There was a lot to love at yesterday's Nintendo Direct, but one game that's caught my eye is an intriguing reimagination of my favourite game to come out of the battle royale boom.
Hark back to the years after PUBG and Fortnite, and you may remember that pretty much any game that could reasonably try its hand a battle royale mode did so. There were the obvious candidates, like Battlefield and Call of Duty. There were the twists on the formula that found moderate success, like Realm Royale or The Darwin Project. And then there were games that were the death throes of entire studios, like Radical Heights. Eventually, we found our way to things like Tetris 99, which took little more than the last-player-standing idea and stapled it to the most popular game of all time. We'd come full circle.
But somewhere in there was Battlerite Royale, a spin on the top-down MOBA Battlerite, which received some buzz alongside the likes of League of Legends and DOTA 2 in their heydays. Battlerite was a skillshot-heavy fighter, and Royale put its characters in a shrinking map, fighting for loot and killing off anyone they came across.
As quick pivots go, I think it was genuinely pretty good - fast-paced, funny, and a successful adaptation of the skill-based combat that had made Battlerite such an entertaining proposition (and that later made vampire survival game V Rising a lot of fun, too). So I was pleasantly surprised to see Battle Crush show up during the Direct.
Combining gameplay that's immediately reminiscent of Battlerite with the divine roster of the MOBA Smite, Battle Crush puts representatives of various classical religions to work in a hexagonal arena that collapses over time, not unlike a game of Fall Guys. There's a lot of the skillshot and combo-based fighting that I remember from Battlerite, and a map that's prepared to cut off lines of sight all over the place, ensuring you don't ever know what's around the corner.
What I was surprised to see, however, was Smash Bros style eliminations. When you're dropped to zero health, you're shot off into the distance, but you can also push enemies into the void to eliminate them. In the gameplay trailer above, that led to a lot of what can only really be described as edgeguarding, and a pretty slick recovery from Greek goddess Nyx against the Norse deity Freyja. It's a nice little extra dose of skill expression that takes an idea I really enjoyed the first time around and offers the chance to elevate the experience a touch. While Battlerite Royale has probably had its day, it's nice to see a good idea capitalized on.
Check out these upcoming Nintendo Switch games.