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Preview: Battleborn

by onApril 16, 2016
 

With now the game into the production and printing phase, ready to be launched May 3rd, 2016 on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, we take a peak into the world of Battleborn, from the makers of Borderlands, Gearbox Softwares. After trying out the latest open and closed beta, with an interest “story” mode and competitive genre called incursion, it seems like 2K Games’ prized developer is banking a lot of its skills and knowledge into this game.

Starting with the coop campaign, everything starts with a nice little introduction combining two dimensional drawing and 3D background, animated to the likes of Riot Games’ flagship League of Legends trailers. It is dynamic and the cartoon-ish spirit of the game works fine, reminding us how much we love Gearbox’s Borderland art style. Just a quick reminder, Battleborn’s story revolves around a simple but interesting enough script based on 8 TV-like mini-series episodes: Solus, the last star in the universe is in peril. Heroes – also known as Battleborn – are called to defend the last living area of the universe which is attacked by Varelsis, some sort of Alien or Space Dracula.

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At launch Battleborn will have 25 heroes for you to choose. The 25 Heroes are divided into 5 Factions: The Eldrid, The Jennerit Imperium, the Last Light Consortium, United Peacekeeping Republics and The Rogues. These 25 Heroes temperaments and unique features aren’t all available for the duration of the open and closed Beta but I got to experience at least a broad range of fighters, all having a particular backstory according to their factions. They also have skills and powers which are as complementary as varied. I focused mainly on two characters from two different factions which I used during my trial of the campaign mode: Marquis from the Last Light Consortium and Kelvin from the Eldrid.

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Worshipers of cyber-weapons and robotics, Last Light Consortium are one of one of the most powerful factions in the universe. With the megacorporation Minion Robotics they extended their power thanks to their profit in all administrations of the universe, after abandoning the United Peacekeeping Republics. While there’s five characters in the full games that are part of this faction – El Dragon, Isic, Kleese, Marquis and Phoebe – I could only try Marquis in the beta, a robot/android butler which has the temporal distortion power. He is armed with a cane that has a pistol at the one, and can be rotated to become a sniper rifle, on top of Hoodini, an owl companion that attack enemies on its path.

The Eldrid on the other hand always been true to the natural order of the universe, and leaving “nature” play its role. These supporters of the sacred order of the cosmos are from all corners of galaxies, and are set to protect Solus, the last star in Battleborn, with their own lives. Like with the Last Light Consortium, there’s 5 different characters in this faction to choose from – Boldur, Mellka, Miko, Thorn and Kelvin – with the latter being the only choice for me in the Beta. Kelvin is some sort of Ice Golem, but is a much more ambivalent hero as it looks and names would suggest. A formidable melee based fighter, his Ice Fists can also be pounded on the ground to spread the area of effect damage. Kelvin also uses its power to “Sublimate” and turn from a solid to gaseous state, which is great to escape away from danger.

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The mission that I played in the Beta is called ” Void’s Edge” which you can play alone or with a team of online-based players. If you are smart, or played MOBAs, you’ll pick a character that is of complementary skillset from your companions (tank, medics, support, etc). The planet visited is rather colorful, and for someone who’s partially color blinded, things get out of control on the screen. The game design is the structure and direction of the game, pushing players to kill as many mobs of opponents as they can, to get ahead of the problems. The concept of group is also crucial in this context with alarms at every death of a hero, and if you reach a certain amount of tickets spent to revive them, it’s game over. At the end of each level, Battleborn offers a boss fight, which are borrowing RPG patterns, with a strict action cycles, buff and debuff cycles and strategic attacks. More than just a typical RPG Shooter, and to not compare it to Borderlands, Gearbox prefer to use the term of Hero Shooter. An exotic name that makes Battleborn a fairly elastic product, with a in-game level up system via helical interface called Helix. Each hero can climb 10 levels every match or game, and Battleborn enables real-time management while playing. Like a MOBA, for each level gained, you gain a better ability or skills, but as you go higher, you’ll have to choose among two proposed build set that suits you best. These improvements are intended to render the efficiency of your character depending on your coop role, by optimizing your two special attacks and your ultimate.

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There’s also a plethora of challenges to finished while playing, reminding us of those in Borderlands that used to unlock Badass Rank Points. These act as indicators of progress for each character, and there’s over 45 of them, with several rows of levels at a time. With all the unlockable items you get from reaching these tedious ranks, it looks like you should have enough things to do complete in the full game.

So what about the PVP modes? In the Beta, Incursion was the thing to try out, especially if you’re used to a MOBA game such as Smite. Played in a traditional 5v5 competitive environment, the goal of the game is to help out your minions reach the opponent camp to destroy as soon as possible their large sentries. As you damage them throughout the match, the score for that team goes from 100 to 0, which will automatically crown the winning team. Unless, the match keeps on going, it’s the team with the most points left after 30 minutes that wins the game.

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Like a MOBA, the challenge is to work on the rather narrow lanes, and let the grunt work to the AI Minions and turrets you can build on the way, while you coordinate your team attacks to destroy those sentries. And thus your task in the beginning will be to collect splinters represented by yellow flashes, which act as your in-match currency, which will help you build either turrets, health stations or even temporary support drones and robots to lead and protect the assault. This small overlay of Battleborn’s gameplay gives it that MOBA orientation, in addition to a great map design, at least for those tried in the beta. In addition to small turret enhancements, teams can also use robot mercenaries from certain points shown on the mini-map. These Mercenaries have a higher number of hit points of life in comparison to the normal minions, will patrol and attack every opposing player standing within their grasp.

With a real sense of progression and maps conceptualized specifically for the different modes, it looks like this new blend of shooter and MOBA elements will quickly become exciting. And with over 25 Heroes at launch, filled the wittiness and art style of Borderlands, the game reveals a more than interesting potential. Let’s see what the final result will be when the game launches next month on the three major platforms.

Battleborn launches on the 3rd of May 2016 worldwide for Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4. The impressions were made based on the Xbox One Closed and Open Beta. Note that on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, you’ll need an Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus subscription to take full advantage of the Battleborn’s Beta.

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