Gearbox describes Battleborn’s campaign as an episodic-style experience that can be played entirely single player. Each mission is like playing a television episode, with that episode’s unique plot standing on its own within the game’s overarching story. There are 8 episodes in total and all have you taking on various objectives as you battle against or alongside a wide array of characters. My personal favourite encounter was with ‘Geoff’ or ‘Arachnis’ as he would prefer to be called.
Each ‘episode’ will take roughly half an hour to complete; meaning that the expected play through would be approximately 4 hours. Sounds worrying? Well, a lack of content has been a source of controversy in quite a few AAA titles but make no mistake, the wide array of heroes available brings something new to each time you play an episode and it’s this variety that ensures that you can replay the episodes available multiple times will still enjoying that ‘fresh’ feeling because of the unique abilities and personalities of each individual hero.
Each episode was jam packed with charming humour that does induce some genuine laughs and definitely seems to take cues from the other Gearbox franchise Borderlands and also reminded me of Destiny in some ways, in terms of the flow and style of combat. A stylish, anime-style opening cut scene will never fail to impress me as it draws you right into the action and adds to the stylized presentation of Battleborn’s story mode.
The moment-to-moment gunplay is something Gearbox is renowned for and that’s no different with Battleborn. Yes, you’re essentially fighting waves of enemies but the variety in enemies and the satisfying feel of gunplay in the game makes it all worth it. While split screen gameplay may seem like a relic from a time past, it’s very welcome here in Battleborn and was utilised by a friend and I during my play through of Battleborn’s story mode.
There’s a lot to praise with Battleborn’s charming story mode but one department that it causes me much grievance in is in the difficulty. Each mission comes with a normal and hard-core difficulty which affects whether or not you can respawn in a mission. However, I found myself losing missions fairly often and it appears I wasn’t alone. The great thing about Battleborn is that I regularly got matched up with players who were using mics and it was from this that I found I wasn’t alone in criticising this aspect of the game. The problem stems from the game’s defence focused missions, whereby players must defend a certain objective or escort a character across a location. Frustratingly, if a point is destroyed or if the character you’re escorting dies then the mission will come to a sudden end. There’s no reverting back to a checkpoint and this sometimes made me take breaks from the game to escape the frustration.
Having said that, the missions that are more Raid-like whereby you take on multiple mini-bosses before finally confronting a bigger and tougher final boss is where I enjoyed the story mode the most. What’s the downside? There simply weren’t enough of these types of missions. From the stylized cartoon graphics to the charming array of heroes, it’s abundantly clear that ‘fun’ is Battleborn’s selling factor but the game doesn’t buck the trend when it comes to escort missions and quite frankly instant fail objectives are never fun.
It really is all 25 heroes featured in Battleborn that bolsters the game beyond everything else and in this sense it really is the game’s saving grace. Each character brings a new personality and new abilities to the table, ensuring a fresh experience when you pick up and play with each individual character. What’s more, Battleborn holds back some of these characters behind ‘challenges’ which you’ll need to complete before you can use a certain character. Before anyone complains, I was actually grateful for this as having all characters at once would have been overwhelming in a game that already has a lot of systems to learn.
For all the positives and negatives of the campaign, it’s the multiplayer mode that will be the true test to Battleborn’s longevity. The game features three game modes: Incursion, Capture and Meltdown. Each mode features two different maps. Some simple maths and you’ll figure out this means that Battleborn only has 6 multiplayer maps. Before the pitchforks are brought out, Gearbox has responded to criticism of this lack of maps and has confirmed that some will be added for free for all players.
Capture is a fairly straightforward capture point style mode that should be familiar for anyone who’s ever played a ‘domination’ game mode. This is Battleborn’s most accessible game mode by a mile and is probably the best game mode to get started in before you jump into the game’s more complex modes; Incursion and Meltdown.
It’s the latter game modes that the game’s MOBA elements really come into fruition. Incursion features teams of heroes who must defend their base from waves of AI-controlled minions while working together alongside their own minions to destroy their opponent’s base. Conversely, Meltdown features teams of heroes that must guide their minions as they march to their death at the centre of the map. Points are scored for every minion who throws themselves into the incinerator, and the team with the most points wins.
For anyone who’s not familiar with MOBA type game modes, this might at first seem overwhelming. However, so far Battleborn’s community has come off well and I even received some helpful pointers from numerous players in the time I have spent in these modes thus far. Even if you’re familiar with MOBA game modes, the first person perspective that Battleborn employs might throw you off at first but you’ll soon realize that the fast-paced, right in your face action is worth it. There is plenty of strategy and team play required to win matches and there’s room for those epic comebacks we all love to be a part of in MOBA games.
When considering Battleborn as a full package, there’s a lot there to sink your teeth into. It’s unique blend of various game modes and various ways to play means you’ll have a lot of fun experimenting in Battleborn, especially when it comes to the game’s charming and humours characters. Battleborn will provide you with entertainment and a level of uniqueness that has become a rarity in AAA games. Unfortunately, it can’t help but be felt that Battleborn falls just short of its potential and is held back by frustrating mission design, overly harsh difficulty and lack of multiplayer content.