Version Tested: Xbox One
Available On: Xbox One, PS4, Windows
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Official Site: https://battleborn.com
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Where to buy: Xbox Store, PSN, Steam, Local Retailers
They were all dead. The final gunshot was an exclamation mark to everything that had led to this point. I released my finger from the trigger. And then it was over. Alright…so that is actually a line from the original Max Payne but it still rings true here. If you want to win in Battleborn you’re going to have to obliterate every last enemy in the waves and more importantly in the final boss fight. Only then, when your thumbs are weary and you’re forced to wipe the palm sweat from your controller, will you prevail. Granted, this largely will be affected by the difficulty in which you play on. Battleborn has quite the cast of characters to do battle with…25 in all. Each has unique personalities, weapons, and styles of attack. The 25 characters make up five different factions all fighting together in an uneasy alliance to save the last star in the universe from a mysterious enemy. You must command these Battleborn and pull the universe back from the brink of extinction.
If you haven’t shelled out the money already, you’ll most certainly notice that Battleborn looks very much to be in the same vein as Borderlands. Let me begin by saying…that is not a bad thing. Borderlands was incredibly profitable for both 2K and Gearbox, so why not infuse some of that successful formula? I heard an individual at a Gamestop exclaim they weren’t interested in Battleborn because it looked too much like Borderlands. I briefly considered in that moment lighting a table on fire and giving the jabroni a kryptonite crunch right through it. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and police involvement was avoided. Yes, this does look similar to Borderlands but the characters, environment and opening anime style sequence are absolutely stunning.
This is by far one of the most impressive cast of characters I’ve ever experienced in a game. The characters are broken up into three different difficulty settings: Easy, Advanced, and Complex. The choice of your character will change the manner in which you engage the enemy along with making boss battles more challenging. My first character, for instance, was Oscar Mike who can easily take on enemies at a distance. I then switched to Montana who is big and brutish and wields a powerful Gatling gun. I quickly discovered that I was able to obliterate enemies that were in my range but firing at a long range sniper was utterly useless. One big perk of the game is that it can be played split screen. Many companies seem to be moving away from allowing Co-op split screen play so it’s certainly a pleasure to see Gearbox make that an available option. Each character has a personal Helix system that will max out at 10 on each level played. Each Helix level will provide unique weapons and powers and allow you to choose between two different augmentations. This will allow for numerous different Helix combinations and they will reset once the level is complete.
One of the downsides of Battleborn is that it can quickly become repetitive, especially being played through on the normal setting in Co-op. The best way I could compare it would be to the daily missions in Destiny and The Division. It eventually just turns into you grinding through missions in the hopes of getting better gear and loot that can be used in the campaign as well as multiplayer. You can, however, alter the difficulty of the missions by switching from “Normal” to “Advanced.” In addition to this, there is also a “Hardcore” mode which will undoubtedly succeed in making every enemy encounter absolutely nail biting since you will get no extra lives. If you desire to go even further and potentially drive yourself to the brink of madness, then give a mission a go on “Hardcore Advanced” and do its solo. If you don’t mind grinding it out through repetitive missions then you’ll have a blast here leveling up your commander and character rank along with getting sweet loot.
There are three distinct modes available for the multiplayer which are Incursion, Meltdown, and Capture which all consist of 5v5 matches. The capture was the mode where I found myself most concerned with my team composition. Teams that communicate and work together will undoubtedly have the advantage here as it’s important to have the brutes to hold points, healers for the team and smaller quick characters that can cover ground. Meltdown was the mode that I had the most fun with out of all the modes. At the center of each map, there will be an incinerator that you will have to guide your minions too. These minions will sacrifice themselves in a blaze of glory which will earn your team points. The first to 500 wins. Incursion is a similar mode except instead of a central point, both Battleborn teams are tasked with destroying their enemy’s two sentry bots on opposing sides of the map. In all of these modes “Shards” play an extremely important role. Collecting shards will allow you to activate the gear equipped in your loadout and it will also allow you to buy defense turrets or drones which are placed around the map. Shards in Meltdown, for example, can be used to build accelerators which will speed up your minions as they head to the central point.
The campaign is enjoyable but it’s very easy to get lost in the confusion since you’ll find yourself jumping from mission to mission, usually in no particular order since the levels are voted on by your fellow players. Each level generally consists of holding an area or protecting a piece of equipment against waves of enemies. Once all levels have been completed you’ll be able to access the final mission and boss. I wasn’t a fan of this voting process for the missions as you can easily find yourself with a choice of three missions you have already completed, which then makes it feel like you are just playing for the sake of playing. Loot can be collected in the campaign with a greater chance of high-end drops from playing on higher difficulties. This loot will be used in the Loadouts section when it becomes unlocked and your choice of gear will depend on the abilities of your character. For instance, a light armored character may benefit more from increased healing rates and additional health whereas slower characters like your tanks would benefit more from increased movement speed and cooldown rates. There’s plenty of gear to play with here that will provide near endless combinations for your characters.
All in all, Battleborn is a chaotically fun shoot-em-up title with challenging gameplay, stunning visuals and an impressive cast of characters. It is, however, repetitive which may be a turn-off to some gamers. If grinding through missions isn’t your thing you may want to check out Redbox or Gamefly to give Battleborn a try before you buy. If you don’t mind the grinding, this title is certainly worth your time especially if you were a fan of Borderlands. While it doesn’t have the same open world style it most definitely has the look and feel.
- Gameplay: Non-stop action and enemies galore but can get repetitive
- Graphics: Stunning visuals and opening sequence
- Sound: Amusing character and boss dialogue
- Presentation: Solid title for 2K games and Gearbox that is both new and brings back things we loved about Borderlands
- Character selection
- Progression system
- Matchmaking can take time