Time Extended - Bloodline Champions: Final Thoughts
My time with Bloodline Champions has now officially come to an end in this Time Extended coverage, but I wanted just one last article to touch on a few of the things I feel it does so well.
Unlike other games in the genre, whether arena based or MOBA, there never really feels a sense of aim. In Bloodline Champions however and something I've briefly touched on in other coverage of the game, all attacks have to be aimed. This aiming is a necessity for team mates and enemies and is system I feel really differentiates the game from its competition. While you obviously have to aim in DOTA 2 or SMITE, it's the healing system and the accompanying need to aim such heals in Bloodline Champions that has really peaked my interest.
When taking damage your health bar will go down but if you manage to avoid receiving further damage for a brief period, you'll actually be able to heal up a certain degree of what you lost. It makes for an incredibly nervy system of play as you try to snake around the edges of the map or tactically retreat to ensure you don't permanently lose too much health. This does of course make healers incredibly useful but I'm pleased to say they aren't a mandatory requirement to win and it all comes down to the way Stunlock Studios have implemented the healing system.
Typically, all heals are aimed projectiles that have a “splash” area. They all have limited range and no cooldowns, but heal more based on how near to team mates they land. Aim poorly and you'll only add a tiny bit of health but aim well and you or team mates will receive the maximum amount. It's such an elegant and skillful way to implement healing I'm actually stunned that such an approach hasn't seeped out into massively multiplayer games, where healing involves little more than selecting a friend and choosing a skill. You find yourself as a healer in Bloodline Champions not only having to position yourself perfectly in order to still deal damage, but to also concentrate on how well you aim. A lack of concentration and your team will suffer quite badly and your job keeping them up becomes so much harder.
It's a system that is easily one of the best I've ever encountered and I'm struggling to think of another game that works similarly. WildStar offers some telegraph based heals that heal for more dependent on your proximity, but it's the only variant I know of. I think it would be a real shame to not see something like this implemented as it undoubtedly separates the skilled from the unskilled. Better yet, it actually makes healing fun and interesting.
As mentioned in my last Time Extended, I also wanted to try my hand with tournaments and clans. The latter was relatively easy: there are plenty of clans seeking players and most act as a means of getting into tournaments quickly but also as a simple social environment. The tools supporting clans are relatively poor and it's a shame there's no clan arena to practice in as a group, but I can forgive this minor issue. When it comes to tournaments, they tend to run several times per day around 4-5 hours apart. This gives you and your team (you'll need 2 or 3 players depending on the tournament type) plenty of time to qualify and then play the live tournament. I must admit, the 2v2 dynamic is super tense and to be truly effective, you'll have to use the in game voice chat or a private server. Make no mistake though, the “pros” play here and the first few Tournaments I took part in were rather disastrous. Fortunately I found myself a good partner who complimented Grimrog well and we managed to do well from there on out. Not well enough for the gold token rewards (that you can redeem for the best looking skins) but good enough not to feel embarrassed. I'll continue to pursue Tournaments in my own time, without question.
Finally, I think the testament to Bloodline Champions is the fact it's staying well and truly on my desktop. Very few games do, with DOTA 2 and SMITE already having been uninstalled. It's a polished, competitive, quick and rewarding arena based combat game. It deserves to be more popular than it is and I hope this coverage helps just a little.