Battlerite has a lot of newcomers, and one experience shared by every one of them is the surprised discovery of the EX system — a game mechanic that is so crucial to proper play that anyone who doesn’t know about it is instantly handicapped.
If this is the first time you’re even hearing about these so-called “EX abilities”, then buckle in and brace yourself. In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this “hidden” mechanic — and once you start taking advantage of it, your skills will rapidly improve.
Understanding the EX System
The EX system starts with energy.
Almost every ability in Battlerite has something called Energy Gain in the tooltip. The only exceptions are abilities that aren’t skillshots, which includes most self-cast and unit-target abilities. Imagine if Poloma gained energy whenever she used Other Side, or if Croak gained energy every time he went invisible. That would be a nightmare!
Any ability with an Energy Gain component will grant you that much energy for every target you successfully “hit”. For example, Ashka’s Firestorm is 7% per projectile, and since he throws three of them, he can gain up to 21% if he lands all three. Sirius’s Lunar Strike gains 5%, which is per target that gets caught in the AOE.
Your energy bar is divided into 4 chunks, each comprising 25% for a total of 100%. Inspiration (round 4 battlerite) boosts your energy another 25%, giving you a total of 5 chunks. These chunks are key to understanding and mastering the EX system.
But what is the EX system? In short, you can think of EX abilities as alternate versions of your normal, core abilities… except they cost energy to cast. (And even though the R slot is its own ability, I also consider it an EX ability simply because it costs energy to cast.)
Whether you’re in a match or on the champion select screen, you can hold down Shift to view your character’s EX abilities. Most champions have two of them, though some might only have one if the champion design isn’t finished yet or if the second EX ability is deemed unnecessary.
Most EX abilities only cost 1 energy chunk to cast, but a few of them cost more — for example, Ashka’s Searing Fire (EX-Space) and Iva’s Flame Thrower (EX-M1) both cost 2 energy chunks.
And the important thing to know is that EX abilities share cooldowns with their normal counterparts, so using an EX ability puts the normal ability on cooldown. Cooldown length isn’t always the same either: Ashka’s Molten Fist is 9s but the EX version is 8s, and Rook’s Pummel has no cooldown while the EX version is 1s.
Casting an EX ability is easy: hold down Shift + normal ability hotkey. Or you can use the direct hotkeys, which are set to 1, 2, 3, and 4 by default and assigned in order. (Jade’s two EX abilities are M2 and Q, so 1=EX-M2 and 2=EX-Q.) Does this mean every champion will eventually have 4 EX abilities? Probably not, but it’s certainly possible.
Why EX Abilities Are Important
You can probably see why EX abilities are so awesome, but allow me to explain why I think the EX system is the second best thing to happen to Battlerite (only beaten by the in-game tournament system that’s coming).
It adds gameplay depth while barely increasing the learning curve. Before the beta NDA lifted, lots of players complained that five abilities + one energy ability + one ultimate ability wouldn’t allow for a high-enough skill ceiling. The EX system adds two more abilities to each champion and another way to expend energy, which means more meaningful gameplay decisions and an increase to gameplay depth.
You can be a satisfyingly average Battlerite player (which is around Gold, possibly even Platinum) without ever using EX abilities, especially if you main a champion whose EXes aren’t very useful. Newbies can start by getting acquainted with the game’s core abilities, then when they feel comfortable enough, they can explore EXes at their own pace.
The EX system also provides more nuanced ways to balance individual abilities and champions. Remember how Battlerite is a manaless cooldown game? Sometimes you need something similar to mana when balancing an ability — a way to restrict the number of times you can cast it, or at least make it more costly to use, without tweaking its cooldown. That’s where energy comes in.
For example, consider Croak’s EX-Camouflage. It turns you invis, then your next attack Incapacitates without breaking invis, then your next attack Stuns. This is way too strong to be a normal ability but too weak for an ultimate, making it a perfect candidate as an EX.
Or consider Lucie, a champion who’s strength is crowd control and weakness is mobility. Adding a quick-dodge ability to her core kit would make her too strong, but she’d be too fragile without one at all — and that’s why Roll is so great in the R slot. She can’t use it whenever she wants, but it helps when she’s in real danger at the cost of delaying her ultimate.
Note that EXes are less powerful than ultimates, but also less risky too. Have you ever used Whirlwind as Shifu and then accidentally cancelled it by casting Kunju? (I’ve done it before and I still feel bad about it.) A cancelled ultimate depletes your energy anyway, which sucks, and it’s certainly possible to completely whiff your ultimate, which also sucks. High reward but high risk.
