for a while to come. I’d recommend it if you like BR games or MOBAs as you’ll probably enjoy it too.