Battleborn (PS4) Review
- Funny in places
- Great art style and cast of characters
- Solid mechanics and satisfying shooting
- Meltdown multiplayer mode feels genuinely well rounded and great fun
Not So Much?
- Not funny in more places - quantity rather than quality
- Other two multiplayer modes feel repetitive and thin after not too long
- Few glitches and frame rate issues can sometimes cause grief (esp in co-op)
- Just feels like it needs double the content and less grind/gating
Gearbox has been on the tail end of a few grumpy gamer’s sharp tongues since the glory of Borderlands. Little niggles like Duke Forever and Aliens Colonial Marines has seen their once glowing rep dented just a touch.
earbox has been on the tail end of a few grumpy gamer’s sharp tongues since the glory of Borderlands. Little niggles like Duke Forever and Aliens Colonial Marines has seen their once glowing rep dented just a touch.
With Battleborn the team over at Gearbox are hoping to not only reestablish their once good standing with gamers, but to cut a slice of the MOBA pie too.
This team-based shooter has a plethora of characters for you to try and explore. In fact that’s probably one of the game’s greatest strengths! Filled with humorous (sometimes) heros and a rich colourful world Battleborn looks set to put Gearbox back on the path it stumbled from. That is, until it stumbles itself. More on that soon.
You are one of the Battleborn. One of the misshapen and misfit characters filling the game world. As one of these characters (and you can chop and change as you like) you must defend the last place in the galaxy against Rendain.
The story in Battleborn in sparse and, mostly, forgettable. There are a huge (read: HUGE!!) number of jokes, gags and one-liners thrown at you with almost every line of dialogue. It’s a case of quantity rather than quality for the most part with probably more hitting the mark than missing. none are offensive, just a little grating after hours of play. Pushing through the nine story levels (plus an initial tutorial level) is entertaining for the most part, but the experience is thin and you’ll be sick of the wave or location-defence based gameplay by the end. There’s also little point in going back and replying it either. It’s really more of an elongated tutorial – think single player in Titanfall but add a little more story to it!
Taking on the Story Mode with friends or other online players helps a great deal but the actual matchmaking side of things is a little “phoned-in”. For instance you can’t even choose the area you want to do, you just end up voting for one of 3 areas served up by the game each time.
Now on to what is likely the main event for most, the online modes! As most will know an online game, especially a shooter, lives or dies by its ability to dish-out enough incentive to keep you pulling the trigger to get the next shiny bauble. Progression here you have Command Rank, Character Rank and Helix Rank. The Helix rank is only applicable in-game and resets at the start of each mission.
Helix ranks apply during the current match and you slowly earn better ranks as you acru XP. This allows you to apply certain buffs to your character. Each of the levels you ear you can choose one of up to three different buffs. These are then applied to your character throughout the match. Strategic use of these can really help you to get ahead in a match, yet they’re never really explained all that well.
The other ranks work more traditionally opening up unlocks, weapons modifiers etc. The only alteration here is something borrowed from current free to play models. You unlock item crates/chests as you play and these contain modifiers that you can apply to your characters. You can either wait for more unlocks, or, purchase some…. It feels more than a little out of place although Borderlands 2 had a similar mechanic.
These modifiers can be placed in slots and, when sufficient status has been gained, activated in matches. You can only activate these at the cost of some of the collectibles you’re picking up though so it’s a delicate balance and I found more often than not I was not using them just in case I needed the resources elsewhere.
The three multiplayer modes Incursion, Meltdown and Capture are a mixed bag. Incursion and Capture are pretty thin and soon feel a little stale with repetition. Only Meltdown seems to be well balanced at this point offering good replayability and some tense fun matches. It often really feels like, as a player, you can help determine the outcome of the match rather than it just feel like chaos.
Battleborn looks and sounds great. It has a certain style that some might not get along with and in many ways it feels like it’s being aimed at the teen/early-twenties market. With that said it plays well enough and runs well most of the time apart from a few frame rate hiccups.
The real issue with Battleborn is the longevity and the needles grinding. What is here ranges from OK to good, sometime great, but it needs more of it. It needs to not hold back progression so much forcing you to grind out the same few maps and modes over and over.
As with Destiny and Titanfall (both titles Gearbox seems to have modelled Battleborn’s structure on to some extent) there’s hope that this will fill-out over the coming months/year. That said we shouldn’t have to wait another few months for the game to feel complete. Titles like Evolve and Titanfall both fell to the dirt faster than they should’ve because their offering was weak in places it shouldn’t have been. This could be Battleborn’s fate as well if Gearbox don’t have more (hopefully free!) content waiting in the wings.