2011 Games: Bloodline Champions Review

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This student-project-turned-full-game from Sweden is easy to get and play – but is there room on PC for a drastically unique subgenre of competitive PvP?

You might presume at first glance that this is another Defense of the Ancients knockoff, like League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth. You would be wrong, though the extremely competitive five-on-five battles partake a similar top-down, RTS-like view.

Beyond the team sizes, the fierce nature, and the viewpoint, this has little in common with those titles. Bloodline Champions is a lot more direct than DotA-like games. No minions or creeps to fight, just other players. Randomness doesn’t exist; there are no dice-roll dodges, critical strikes or even damage ranges. Refreshingly, rounds are close to five minutes compared to the 40-minute slogs that DotA-likes can oftentimes be.

Your sight and targeting moves with the mouse cursor when you move with WASD and shoot powers using your two mouse buttons plus the space and q-e-r-f keys. There’s no auto-attack; to do anything in the least you must use your powers. Luckily, you don’t have anything like a mana bar to concern about. Power use is modulated entirely by cooldowns.

Every ability in the game – spear throws, fireballs, plague clouds, even healing spells must actually connect with its target to have any impact. Your shots will head off exactly to your mouse cursor’s location when the power is conjured up, but almost everything has a travel time or a charge-up delay (or both, for those nasty effects). You’ve got to have the skills to get your moves to land.

Bloodlines have a range of core skills together with both a defensive and a movement  power. The fire mage, for instance, bears an inferno shield that makes him invulnerable for a couple of seconds and pushes back whatever enemy is nearby when it fades. He can also make a fiery dash that imparts a burning trail in his wake, damaging foes who get a bit close. This diversity is key; it affords each player in the game to manage some genuinely amazing feats of skill if they possess the dexterity.

The basic 5 vs 5 death match game type is the central experience here, but two alternative respawn-enabled modes exist also. Capture the Artifact is a variation of capture-the-flag, where your team has to bear two artifacts at the same time in its scoring zone. Conquest demands teams to contain two separate bases to stop the other team from respawning.

Likewise, as compared to DotA-like games, Bloodline Champions has no gear procurement or leveling up inside the match. In the build played, the bloodline you select during match preparation is what you have for the whole thing. Further distancing itself from that subgenre, the game ships having over a dozen maps, most of which are  just for arena matches.

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