Following on from the success of the Borderlands
series, Gearbox Software has returned with a new first person shooter in the form of Battleborn
. Originally announced back in 2014, we've been fed various trailers and character reveals along the way, and this month we finally got to the official release of the game. With story missions, multiplayer game modes and a multitude of characters, does Battleborn
manage to hold its own?
Pick a character, grab your weapon and dive straight in
The game's story is your typical end of the world type deal that sees you trying to bring peace to a time when war is rampant. A stone tablet fortold that the world would end and that everyone would flee to the one remaining star, but the people there would turn against each other. Your job is to stop the fighting. While the multiplayer modes have no particular relation to the story, the missions that you can complete work as standalone stories. Your overall goal is still to beat the "bad guy" Rendain, but each mission has its own indiviual task that you need to complete. The advantage of this is that although there is an order to the missions, you don't need to play them in this order -- you'll still be able to keep track of what is going on.
Story missions can also be played either privately or publicly, and if you choose public then you'll be paired up with other players looking to play missions. A choice of three missions is put up for vote in the lobby; the problem with this is that you might have to play a number of times before the mission that you want to play is picked. Choose private and you have to play each mission alone, although the choice of mission is then yours. Luckily, the difficulty of the enemies is dependent on how many players are in the match, so going solo shouldn't be any more difficult than in a full group of five. Normal is the default difficulty and player unlock advanced difficulty later. There's also a hardcore version of both of these, which means that you don't have any extra lives so there's different levels of challenges through which you can choose to put yourself. There's generally only one path to follow through the mission, so the objective is always clear, although some of the missions have pressure pads that need to be pressed as a group to continue. If one of your group happens to wander off, you can't continue the mission until they come back.
These fast paced missions see you performing defend or escort tasks while fighting a mixture of enemies, mini bosses and bosses along the way. These enemies come in all shapes and sizes, usually having a shield that you'll have to take off first before whittling down a health bar. There's an interesting selection of bosses, including a giant robot spider called Geoff and a rogue AI with a bad attitude. Unfortunately, the short selection of missions means that you'll be playing the same ones a lot and they will get tedious after a while. These bosses help to keep them interesting, even if you'll know the fighting patterns back to front. At the end of the mission, you'll be given a score and a medal, which means trying to beat your best score is another incentive for replaying the same missions. The only occasional issue is that enemies can glitch through walls, meaning that they can't be killed and preventing progression. Eventually this sorted itself out, but standing around for up to 10 minutes while waiting for enemies to unglitch is not exactly how you want to be spending your time.
Enemies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes
If you want a break from the missions, you can move over to the other multiplayer modes. These can be played either privately or publicly, so you have a choice of going head to head with friends or other random gamers. The matchmaking for these multiplayer modes tended to be longer than the story missions. You still shouldn't see yourself waiting for more than a couple of minutes and the waiting line should always be "short". You have a choice of three different modes: Capture, Incursion and Meltdown. Each of these has two maps from which to choose through a lobby vote but, again, with the small amount of choice you'll be playing the same modes and the same maps a lot. We've been promised updates and add ons with more modes to play, so there's a possibility for expansion in the future.
All of the modes see you play as a team, whether you are capturing points on the map or trying to escort/kill bots, so you'll never be left on your own to fight. You'll be given either a score target to reach or a score that you have to try and get down to zero, depending on the mode. There's nothing particularly new about these modes, but they are still fun to play if going head to head with fellow players is your thing. The teams seem to balance correctly every time, although there can be people disconnecting just before or just as the mode started. This leaves teams short as these people aren't replaced.
While in story missions a team can consist of multiple players as the same character, in the competitive multiplayer modes each player must pick a unique character. This is where it helps to be familiar with a few different characters, of which there's a huge choice of 25 with whom to get acquainted. You won't start with all of these unlocked, though, and you must meet certain requirements in order to unlock the others. These can vary from killing a certain amount of enemies to reaching a certain command rank, which is your own personal rank as opposed to the character that each character has.
