Gearbox Software, creators of the seminal Borderlands series of first-person shooters brings us a new franchise with Battleborn.
It seems that the retro-shooter is having some sort of renaissance at the moment which both the remake of the classic Doom and newcomer, Overwatch, employing mechanics that offer a purer gaming experience than your Call of Dutys and your Halos.
Featuring a roster of over twenty characters Battleborn is more about the combat and less about the story. The game’s design, however, owns much to the developers Borderlands games, although there is an element of Valve’s Team Fortress 2 about it as well.
The game’s plot is minimal, although Gearbox have included a fantastic Aeon flux-inspired into animation to kick things off. There are some more, similarly awesome, animated cut-scenes in between the story episodes, as well.
Basically, after a cataclysmic disaster, all the galaxy’s races have descended on one planet, Solus, where they have put aside their differences. Heroes from these unified factions, the Battleborn, have forged an alliance against the Varelsi- the creatures responsible for their predicament.
Sadly, one of the best things about the Gearbox’s Borderlands games, the witty story, is absent from Battleborn, which will leave anyone that likes a bit of meat on their game more than a little hungry.
Although primarily designed as a multiplayer affair, both the game’s story mode and verses mode can be played solo. The arena battles of verses mode are pretty soulless playing against bots, and I noticed a few opponents getting “caught-up” on scenery.
The MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena)-inspired multiplayer matches play out like League of Legends and Dota 2, but in first-person perspective. Two five-player teams battle it out to take control of the map.
The co-op story mode allows five players to take on the Varelsi through a series of episodes. The game also supports two-player split screen.
Battleborn is very much about the social experience of multiplayer gaming and as such, like 2K did with Evolve, they’ve neglected the single player gamer, somewhat.
Whilst the game did feel a bit brief, the huge amount of very different characters gives the game immense reply value- whether you get into the multiplayer aspect or not. It’ll take you quite a while to master the rooster of character, which range from elven-like archers to Gatling gun-wielding brutes.
There’s a lot of stats going on during matches with your achievements increasing both your personal command rank and your character’s ranks as well. During matches, be it the arena-style verses games or episodes of the story mode, players can purchase equipment as they play, giving access to drones and other perks. There’s also a match level increase that unlocks augments for that match/episode only.
For each story episode you have five lives. Once they are gone its game over. Also, if you quit a game you forfeit the match. Whilst this makes sense in a verses match, it’s a bit of a pain if you are playing the story mode solo. It’s no good pausing the game, either, as you will get yourself logged out of the server. You need to be in for the duration, that’s a full 30-40-minute session, in order to progress.
It seems that Battleborn is aiming its sights at the eSports crowd rather than us more casual players. Saying that, though, if I was after a bit of this sort of FPS action, I’d probably look to Team Fortress 2, like everybody else.
Ignoring the fun, stylised visuals for a moment, Battleborn’s graphics are a bit basic, looking more like a PS3 game than those I’d expect on Sony’s latest. The look and feel all add up to a retro experience that would have been fine for me a few years ago, but not now.
Don’t get me wrong, Battleborn is a great game, it’s a pure shooter the likes of which we don’t see much of these days. I was just hoping so a little more depth.