“How the hell does HP work in this game?”
If you don’t know the answer to that question, don’t worry — you aren’t alone. Not only is it one of the most common questions asked by newcomers to Battlerite, you’ll be happy to know that a lot of skilled players don’t really get it either.
Unfortunately the game doesn’t do a good job of teaching this important mechanic, and that’s a shame because it influences so much of how the game is played. By the end of this article, I’m hoping that you’ll have a strong grasp of recovery health, how it works, and why this mechanic exists.
What Is Recovery Health?
The easiest way to think of recovery health is that you lose Max Health when you take too much damage.
Every time you take damage, the game looks at your Current Health and compares it against your Max Health. If the gap between the two values is too large, the game will shrink your Max Health — and once your Max Health is shrunk, it can’t be restored. (Actually, you can restore Max Health with anything that provides “true healing” but that game mechanic is rare, so practically speaking, any Max Health that you lose is lost for the rest of the round.)
40 Health is the magic number. Let’s say you start the round with 210 Max Health. You take two M1s to the face, which leaves you with 210 – 12 – 12 = 186 Health, so that’s fine and you can heal back up to 210. But the next time, you get stunned and take five M1s to the face, leaving you with 210 – 12 x 5 = 150 Health. Since you took too much damage, your Max Health shrinks down to 150 + 40 = 190. All of this is depicted in your health bar, which visually shrinks according to your Max Health.
And it’s as simple as that… except people use different terminology.
Officially, all of your health starts as Real Health. When you take damage and get healed, you don’t get Real Health back — you actually get Recovery Health and the maximum amount of Recovery Health you can have is 40. When you take damage, that damage is always applied to Recovery Health before Real Health, so you can only lose Real Health when you have no Recovery Health.
Hence why this game mechanic is called Recovery Health and not Max Health Shrinkage. But in practice, you can think of it in either way. The end result is the same.
Why Does Recovery Health Exist?
In most games, your character’s maximum health is a static value that only changes when you level up, change equipment, or receive buffs. This is fine for most game types because being able to reset back to full health is part of the core game design…
…but proves problematic in arena PvP games because “resetting” is an undesirable design. Imagine if you and your teammate land an incredible combo against me that drops me down to 1 HP, but I manage to run away and heal back up to full due to heal-spam. What kind of impact would that have on gameplay?
One, it encourages heal-kiting. Two, it puts too much emphasis on healing and heal-stacking, which makes non-healer comps less viable. Three, it shifts the gameplay away from calculated moments of attack to mindless sustain damage (in order to counteract mindless sustain healing).
This obviously isn’t a problem in games that don’t have healers (e.g. CS:GO), nor is it a problem in games that don’t have heal-spam (e.eg. Dota 2), but for a game that only has cooldowns and no mana costs, this is a HUGE problem. Endless healing is boring and no fun.
That’s where recovery health comes in. By restricting the amount of health that a champion can recover, it solves all of the above issues without gimping healers in the process: heal-kiting is minimally effective, non-healer comps are fine because they can heal using other methods, and it shifts the focus back onto calculated attacks (i.e. you always want to burst someone so that they lose “real” health instead of just “recovered” health).
In a future post, we’ll look at how this should affect your decision making and any other implications it might have. If you have any questions about Recovery Health, feel free to ask below.
One thing to note is that Bloodline Champions had this recovery health mechanic and healers were still too strong in that game, which is why healers in Battlerite also have limited heal charges. Just a fun fact for you.