May 16, 2016
Battleborn - Review
Battleborn is renowned developer Gearbox's (Borderlands, Counterstrike : Condition Zero, Duke Nukem Forever) latest IP. The game assembles a cast of 25 playable characters and features solo, co-op and vs modes of play.
Each of the 25 playable characters feature vastly different designs and are well modeled cosmetically however after having played around with most of them I can't help but feel that most of them except for the heavy gun wielding Montana are carbon copies of each other when it comes to mechanics and how they generally play. Around half of the characters are locked when you first load up the game and are obtainable by finishing one of the 8 campaign missions in either solo or co-op mode or by completing certain challenges the game sets for you. This does leave us with around 12 vastly different characters though, certainly enough to allow for a variety of different strategies and I am sure most people will be able to find one character that they enjoy playing, for me that character was the mini-gun wielding Montana who basically looks like he is cut from a huge chunk of rock, he is lumbering and slow but packs a heavy punch in the damage department.
The art style of the game is one thing that bothered me, it is extremely disjointed, one minute you feel like you are playing Borderlands and then the next minute you feel like you are watching a cartoon from the 1970's with a dash of anime sprinkled on top. As a person who loved the art style of the Borderlands series of games Battleborn feels like a game that is at war with itself over its own visual identity and it is quite jarring and noticeable as you are thrown around from actual game to cut scenes.
So the game I hear you ask, what is it all about?
Battleborn is a MOBA-like game where you will either complete one of the 8 story missions (either solo or co-op with other players) or head into battle with your team against another team of 5 opponents in one of the multiplayer modes such as Capture (3 different areas on the map must be captured to score points for your team, first team to 1,000 wins), Incursion (each team must defend their base while trying to destroy their opponents) and Meltdown (you must protect your team of minions as they march toward the incinerator at the center of the map, you then get points as they throw themselves in as a sacrifice , the first team to reach the required number wins.) There is nothing groundbreaking at all about the multi-player modes and various types of these modes have appeared in most multiplayer shooting games before, the roster of characters and available skills and gear do help keep the multiplayer modes relatively fresh though.
There also 8 campaign missions in the game that can be played solo or in co-op mode with other players, this mode serves to help players get used to the game mechanics and see you progress through the level by defeating enemies, some of these levels also have areas where you also need to protect certain areas from wave after wave of swarming combatants. Whilst playing these campaign missions you will pick up gear that can be used to customise your character, your character is allowed to wear 3 pieces of gear at a time and these can be set on the loadout screen before entering any game mode. Your character also levels up as they kill enemies (up to a max level of 10) and you can customise your in game skills to your liking however each time you start a new game your character will start back at level 1, the gear you equip is the only customisation that carries over form mission to mission. Battleborn is not a game that holds your hand or for that matter even tells a story very well, it kind of dumps you in at the deep end, sure you know you have to kill enemies to advance and collect things to but you are not actually sure why you are doing all of this or exactly how it makes you more powerful. I also reached a point after the 2nd story mission where my progress became hindered as the missions became too difficult (yeah I know git gud!!) for me to complete solo. Cool I guess this is where I team up with other people I thought and so I joined matchmaking and found some other players only to realise that when it comes to which mission you are attempting it is entirely decided by the players votes, you can't for instance (at least not that I found) pick a mission and then match-make for just that mission. I found this incredibly frustrating as joining a game isn't the quickest process and when you join only to find the players are voting for a story mission you have already completed then you have to go all the way back out to the title screen and try again.
There is nothing absolutely terrible about Battleborn but there is nothing overwhelmingly great about it either, the level design in the story mode is far from inspiring and at times it feels like you are just tediously plodding forward through wave after wave of enemies by just mindlessly pressing the fire button. The multi-player mode is where the game actually takes it up a step and it can become fun at times but I just didn't find myself sitting there wanting to come back to the game, I had to force myself to do it. If you are in to MOBA style games then Battleborn is worthy of a look but if you are like me and don't get the fascination over these type of games or are looking for a game that has more of a story then I would most likely steer clear.
Thanks to 2K for supplying the game for review