What If Every Champion Had 4 EXes Instead?

Posted by Zanetski 11 comments

I wouldn’t be the first to notice that the Options menu has four EX ability hotkeys even though every champion only has two EX abilities — and no, R doesn’t count as an EX as far as these hotkeys are concerned.

Which raises two interesting questions. First, is Stunlock eventually going to add two more EX abilities to every champion? And second, how would that impact the game?

If you want, you can think of it like Bloodline Champions where each champion had 2 EXes plus 2 Medallions, except in this case the extra abilities aren’t picked from a shared pool. They’d be specifically designed for each champion’s weaknesses and strengths.

It’s a neat little thought that makes me more excited the more I consider it. Obviously there would be pros and cons to such a drastic change, but my view is that it would be a net positive for Battlerite for several reasons.

Pro: Gameplay Decisions

Let’s get the most obvious out of the way: with 4 EXes, every champion suddenly goes from having 9 abilities to 11 abilities, but that kit expansion is only possible when you have energy. With more energy-expending abilities in the kit, there’s a greater emphasis on good decision-making.

For most champions in their current state, energy expenditure isn’t as interesting as it could be. Take Lucie, for example. Based on what I’ve seen in tournament, her energy playstyle is rather straightforward: hit Petrify and follow up with Deadly Injection, but always save at least 25 energy for Roll. There isn’t much deviation because landing Petrify/Deadly is never bad.

But imagine if she had two more EXes. Maybe EX-Clarity Potion inflicts Blind and EX-Barrier becomes a reflecting shield. (I’m just making these up on the spot!) Up against a team like Jade/Oldur, now Lucie has tougher decisions to make. Spamming Petrify/Deadly is always an option, but a smartly-used EX-Barrier could pop Jade while EX-Clarity Potion zones Oldur.

It would also mean a greater emphasis on gamesense. It’s a lot harder to read a Lucie who has 4 EXes than a Lucie who has 2 EXes. Battlerite will always be a game about tracking enemy cooldowns, but this would expand the potential for mindgames. Battlerite could use a little more of that.

I’m sure similar examples could be made for any other champion. Ultimately, my point is this: more EXes = more decisions to make = more opportunities to make mistakes = more space for top-tier players to climb ahead of the pack.

Con: Learning Curve

There’s no denying it: 11 abilities are harder to juggle than 9 abilities, especially when the average cooldown is somewhere around 8 seconds. This would certainly impact the learning curve, but not by much.

EX abilities are already “hidden” from newbies, and on some level I think this was done on purpose because the game is perfectly playable (at lower grades) without any EXes necessary. And for as long as EXes are hidden from newbies, it won’t matter whether there are 2 or 4 of them.

But once newbies discover that EXes exist, the learning curve will be there to kick them in the butt. They’ll fumble around as they try to wrap their heads around 4 new abilities, not to mention the complexities of energy management. Or maybe it won’t be such a big deal. We can never know for sure until we try.

Pro: Reduced Countercomping

This is the main reason why I’m such a big fan of the 4 EXes idea. At the moment, most champion imbalances are due to gaping kit weaknesses that can’t be remedied with simple number tweaks. The addition of 2 EXes to each champion can help plug those gaps and make sure each champion is a well-rounded figure.

And when all champions are well-rounded, instead of pigeonholed into specific roles, then countercomping becomes less of an issue — or at least, that would be the ideal. It’d be impossible for every matchup to be 50/50, but this would be a huge step towards smoothening everything out.

Champions would still have their unique strengths and weaknesses, but each would have fewer weaknesses overall. I’m thinking of something similar to Dota 2’s balancing philosophy: if every champion is OP, then none of them are really OP, right? Extra EXes would be kinda like that.

Con: Balance Complexity

It’s already hard enough to balance 9 abilities and 14 battlerites for each champion, especially in a way that keeps the majority of players happy. If we throw in another 2 EXes per champion into the mix, the mess is going to get drastically messier.

This complexity is ultimately a good thing, but the extra variables won’t be fun to balance around. One small tweak here or there could have huge repercussions down the line — or maybe not. If these EXes really do result in more well-rounded champions, then it’s possible that imbalances will be objectively rarer.

But what about perceived imbalances? I guess the biggest tuning-related concern is that players will have more to complain about: Bakko’s EX-3 is this, Lucie’s EX-4 is that, etc. If you’re tired of hearing complaints about already-existing EXes, then you can probably expect it to get worse if/when the EX count doubles.

