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Game Review: "Battleborn"

What Is "Battleborn"?

That's a great question, one that many people have argued about. It's kind of two different experiences at once. On one hand, you have a very Borderlands-esque coop-driven campaign mode. Five players, all choosing from a variety of different characters with different abilities. Then, you can take those same characters to different competitive maps where you can play MOBA-themed matches escorting minions to sacrifice themselves or to take out heavily armed drones, or capture command posts 5v5.

It keeps the humorous antics of the Borderlands series (as well as the nutty abilities that somehow translate well into co-op and competitive modes) while also granting tons and tons of unlockables, to characters, skins, taunts, items, loadouts, and even a level, each being a different rarity. There are twenty-five characters to choose from, each with two different skill trees to augment the character, as well as additional skills that are earned by leveling up and playing.

Game Poster

Game Poster

What About "Overwatch"?

There are a lot of comparisons (and confusions) regarding these two games. In short, Overwatch is a team-based competitive shooter made by Blizzard. Both games are presented as bright (nothing dark or brooding as it were) and feature a large cast of characters (Overwatch currently has 21).

Overwatch is credited with a better character balance and Blizzard has quite a reputation for dealing out fantastic games. Why did I pick Battleborn? Three simple reasons:

  • Battleborn has local couch coop splitscreen, and in this day and age that's a bit of a miracle
  • Battleborn has a story mode, even if it is a bit short.
  • Finally, Battleborn's unlockables dwarf what Overwatch has to offer, as Overwatch gives you currency with which you can purchase more skins and taunts (Battleborn does this and a whole lot more)

Granted, everyone has their own opinion and I'm not attempting to prove my opinion is better than yours.

(from left) Ambra vs Melka, with Reyna in the background killing a minion and Benedict overhead

(from left) Ambra vs Melka, with Reyna in the background killing a minion and Benedict overhead

So, What About Its Characters?

You've got five different factions all with different themes. You've got fantasy nature beings, futuristic robots and cyborgs, immortal vampiresque beings, your garden variety (and not-so garden variety) merceanic soldiers, and a motley bunch of rogues. How motley? How about a penguin in a mech suit, a girl who possesses a demon (more or less), and a failed clone of another character?

Each character has a specific toolset. A massive man named Montana wielding a minigun is a Defender (your garden variety tank) while Rath wields three swords and stays alive by dealing damage. Sure, there's more than one tank, which is why Montana also specializes in crowd control by slowing enemies with icy rounds of ammunition, compared to ISAC (a nihilistic AI who you first unlock by beating him as a boss) is shields and shields for days.

There's also some substantially different mobility options as well. The rocket-toting hawk-man Benedict can literally glide around the battlefield, some characters double jump, another butt slams from his giant chair, and so on and so forth. It really helps the characters feel substantially different.

Characters and their abilities interact in different ways. In fact, most times you simply can't have a team built out of melee damage dealers. While oppressive to an enemy team, all they need is one character who can slow the entirety of your team, allowing everyone else to pick you off. It doesn't work for some story missions either when you find yourself struggling to defend a point, and none of your characters can reach a high area.

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I should also note that all DLC characters will be free to download when they're released. One can buy their DLC bits if they'd like to immediately unlock them; otherwise, you can play the game and unlock them normally. I kinda miss this. I don't like buying a Smash Bros character and not actually get to earn them.

I'll post a link so you can see exactly what I'm talking about in regards to the characters.

(From left) gladiator Caldarius chasing Marquis, the robot who snipes with his cane and summons exploding owls

(From left) gladiator Caldarius chasing Marquis, the robot who snipes with his cane and summons exploding owls

How's That Story Mode?

Funny you should ask. It's pretty short, to be totally honest. There are eight missions, 7 which are immediately available (beat them, you unlock the final mission). With a good team, they run about 30 minutes each, although the last mission is closer to an hour. You can also play them solo or in a private group (ala split screen or a game party made online).

I wish there was a bit more variety. Enemies roughly come in three different varieties from the demonic, shady Veralsi (I butchered that spelling) to the gun-wielding tyrannosaurus monsters, and then finally your generic robots. Bosses are often more like buffed up versions of these standard enemies. So yeah, if you're looking for a game with a beefed-up campaign/story mode, Borderlands this isn't.

That doesn't mean it's bad or boring. I quite enjoy it. Some missions are especially difficult, so difficult that at the time of this posting, there are plans to patch a mission's difficulty (The Saboteur). Having more players means the enemies have more health, so I was able to finish it on Normal difficulty as Thorn (who I'm trying to max first because usually, I'm terrible with snipers). The difficulty curve, especially in the Advanced setting, is high enough that you should likely only go in with a team you can chat with and coordinate. You will need a lot of balance, and usually, randoms online cannot give you that (you would also need a preset group because difficulty setting is not yet an option in matchmaking).

Phoebe following Orendi

Phoebe following Orendi


Here are some things that didn't really fit anywhere else.

  • If you're only now hearing about this, you've missed a couple betas. If you're unsure of the game, always feel free to pick it up at a Redbox or rent it to see if you like the feel.
  • If you're playing on the PS4, feel free to message Shoft for some cooperative play.

We're also getting 5 more characters and the first is an Eldred Healer named Alani. Since that leaves four, I figure that gives us one for each of the factions. If you've played Saboteur, you know what I mean when I say I hope Nova represents the LLC in a robot suit. Empress Lenore may also represent the Jennerit. No idea for Peacekeepers and Rogues though.

© 2016 Travis Wood

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