2K and Gearbox have had momentous success with the Borderlands series since 2009. Each game has enjoyed its own unique DLC and new characters. Their latest game, The ‘Pre-sequal’ even let us play as claptrap. Now the team has put aside their sirens and commando’s for something a little more fantastical than D&D themed expansion packs. . . Welcome to Battleborn.
Battleborn the first next gen title to come from 2k and Gearbox in the first person shooter genre. The game revolves around a group of ‘badass heroes’ defending the universes last star from being mined/consumed by our villan Rendain. While not much is known of this enemy, There is a plethora of heroes to choose from, whether it be cyborg hawkmen, or combat botanists, one of the twenty five characters will tickle you fancy/play style. Before getting into the characters though, lets get a bit more back story on what the world actually has to offer.
Battleborn gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to its story element. You can sit and play by yourself, or you can jump into a group with four other people and battle your way through levels and tons of enemy minions. If you have the burning need to crush your foes, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their NPC’s then the five versus five multiplayer might be more up your alley. There are currently three game types for multiplayer announced.
Teams of heroes must defend their base from waves of AI-controlled minions while working together alongside their own minions to destroy their opponent’s base.
Teams of heroes face off in a fast-paced death match and must capture and hold objectives on the map to win.
Teams of heroes must guide their minions as they march to their death at the center of the map. Points are scored for every minion who throws themselves into the incinerator, and the team with the most points wins.
At E3, they have a live demo that was open to the public to play, and gave a brief introduction to each of the ten characters available to play over the week. Each character has its own unique flair and characteristics. At the end of the post there will be some screenshots of the characters power sets and a brief bio that were provided to those who played, but I would first like to talk about the gameplay itself from the 20 minute match I got to play.
I played as Miko, the last surviving bud of race of plant/mushroom people, who hails from a once planet-sized fungal colony. In many moba’s I play a support character so having a healing mushroom, or combat botanist as he is referred to in the game, as a main was right up my alley. Gameplay for every character is basic, you have your basic attacks, jump, duck and sprint. That is where the similarities end. In my group we had Marquis, Thorn, Orendi and Oscar Mike. The first thing you do upon entering the level is quick-assigning your skills. Hitting ^ up on the Dpad brings up your perks for each time you level and you make a snap LT/RT decision based on what you want to do. My skill upgrades were based around healing (one of my abilities) and doing poison damage/debuffing (my other ability). AS the teams only support I took all of the healing talents to keep my team alive.
As we progressed through the level, each of us continued to level up and assign our points to respective skills, increasing one ability or the other. Near the end of the demo, people/ who had focused heavily in one tree had an incredibly powerful ability, while their other lagged a bit behind. Throughout the level there were many small “collect this” or “kill that” type trackers appearing for each player. I was tasked with grabbing crystals from enemies killed, which later turned out to be useful for our end of level encounter. I am not sure if they are the same for everyone, or if each character has their own rotation of quests to work on. Your two powers plus ultimate are an entegral part of each characters overall play style. Lobbing Debuffs onto an enemy group while auto attacking makes your damage spike, while characters like Oscar Mike enable a cloaking field to get position and unload grenades up Lt. Mobs. Each type of combat, feels solid and fun, and will feel familiar to players who have gone a few rounds in other first person shooters. The Melee combat is, to me, like a faster paced skyrim, which I know doesn’t do it justice but I have nothing to really compare it to at the moment. I was seated near the person playing Marquis, and if you get the chance to play this game before its launched, definitely try him out. A robot butler with a sniperrifle cain and mechanical owls called Hoodini’s…HOODINI’S!!!!
While this is not a finished product yet, I did notice some things that irked me. Running in the game feel very sluggish. If you are not with the team, they will quickly leave you behind, and sprinting to catch up doesn’t feel like you are making up the distance. I assume this is partially to do with your teammates also sprinting, but also the lack of momentum your character seems to have while running. One other thing I noticed for Miko in particular was his “heal” ability did not auto-switch when I tried to target another character without breaking the stream. Not a huge deal, but a seemingly minor oversight. On the topic of the healing stream, the hitbox to target an ally is very small. If you are aimed just in front of their feet, you do not heal them, and when the battle lines start to become chaotic, trying to maintain lock on a target can get pretty intense. This again is not a show stopper, just a oddity in games that have some sort of ‘stream’ heal/attack mechanic from a character.
Lastly here, before we get to the images of the characters themselves, lets quickly talk about the character progression and leveling you will see. Straight off of Battleborn’s site, this gives the best description of their leveling system.
“All experience points, whether earned through playing Battleborn’s Story Mode or Competitive Multiplayer modes, contribute to leveling up individual Character Rank, as well as player profile Command Rank.
Each hero can permanently rank up from 1 to 10 outside of missions and matches, allowing players to swap out augments in their helix skill tree, as well as unlock skins.
Players can rank up their own player profile, unlocking badges and titles to impress friends, and loot that can be used to benefit any hero the player chooses to command.”
Battleborn also has something called the Helix system, which allows fore accelerated leveling in both PvE and PvP. This sounds like some sort of xp booster you can pay for. Not my cup of tea, but it is useful/wanted by someone, so let them have a good time as well. With that though, here are the characters from the character sheet we received,