I'll admit it, the FPS-genre is a bit...stale to me nowadays. There used to be a time when first person shooters were my favorite kind of games, back when I would always play games like Half-Life, Goldeneye, and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
But as great as those games were, I eventually got tired of the FPS genre. Especially since it feels as if every FPS game that's come out in the last 5 or so years is either a Call of Duty or a Battlefield title.
Not that CoD and Battlefield aren't fun games, they just haven't changed much. The formula is pretty much the same every year. That can also be said for games that aren't CoD or Battlefield, but try their hardest to be.
From Homefront to Titanfall, most FPS games had a few noticeable differences from CoD and BF, but mostly they were virtually the same, to me at least. The same can be said for the MOBA genre. MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) tend to follow the same formula as the popular Dota series.
I understand that Dota basically invented the MOBA genre, and thus any other MOBA is obviously going to follow the same formula, but I've yet to see any other MOBA offer me something new. Until now that is.
The newest game from Borderlands developer Gearbox is here! Well, almost. Battleborn has just released its open beta on the PS4, Xbox One and PC, allowing players with a steady internet connection to experience it!
After playing through the beta nonstop for hours, I thought I should write up exactly how I feel about it. Only so that you can determine if it's the game for you. But before I get into the review, you're probably wondering:
What Exactly Is Battleborn?
Battleborn is an upcoming online-multiplayer first-person shooter developed by Gearbox Software (Brothers in Arms, Borderlands series) and published by 2K Games.
Set in space, Battleborn tells the story of a number of different alien species, all of which have fled to Solus, the last star in the galaxy. Though divided at first, the different species are forced to unite against a common enemy, the Varelsi.
They send out their strongest warriors, known as the "Battleborn", to face off against the Varelsi and assure the survival of themselves and Solus.
Announced in July of 2014, Battleborn is the first original property from Gearbox since Borderlands. It is described as a "genre-fused" game—infused with several elements from FPS and MOBA games.
It's a very ambitious move on Gearbox's part, combining two game genres that are pretty different. So does Battleborn succeed in its genre-fused efforts, or does it fall short? Let's jump into the review to find out!
Let's start with the visuals, because everyone knows that games (like books) can be judged by the way they look! I'm kidding, of course a game doesn't have to look as visually stunning as, say, The Last of Us. But, the way a game looks to the player is still important, so it's worth noting if a game is easy on the eyes, or if it makes you want to gouge your eyes out.
Thankfully, for Battleborn, it's the former. The game may look familiar to fans of Gearbox's last game franchise, Borderlands. That's because it has a very similar visual style. The cartoon/graphic novel style worked perfectly for Borderlands, and it works the same for Battleborn!
Battleborn's visual style also takes inspiration from the CGI used in Pixar movies. Unsurprisingly, the Borderlands style mixed with the Pixar-ish style blend wonderfully, creating a very good looking game!
While I'm sure most players will be jumping straight into the multiplayer mode (I know I did), it should please some to know that Battleborn does have a story mode, with a pretty great story.
After playing a ton of online matches, I decided to give the story a try, and was genuinely surprised at how much fun I had. Rather than being an open-world filled with quests like Borderlands, Battleborn's story is told in episodic missions.
The mission I played through, titled 'The Algorithm' was a ton of fun. Challenging enemies, fun objectives, and of course, that all too familiar Gearbox dialogue. If you loved the witty banter in Borderlands, you'll love it in Battleborn!
The character of ISIC was so much fun to listen to, he had a very Handsome Jack vibe to him. All in all, the story mode is great, and definitely worth playing through. It's nice to see that in a game that's primary focus is online multiplayer, Gearbox didn't slack on the story. The story mode can be played solo, or with others via local and online co-op. That brings me to my next subject:
I'll just say this right now, any game that features local co-op gets major bonus points from me! We all remember the good old days, when you and a friend or family member could sit on the same couch and go head-to-head in viscous "no screen-cheating" local combat! It was even better when you and the person next to you could work together and take on your mutual enemies,
Not a lot of games have that anymore, focusing solely on online multiplayer, and leaving local splitscreen completely out. Playing online is fun and all, but it doesn't even come close to the type of intimate gameplay that comes with being right next to your opponent and/or teammate!
