HANDS ON: Battleborn

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Gearbox Software, the developers of the Borderlands series, are showing off their latest title Battleborn at PAX Australia, giving players a look at the co-operative story mode. The game includes 5v5 multiplayer modes, a wide variety of heroes to choose from, and fast-paced and explosive action. Here are the opinions of our gaming team, who had a chance to play it on the show floor.

Adrian

With most MOBA-style games I usually choose ranged characters, and the ‘Battleborn’ I chose during the play session did not disappoint. Benedict is a cyborg hawk-man who wields a powerful rocket launcher and has great aerial mobility – being able to fly around and create explosions all over the battlefield is pretty badass. The characters are stylized and well designed, you can easily identify the faction they’re from just by the way they look, from the futuristic/robotic look of the Jennerit Empire, to the regal design and gold-plated armor of the Last Light Consortium (LLC). The story probably wasn’t the best thing to play at the show floor, since I didn’t really understand what was going on most of the time, but being on a team with several other people is always fun.

There are a lot of things happening on-screen, from the character and AI movement, to the effects from the special abilities and attacks – the screen gets very overwhelming. At times, it’s difficult to understand what your objective is, and where you’re supposed to be going. Nevertheless its a really fun game, and it’s what you’d expect from a team-based shooter, the characters are the highlight of this game, and I look forward to seeing the rest of the heroes.

Ashton

Battleborn was definitely an interesting game, like a first-person MOBA with an art style not too dissimilar to Borderlands. My Battleborn character of choice was Miko, with his specialties involving self-healing and a grenade. Miko was definitely more a support character with limited offensive abilities from his shuriken-like weapon. The game mode we tried out was a story mode progressing from one area to another after defeating each areas respective bosses and ads.

Battleborn’s UI however was slightly confusing and cluttered though that may be the result of my inexperience with MOBA games in general. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get any PvP action but overall Battleborn was a unique spin on the MOBA genre and it’ll be interesting to see how the game turns out.

Gabriel

After Battleborn for the first time left me with an odd impression of ‘what the hell did I just play?!’. Battleborn is 2K Games attempt in entering a team-based goofy cooperative multiplayer, similar to Valve’s Team Fortress 2 while incorporating a separate co-op story mode. For this demo, we were given the opportunity to play one of the levels in the campaign. Battleborn boasts a wide range of the characters, each completely different from each other in terms of stats distribution, design and abilities. For this level, I selected Thorn, a DPS-based archer who focuses on long precise shots to neutralise the enemy faction.

Playing through the level and trying to understand the gameplay, it was quite clear that the story was completely lacking as there was no background to why we were doing these objectives, and the mission felt more of a raid – explore the level, fight through enemies, encounter mini-boss and then fight the end-boss. By the end of the playthrough, I just remember that the final boss’ name was Geoff. The enemy faction did not bring anything new in terms of AI design, for example there were mini robots acting as the grunts or minions of the team, and some close range self-detonating robots similar to sappers.

For level layout was quite disorienting as you would get easily lost in the  map trying to find the objectives, despite being a fairly linear map. Throughout the level, you could find hidden caches that would either increase your damage, speed and reduce your ability cooldown. One bizarre pickup was additional score, which was odd for a cooperative story mode campaign. Additionally, you could track the amount of kills each member of the team had, which is pointless for story mode – most likely just carried over from the PvP gamemode.

Gameplay-wise, it combines the very-simplified linear leveling system and fun third person shooter. This leveling system allows players can focus on two different playstyles or a hybrid of the two; but restricts players in trying to leveling a specific skill rapidly.

Final thoughts, the game is still in early development stages and I hope it can further improve from there. Battleborn already has solid gameplay but needs more attention to the story mode, especially in terms of bringing these characters to life instead of making them feel somewhat generic and flat.

Battleborn is set to release on February 9th 2016 worldwide, on the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC. Also, a beta will be available for Playstation 4 users in early 2016

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