Battleborn is an upcoming arena-stylized shooter where players choose from a large catalog of heroes and fight using special abilities from a first person perspective. Level up and use skills to dominate the battlefield across three game modes.
|Publisher: 2K Games
Type: Arena Shooter
Release Date: May 03, 2016
Pros: +Campaign mode. +Large library of heroes. +Splitscreen support. +Flashy effects.
Cons: -Repetitive single-player. -Small selection of starting heroes.
Battleborn is a space fantasy arena FPS where players fight in MOBA-stylzied arenas. Choose your hero from a large catalog of characters with distinct abilities, such as the katana-wielding Rath or supportive healer Miko. And each hero has their own personality matching their skillset. Earn experience and level up to choose between two skills from a helix menu, distinguishing your play style. Battleborn employs a persistent progression system where experience earned from any one game mode contributes to player's Character Ranks and Command Rank. Hop into the campaign and complete story-driven scenarios with friends or tackle the missions on your own. Or join one of three competitive game modes: Meltdown, Incursion, or Devastation. Meltdown tasks players with scoring points by hurling minions into an incinerator. Players fights off minions while trying to destroy their opponent's base in Incursion. And Devastation is an objective based deathmatch.
Battleborn Key Features:
- 25 Heroes - choose from a huge library of heroes with unique abilities on the battlefield with more characters planned.
- Persistent Progression - earning experience from any game modes contributes to your global level regardless of game mode.
- Campaign Mode - tackle a story-driven campaign with friends or play solo.
- Three Multiplayer Game Modes - Incursion, Meltdown, and Devastation; from multiplayer team death to cooperative MOBA-style action.
- Flashy Effects - a bold aesthetic distinguishes Battleborn's world from other genre-related titles.
Battleborn Featured Video
By, Sean Sullivan
Battleborn is a steroid-injected team battle arena where colorful maps, quirky banter, and flashy skills converge in hectic clashes that will fill any ADD kid’s attention span. Twenty-five heroes, three online game modes, and PvE campaign missions offer more content than the genre is used to. And the completionist will find endless ranks and character progression to fuel their addiction. Battleborn is the latest arena shooter to release but it’s far from the last. Should you be rooting for it?
Action Hero Start
Games with character rosters can struggle to take off because their characters are unfamiliar and have no depth. But Gearbox knows what they’re doing. A mandatory prologue introduces Battleborn’s heroes with an exaggerated animated sequence that looks like an Adult Swim block. It’s got pizzazz I couldn’t tear my eyes away from.
Then you’re dropped in Battleborn’s mandatory tutorial, a narrative mission setting up the plot. But it’s really there to show off the game’s world. From that first moment Battleborn flexes its aesthetic muscles. Everything is splashed in a vivid palette that gives off an almost uncomfortable boldness. I had to rub my eyes to adjust but afterwards I loved it. Levels are ornate hallways brimming with dazzling designs and stellar background animations—like enormous starships flying into the distance. It has an unmistakable art style that compliments chaotic gameplay.
What separates Battleborn from other genre-related shooters is it’s episodic campaign, which can be completed alone or online. While it’s a neat addition the missions fall flat, becoming stale once you recognize the regurgitated formula. Every level tasks you with reaching objectives by mowing down enemies, where you’ll then defend an object from multiple waves of robots before tackling an algorithmic boss. It’s boring. And since each mission can be played in any order there's an ostensible connection between them.
There’s no deeper universe to care about beyond the prologue, no interesting plotlines. Sure, there is a fairly fun good vs. evil trope pulling the strings but it’s not enough. And it can’t be compensated with stellar visuals. Missions need gameplay variety. Instead you get a plain turkey sandwich on whole wheat eight days a week.
Quirky one-liners try to add depth through characters but motivate nothing more than a sensible chuckle. And the worst type of joke is one that relies on a censored curse word. Jokes feel adolescent, like a kid who’s afraid to curse in front of his parents but giggles around his friends as he mouths off.
But Battleborn is one of the only new FPS’s offering co-op gameplay. And if you have a group of friends you may find something to enjoy. Missions aren’t pushovers and do require teamwork to succeed, especially when an enemy wave surreptitiously spawns and takes out the reactor you should have been defending. But it’s nothing like Borderlands and ends up feeling scrapped together to warrant the price tag, rather than the reason to purchase Battleborn.
Chaotic And Addicting Teamwork
Multiplayer earns Battleborn a golden star to slap on the fridge at Gearbox headquarters. Its objective-based cooperative play where the team that works together wins together. While clearly influenced by traditional MOBA elements Battleborn spins competitive play through its own lens. Players are given three modes to choose from: Capture, Incursion, or Meltdown.
- Capture Maps: plain and simple; capture the objectives and hold them while defending your own. No minions in this mode leads to constant fights between heroes.
- Incursion Maps: attack the enemy base and destroy their oversized spider mech before the enemy destroys yours. Push minions towards the enemy base and build structures to defend against minions. Elite minions spawn that can be killed to assist you.
- Meltdown Maps: feed minions into the enemy’s oversized tiki torch skull. The team that feeds more minions wins.
While Capture ends up functioning like a map-awareness-team-deathmatch, Incursion and Meltdown stress the importance of teamwork and objectives. Don’t prioritize player kills or you’ll get merced. You need to focus on turning enemy robots into a pile of gears and secure your defenses. The guy gloating over Discord about his frag ratio as “You Lose” slides across the screen missed the memo.
