- + Levelling up to the max during one level really does feel bad-ass
- + Cutscenes looks awesome, I want a full animated show!
- - Lacking substance for a full-priced title
- - Solo mode feels redundant
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
Start Replay: “Battle-Bore”
You know it’s a bad sign when you enjoy a game’s cutscenes more than its gameplay, yet that’s exactly how I felt jumping into Battleborn. Gearbox Software’s new shooter feels like an unnecessary stop gap before a fully-fledged Borderlands sequel; aiming to provide competitive online gaming, whilst struggling to gain an identity along the way. That’s not to say it’s without its merits. Underneath lies an experience which, at times, really does makes you feel like a bad-ass.
From the get-go there are two ways to play: through its story-driven campaign, or a handful of competitive online modes. There’s only one last star left in the galaxy, and that in turn brings the very last dregs of humanity to the few planets that remain. The campaign is divided into 8 individual episodes, and each one can either be played solo, or with friends online. Its competitive modes include capturing certain points, destroying enemy turrets, and escorting packs of minions to designated areas.
Considering that Battleborn has been developed by those responsible for Borderlands, it’s unsurprising to see it share more than a few similarities. There are 25 characters to choose from and each one looks like they could’ve been plucked straight from the world of Pandora. Its level design, too, looks and feels like a Borderlands game, but it bears little substance in comparison to its close cousin.
Battleborn’s closest competitor is Activision’s Overwatch, and quite frankly, the latter is more enjoyable. I prefer its art style, plus I relish the opportunity to switch between any of its 21 characters on-the-go. Battleborn requires you to unlock extra players by gaining experience or completing tasks, something that felt like filler to add longevity, but in the meantime the game does excel at making you feel like a god via its speedy character progression.
During each level you’re able to rapidly upgrade your character within a short space of time, utilising anyone to their full potential without grinding for hours to earn the required experience. A 10 level skill tree is assigned to each member of the Battleborn roster, and each tier includes two gameplay modifiers. Depending on how you choose to play, abilities can either be tailored for unstoppable power, or upgraded to offer a more balanced approach; for instance, decreasing a power’s cool down time, or increasing the rate at which your health and shield regenerate. I much preferred heading in the direction of power, since it made dealing with enemies a lot less hassle. The skills acquired are then reset when beginning a new match.
There may be a wealth of options to customise your experience on-the-fly, but gameplay does seem limited. An eight part campaign and three competitive modes isn’t exactly a lot. It doesn’t help that I simply don’t feel a connection to the characters and world Battleborn sets up. I miss the likes of Claptrap and Handsome Jack, and I also miss the option to take on silly side-missions or blast around aimlessly with a friend. Battleborn is a much more focused experience that serves as nothing more than an appetiser to Gearbox’s next big Borderlands experience.
When you witness the slew of bleeped-out swear words filling the mouths of its wacky characters, it’s clear that Gearbox Software’s signature humour isn’t lacking in Battleborn. It’s just a shame that its intentions for a linear online thrill ride, seem to have skewered the potential for a hearty campaign fleshed-out by optional side quests.