A lot of people have been asking whether the Battlerite Early Access is worth the $20 price tag. Just check in on the subreddit and the Steam forums at any time and you’ll likely see at least one thread on this.
If you’re stuck on that question yourself, I’d like to offer an unbiased-as-possible look at the pros and cons to help you make the right decision. If you have friends who aren’t sure and you don’t know what to say to them, maybe this post can help.
Full disclosure: I’ve spent over 90 hours on Battlerite. I truly love this game and I think everyone should try it at least once (whether you’ve played this kind of game before or not) but will try my best to keep my biases from overtaking the post.
How to Know If You’ll Enjoy Battlerite
Before we even talk about Early Access, let’s consider the gameplay itself: is this the kind of game that you’ll enjoy playing? As much as I’d love for everyone to fall in love with this game, the simple fact is that this game scratches a very specific itch.
Skip ahead if you already know you want to play!
Battlerite is more like a fighting game with FPS controls than an outright MOBA. From the top-down view screenshots, you might assume that it plays similarly to Dota 2 or League of Legends, but it’s actually a lot closer to something like Mortal Kombat except you use WASD for movement and different hotkeys for different abillities.
No creeps, no minions. No towers or bases. No items, no levels, and absolutely no random numbers. Battlerite is an all-out PvP arena brawler where every ability is a skillshot that requires aim, timing, or both. The only gameplay objective is “kill the enemies before they kill you”. As of right now, both 2v2 and 3v3 modes are supported — it’s a much smaller, much tighter, much more intense experience than a MOBA.
I recommend watching the Battlerite trailer to get a sense of how it plays. If you’ve seen it before, watch it again but throw out all of your notions of the MOBA genre first:
If you like FPS games or fighting games, you’ll probably enjoy Battlerite. If you’re expecting something like SMITE or Heroes of the Storm, you may be disappointed — unless you HATE the farming/grinding/creeping aspects of those games and you ONLY like the skill-based teamfights aspect, in which case you’ll love this game.
There’s a reason why Destructoid described Battlerite as League of Legends minus most of the shitty parts.
All in all, Battlerite is about 80% technical skill and 20% strategic mindgames. It’s not an APM-intensive game like Starcraft, but it does require a good amount of keyboard dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
Matches are very quick. At 1–2 minutes per round and between 3–5 rounds per match, a single game usually lasts 5–10 minutes. Want to catch a quick game between classes? It’s perfect for that. Have somewhere to be but can’t commit the potential hour that Dota 2 or League of Legends could take? Battlerite fits.
It’s highly competitive. You don’t have to be a prospective esports professional to enjoy this game, but you really have to like the whole idea of straight PvP. Everyone likes winning, but you have to be willing to lose as well — even the best players lose 1 out of every 5 games.
There’s no semblance of pay-to-win. Every match is self-contained. Nothing you buy will ever impact the gameplay itself (assuming Stunlock keeps their word, but let’s assume that they will). As for champions, the game is designed in such a way that you can main as any single champion and become a top-caliber player. Just look at Jackazzm, who has 99.999% of his games played on one champion. He’s living proof that roster availability doesn’t matter.
Also, can you enjoy it solo? Absolutely. I mean, 99% of my games have been in solo queue and I’m loving it. That being said, you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you can play with friends (but I’m sure that’s true of any game).
What to Know About Early Access
Decided that Battlerite is indeed the game for you? Awesome! Now you have to decide between Early Access now or Free-to-Play later. (The exact details of F2P haven’t been released yet.) Here’s what you need to know about Early Access, which costs $20.
Pro: Start playing right now!
Being as this benefit is the most obvious one, I won’t delve too much into it. Suffice it to say that Stunlock intends to go F2P with Battlerite some time in Q1 2017, so if you aren’t dying to play and can happily wait a few months, that’s certainly an option.
But if you can’t wait, there’s no better time than now. At the very least, it gives you time to get good so you can dominate the new players that join in the F2P wave. Ha!
Pro: All current and future champions.
Yes, for LIFE! Or at least the life of the game. This is the biggest and only real reason to buy Battlerite Early Access, if you ask me. It’s such a compelling offer that you should consider it even if you can’t play much during the EA period. Assuming each champion costs $5 (totally hypothetical) then this will pay for itself in just four champion releases.
If you think you’re going to like this game even a tiny little bit, you’ll want to shell out the cash for EA. Who wants to grind for champions? You’ll enjoy the game a lot more when you can play new champions right away without spending any time or money.
The “unlock all champions” offer may or may not continue into the F2P period, but if it does, the price will probably increase significantly.
Pro: The game is extremely polished.
For a game that was first announced only seven months ago, Battlerite already looks and feels like a complete game. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but you can easily sink over 25 hours into it in its current state and walk away happy. Compare that to other disappointing games that cost $60+ and grow old after just a few hours.
Battlerite has a 95% rating on Steam based on 6,500+ reviews — and it’s still in Early Access! How many games can boast the same?
Pro: The playerbase is holding somewhat steady.
The game launched on September 20, quickly reached a concurrent peak of 13k players, and has since remained stable at a daily peak between 6k and 7k players. That’s a sign of a solid game with longevity, in my opinion. (Most players are waiting for the fix-MM-and-champion-balance patch that’s coming in a few weeks, otherwise the numbers would likely be higher.)
Con: The game still has bugs and issues.
Some users report being unable to connect to the servers. There are also some who can connect but can’t chat or add friends. Nothing is particularly game-breaking, and Stunlock is working on fixing such problems, but they do exist.
The chat/social interface is in dire need of an overhaul (which will happen at some point) and the champion balance still needs to be tweaked a bit (not too much). In other words, it’s an Early Access game with Early Access problems.
Con: Matchmaking is far from perfect.
Matchmaking is always a big problem in PvP games, and Battlerite is no exception. Stunlock has promised to continue evolving the system so that it feels better for players and results in better matches, but as of this writing, there’s still a long way to go.
Expect the matchmaking system to go through many changes and updates between now and F2P — and even afterwards. If you don’t want to ride that rollercoaster, it may be best for you to wait until things settle down.
Con: There are no guarantees with Early Access.
Early Access has a bad reputation, and rightfully so. But is Battlerite a cash grab by Stunlock? Will they abandon the game as soon as the money stops flowing in? The possibility is always there, but I personally don’t think so. Battlerite is their chance to create a perfect PvP game without being shackled by a separate publisher — they’re emotionally invested in the game.
The other risk is that Battlerite will flop, and that’s always a possibility too, but seeing as how the game has blown past all expectations so far, that risk isn’t as great as one might think.
The Ultimate Fan Pack
If you’re convinced that Early Access is worth it, there’s one more thing you need to consider: the Ultimate Fan Pack DLC which costs $30 on top of Early Access.
What does that $30 get you?
- A special in-game icon that shows you’re an Ultimate Fan.
- Your chat text becomes gold instead of white.
- You get an exclusive Goblin Throne mount.
- You grant 10% XP boost to everyone in your matches.
- You get 5 Gold Chests, each guaranteeing at least 1 Epic item.
If you care about social status, the first two are pretty awesome. If you care about exclusive cosmetics, the third is pretty nice (though you might think the mount is ugly). The XP boost and Gold Chests don’t really matter much in the long run.
So is it worth $30? In terms of straight value, I’d say no. However, the Ultimate Fan Pack mostly exists as a way for players to show their gratitude and support for Stunlock — the rewards are just icing on the cake.
How to Join Battlerite Early Access
Go to the Battlerite page on Steam and purchase a game key for $20. Download the game as you would any other game on Steam. Launch it, play it, enjoy it, love it, and become addicted to it.