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When Battleborn was first announced, it was sort of hyped as the major contender against Overwatch as the next big FPS MOBA-style game. Now that Battleborn has been released and Overwatch’s open beta recently ended, Battleborn has been largely overshadowed by Blizzard’s newest game.
That’s not to say anything about the actual quality of Battleborn, though. Battleborn, while it has its flaws, is still very strong in a lot of areas.
Battleborn’s core gameplay comes with two flavors: a player-versus-player mode and an online co-op story mode. There are three PvP game types: a king-of-the-hill mode with three “hills,” a mode where your team tries to destroy the other team’s base, and a mode that focuses on getting minions across the map, similar to the coliseum mode in Smite.
The king-of-the-hill game is kind of a generic throwaway, but it’s quicker than the other two. The other two feel about the same, but the base-destroyer still seems like the main game type, as it is the closest to the MOBA formula. All of the PvP game types have two distinct maps each, which helps keep things fresh.
The story mode seems a bit more interesting, at least initially. The story of the overall game is pretty unique, and each of the missions in the story mode do a nice job of centering on that story while being non-linear at the same time. All of the stars in the universe have gone out except one, and there’s a group of warriors who fight to protect it called the “Battleborn.” Naturally, there is a big bad guy with an empire and a bunch of robots who is dead set on snuffing out the light of that star.
What makes the story mode fun is that all of the levels are written in a way that you can play them at any order. While that may make it feel like each level doesn’t really matter, it facilitates the online multiplayer matchmaking pretty well.
The levels themselves are decent, but not amazing. They have predictable themes (jungle planet, snowy/icy planet, a city), and they reuse some objectives (protect/escort the big robot thingy), but they often have some epic raid-level bosses scattered throughout. The boss battles are action-packed, and they often have some complex mechanics that can sometimes be cheesed through, but feel rewarding to complete all the same. The best part is that they scatter tons of loot Borderlands-style when they die, which can be equipped as part of your loadout for future matches (for both PvP and PvE).
The graphics look like they’ve been ripped out of Borderlands and had their edges sanded smooth. It’s a graphical style that is easy to overlook until you take a good look at the robots. The graphics look nice, shiny, and colorful, even when running on low settings. Which is what I had to do for the majority of my time playing it, since in spite of the simplified art style, Battleborn can be a little intensive in it’s system specs.
Probably my favorite part about Battleborn is its voice acting. This game has some phenomenal voice actors, including anime voiceover powerhouse Christopher Sabat (voice of like half of the cast of the Dragon Ball series) and Ashly Burch (Tiny Tina from Borderlands 2). The voice actors really bring out the character in each of the characters, more so than the characters themselves.
In fact, the audio quality is great overall. The main screen music will probably haunt my dreams for the next few months, and they even do one of those “opening video sequences / music video” things that they do for the Borderlands games. It’s not quite as good as the ones in Borderlands, but it’s catchy all the same.
Back to the actual gameplay, though, I cannot quite see Battleborn getting much mileage out of many players. I’m positive that it will garner its own following, but it relies a bit too much on the power of it’s own game modes by themselves, offering little in flexibility and customization on the player’s part. The loadouts are limited to three items that you get from random drops or random item packs and only offer passive stat bonuses. Each time you level, you get to choose between two ability upgrades similar to Heroes of the Storm, which might make things a little more interesting, but it doesn’t feel like enough.
The story mode levels add a bit of longevity to the game by offering exciting boss fights, but after running those a few times, I could most players getting tired of those. Unless we see a steady stream of new maps and characters, Battleborn runs the risk of feeling stale after a short while.
It’s for that reason that I find this game difficult to recommend at its current full price of $59.99. While the game is fun for a while, it starts to feel boring and repetitive after running each map two or three times. So unless you are a heavy duty fan of both MOBA’s and FPS’s, I’d heavily recommend waiting on a sale for this game. It simply does not have the longevity to warrant its current price.