"The Best [Offense] Is A Good [Defense]"
As someone whose ability to aim is on the cusp of retirement the FPS objective gameplay fills a snug niche. Twitch reactions aren’t needed to be successful. Knowing your heroes role on the battlefield, earning shards and spending them wisely, and killing minions is all it takes to be MVP. Of course being able to aim your crosshair is a bonus. But as a team-oriented game you’re a far more valuable asset if you can survey the field and understand where you’re needed. And the player who builds their towers is clearly a more valuable team member.
In games like League of Legends or DOTA 2 towers are default structures to rally behind when an enemy pushes too far. But in Battleborn players have to actively build towers by spending shards, currency collected during a match. And maintaining defensive structures is paramount to winning. He who controls the field secures victory. When enemies take over a tower you blow it up and build your own.
You end up with a constant tug-of-war and smart plays can turn the tide of a battle. A team that gets too cocky ends up on defense. In multiple matches I wanted to alt + f4 because a loss seemed inevitable, only to come back and sweep the field. It’s an exhilarating feeling. If you communicate with your team using in-game VOIP and text you increase your chances enormously.
Too Many Heroes
After completing the prologue players are granted a handful of heroes. Some function as sneaky assassins backstabbing opponents while others keep heroes at bay with translucent arrows and crowd control attacks. While a few heroes are available immediately the vast majority must be unlocked. I’m not a fan of the process. A player who doesn’t find a hero they like may give up on the game too soon. Although unlocking additional heroes isn’t difficult but it does require quite a bit of time.
Each player has a Command Rank which dictates what heroes are available, e.g. Toby the adorable penguin requires Command Rank 24. For every game you play, whether it be the campaign or PvP, you earn experience towards your Command Rank. Heroes do have secondary unlock qualifications, such as killing 50 enemy players for Phoebe. But Command Ranks are the most straightforward path to progression and the most obvious way to grind. If you want to unlock em’ all you have to be prepared to invest the time.
But wait, there’s more. Each hero has their own level progression. There are 25 heroes with 15 character ranks each. It’s an insane amount of leveling up that requires dedication to max out. And it’s worth leveling. Taunts and outfits are appropriately locked behind levels, but so are skills. In one sense it creates an uneven playing field, giving an upper-hand to the player with more logged hours. It’s a bit of an annoyance but I didn’t notice an extreme difference in my own playthrough. Since Battleborn is a game focused on cooperative play rather than player kills it doesn’t create disparity on the battlefield. Additional skills serve as an alternative upgrade rather than the preferred choice.
Battleborn’s philosophy stresses achievements, character levels, and unlocks to secure its longevity, hence why so many heroes have a latch on their character portrait. It’s not necessarily wrong. But the game is not pick-up-and-play. That’s important to remember. Battleborn is a game you play because you want to sink time into a competitive first person action game.
And what would a battle arena be without stat-enhancing gear? Just by playing you’ll earn decorative items with multiple stats to enhance your character. Or you can pray to the RNG gods and roll for gear by buying gear packs with in-game currency. You then assign gear to a loadout, for a max number of three pieces. But they’re not automatically equipped. Gear must be purchased with shards earned during a match. So you have to balance gear and building structures. Is it more viable for me to build a turret or buy boots that increase my movement speed? The decision isn’t always clear but it’s safe to lean towards towers unless you’re Mr. Monopoly.
Final Verdict - Good
Battleborn offers tons of content for its value: three PvP modes, a single-player campaign, and hero-specific progression for hours of unlocks. Unfortunately, story missions are formulaic and can’t be saved by middle-school humor. Luckily, the game’s PvP offers enough variety and tactical gameplay to stand on its own. Battleborn’s game design is one where players devout time like its a day-job to earn mico-rewards and experience the game completely. Only if you’re motivated by progression and objective-oriented teamwork is Battleborn the arena game for you.
Battleborn System Requirements
Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit
CPU: Core i5-680 3.6GHz or Phenom 9950 Quad-Core Black Edition
Video Card: GeForce GTX 260 or Radeon HD 4890
RAM: 6 GB
Hard Disk Space: TBD
Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit
CPU: Core i5-2500S 2.7GHz or Phenom II X6 1045T
Video Card: GeForce GTX 580 or Radeon HD 6970 Lightning Edition
RAM: 8 GB
Hard Disk Space: TBD
Battleborn Music & Soundtrack
Battleborn Additional Information
Developer(s): Gearbox Software
Engine: Unreal Engine 3
Other Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One
Announcement Date: July 08, 2014
Closed Beta: October 29, 2015
Open Beta: April 13, 2016 - April 18, 2016
Release Date: May 03, 2016
Development History / Background:
Battleborn is developed by independent video game development studio Gearbox Software, also responsible for the 2009 release Borderlands. It was announced through Game Informer on July 08, 2014, and it is scheduled to release across all platforms on May 03, 2016. A Closed Beta test was held on October 29, 2015 and was under an NDA. Open Beta began on April 13, 2016 and lasted until April 18, 2016. Battleborn was fully released on May 03, 2016. On October 03, 2016 2K announced a new game mode would be added to Battleborn, called Face-Off, and would released on October 13, 2016. Face-Off launched alongside the first DLC Story operation titled “Attikus and the Thrall Rebellion.”