Battleborn – Quick Game Preview

Battleborn – Quick Game Preview
Battleborn (PC [Reviewed], XBO, PS4)
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K

Battleborn is both an action FPS MOBA, and a PvE single player or co-op story campaign. I played the open beta for over 10 hours, and the game is scheduled to release on May 3rd.

You always start off at character level 1 in PvE, just like in the PvP mode, and have to level up to unlock your skill buffs. You break crystals to earn currency to buy your loadout slot items and build turrets. Throughout the campaign levels, there are items that will give you temporary buffs to help you through more easily, but you don’t get new gear or weapons upgrades while playing. I only got to play the first two chapters of co-op, but I would rather have just gone and played Borderlands co-op instead. The boss fights were fun, and they were definitely the highlight, but Borderlands has a LOT more depth to it, and a LOT more that you can do with friends and enjoy.

In both PvE and PvP modes, you earn commander xp, which is your overall player level, and it’s similar to your summoner level in League of Legends. As you level, you earn more loadout slots, and can purchase special random loot boxes with the in game currency points. I really hate that the loot is completely random, and the fact that you are restricted from buying certain loot boxes until you reach higher levels. 

In addition to commander xp, there is also permanent character xp for EACH character when you play each. Those characters level up as well, unlocking 3rd skill choice mutations. A lot of these mutations seem significantly better than some of the other options, which is fine for PvE, but again I feel it’s another potential balance issue in PvP.

As far as the PvE co-op goes, I’m not a huge fan of it, it just feels like it’s missing substance, maybe in part gear and weapon drops, or just plain character development, I don’t know, but I’ve played Borderlands for over 30 hours and loved it, but Battleborn just leaves me feeling kind of empty after the missions. Hopefully the rest of the campaign missions will be better than the first two, but who knows?

Pros:
  • the graphics style and animation throughout the game look very good
  • sound effects and voice acting are done decently (but sometimes the dialog feels like it’s trying to hard to be funny)
  • PvE campaign is a series of chapters that can be played either solo or as co-op
  • each chapter in PvE has a story, and it’s own bosses with unique mechanics as well as the chance to drop random loadout items
  • there are many different challenges, and different difficulty settings to try in the campaign
  • there’s 3 PvP modes available, but only 2 were available in the beta, giving players options of what to play
  • I like the idea of the building guns, and that I can always spend my shards on even after I get my full loadout built
  • good replay value for those who enjoy the game, either in PvE or PvP modes
  • Meltdown map is fun for PvP – it’s a small map with two lanes, and you can run back and forth easily and fight ACTUAL PLAYERS! (It still has it’s PvE that you HAVE to do, but it’s much more enjoyable if you are looking for PvP, and plays similarly to Smite’s arena mode)
  • more content and character updates are planned for the future, which is encouraging for the players to come back or stick around
Cons:
  • sometimes there are too many particle effects, and it can be hard to see what’s going on as a melee character
  • the controls for activating abilities feels sluggish (not sure if it’s a global cooldown or not, but it’s very annoying, and it makes trying to do combos feel awkward and clunky)
  • some characters feel very ineffective playing the PvE campaign solo or even in a duo group
  • the loot boxes are purely random, and getting lucky with RNG will give some players a better loadout and potentially an edge in PvP (I would rather just pay for the exact item I want)
  • guns are often killed easily, while taking little or no damage – it’s just a minor inconvenience to have to kill them
  • PvP matchmaking needs some improvements
  • leaving match in map select or character select before the game even starts doesn’t put the other players back in matchmaking queue, but they are forced to play a player short
  • poor way to punish leavers in PvP – you just have to wait until the match you left ends, and it didn’t seem to increase with multiple leaves
  • game is quite expensive, especially if you want the season pass as well
  • the minions in Incursion mode are like crazy super minions that deal too much damage (think of it like League of Legends or Smite spawning super minions constantly the entire game, and you’re constantly fighting them just to push out – it’s boring turtle match!)
Conclusion:

Battleborn does have replay value, but it not a game for everyone. There are a limited number of characters you can play, and many of them aren’t unlocked right away. They aren’t that difficult to unlock, but they do take a little work. You have to complete challenges or get to a certain level. For a huge price tag, I don’t quite understand why some characters are locked, but maybe it’s to keep people playing longer since they’ll have something to work towards.

Overall, I’m simply not interested in what Battleborn is offering. I would rather go, and play Smite if I feel like a non-isometric MOBA, or Borderlands for PvE co-op, or Overwatch for a FPS with cool abilities. Battleborn isn’t a bad game, and it has potential to be good for people who are more interested in PvE with a little mix of PvP, but it just isn’t for me, and I don’t plan on buying it.