2017 was a crazy year for Battlerite. Having officially launched in November, a lot of you may not be privy to all the ups and downs we experienced throughout Early Access, which started way back in September 2016 and lasted through most of this year.
With the year coming to an end, we here at Battlecrank thought it’d be fun to look back on the year and revisit some of the more memorable incidents.
January: An Uneventful Start
January was a quiet month as Stunlock sat back for several weeks to reflect on how far the game had come and what this year’s direction should be.
Remember the context: Battlerite was originally slated to launch F2P in Q1 2017. After a successful F2P weekend in December, Stunlock decided to push that launch date back to the end of the year, so players were understandably miffed.
But Stunlock’s decision was a smart one. A lot of work still needed to be done in order to make the game ready for F2P, and it’s clear in hindsight that an early 2017 release would’ve done more harm than good. That Stunlock didn’t panic and rush a release is a great sign of their resolve and commitment to a long-term vision.
February: Enter the Arena
Halfway into February, Stunlock finally broke silence with their first Battlerite Development Update. It’s interesting to look back and see how well they stuck to their plan:
- 1v1 duels (check)
- Campaign mode (check)
- Additional game modes (check)
- New user interface (check)
- Gameplay mechanic experiments (check)
But it’s also sad to see what’s still missing:
- Improved friends and social systems
- Improved Odeum and replays integration
- Map mechanic experiments
This was the month we got Raigon as well as the Grand Champion mount. But perhaps most exciting, at least at the time, was Stunlock’s first official tournament in the form of Enter the Arena, which was produced by Beyond the Summit with a total prize pool of $10,000 for both North America and Europe. The event would last several months.
March: Big Changes Ahead
Originally slated for late February but postponed to mid March, this month saw the release of Patch 0.11.2.0 which consisted of several minor and major gameplay mechanic changes, the most notable ones being:
- Faster movement speed
- Death orbs granting health
- Reworked ranged M1s
In hindsight, this was a great patch that started the game down a better road.
We also saw several revamped battlerite trees, back when the system involved round-based battlerites. Looking back, it’s easy to see how much work needed to be done just to tweak gameplay, and it was unfair of players to dump on Stunlock for not working faster. Fortunately for us all, the current battlerite system is more fun and a lot easier to work with.
April: Bakko’s Egg Brawl
We got our first taste of non-Arena gameplay… and we loved it. Bakko’s Egg Brawl was a 3v3 fun mode with two full teams of Bakkos with modified kits. Instead of the usual abilities, each player only had the following: M1 attack and Bulwark reflect. Players could also pick up eggs around the map and throw them as reflectable projectiles.
Not only does it remain as arguably the most fun Brawl mode we’ve seen so far, it brought a breath of fresh air to the game and opened up a world of new possibilities for Battlerite as a whole. The event also fell square in the middle of a successful free week.
May: Dragon Garden
At the tail end of April, Stunlock gave us Patch 0.12.0.0 which came with a brand new map, Dragon Garden Day. Two weeks later, they dropped Patch 0.12.1.0 and gave us a second new map, Dragon Garden Night.
The maps in Battlerite have a large impact on how matches are played, and prior to these two being added to the map pool, Battlerite was actually quite frustrating to play. Tight maps like Orman Temple (both versions) and Sky Ring Day still draw ire from players of all skill levels, and while the other maps aren’t as bad, Dragon Garden proved that maps could actually be fun.
By the way, it’s been seven months. When are we getting more maps, Stunlock?
This was also the patch that brought Jumong’s big rework as well as the eye indicator for stealth mechanics. And on the esports side of things, Battlerekt’s 10-week series “The Proving Grounds” started in May, putting up $1,000 prize pools for NA and EU every week for a grand total of $20,000.
June: Summer Mega Patch
The super-hyped Summer Mega Patch was the biggest patch we’d ever seen in Battlerite up until this point. We’d been getting patches every few weeks, but the last champion was Raigon in February so most players were feeling starved for content. Then came Blossom: overpowered at launch, beloved by many, and quickly tuned down.
The other big addition in this patch was the Rocket Balloon Brawl, a respawn-based game mode where players fought over a moving control point and tried to destroy the other team’s Guardian. Sounds a bit like Battlegrounds, right? Well, it was the inspiration for it! Players loved Rocket Balloon Brawl and it was a nice way to take a break from Arena.
Other notable bits in the Summer Mega Patch:
- Account levels
- New quest system
- Champ model reworks
- Death Vortex rework
- Gems as currency
June was also the month when Battlerite Lite debuted. Battlerite Lite accounts only started with six champions and were meant to test the F2P systems. Every active player got a new Lite keys, which were meant to be given to friends and such but mostly ended up being used to create alt accounts.
July: The Great Drought
The darkest period in Battlerite history, all because of one word: vacation.
Due to labor laws regarding worker time off, Stunlock chose to follow the Summer Mega Patch with four complete weeks of rest. No new patches and no new developments. The playerbase didn’t respond well to this, complaining on Reddit and Steam and refusing to log in altogether. And Stunlock being silent through it all just added insult to injury.
It had such an impact that players still bring it up even now:
Was Stunlock wrong to take a break? Absolutely not. Could they have handled it better? Perhaps. Then again, hindsight is always 20/20.
August: Calm Before the Storm
Even though Stunlock’s vacation technically ended at the start of August, it still took them a few weeks to get back into their usual rhythm. As a result, August was another quiet month. But it was quiet for a good reason: this is when work began on the New Era content.
