This review wended it's way to us via ArtemisPlays who has given permission for it to be posted here. Honestly, it was such a cracking write-up that I'd feel ashamed to write a shabbier version in my own words. You can find her on Twitch and Twitter for more debate around the game. Thank you for the fantastic review and we hope to see more of your content here in the future.
Battleborn is a Gearbox title that features many aspects of many different types of games. Sometimes it's a MOBA, sometimes it's a dungeon crawler, sometimes a shooter. It's hard to describe what type of game it is, but in that aspect it makes it unique. I do know that it has some of the best commentary, story, and gameplay that I have ever experienced. I come from an MMORPG and MOBA background where I have played games including World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends and more. When looking at Battleborn, I make my comparisons to the games I used to play, what aspects I liked from each of those games and what I look forward to seeing.
First and foremost I will say this: Battleborn is amazing. I am not saying it is perfect but it is damn well close to it for me. There are multiple options of gameplay to choose from. Whether you want single-player story, multiplayer story or online PVP, there is something here for you.
When playing the story mode, I played solo during the beta for the first couple missions. First impressions are everything. When coming from my WoW background and having played since classic, it became watered down and simplified. I missed the difficulty and challenge of a dungeon. So before playing Battleborn story, I was skeptical. Was it difficult? Yes. I did not have my hand held throughout the missions and told what to do on every turn. There was an objective and I was to complete it. This game makes you use common sense, where I feel, that aspect has been missing in recent games. There are missions where you have to figure out what pads to stand on to activate the doors, find out how to get into a room to destroy the crystals that are powering the gates in a separate room. Will it give you an arrow gps and instructions in how to get into the room? Nope. The marker is on the minimap – which is very clear and pretty easy to read and you have find a way into the room. This game will not hold your hand like a school kid. Don't be lazy, you have to work to get to your objective.
When the game fully released, they added in the prologue, that featured good music, unique animation style and going over the basics of the game. Standard movement on keyboard and mouse - if you have played any game ever, you already know what they are. In case you haven't and this is your first game, WASD to move, shift to run, space to jump, left-click for primary attack, right-click for alternate attack. With Battleborn, there are a few not so typical controls. Your skills are on Q and E, with ultimate ability (unlocked at level 5) on F and a melee attack on middle mouse click.
As you go through the prologue you are introduced to a few characters, their conflict and the start up to the story line. You get a brief explanation as to your limited number of lives provided and you are on your way. Don't be discouraged, it is possible to find more lives throughout missions by looting chests and killing enemies. As you make your way through the mission, you meet Deande who explains the augments.
Augments effect your character and your skills. This system is similar to the one found in Heroes of the Storm. Depending on some of the characters you play, you get different movement abilities that are not standard. For example, a double jump or the ability to jump super high. As you level up a character, you even unlock special augments that effect the skills even further. There is no right or wrong way to augment your character, it is all based on your current needs or personal preference on how you want to play. You get an explanation on what the augments effect and below, what your skills actually do.
Continuing on you get witty banter, things to kill and more story dialogue. There were a few times where I progressed a little quicker than the dialogue allowed and it did get cut off, but if you take your time and don't rush, you get the full story. When you reach the first boss, it does get a little bit busy, dialogue is going on in the background while you are trying to focus on the boss and their mechanics, but it's not too terrible to where you lose track of what's going on. Kill the boss, get a kick ass cutscene with a super hero landing and then you end the mission. After the mission ends, there is another animated short introducing the next part of the story line.
At this point, I co-oped the story mode with a partner on advanced. We died... a lot... But it was also a lot of fun. There was planning, technique and figuring things out with each attempt. There was a challenge in the story that I missed from playing the early years of WoW. We had to figure what character would work better for this or that mission or scenario. Did we sacrifice playing our favorite character? Not entirely. Each character I played, it was to learn what they did, how they survived, how they worked in a team setting and how I enjoyed them. A few were hit and miss for me, this was not based on character design but on personal preference.
While going through the story there was dialogue with banter, jokes, serious story and character development.
My partner and I fought through hordes of enemies, took down bosses and got kick ass loot. “LOOT?!” You say? But of course! Battleborn has their gearing system which reminds me slightly of Call of Duty and any MMO. Upon completing missions or getting the coins, you can buy packs that include items and sometimes skins or taunts for characters if you buy the race specific packs.
