Battlerite is a top-down battle arena with a surprising amount of depth in bursts of short 2v2 or 3v3 matches. Its combat could be compared to the occasional intense close-quarters MOBA fights, yet Battlerite takes the formula, flips it upside-down, and runs with it. Battlerite has been appropriately coined by the developers – Stunlock Studios – as a Team Arena Brawler (TAB).
Battlerite’s brevity is its key core mechanic. Each round is designed to be quick and has a 2 minute timer, which is absolutely crucial in how the mechanics come together since Battlerite has a steep learning curve. The player can keep coming back one round after the other and take on that learning curve, which simply cannot happen if the matches lasted as long as a MOBA or if the player was forced to keep trudging forward in a losing battle.
Instead of stopping the round when the timer hits zero, the arena shrinks. This is another crucial part of the aforementioned mechanic because it puts pressure on the players if the game continues for too long. If it was a hard timer, then the round would end on an anticlimactic note and would be counter-intuitive toward its goal of expediting the learning curve.
There are three champion roles: Melee, Ranged, and Support. These roles hint at how they will generally play. For instance, Support champions have healing and tend to have more Crowd Control (CC), while Melee and Ranged champions are.. well.. melee and ranged, but the variety is there. Even though each role and champion plays differently, the ability-bindings are similar, which lowers the learning curve for learning a new champion.
Here is a spreadsheet I put together with general ability types related to key-bindings:
It is worth noting TLAoE stands for Target Location Area of Effect or Target Ground AoE, and PBAoE stands for Point Blank AoE (AoE where you are the epicenter). From a glance, the ability-bindings are generally pretty similar to each other. Counters and Front Shields are consistently on the Q binding; Healing is consistently on the RMB binding; and some kind of escape, movement, or shield is consistently on the Space binding. In a game where it takes a lot of time to master each champion, this consistency is absolutely vital.
The importance of consistency in games is something I can never stress enough.
The ability-bindings are also essential because of the multi-layered strategies involved in Battlerite. While the learning curve for each character is lessened because of the ability-bindings, the player can focus on improving their positioning, teamwork, cooldown management, and overall gameplay.
There are several stages — each one providing a different setting and obstacle placements (i.e., walls). The placement of these walls can completely change one’s approach when trying to control the middle, or the Energy Rune. Since the battle will always center around the ever-important Energy Rune, the arena will shrink with the Energy Rune as its epicenter, which only lends itself to how the match naturally flows.
Battlerite is the type of game where even losing is a good experience. This is achieved because of Battlerite’s brevity and because of how the abilities are tied together between characters. The fact that we can jump in, lose, learn from our mistakes, and quickly move onto the next match is the reason losing can be fun. When we take damage, or we die, we know what we did wrong, and we can focus on what’s important — our positioning, teamwork, cooldown management, etc. — instead of having to worry about wasting time in a losing match or wasting time trying to learn a character with different ability-bindings.