Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
If you take Borderlands, improve and add more of what people loved about it, at the same time removed what people hated, you end up with Battleborn. Not being a fan of Borderlands myself, I was skeptical of this new title from Gearbox, but after spending some time with it, I can say that this is a much better experience.
Battleborn gives you control of 25 different heroes who fight to protect the universe's very last star from a mysterious evil that is trying to control it. To defend the last star, you'll need to utilize every type of character and weapon you've got and take down the evil army across the universe. Slash and parry, run and gun, cast spells, or simply obliterate foes all while building and growing your personal team of heroes. Choose and customize your hero and fight alone or cooperatively alongside friends in story missions, or battle against them in fast-paced competitive multiplayer matches. It all sounds like standard stuff, until you actually start playing and see for yourself how fun and engaging everything is.
From the start of the game, you are thrust into battle even before you reach a title screen. This fight acts as a sort of tutorial of how everything controls. It also introduces a few of the characters you can unlock throughout the game. After this ends, you can select from available story missions and play alone or with others online. Most of the story missions consist of either defending a power core, or reaching checkpoints on a massive play field while surviving against swarms of enemies. You can pick up crystals that act as currency that can be used to build turret guns or have a sentry drone follow you around for added firepower. Building turret guns are a must for defending missions since you will be attacked from all sides, while drones and other weapons help you take down the Massive Boss Characters at the end of a mission. Crystals can also be used to improve any character you like, by purchasing weapons, more powerful armor and other perks to make fighting a bit easier. Once you begin leveling up, you can augment abilities for your current character in the Helix menu. Here you can accelerate a characters powers and skills with a sort of skill tree. This acceleration will help you in Story missions and multiplayer battles, but careful decision making is a must if you want to make a truly awesome character. Upgrading a lame skill may be the difference between victory and defeat.
Online play is the major selling point with Battleborn. Not only can you take on the story with up to 4 friends, but you can also enter massive 10 player battles and have a blast with all the different characters, weapons and modes offered. My personal favorite mode is Meltdown, where each team escorts waves of minions to their death, and you score points for every minion who gets thrown into the incinerator. The team with the most scrap metal at the end wins the match. In multiplayer, you have a set number of lives that are shared by the team. Once you run out of lives, you have to enter a sort of spectator mode until another member finds or earns an extra life. This can get frustrating, but adds to the challenge overall, because you definitely don't want to be "That Guy" who keeps dying. After a few attempts at connecting (mostly due to pre-release hiccups) I managed to get into several matches with no lag at all. Story missions had a few problems with a few dropped connections, but overall, all online modes are solid and just a whole bunch of fun.
One of the great things about Borderlands was the control, and Battleborn continues this tradition with some fantastic and tight controls. Not once did I feel like I was out of control of my character. Everything is laid out perfectly, right from the start so you don't have to change a thing. If you do find issue with the standard controls, you can fit them to your needs easily with a nice selection of control options available.
The visuals have a distinct cartoon look, almost looking like you are playing in the panels of a comic book. Everything is stylized so perfectly right down to the smallest detail. Honestly, I have never played a game like this that was as a visibly pleasing as it is fun to play. The sound is just as equally as nice, with great music to accompany the cut scenes, as well as great spoken dialog from the NPCs as well as your own characters. There’s not much music in the main game though, but since the action seldom lets up, you won't miss it much. Everything looks and sounds brilliant, and really hooks you in for long play sessions.
Battleborn really surprised and impressed me with how fun it is to play. I expected to be let down by another run of the mill shooter with some sort of gimmick tacked on, but that didn't happen here. What I got was a solid and somewhat unique action shooter that was also a heck of a lot of fun. All the characters are great in their own way, and the story, while not groundbreaking, will keep you interested. The multiplayer aspect is by far the best part of the whole package, and even though you can play by yourself, you will hardly want to. This is a great game all around and I highly recommend checking it out!