Real Talk By: KJ
Gearbox takes a Borderlands-breather to drop new IP Battleborn. The Varelsi, is the dark force which rules much of the galaxy. Everyone has converged onto Solus, the last Star yet to be conquered. Players are greeted with a lengthy unskippable cutscene, that offers little to the vague storyline. It’s more of a “Look how cool everyone is montage”. A rap song can be heard in the background as characters destroy everything in view. It is pretty stylish, but odd how it’s forced onto players. Odd choices seem to be the underlying theme of the game. More on this later.
It’s clear the development crew was trying to pull us in with its presentation. I must say the in-game graphics are a let down. Battleborn throws a lot at players without many performance hiccups. However, the sacrifice to meet this goal really hurt the visuals. Areas look pretty basic. The same can be said for Playable Characters and NPC’s. We’re at the point in this generation that the bar has simply been raised. Still, Graphics come second for me. How about the gameplay?
Players unlock abilities through a skill tree. Keep playing and more powers open up. Problem is that you repeat the process from the beginning every time (MOBA Style). The XP earned can open more abilities on the tree, but you must go through the unlocking process over again. The fun of Leveling up feels almost pointless, when your abilities are erased each time.
Battleborn’s humor is hit or miss. Where’s claptrap when you need him? I will say some lines provide a few chuckles, but overall not on the level of Borderlands.
The game offers 25 classes on disk. Attackers, Defenders and Support variants. There should be a character that fits your playstyle. This is definitely the strength of Battleborn. I used Rath a lot. With his sword slashing abilities you can make quick work of close range foes. Earning the ability to spin my character like a tornado, taking out several goons is definitely a highlight. My other highly used hero is the four-armed Orendi. She can send down fire bombs on people, while constantly yelling crazy things. Other than baddies of course, look out for crates. Containers hold useful power ups. They could cut cooldown times on specials, increase the speed of a player and more. Going out of your way to get these, can really pay off in a large fight.
Big battles are what this game is all about. Gearbox wasnt shy about throwing everything at the player. So much is on-screen sometimes it’s hard to keep track. Boss battles are frequent, each having their respective weakpoints players must target.
Campaign can be played alone (with a network connection) 2 two-player splitscreen, or 5 other players online. Plenty of cooperative choices, but Battleborn doesn’t balance its difficulty to accommodate solo play. Bring friends.
Moving through the campaign even with allies, loses steam very fast. Each of the 8 stages drag-on because The goals are very dull. Defend an object, escort a big robot to the destination. Since the environments lack much in-detail it’s hard to get immersed anyways. The same can be said about the fights. Enemies are just generic looking, easy, just providing target practice most of the time. The biggest thing is that Levels take about 40 minutes to complete. Battleborn really doesn’t have any checkpoints. Fail the mission task, and start from the beginning. Like many MOBA style games, if players don’t understand character roles, they could screw it up for the entire squad. Yep, Start from the beginning.
When setting up a public room, I couldn’t choose the specific level. A random set of three show up. This is an annoyance that certainly ruins the flow of progression. Everybody votes. Several times it landed on a stage I had already completed. With coop play seeming to be a bland mess, what’s the word on the competitive circuit? Versus modes allow for 5v5 and is most likely where people will get the most out of the game.
Competitive maps are limited. Stage voting is between two areas only. This applies to all 3 versus modes. Expect to get real familiar with the same levels. Defending a base, surviving the enemy onslaught is how players compete in Incursion. Meltdown is where you take allied minions to an incinerator to score points. This is my favorite mode the game has to offer, since it has a competitive sports vibe. Control and hold-down objectives in devastation. More fun and longevity in versus than campaign by a longshot.
Matchmaking would often place me against others far ahead in the game. Keep-in-mind higher ranked players will have abilities on the skill tree that newbies will have yet to unlock.
A Season Pass is available, free content and fixes are coming as well. So it’s very likely that Battleborn will indeed be a greater experience. Pretty much every mode could use tweaking. I had to force myself to keep playing the story, fighting boredom. The repetitive grind is present in many modern titles, but in battleborn it gets old much faster due to shoddy visuals, Level design, modes, maps, and overall launch content. Well thought-out characters, not enough to do with them.
2.5 Out of 5
+Wide Variety of Characters