by Daniel Boylan
When I was growing up, there were never a large amount of games released in the first half of the year, with publishers saving all their heavy hitters for the busy Christmas season. That reputation has stuck, but in recent years there have been improvements made with more spread out releases. So far, 2016 has done a great job of bucking the usual trend of a barren spring/summer release schedule, with huge titles like Lego Marvel Avengers, Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 and Tom Clancy’s The Division all released before Easter. Even with the stiff competition, Battleborn is on track to cementing itself as a serious player in one of the most jam packed years in gaming so far.
Coming to us from the developers at Gearbox, the wonderful minds behind the Borderlands series of first person shooter/adventure/RPG games, you can rest assured that they already know their stuff when it comes to insane shooters with even more insane weaponry. It’s the same brand of zany, over the top action that they’ve decided to go with for Battleborn, which just like Overwatch from Blizzard (click here
for article), is a welcome departure from the current norm of gritty, grey/brown games doing the rounds. There’s certainly a place for that kind of thing too, but sometimes you just need a splash of colour in your gaming library! We’re looking at a shooter of the MOBA variety here (multiplayer online battle arena), with the battles taking the form of 5v5 team matches, which should keep things just the right amount of focused among all the chaos.
Where would any modern game be without some kind of story to give you a reason for all that action? Even Super Mario has a reason to be running around collecting coins and stomping koopas all day, what with Princess Peach constantly getting kidnapped. Battleborn delivers with an interesting one: the last star in the universe known as Solus, is under threat from a mysterious evil known as the Varelsi and it’s up to our unlikely band of heroes to save the day. So not much at stake in this one then…
Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone in the campaign mode, as the entire thing can be played co-operatively with up to four friends. In a move that is sadly becoming rarer these days, the game also includes the option for split screen co-op, for some old school couch multiplayer action. In my opinion, even though you don’t get a full screen to yourself, this is still the most fun to play multiplayer games (I know, showing my age).
There are 25 weird and wonderful heroes to play as and no two are the same, from scientists to soldiers, a wrestler named El Dragón and even an ice golem called Kelvin. My personal favourite has to be Toby, a tiny adorable penguin in a giant mech suit! With the variety on offer, it’s impossible not to have at least a few characters in your list of faves, with the huge differences between characters offering good incentive to mix it up from time to time.
The characters in the game are divided up into five separate factions, each with their own unique background:
- The Last Light Consortium – The LLC is a mostly cybernetic organisation, and is the greatest economic power left in the universe. Their number one priority is the pursuit of profit at any cost. They were once a part of the United Peacekeeping Republics, but left when they decided it did nothing to help them financially. They own and operate Minion Robotics, the largest weapons manufacturer left in the galaxy. Kind of reminds me of Skynet from The Terminator, if they were after money instead of the destruction of all humans.
- The Eldrid – these guys were once a major player in the universe, tasked with maintaining the natural order of life in the cosmos. As the stars faded, so did their influence, and now they’re fighting for their place in a fading universe while trying to defend the Last Star.
- The Rogues – as the name suggests, The Rogues are a group of loose cannons who don’t play by anyone’s rules, not even their own. They live in the Detritus Rings, away from the drama and squabbles of the other factions. They will however, have their part to play in determining the fate of the Last Star with it, the universe itself.
- United Peacekeeping Republics – the UPR is a collection of civilisations working together to protect the universe, freedom and equality. With the universe on the verge of ending, they find themselves in Solus like the rest of the factions. Despite the loss of the LLC from their ranks, the UPR stays committed to the cause and their sense of justice.
- The Jennerit Imperium – once the leaders in the fight against the Varelsi, The Jennerit Imperium now find themselves allied with their former enemies. This happened when the Jennerit commander Lothar Rendain staged a coup on his own government, in what he saw as the only option in a losing battle against the Varelsi.
There’s barely a shooter these days without an online multiplayer mode and Battleborn isn’t one to be left out here. There are three types of 5v5 multiplayer modes to get to grips with:
- Incursion – you must defend your sentries from attack by both other players as well as AI controlled minions. Whichever team takes out all three of their opponent’s sentries is the winner here!
- Capture – a new take on a familiar premise, Capture is a fast paced deathmatch in which both teams are fighting to take and hold onto 3 bases, with the first to 1000 points being declared the winner.
- Meltdown – this one reminds me of the classic game Lemmings! Each team must guide their minions to an incinerator in the centre of the battlefield, points are awarded for each minion incinerated and the team with the most points wins. Not a good day to be a minion!
One area which Gearbox have proven to excel in is the longevity of their games, with many Borderlands players clocking in at well over 100 hours of playtime. Battleborn isn’t playing around here, with the estimated time to fully upgrade all 25 characters being a whopping 250 hours! That’s not even all of it, as it will take about 1,000 hours to prestige the game entirely, and with so much loot to collect, achievements to achieve and different playstyles to master there’s plenty to keep you coming back for more. There will barely be any time to play anything else at this rate–so ask yourself, were you born for this?