A few days ago, Battleborn went on sale on Amazon with the season pass for $40, so Jonathan Alan and I jumped in. After about 4 hours of my murderous mecha-riding penguin (Toby) and his show off space marine (Oscar Mike) were tearing it up and having a blast.
The game begins with an (unskippable) anime-style cutscene that’s both stylish and fun to watch. This art style carries through the rest of the game and characters. It looks nice, I think the best way to describe it is an upscale Borderlands. The game runs smoothly and load times are short. If you have played Borderlands before, you kind of know what to expect. Damage numbers appear above the enemies as you attack them and then they explode in a shower of loot. I was actually kind of surprised by how much like Borderlands this game feels. However, the inclusion of some of the movement features and slightly faster speed also gives it a feel like they got some Unreal Tournament in the mix.
Every match/mission begins with an intro sequence that introduces the characters playing. Where Battleborn really shines is in the writing and humor. Each character is genuinely interesting and funny and we were laughing while playing almost every level. Between the psychotic multi-armed magician gleefully killing everything on screen, Oscar Mike being a space marine and loving it (“I’m killing things and leveling up!”), and Toby the penguin apologizing for every foe he demolishes, these characters are a joy to play as. On top of that is the very funny banter from the NPCs. I don’t want to spoil anything, but some of the companions you’ll meet in the missions are hilariously oblivious to their own fates.
The game plays like Borderlands crossed with Unreal Tournament. It’s not quite as good as something like Destiny, but the leveling system is great. Every match you start at level one and quickly level up on the fly throughout the match. This allows you to experiment with many different combinations every time you play. Additionally, you rank up both your commander and characters through using them. Your commander upgrades unlock new characters (26 as of this writing) and upgrading your character unlocks new upgrades to be selected in your match. It’s a very clever mechanic that both rewards sticking with a character and never makes your decisions feel too permanent.
Another fantastic feature is the 2 player split-screen mode. You can take this online and play with your buddies as well, and I suspect its inclusion is why the graphics aren’t exactly pushing the system to its limits.
I’m glad I bought Battleborn. It was a little bit of a risk, but at $40 it was well worth it. The season pass gets you 5 new content pack and instant access to all of the new characters and that’s a bargain for this price. I can’t recommend this outright at $60, because I didn’t pay that for it, but if you can pick it up for $40, do it.
Jonathan Alan’s Review
Battleborn was a game when first announced intrigued me very little. I thought it looked too much like Borderlands and I hate Borderlands. This summer I was hoping to find an game to play online with a couple of friends that had PvP and PvE. So I decided to give Battleborn a shot and I’m glad I did.
Battleborne has 26 characters available as of this review. Each of the characters has two special skills, one ultimate ability and one passive. This makes each character feel unique and fresh when trying out different characters. The skills gameplay is pretty common for character based shooters, but what really makes Battleborn stand out is the leveling up system. At the beginning of each match, whether it be PvP or PvE, you start off at rank 1 and work your way to rank 10. Each rank offers different perks or buffs that can completely change the way you play. This adds a whole new layer of strategy and decision making that makes each mission or match feel fresh every time.
The characters you get to choose from are all vastly different. From lumberjacks who fire machine guns to mushrooms who heal. All these characters follow the traditional tank, range and heal character types. For the most part all of them are spot on, expect for the melee characters. Melee characters have a problem with depth perception. You are never as close as you think you are so a lot of your strikes end up missing. While this is prevalent in FPS games with sword, Battleborn does seem a bigger problem with it.
The story revolves around there only being one Sun left in the entire galaxy and a bad guy wants to destroy it. While this is not the most extravagant plot, it does the job of setting up a perfect excuse to shoot up baddies across a couple of planets. The story is short and can be beat in a day, but you will want to replay missions for loot drops and unlocking characters since only 5 are available from the start.
There are currently only 3 modes to play in BattleBorne. One is the standard capture all points. The MOBA inspired mode is called Incursion. In Incursion you must defend your AI spider tank while attacking the other teams. Meltdown is the final mode where you must defend your AI bots who are on a journey to sacrifice themselves to machine for points. Yes that is really a mode. All these modes are fast, fun and are where a lot of people will be spending time with this game.
BattleBorne is like a great B-movie. While it may lack the polish of other triple A games it does deliver on personality, humor and an insane cast of characters that reallys makes it stand out among its peers. If you can find Battleborn for a good price and enjoy games that don’t take itself to seriously then I recommend picking this up.