After scoring a hit with their Borderlands shooters, Gearbox Software are back with Battleborn. This is another FPS populated by bizarre characters armed with hardcore weaponry, set in a rich sci-fi universe that blends elements of Destiny and TimeSplitters.
Gearbox have definitely shown they know how to put a solid action game together, but will this new venture prove as successful?
Born To Do It
Borderlands blended FPS action with in-depth RPG elements (a great combination), and Battleborn mixes similar ingredients with a dash of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) flavouring. Players can choose from more than 20 characters and a variety of modes, and the campaign is likely to be first stop for many of us.
The storyline sees a mass exodus from countless worlds after a devastating event destroys much of the universe. Different species flock to a world known as Solus, the new base for these refugees, with each separated into specific factions. To combat the villain behind the mysterious destructive event, each faction has its own ‘battleborn’ – its best warriors.
So, that’s the set-up out of the way – let’s talk about the game itself.
The massive variety of characters is pretty impressive, starring robots, vampires, Mexican wrestlers, elves, aliens, and others. The cast’s abilities are as varied as their designs, with some better at long-range shooting and others more comfortable with melee weapons. Every character is beautifully rendered, and notable designs include the likes of Toby (a little penguin inside a hulking mech suit), Caldarius (a robot with nifty flight abilities) and El Dragon (a luchador warrior, all purple face-mask and muscles).
Including DLC, there are 25 characters to master, and the branching skills each has helps to keep them all feeling different. Beating enemies and snapping-up items in each of the eight campaign missions rewards you with XP, used to level up via the Helix system. This offers various upgrades, and choosing between them adds a strong tactical edge.
Chances are, you’ll fall for specific characters just like you would in any shooter, but the diversity in Battleborn’s cast encourages experimentation. The beauty of such a wild, cosmic plot means species can look as strange and outlandish as the developers can make work. Unlike Earthbound shooters, rooted in real-world warzones and cities, Battleborn’s characters come from across the universe. This strong imaginative bent keeps the game more visually interesting, and is a refreshing change of pace for those used to the likes of The Division.
The more time you spend with certain heroes, the more you’ll become familiar with their unique fighting style, which certainly comes in handy for a MOBA game. Teamwork is key to completing missions as a group, and if each player feels comfortable with their character, you’re more likely to succeed. The difficulty can be pretty high at times, but working together is always a thrill, especially when fending off waves of high-powered enemies.
Throughout levels, players collect Shards to spend on gear and buildables further down the line. These constructions include towers and robots, which help you to take down enemies and get some much-needed assistance when overwhelmed. This is another tactical element beyond straight shooting, and defending the buildables as best you can is essential to keep reaping their rewards.
The single-player campaign has eight missions of decent length, with multiple difficulty levels to conquer.
This being an FPS, multiplayer is a key part of Battleborn – and it doesn’t disappoint.
Multiplayer modes are based around 5v5, with three different types on offer. Incursion puts you in charge of wiping out the enemy’s sentry bots, Capture is based around domination, and Meltdown is your basic escort mission. As with the campaign mode, teamwork is vital here, with communication among players a must to assign roles and discuss tactics. Players with more experience of team-based games will more than likely take to Battleborn’s multiplayer system quickly, while those new to co-op may well need to warm up a little. Once you get into the rhythm, though, it’s a blast.
Like Borderlands, Battleborn has a fairly light-hearted style. Whereas many FPS games take a heavy, gritty approach to their plot and environments, Battleborn is more in the vein of the classic TimeSplitters games – colourful, silly, and more about creating a fun world to play in than a realistic one.
As well as the diverse cast and OTT weaponry, Battleborn also throws in plenty of jokes. Characters quip about each other and their situation during combat, helping to make the world feel more organic. Again, humour is a factor missing from a lot of mainstream console games, and it’s a welcome addition.
If this is the first in a franchise, Battleborn starts strong, and while it might not be to everyone’s taste, the silliness and colourful cast is sure to win plenty of fans. One to check out for both fans of Borderlands and anyone hungry for something a little bit different.
What do you think of Battleborn so far? Which characters do you like best? Let us know!