It's why I still play CoD games, and it's definitely why I'll probably keep on playing Battleborn- with my gaming friends and family- for a long time after its release! But it isn't just local co-op and story that this game offers:
The Online Multiplayer
There are two online modes available in the beta, Meltdown and Incursion. These modes are where you'll the "genre-fuse" aspect of the game the most. The first element you'll obviously notice is that the game is in first person, as opposed to the usual top-down style of MOBAs.
Battleborn has that same FPS feel to it, the rush of rushing enemies, dodging sniper bullets and ducking behind cover to heal. Your standard FPS elements sure, but what's really exciting is how they fuse with the elements of your standard MOBA game.
First of all, Battleborn is a lot to take in at first. So much is going on, and the game is very vibrant and fast-paced, so you may get a bit confused when you first start. But once you get used to it, you'll see just how incredible this genre-fuse tactic is!
The objective of a standard FPS is to kill all of your enemies before they kill you. But since Battleborn isn't just an FPS, that isn't the only objective in the game. On top of taking out your foes, you also have to do things you'd normally find in a MOBA, such as protecting your minions.
These minions are NPC creatures (similar to creeps from Dota 2) that are vital to you and your team. In Incursion, they are used to strip the shields off of the enemy sentries. Once the shields are completely gone, your team has to kill the sentries before the other team kills yours to win.
The other mode, Meltdown, also fuses FPS with MOBA. The objective is to sacrifice as many minions as possible to statues of the almighty Magnus! Think of it as a sort of FPS Capture the Flag mode, in which your minions are the flags, and you're purposely sending the flags to die for your glory!
As expected from a game with MOBA qualities, Battleborn has a very in-depth progression system. The system in Battleborn used to level up is personally one of my favorite progressions systems in any game!
There are three different forms of leveling up in the game; Command rank, character rank, and the Helix Skill Tree.
The command rank is your rank as a player. When you level up your command rank, you level up your own player profile, earning badges and titles to show off online, as well loot used to purchase stuff for your favorite heroes.
The character rank is similar, but instead of leveling up your player profile, it levels up a specific character. Each character can reach a rank of 10, allowing you to unlock special taunts and costume skins to use in battle. You also earn new augments to equip to your character's Helix Skill Tree.
The Helix Skill Tree is a really neat progression feature. Basically, during matches, you earn points by killing enemies, using skills, completing objectives, and collecting shards. If you earn enough points, you level up in-game.
But the points you earn from playing a match don't just go to your character or command Rank, they also go towards your Helix Tree. The Helix Skill Tree is full of skill modifiers that you can equip to your character to assist them in battle, but there's a catch.
Whenever you open up your Helix, you have to chose between a modifier on the left, center, or right side of it. Once you make your choice, the modifiers on the sides that you didn't choose are locked. For example, if you play as Marquis, you can choose to either make your owl drone 15% stronger, make it faster to deploy, or make your 'Temporal Distortion' ability not only slow down enemies, but also speed up allies as well.
It's all about making the choice that best suits you, and once you've made it, you can't choose something else. But don't worry, the game doesn't get too strict about the decision you've made. Unlike the command and character rank, your Helix Skill Tree does reset between matches, giving you the chance to explore different paths on your tree!
So that's Battleborn, well, the open beta at least. I haven't even begun to explain why this game is so good! If you're like me, and you've grown tired of the same old same old that's coming from the FPS and MOBA genres, this game delivers a fresh and exicting new style of gameplay!
Even if you aren't tired of FPS and MOBA games, Battleborn has the best of both world in it, so you'll definitely enjoy it! Not to mention the unique cast of characters, the beautiful graphics, and the always perfect Gearbox humor—the Battleborn open beta is a solid game to me!
Thanks For Reading!
You can get Battleborn for PS4, Xbox One and PC on May 3, 2016!