You can check out our initial, in-depth review of the beta right here.
This one is for the average gamers, on adventures in gaming.
What sort of gamer are you? I like to think of myself as an average gamer. I’m a shooter(Red Dead, Left4Dead), not a driver (as San Andreas’ many fallen lampposts will tell you). I dabble in triple A’s, marvel at indie games, and think the console war is an enjoyably vile bit of fun because really, when the hype quietens, we’re all in the together getting screwed by season passes.
Lost my train of thought there.
Battleborn. First impressions.
So I partied up with litpulp (She’s the other, better half) and we ran the story mode first. Let’s just get a feel for the game before we MOBA-lise against other players. If you played the Battleborn beta – or read the gamespulp review – you’ll be about as surprised as a boy who peeked at his presents. It plays pretty much identically. You choose a character best suited to your talents, you kill minions and other assorted enemies, and you end on a boss fight. I scrawl a side-note while playing: Isic battle feels weirdly easier than in the beta.
The Battleborn Story
Battleborn, as the marketing is keen to remind, comes from the creators of Borderlands. An FPS MOBA that promises a badass for every kind of player (25 to be exact). All class types (healer, tank…) and wacky characters accounted for. The art style is cartoonish, but different enough to Borderlands to be recognisable in its own right.
Each character is aligned to a fun, which dictates your skills. The elfin Eldrid’s are recognisable by nature powers; the United Peacekeeping Republics are military-based. To early to tell, but after a brief and ignoble match as Miko the healer which we’ll never mention again, I played long-range with Marquis (LLC, for what it’s worth) rocking a pistol-cum-sniper rifle and Eldrid archer Thorn.
So something something Solus something save last star. You know what, story doesn’t matter, although the intro cut scene looks great, taking style inspiration from 80s cartoons like He-Man. Tad over-long., but you only have to sit through it – and the prologue tutorial – just the once.
Ok, so we’re good to co-op the hell out of this game. I’m playing the gentleman sniper, Marquis, while litpulp has opted for Orendi, the rogue attacker (voiced by Ashley Burch, who also voiced Borderlands’ Tiny Tina). Every kill earns XP, which eventually levels up our characters, at which point we’re forced to make agonising choices along a double-pronged skill tree. I found selecting the right skill mods (Cast distance +15%, reload 20% faster, etc.) varied between those best suited for co-op and those best for multiplayer. And since your choices are permanent only for that specific game, you can experiment in every match, levelling up your damage so you’re a formidable force, or, say, choosing the route of crowd control.
Battleborn is a team game. And it needs to be played that way. When we dared to shift to MP, that reality was brought home pretty swiftly.
The first match saw our team – comprised largely of long-range fighters – faced up against a team of tank-class characters. Sure, neither had diversity, but they had the might. Decimated, would be an apt description of our performance. In short, it was pretty obvious that you need a balanced team. That doesn’t just mean wisely choosing your character, but also communicating, observing other players and levelling up you helix skill tree accordingly.
Multiplayer is a serious change of pace, meaning it’s faster, forcing a whole new play-style. Whatever your hero looked like in story mode, chuck that shit out the window – it’s all change here. The real problem comes from the fact that, despite its frantic gameplay, the controls just aren’t tight enough for twitch shooting. They’re not DCUO bad, but they have the same loose feel.
Ok, let’s talk tactics.
‘What character you going for?’ I ask.
I’m faced with that familiar wry grin. Litpulp opts for heavy artillery tank, Montana. Of course she does, she’s a psychopathic killer in video games. Throw an LMG, SMG or shotgun at her and she’ll “pull the fucking trigger ’til it goes click”. In your face. Again and again. And again.
Pretty obviously, we decided to pair her Montana to my Miko, the healer. I’d always had a penchant for healer characters – the saviour complex that reared its smug head in Battlefield 4 and Team Fortress 2.
So we took to the battlefield with a set-up we’d first experimented with in Gears of War 3, pairing the Kantus with Maulers in Beast mode. Unfortunately Miko, with her throwing knives and spore grenade with little range, seemed woefully underpowered against the arena’s other combatants. Not that I was expecting to be the toughest on the pitch, but it’ll be interesting to see what other healers are unlocked as we level up.
We gamed for a solid couple of hours, trying all three versus modes. Capture is just Battleborn’s version of Battlefield’s Conquest, or Domination in Call of Duty, only on far smaller – and thus much weaker – maps. We nipped off to Incursion, which requires us to repel enemy robots while landing killer blows on our opponents’ sentry bot. I think. Finally, we tried Meltdown, which plays like some sort of screwed-up Capture the Flag as you guide minions across the map and into the jaws of a supernatural, religious icon/meat grinder. You read that right.
At least, we thought that’s what we were supposed to do. After yet another crushing defeat, litpulp looked at me and shrugged. ‘Sorry, what is it we’re supposed to be doing? I’ve mostly been killing people.’
‘I know, right? And how have I scored?’ I said. ‘What even counts as a score?’
‘Probably should’ve listened to that TV lady at the start of the match.’
‘She seems to know what we’re supposed to do.’
Not many others in the arena did.
This was one of the issues gamespulp raised during the beta – and was later asked about in the beta survey: was it clear what to do in multiplayer? Well, since we were just enjoying the ride, and the MP was so damn fast-paced, the answer’s an indecisive ‘not really, but sort of, sometimes.’
Battleborn is a game that has tactics at heart. But to make the most of that, it needs more exploring. I’ll get back to you.