That said, you can see just how bad it got by looking at Steam Charts above. August 2017 had an average concurrent player count of 900, a steep drop from the previous month’s average concurrent player count of 2,500.
It was around this time that most players had given up on the game. We still had no clue when F2P launch would be (some even speculated that it would be pushed back again), and many players remained skeptical that Stunlock would deliver on the promises made in the month’s Dev Blogs. It wasn’t until August 28 that the next patch finally dropped.
September: The New Era
On the one-year anniversary of Battlerite’s Early Access launch, Stunlock announced the New Era roadmap that covered all the intended developments and content releases between September and December, including the official date of F2P launch.
What did the roadmap promise?
- Battlerite system overhaul
- New UI 2.0
- New game mode: Battlegrounds
- New champion: Thorn
- New champion: Destiny
- New champion: Alysia
- New music
- New AFK system
- New HUD and Score system
- New in-game tournament system
- New in-game clan system
- And so much more throughout 2018
For the first time in a long time, Battlerite players felt excitement and hope. Players were no longer stuck in Early Access “limbo” — they had something to look forward to and they no longer had to worry about the game dying before it even reached F2P… because F2P was right around the corner!
October: Halloween Uproar
This month gave us our very first taste of the New Era, and it was great. The long-awaited Pre-Launch Patch smacked us upside-down and, for the most part, we loved it.
The battlerite system revamp is exactly what this game needed. Eliminating tiers and shifting to free picks not only opened up many new build possibilities, but removed power spikes in certain rounds for certain champions. While the balance wasn’t great at first (and it still needs some work), it seems easier to balance overall. A win-win, if you ask me.
UI 2.0 transformed the game’s aesthetic, shifting it away from its indie look and fitting it more in line with other major PvP titles. Not everyone approved of the change at first, and we’re still waiting for some usability tweaks, but now that we’ve had it for a while, it’s clear that it was a good step in the right direction.
And of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Halloween event uproar! A one-time quest: play 10 games to earn 1 Creepy Chest. Nothing else unless you spent cash on Gems. Nearly everyone threw a fit that lasted the entire weekend before Stunlock responded with some generous changes: the quest became weekly, 50 percent of Gems were refunded, and Halloween items were made purchasable with tokens.
Say what you want about Stunlock, but nobody can deny that they’re more willing than most to acknowledge and fix their blunders, and that’s great to see.
November: Success! Growing Pains!
This month was an insane emotional rollercoaster.
Heading into F2P launch with player averages under 2,000, it was hard to predict how big the game would actually become. I don’t think anyone seriously expected anything higher than a 10,000 or 15,000 peak — but then F2P dropped and we surged up to 45,000 peak players within days, of which we owe a lot to high-profile PvP streamers on Twitch.
Plus, we got super-hyped Thorn and Destiny! Huge additions to the roster, and even though both were immediately called out for being overpowered, it’s great to have their presence. Balance can always come later.
But by sheer coincidence, launch day was the exact same day that Battlerite’s server provider experienced two massive simultaneous outages. Remember not being able to log in? Not being able to chat or view friends? Losing out on rank gains because match results weren’t properly saved and recorded? It was highly unfortunate and completely out of Stunlock’s hands, but they handled it as well as anybody could’ve hoped for. Again, another sign that this is a company who works hard and cares deeply about their game.
Perhaps most impressive are the reviews. Even now it maintains an 86% positive review rate on Steam and an 85 score on Metacritic, which is huge compared to many other games. Players and critics said all kinds of great things about Battlerite:
- “Battlerite takes the best part out of MOBAs” (Rock Paper Shotgun)
- “Battlerite is an impressive, complete-feeling experience that . . . gets to the heart of why it’s fun to team up with your friends and make tiny wizards fight one another.” (PC Gamer)
- “Battlerite does right by arena combat as everything feels fluid and fast” (Destructoid)
December: Equilibrium and Esports
And here we are. 2017 is almost over, we have the last champion of the year in Alysia, we’ve gotten through half of the New Era roadmap, and things have finally calmed down. December has seen consistent player peaks between 12,000 and 20,000 every day. Not bad at all, but let’s keep our fingers crossed for a resurgence in the new year.
It was a relatively good month for competitive Battlerite as well:
- Pro Rivalry League rebranded to Rival Esports, but keeps going strong with their weekly $300 events and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
- Masters of Bacon finished their qualifier series and now has eight teams ready for the $800+ Main Event in January: Aelmaolekek, Impact, Imperium, Intolerant, TelRoskMi, Tutorial Boss, Untrue, and We Dem Bois.
- BattleRekt returned with $9,000 in cash prizes up for grabs over 9 weeks, split half-and-half between NA and EU regions.
Between all of these events, champion bans were a big topic of discussion. Rival Esports ran one event with bans before reverting back to a no-bans stance, whereas Masters of Bacon began and continues to run with bans as part of their ruleset. It’s unclear on which side of the fence BattleRekt will fall.
Looking Forward to 2018 in Battlerite
After writing this, I’m surprised to see just how much went down this year. And because most of it happened towards the latter half, it’s a safe bet to say that Stunlock is now in full groove and we can expect more of the same as we swing into the next year.
If you feel like Battlerite is already nearing the end of the road, think again. We still have the rest of the New Era roadmap up ahead, which includes:
- 3 new champions in Q1 2018
- New HUD and Score system
- New in-game tournament system
- New in-game clan system
- More game modes, maps, and Brawls
- Lunar New Year event
- Microsoft Xbox launch
How do you feel about Battlerite’s journey through 2017? Do you have high hopes for 2018? What are you looking forward to most?