Neutral: Devalued Ultimates

With a total of 5 energy abilities in play (4 EXes + R), ultimates would likely never see any play in a high-level match. This is already the case for some champions, like Lucie and Rook.

In the case of champions who rarely use their current EXes, like Shifu and Bakko, presumably the two extra EXes would be designed to be worth using — in which case, these champions would now have worthwhile energy sinks and thus wouldn’t have their ultimates available as often.

I’m not saying that this would be good or bad, and I’d love to see how it’d play out. But it would probably require a tweak to the energy system, such as breaking it down into 20% chunks or allowing everyone to start with 125% energy.

After taking all of these pros and cons into consideration, I’m inclined to say that the pros win out. I’d love to see everyone’s kit expanded. And it’s too bad that I’ve now ended up hyping myself up by writing this post — I really want to see how a 4-EX Battlerite would play!

What do you think? How would you feel if Stunlock added 2 EXes to every champion? Would it make the game overly complicated or is this exactly what the game needs?


Written by Zanetski

Lead writer and editor for Battlecrank. When he isn't sinking hours into Battlerite itself, he's doing his best to help newbies. You can find him on Discord at Zanetski#5578.

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1 month 20 days ago

If a champion is not good, his abilities need to be reworked rather than tacking on even more abilities.
A good game design rule of thumb is to reduce rather than increase.

11 abilities is way, way too much. The more options you have, the longer it takes to decide what to do.

If the devs focus on 3v3, then each individual character does not need to cover as many fronts as they would in 2v2.
If every single character can do everything (e.g. your OP example in which Lucie would gain blind and reflect), then picking a working team composition becomes moot, since they’re all Pollyannas anyway.

1 month 20 days ago

I am one of the folks who think Battlerite’s champions need to be less well rounded, not more. Distinctive strengths and weaknesses would make team composition much more interesting, and many people already complain about ability homogenization. There’s really no way to add two more abilities to a champion that doesn’t result in every character having very, very similar capabilities.

1 month 19 days ago

What would be next step? Have every ability EX variant with battlerites on top of that? Then we will have WoW-style 40slot skillbar in 2-3 years. SLS need to do constant tier-sorting of battlerites and skills. Nerf god-tier, buff trash-tier, narrow the gap between top-mid-low tiers. Indeed some champions have weak EXs and other have such strong ones that you rarely want to use standard skill anyway (even with energy cost). It’s better to solve this problem first than create bigger one.

1 month 19 days ago

Yeah I think they need to be less … One of the things I love most about battlerite is the simplicity of everything.

1 month 19 days ago

After reading your post and other player’s comments, I seem to agree with both points of view. Perhaps there’s a way of including more abilities and decisions that really matter without making the game more complex. There are currently two systems that enhance normal abilities: EX’s and Battlerites. Both systems seem to compete somehow, with the line between what should be a Battlerite or an EX being blurry in some cases; and SLS has to balance normal abilities, EXs and Battlerites for all champions. If I had an “SLS Magic Wand”, I would make the following changes:

1. I would get rid of the Battlerites system completely, in the end, pro’s agree that there seems to be always an optimal build anyways, so there isn’t a meaningful decision there.
2. I would move the meaningful Battlerites to EX’s. Currently some Battlerites aren’t chosen because they aren’t optimal vs another option (for the entire game), but if they were available as an EX then the best players could find moments when they would be optimal to cast.
3. In my ideal world, all champions would have 6 normal abilities and all of them would have an EX version (so 12 abilities, 6 cooldowns, 6 buttons to press + the EX modifier). Of the 6 EX’s, the strongest (ultimate) would cost 4 bars, the second one (pseudo-ulti) would cost 2 bars and the rest (the more conditional ones) would cost 1 bar.
4. These changes could require an increase in energy generation per normal ability and a reduction of cooldowns (half?).

If 12 total abilities is too much, then 5 normal and 5 EXs, but you get the idea. I know this isn’t a small change, but perhaps some testing could be done with the game still being in Early Access. Anyways, this is just part of my 2017 wishlist, hehe.

1 month 18 days ago

Ad 1: If a Battlerite is superior to others, then their power needs to be re-balanced.
As a non-pro, I do pick according to game mode and enemy team composition on Pestilus and Poloma. BRs need some re-balance, but not a complete overhaul.

Ad 4: Reducing cooldowns to half would break the game. You’re suggesting that SLS does a total redesign of combat. This is unnecessary, costly and disruptive to the community.