Review: Battleborn (Xbox One)
Born out of Battle
Solus, the last remaining star. The last surviving species fled to it after a universal catastrophic event that destroyed all their worlds. For a long time they fought for the last remaining planets that orbit Solus, until they united and sent their champions to fight their true enemy, the Veralsi. They sent the Battleborn!
That is the basic premise of the Battleborn, and it holds a lot of promise for those who love deep lore and story in their games. The game was made by the same folks that brought us the fantastic Borderlands series, so there’s a lot of potential. Unfortunately, something is a little missing, and I find it hard to figure out what it is.
Battleborn is an Online First Person Shooter with MOBA elements in it. You can choose from 25 different heroes, which all have different roles, ranging from support, sniping, assault and melee type characters. You start with a few characters available, and unlock more as you level up your Command rank, or achieve certain feats in battle. You can rank up a character the more you play with it, and the odds are very good that you will have your favourites.
Each time you start a mission or a multiplayer match, the Battleborn you’ve chosen starts from scratch, and you will have to unlock the abilities and perks as you progress through the mission. You get to choose from two or sometimes three options each time you level up, and it’s nice to be able to adapt a little bit depending on the situation you are in or what type of mission you’re playing. It’s also pretty cool that you become progressively more badass as you go through the level.
Gameplay itself is pretty decent. There’s nothing “wow” that stands out, but it works well. The characters are easy to control, and movements are well represented depending on the type of characters. Something that bothered me a bit with one or two of the Battleborn was a lot of screen movement when running. I’m not prone to motion sickness at all, but the amount of movement from some of the heroes while running around did make me feel a bit nauseous.
Weapons and powers are very interesting and varied, but it all feels a bit weak. There’s no weight to the guns and the sounds of the magic powers and special powers are a bit underwhelming. That tends to be the overall feeling I got from the game. The game looks nice, and the presentation is good, but that’s about it. The visuals are decent, the menus are functional and loading doesn’t take too long. It is a good game, but just… forgettable.
Just because the masses decided, doesn’t mean its right
Especially the single player missions, which is just boring. It’s got a lot of potential and I’m sure there’s lore hidden somewhere in it that would make it more interesting, but getting to it just seems like too much of a chore. You can choose to play it with other people, or if you are really crazy, go at it alone. Playing it alone is not really an option, since it takes forever, and shooting at a bosses weak spot for 20 minutes is not something considered to be fun. Playing it solo, or with actual friends is the only way you will have any sense of progression. If you decide to play the campaign in public matchmaking, which is advised, then you are at the mercy of a voting system, and only four of the nine missions to choose from. Choices to vote for is random, and you can end up playing the same mission six times without touching the others. I’m estimating you can finish the campaign in about 8 hours or so, but I never had the privilege to play two of the missions in about 20 missions I attempted.
Competitive mutliplayer is the what it was made for
Mission structures are roughly the same, so it doesn’t feel like I really missed out on anything special, unless these two are drastically different, in which case I will then blame the community for voting for the same boring missions the whole time. Objectives in the missions task you to either progress to a point where you kill the boss, or defend a location or moving sentry to its end location. The defense type mission can be very hard, with the targets that you defending being very squishy, and the hordes of enemies being relentless at times. Failing missions is very easy if you don’t know what’s coming or if you run out of the limited number of team respawn, its mission failed and game over. This is something that can be very annoying, since you then run the risk of playing a different mission for the seventh time without ever finishing the mission you just failed.
Multiplayer is where Battleborn shines the most. Three modes are available at launch, Capture, Incursion and Meltdown. Capture is a match where you have to capture and control three zones to gain points, Incursion is an arena mode where you have push forward and destroy the enemy sentry bots before they destroy yours, and Meltdown is a mode where you have to sacrifice minion bots in order to score points. The idea is to defend the bots to a certain point and destroy the enemy bots. Teams are divided into five a side. The multiplayer is fun, and it is clearly what the developers focused on the most. It did feel like something was missing, but I didn’t mind jumping in and playing another match.
Battleborn is not a bad game, it’s also not a good game. It simply is acceptable. It will keep you entertained for a while and hardcore players will stick around, but Battleborn will struggle to keep more casual gamers interested for an extended time, especially considering that there’s other Hero type shooters available really soon. Gearbox basically looked at the Borderlands concept, took everything that made the series charming and great and didn’t do any of it. The humour is lacking, and at times trying too hard. The story has potential, but missed a trick, and the loot system that made Borderlands so great is almost missing.
There is nothing wrong with Battleborn, but it can be summed up in one word for me… Forgettable. I’m not sure it will have enough staying power to keep going for too long, unless something is changed or introduced in the near future. I’m just not sure what that thing will need to be. But if you really are interested in this newish, hero shooter genre, then this might just be the game for you.