A miscasted EX is nowhere near as bad. It’s certainly possible to whiff Poloma’s EX-Spirit Rift, but when you do, it’s good to know that you’ve only wasted one energy chunk instead of your entire meter. This means that a playstyle that revolves around EX usage is often less risky because you have a larger margin of error. Your mistakes aren’t as expensive.
Not All EX Abilities Are Equal
Some EXes are simply better than others, even when two have the same energy cost. Often this has less to do with the absolute mechanical value of the EX (“what it does”) and more to do with how that EX fits into the overall kit of the champion (“how it complements”).
So in that sense, yes, some EX abilities can be considered “must use” — in other words, some are so essential to a champion that you would be a fool to not use them. Or maybe the EXes themselves are so weak or unnecessary that you’ll probably never use them.
Here are a few examples to show what I mean.
Case Study: Lucie
Lucie is a prime example of a champion with must-use EX abilities.
Her ultimate, Crippling Goo, is very powerful but very situational. If you don’t time it well, the enemies will simply jump/teleport/dash/counter to get out of it — and even when you land it on someone who has no outs, most will be able to walk out of it before the Goo can deal full damage. I don’t mean the ultimate is bad, but the room for error is quite small.
But more importantly, as mentioned before, Lucie’s Roll is such an important part of her kit because it fills the mobility gap. Four Rolls are way more valuable than a single Crippling Goo, so I rarely ever use Crippling Goo anymore.
Not to mention the fact that Lucie’s two EXes are game-changingly powerful. You have EX-Toxic Bolt, which inflicts a snare and a delayed AOE damage burst, and you have EX-Panic Bolt, which inflicts a 3.4s Petrify. Between Roll and EX-Panic Bolt and the occasional EX-Toxic Bolt, Lucie has almost no reason to ever use Crippling Goo.
Case Study: Croak
Croak has a very different EX situation than Lucie. In his case, he has a relatively strong ultimate: an easy-to-hit dash that forces enemies to use their outs or eat a lot of damage, all while repositioning himself either to get in or out of combat. It’s tricky to use but worth the risk.
But he also has one of the best EXes in the game with EX-Camouflage. It grants 2.5s of invis with a 3.5s Incap, then another 2.5s of invis with a 1s Stun. That’s 5s of invis and 4.5s of hard disables with a single ability. It doesn’t always play out so neat in the heat of battle, but even so, that’s incredibly powerful. And for some reason, it only costs one energy chunk!
His other two EXes are useful but less remarkable: EX-Toxin Muck becomes a single-target projectile that Blinds while Toxin Blades is a situational buff that can help you win 1v1 trades against other melee champions. Neither of them are bad, but they certainly aren’t at “must use” level.
So unlike Lucie, who’s basically gimping herself if she doesn’t use her EXes, Croak is a lot more flexible. You can ignore your EXes and you’ll still be extremely effective on the battlefield.
Case Study: Varesh
Varesh is interesting because he’s pretty much on the other side of the spectrum, counting as one of the few champions who can play at peak capacity even if he never uses his EXes.
The “problem” with Varesh is two-fold: 1) his EXes are situationally lackluster, and 2) his ultimate is really freaking good.
Consider EX-Hand of Judgement, which deals less damage but casts faster, self-heals a bit, and applies an extra debuff. Maybe I’m missing something, but the benefits don’t feel like they’re worth 25% energy. And EX-Shatter can be a great peel, but only if you can land it at the right angle, and that isn’t so easy with the long impact delay. It’s too risky to use for 25% energy.
His R slot, Reform, is arguably his most useful EX because it gives him extra mobility, but isn’t as useful as Lucie’s Roll (0.3s vs. 0.1s casting time, and Lucie gets a battlerite that reduces the cooldown by 5s while Varesh doesn’t). Even though it sounds useful on paper, in practice it usually isn’t worth the energy.
And maybe that’s okay, because Varesh’s ultimate is so strong that you’ll want to use it as often as possible, especially once you can master the art of landing triple-hits every time. Every use of an EX just delays the next ultimate, which is why I tend not to use them when playing Varesh.
Start Using Your EX Abilities!
If you thought the gameplay was a bit too shallow and you never knew about EX abilities, give them a try in your next game. If you feel like your main champions are too weak in one area, maybe the EX abilities can help plug those holes. And on champions with situational ultimates, consider shifting your energy towards EXes instead.
Which champions have “must use” EXes and which champions can safely ignore their EXes? How do you like the EX system overall? Would you be okay with three or four EXes per champion?