Over the time since Battleborn’s announcement we haven’t seen all that much on the game, besides the multitude of stylish character introductions that are oh-so Gearbox. While it looked gorgeous and we knew it’d feature a story and an array of multiplayer offerings, I was yet to see something that really sold me on the title – well, besides a badass penguin in a mech. This all changed once I’d played a few matches of Incursion, where I found my reason to love this game.
During a preview session I was able to play two matches of Battleborn’s Incursion multiplayer game mode. Lasting around half an hour apiece, these matches were vastly engaging, filled with shouting directions, cheers and plenty of taunting. By drawing inspiration from some of the best MOBAs and shooters on the market, with a dash of Gearbox’s signature art and characteristic flair, the game has a really solid base for fun and competitive play.The five versus five mode pits two teams of Battleborn against each other, tasked with destroying two of your oppositions’ sentry units. This mode feels a lot like an evolution of MOBA stylings crossed with the emerging shooter genre, taking the form of a single lane battlefield, dotted with winding side paths, heavily armed mercenaries and stunning visuals.
As the game begins waves of minions push forward towards the enemy sentries, capable to absorbing it’s damage and taking down its shields. The trouble comes when the enemy team starts killing your minions, and vice versa, resulting in a tactical tug of war. As things get messy and abilities are let fly, having a team that communicates and strategizes can have a huge effect.
“having a team that communicates and strategizes can have a huge effect.”
Thinking about team composition quickly becomes a priority, and clear choices emerge. Isic, Montana, Ambra, Miko and Caldarius were staples across the two matches, giving teams a healer to support, mobile heroes for pick offs and tanks to soak up damage and hit hard. Seeing future mech warriors, a mushroom and a giant army dude team up to battle it out has an odd charm to it, a tone the entire game carries I really enjoyed.These characters are by far my favourite factor of the experience. Listening to the back and forth dialogue of the team, or snide remarks from your character when they make a quick get away, gives you a real sense of who these characters are. Coupled with vivid, outlandish designs, most players will find themselves gravitating to certain styles from the art alone. Two I jumped at were Thorn, an Eldrid archer with the power to poison and pick off foes at range, and Toby the loveable Rogue penguin capable of shielding his team and laying down heavy fire across the map.
It’s fair to say I had a lot of fun with these two, especially Toby, given that he’s basically Tiny Tina if she had access to a mech. You’re not all powerful and all capable to begin with; each match starts you off at zero, throwing you into a rapid levelling system. Over the course of the game, by killing foes, minions and mercs, you’ll gain XP to level up. As you grow you’ll be given points to morph and enhance your two abilities and ultimate, allowing you to build for each encounter and try new styles. While this rapid system will be familiar to MOBA players, it’s a great way to encourage experimentation for new players in their builds without having to commit to full game long skill tree choices.While roaming the winding paths and open lanes of each map, you’ll find glowing yellow shards. Collecting these is vital throughout the match as it allows you to build turrets for defence, reinforce your minion wave with a stronger minion and activate your gear load outs. This gear takes the form of three modifiers you can equip before firing up a game, giving minor bonuses on equip such as passive damage boosts and heal on kill perks. While they didn’t seem to be game changing, having these options open to you allows a lot of room to make the characters of Battleborn truly yours.
The game felt pretty balanced as it stood on pre-release code. It seems a lot of effort has gone into ensuring the quite large roster of Battleborn can’t outclass the others. Good teamwork won the day both games, despite the enemy picking heroes we’d previously won with. In the end, longevity may be the games biggest hurdle, but with previous successes in Borderlands and MOBA communities, I think Gearbox has put together a game that definitely has the power to stick.Battleborn’s competitive multiplayer is a huge positive for the title. It’s dripping with character and colour, humorous to the last minute. With such a vast cast of characters alongside plenty of multiplayer and episodic campaign offerings, I can’t wait to jump in and try the rest of the roster come May 3rd.
We’ll have more on Battleborn in the coming weeks, including a new look at the story content and an interview with Gearbox developers about the game’s art, design and characters – stay tuned!