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?