You are granted with one loadout at the beginning where you can equip different types of items based on what your character needs are. There are also loot quality levels: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic and Legendary. You can have loadouts for skill damage, healing, attack damage, etc. The combinations are impressive and you can change them up as you get better items.
Now, onto the multiplayer aspect. With Battleborn there are currently three game modes. Capture, Incursion and Meltdown.
Capture is pretty straightforward – you capture the points and get score for how many you control. Capture is a great deal of fun and I found it fairly easy to jump into and grasp the objective. There is not much money flow on this game type so getting your gear purchased from your loadouts can prove to be a little difficult. There are also no minions, so to get your level ups, you kill other players or special Varelsi mobs that grant levels. Steamrolls seem to happen fairly easy on this game type as well. Currently there isn't anything I would change on this game mode; it's fast paced, simple and fun.
Incursion is more of a MOBA lane pusher type map, you escort your minions to the enemy sentry and take it down. Things can get a little busy on this mode due to minions being all over the place, spell effects and a bit of micromanaging going on.
Most times in match making people play whatever they want, but you can structure a team to have their roles like in a MOBA: a tank, healer, sniper, assassin and mage type. I have noticed that sometimes teams are quick to surrender whenever their first sentry gets taken down, but that is an issue with your team giving up instead of being a game type issue. This game type is by far my favorite and most played. With my MOBA background, I am objective oriented and want to make sure my team gets the mercenary camps, getting the crystals to purchase items and knowing when to push or back off. I typically play with a few other friends that have the same mind set but when playing with a full random team, communication is key. There are a couple exploits that can happen, but as to date, I have only seen it a couple times and Gearbox is aware and are working to get things ironed out.
Meltdown is a game mode I haven't played a whole lot of. Its really busy and a little confusing at times but when I have played it, it was still a bit of fun. The objective: please Magnus by escorting your minions into a grinder for sacrifice. Gnarly AND gruesome. There are multiple lanes so splitting your team up to defend takes a bit of coordination and teamwork. This game mode reminds me a bit of the Arena game type in Smite. Prone to stalemates, this game mode seems to run a bit longer than most. I don't have much of an opinion on this game type as I have not put in near the same about of playtime on it.
For multiplayer there is an elo type system implemented, that can be found in many moba games, however, I have found that matchmaking is hit or miss with this. There have been times I have gone up against players with 20+ levels on me, but their skill level was much lower or vice versa, I have played against people with lower levels that kicked my team's tail. Sometimes it has been a one sided stomp, other times, the game can go on until the clock runs out. Matchmaking and the elo system, I'm sure, is something in the works that is constantly being tweaked and with time, will get perfected.
There are other aspects to the game that I find enjoyable including the character unlock system, character mastering system and the unlocking of the lore. Throughout the game, you can either unlock a character by leveling up your player account or by completing challenges. For example, you can unlock Deande at player level 38 or when you complete the story mission “The Heliophage” on advanced.
When you unlock a character and play them in matches, you level them up. As you level up you can unlock skins, taunts and their lore by completing specific challenges. During multiplayer matches a few of the characters interact with each other, giving hints to the lore included in their characters.
Two characters for example are Miko and Kelvin. They interact in game and after unlocking Miko's lore, it hints at a history between the two. I got part of the story on Miko's side, however there is a challenge on Kelvin's side to unlock the rest of the lore between them. Having something to work towards such as the lore is something I find very rewarding. Its not granted on first access, you have to earn it and work towards it. With this system, it influences me to try another character and to work towards finding out the rest of the story.
The art style is familiar to Gearbox's Borderlands series, with the name plates, character introductions and general art style. I have heard both good and bad things around the art style, but personally I have found it easy on the eyes.
With Battleborn, it takes work and effort in any game mode you play. This isn't a game that you can lazily go into just to get your player kill fix. I have seen it be compared to Overwatch quite often and it's not a fair comparison. They are two entirely different games with entirely different mindsets. I have played the Overwatch beta as well and found it fun, but Battleborn pleases me more based on what it has to offer and my gaming background. When I am forced to compare Battleborn to other games I like to divide the game types and analyze them. As I said before, single-player reminds me of the old WoW dungeon days. For multi-player, depends on game mode, but I get more of a MOBA feel to it. Overwatch isn't on the list to compare it to. Overwatch is a game I would compare to other shooters like CoD or Team Fortress 2. Battleborn gives me a little bit of every game world that I have been interested in and I enjoy the hell out it. You will also hear complaints about the price tag but for as much content you are getting (and they are planning to add more) you get your money's worth.