Poised with ambition and bravery, developer Gearbox, presents Battleborn, a fusion of game-play and style. The game promised to wet the appetite of the FPS enthusiast and adorn the strategic hunger of the classic MOBA player but has this been achieved? Well, yes and no, with a sprinkle of maybe.
Battleborn is inundated with playable characters, 25 to be precise, each with their own class and play-style that may hinder a team as equally as it may bring a crucial tactical advantage. If you are familiar with the MOBA style of play, similar to League of Legends or Smite, then Battleborn is no different. Each character has it’s own strength and weakness, each has a base set of moves and a rare ultimate move that has a longer regeneration rate than the others, owing to the fact that it is generally far move powerful than the other skills available. Team composition is important too, as any successful team will usually adopt a player to adopt damage and protect, usually the tank, a healer and a handful of higher DPS characters.
As with any MOBA, as you play a match your character can gain power via the leveling system which can unlock different passive abilities and augmentations to your character. Generally, you will be able to select additional damage resistance, healing power, extra ammunition; there are plenty of choices for each character. In order to increase the match level of your character, you will be required to kill enemy players or AI minions that spawn and constantly move towards your base. Therefore, it isn’t always best to hunt down enemy players, sometimes it’s a sound tactical move to farm the minions for XP and work on your character level. Success is dependent upon effective teamwork and building a team where strengths and weaknesses are complimented in composition.
Battleborn is a hardcore FPS, there is no over-the-shoulder view, you are locked in, which is actually quite appealing. Visually the game is colourful, light and playful, which may appeal to some, but unfortunately not me. The sickly sweet design presents a childish account of itself and the game struggles to take itself seriously. Similarly with the feedback when firing shots, the game doesn’t feel heavy and exhilarating in battle, there is no real sense of impact when unleashing a crescendo of bullets into the torso of your enemy. Compare this type of design with the recently released DOOM and you’ll understand what I mean. This may be a little harsh, as I have been involved in a skirmish that was fairly exciting, however this soon become tedious of repetitive, which was a shame.
Combat and movement around the map can at times feel laboured and unimaginative, it is not uncommon for your character to be snagged on the environment, which is one of the most frustrating things when the enemy is bearing down on you.
PVP is split into 3 different game modes: Capture, Incursion and Meltdown, with Incursion generally being those most popular. The purpose being to control the map by having the best finances by collecting shards, purchasing turrets and healing stations, and placing them in the most strategic positions. Then, once the upper-hand is achieved, destroying key AI in order to win, or causing the most damage to the same AI prior to the match timer expiring.
Capture is what you’d expect with any FPS game, your team must take possession of key points on the map and defending them. The longer you control the area, the more points you will receive. Meltdown is the stereotypical MOBA style of play whereby your team must successfully guide minions through the map in order to gain points, the more minions you successfully guide through, the more points you’ll receive. All standard stuff really.
Battleborn also has a single-player or CO-OP campaign mode which is extremely enjoyable to play. The purpose is to generally work through the map and complete a host of objectives, there will also be swarms of enemy AI and bosses to defeat, which will give your character XP and bonuses. I did enjoy this section of the game as it felt more relaxed and purposeful that the PVP style of play. One downside however is that I felt the bosses were a little too easy to defeat, simplistic and easy to learn tactics presented an anti-climax, none the less, it was still enjoyable.
I want to love Battleborn, I really do, but the issue with the game is the lack of identity. The game struggles to know what it is and what it wants to be. I implore the attempt to merge two of my favourite genre of game, but it doesn’t quite deliver. From an FPS perspective, lane discipline that is associated with the MOBA is at times impossible and generally results in a bottleneck effect, absolute mayhem really. The game lacks the satisfying impact of firing a rifle or delivering a powerful spell, the shots feel empty and hollow, and from an FPS fan, this is extremely disappointing The elements of MOBA are certainly a warm welcome, but I can’t help but feel that the fusion of two play-styles is like mixing pizza and ice-cream, they’re both delicious, obviously, but shouldn’t necessarily be on the same plate.
If you are considering a purchase, then I’d struggle to steer you away from the game, it is actually quite fun, although for most players the initial excitement may quickly descend into a repetitive and unimaginative style of play. I’ll still continue to play, however it will be a game I jump into for an hour or so, rather than a title I will commit too. Unfortunately, there are better titles out there and the lack of identity was a real issue for me. To that end, I award Battleborn a respectful 6 out of 10.
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