Batalj (stylised as BATALJ) is the debut game of Swedish game studio Fall Damage. The company made headlines back in 2017 when it was formed by four former DICE employees. This tactical turn-based strategy game is a clear departure from their former games, but how does it fare in a strategy market dominated by MOBA’s like DOTA 2 or League of Legends?
Batalj has very little of any noticeable storyline. The player can choose to play as three factions, each with their own units and abilities. The player chooses what faction to play with they begin each round and the different art styles of each faction make them easily identifiable after playing for a couple of hours.
In Batalj‘s quickmatch gamemode, both players take their turns at the same time, giving the game a blend of turn-based and real-time strategy games, and will likely give the game a larger market of interested gamers. Each ability you use has a weight to it, and the weight of your actions in the last turn decides what order your unit goes in on its next turn.
In quickmatch, the goal is to be first to five points, or wiping out all of your opponents units. The game is broken into two segments, scheduling and action. In the scheduling phase, you have two minutes to give all your units orders, and in the action phase, those orders are carried out.
The game has three pre-made squads for players to choose from, the Relinked, Rusters and Splicers. Players can also make their own squads, using units from one of the three squads. The player then chooses which units to deploy on the map when in game.
The game has a very steep learning curve and you spend most of your turns reading tooltips. I could write thousands of words all together on all fifty-four different units just to explain what abilities work well against who, strategies and countless other elements of this game. This is one of the games strengths and weaknesses, as it’s not an easy game to pick up and play.
Batalj often requires you to have knowledge of what enemies can counter what and who has which passives. This isn’t helped either by the games biggest flaw, no single-player mode. The game does have a sandbox mode, but it feels unnecessary because it isn’t a great learning tool for this game.
The lack of single-player mode (outside of the excellent tutorial) makes this game much harder than it needs to be to learn the mechanics and abilities of each unit. The game clearly has the AI for the mode, as proven by the tutorial, and it’s omission baffles me. I’ve read that they are planning on adding scenarios, but I couldn’t find a source from the developers themselves. On the flip side of all this, if your a gamer who likes to dive deep into mechanics and strategies, this is a game made for you, just be ready to embrace defeat on your first few attempts.
I am not sure how many maps there are in Batalj, but the maps that I have seen have been gorgeous and are, by far, the greatest redeeming feature of this game. The UI is very functional and very much reminds me of the UI stylings of a Battlefield game.
The character models and the textures all have an appealing cell-shaded look, with certain characters reminding me of characters from Overwatch.
I experienced lag on actions regularly, along with regular slowdown, but in between my play sessions with this game, a patch release improved my performance.
For a game that requires deep focus, Batalj knows how to use sound, or the seeming lack of it. As you play this game, you don’t really take notice of the sound unless you’re actively listening out for it. For the sounds that you do notice in the game, they sound well-produced and polished.
Batalj is a indie game trying its hardest to present itself as a triple-A game, which it succeeds with somewhat. But I cannot imagine a triple-A game of this difficulty presenting itself without a single-player mode, which I think will really let this excellent game down. The number of players for this game when I played a day after release was fourteen, which seems abysmally low but expected considering the lack of visible marketing and hype around this game.
I can foresee this game entering a death-spiral as less players pick the game up and less players buy the game because of the lack of a playerbase. I really do hope that the developers add in some of these lacking features, as it wouldn’t be hard to believe this game gaining some traction on Twitch and competing for the strategy market against DOTA 2 or League of Legends.
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