Battleborn is like the shiny new toy you receive for Christmas – it’s widely fun to play with when you first get it but it’ll soon end up at the bottom of the toy box with the others. That’s not to say the game isn’t worth your time however, because every second you spend within the game’s cartoonish world is pure bliss. And I only played the Beta.
Battleborn manages to find a tight niche for itself amongst the rising pool of competitive multiplayer games by meshing a number of them into one. You’d think the result would be a jumbled mess, yet that couldn’t be further from the truth. Combine the animated FPS/RPG fun of Borderlands with the gameplay of League of Legends/DOTA, add a slice of tower-defence then finally a sprinkle of multiplayer goodness and you have it- Battleborn. There are three different multiplayer modes to choose from, with each team of 5 players tasked with pushing waves of ally robo-minions towards a different objective. Yet the goals that each game type poses aren’t all that exciting and felt mostly indifferent in gameplay, particularly considering how straightforward the maps were designed.
Nevertheless, there’s a joyous freedom and energy felt within the rapidly-paced style of gameplay, reminiscent of the ingenuity and flow that made Borderlands so entertaining. There’s definitely a lot of familiarities inside Battleborn with Gearbox’s favourite child-game from the colourful graphic style to the outrageous humour, yet it all still manages to feel right at home. You’ll be hailing bullets, firing spells and waving swords at your enemy around the map in order to take them down and push towards the objective- and it’s insanely enjoyable. Yet where the gameplay elevates itself is by offering unique ways to stifle your opponent’s efforts, such as allowing you to capture points in order to spawn elite minions and enabling you to build turrets to aid your attack or defence based efforts.
You’ll be able to pick a champion in the lobby before a match, with each equip with their own unique skills, passive effects, taunts, costumes and lore. It was quite overwhelming the first time I opened the champion select screen and saw how much detail was found in each hero- and the was all before I realised there was a horde of other champions to unlock as I gained levels on my account (with more likely to come from DLC). I got a chance to play all 8 basic champions and all of them felt powerful and diverse in their own way. These champions will level up during the match enabling you to empower their skills and passives on thecvx go and even net you a badass ultimate ability at level 5.
You even have the chance to level a champion’s mastery for your online profile, netting you access to new skill options and lore. It’s one addictive system that’ll make you want to spam your favourite champion over and over. Win a match and earn some champion points as well as credit to unlock gear pieces can be equip and activated for a resource cost during a match. Earning new gear was exciting and added a unique flare to the gameplay, particularly considering that each piece isn’t locked to a fixed character class, instead letting you mix and match types of items to any character. Putting multiplayer aside, there’s little going on in the single-player department. The ‘story’ mode felt like a watered down version of the multiplayer by offering similar objectives without the competitive edge.
With only a few game modes that already feel quite similar, a throwaway story mode and the presence of a microtransaction system Battleborn becomes a game that won’t hold your attention for as long as it’d like too. But that’s ok, because the time you’ll spend with it is plentiful and you’ll quickly makes you fall in love with its competitive charm, then reach max level before you know it. Even after it’s time is up and the game has bit the dust, it’ll be the toy that you never forget.
The Battleborn Beta is available for PS4, PC and Xbox One.