Battleborn E3 Hands-on Impressions

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So after hearing that Gearbox were working on a new title which wasn’t Borderlands, I was eager to take a looksies at Battleborn at the 2K E3 stall this year. I moseyed on over and had a look at what they had in store. This game is slated to be a FPS MOBA but I was not given the opportunity to give that side of the game a try. Instead, what I was able to see of the game was more focused towards the universe and the story mode.

Before we sat down to play the game proper, we were given a presentation by one of the developers from Gearbox software on the backstory of the game. It turns out that the universe of Battleborn is surprisingly grim and deals with the heat death of the universe itself as what remains of organic life have gathered around the last remaining star in the universe. Various factions wish to either preserve, study, or destroy the star for their own reasons which invariably leads to conflict.

This premise, although grim does lend itself to having a diverse roster of disparate characters with the game apparently featuring 25 altogether. From the looks of things, I kinda get the feeling that maybe the guys at Gearbox decided to bring out every character concept they ever had to feature in this game… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it can mean that the broad focus makes some characters less fun than others.

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I found this to be the case to a certain extent with my playthrough as out of the two characters I was able to play, I had much more fun with one compared to the other. The gameplay and aesthetic is very reminiscent of the Borderlands series as the emphasis for most characters is to run-and-gun around the map to complete objectives. The level basically involved us moving from area to area, clearing out enemies and in the latter half; playing escort to a giant mechanical spider-drone.

The first character I played, Miko (a sentient mushroom being and healer), was quite good in this regard as I sped around the level healing other characters. The controls were responsive and enjoyable, even though I am a very infrequent console gamer. Movement was fast and fluid as I jumped my way across the map. As the level progressed, I unlocked various passive bonuses to complement my active abilities. For example, with one level up I was given the option of either being able to increase the rate of healing I was able to do or to increase the damage of my poison attacks. I chose to largely play my character as a support and so chose to specialise myself in ways that would help my allies.

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The second character, Montana (a gun-toting, musclebound bruiser), did not nearly feel as fun to play. Although I was nominally meant to be a damage-soaking tank, my drastically reduced speed meant that I could not manouever myself into position for enemies to target me. By the time I had placed myself in such a position, most of the enemies were dead. The minigun weapon I was equipped with had an over-heating mechanic which meant that I would frequently become ineffective at long-range due to it’s low-threshold for over-heating. It wasn’t until late in the level that I unlocked a passive ability which allowed me to fire the minigun while overheated in exchange for damaging me.

Overall the game was enjoyable. The characters are eclectic and interesting, although some are more fun than others. What I could see of the game’s writing was also enjoyably silly with a similarly Borderlands vibe.  In the end, I will admit I am looking forward to this game’s release.

For more of our E3 coverage, click here.

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