Who will you pick?
The characters all have very different and unique weapons and skills, with two main skills to use and an ultimate skill. On top of that, you can upgrade these skills every match by levelling up, something that resets at the end of every match and must be redone every time. Every level that you gain lets you pick from a choice of two skills every time, so you can make one skill stronger one match and choose a different one next time. There's a lot of freedom given to you here with the characters and you can even customise their outfits and taunts in a limited way. Whether you want to be a gun wielding robot, the aforementioned crazy AI, or maybe a more monstrous creature, there's surely someone here to suit your fancy.
On top of each character's weapons, hitting Command rank three will see you unlock the loadout screen in the customisation menu. Here, you can set three items to your loadout that you have found in your missions, before paying credits in the missions or multiplayer modes in order to activate them. There's the usual ranking system, from common to legendary, and there are items to give you various boosts to health, shield, attack, defence, and various other attributes. Different loadouts mean that you can create ones to suit certain characters, or simply throw in all of your highest ranked items and hope for the best, something that can definitely be used to your advantage to boost your character in a tough battle. Loot packs can be purchased if you feel like your characters need a bit of a boost for which you can't wait, but you should be fighting fit without them so there's no pressure to purchase these.
There's a strong sense of humour throughout the game, especially in the story missions, and you might find yourself having a little chuckle or two. Whether it's the Wolf sentry unit who wants to hack a door by blowing it up, Nova trying to guess the password as "password" or ISIC trying to give commands to Geoff, sorry Arachnid, there always seems to be some kind of funny conversation ongoing. These exchanges enhance the missions and they make the few dull moments seem that bit more bearable, especially as you'll be spending at least 20-30 minutes on each mission. These dull moments are few and far between, though, and you'll always find that there's a lot going on. Whether its enemy attacks, incoming fire or the use of ultimate abilities, you'll often find your screen full. Sometimes it's a bit too full and it is hard to know who is where. The lack of friendly fire makes this a little easier, but don't be surprised if you find your friends getting in your way more than you'd like.
The game has a cartoon style appearance with bright colours and grand environments throughout. This look suits the fast paced, first person gameplay, though, and it's easy to get lost in the rainbow of colours that is thrown at you in all of the levels. The voice acting is very well done and most of the voices seem to suit their character down to a tee. The soundtrack is equally compelling, and while it may not be at the forefront of the game, it is perfectly suited to the situation with grand music for the boss fights and upbeat tunes for the neverending fights against evil robot minions.
The game offers 50 achievements for you to earn and not many of them will be handed to you on a plate. You'll have to complete all of the missions on offer, on all of the difficulties, which will take up a chunk of your time. After that, you'll need to win quite a few games on the multiplayer modes and the various maps, as well as taking out some enemies in certain ways. A large amount of the achievements come from completing each character's lore challenges
, which are usually killing a certain amount of enemies with their skills and playing matches with certain other characters. Doing these for each of the 25 characters will defnitely take up a huge amount of your time, but you can also be working your way towards Command Rank 100
whilst you do so.
does well in offering you both multiplayer modes and missions without pressuring you into concentrating on a certain mode. They're interesting and exciting, but do begin to get tedious when you have to play them continuously due to the small selection of modes and maps. On the contrary, there's a huge choice of characters, each with various items, weapons and abilities with which to familiarise yourself. The game looks and sounds appealing and the fast pace means that there's rarely a dull moment in game. While it may not be the best, Battleborn
does a good enough job of drawing you in, keeping you entertained and ensuring that you have a laugh or two.
- Large roster of characters with unique abilities
- Choice of public or private on both multiplayer matches and missions
- Fast paced missions with interesting bosses
- Abundance of humour throughout
- Glitched enemies can cause problems in story missions
- Short number of missions will see you playing the same ones over and over
- Annoying map and mission voting
The reviewer spent approximately 14 hours shooting enemies and kicking all kinds of butt, unlocking 13 of the game's 50 achievements. A physical copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.