Battleborn: We’re not in Pandora anymore, Claptrap (2024)

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Battleborn focuses on a huge party of heroes after they’re pushed back into theuniverse’s last remaining solar system by a bunch of time-accelerating baddies

When you first take a look at Battleborn, you’d think it was a MOBA it's got all the hallmarks of the PC’s new favorite genre, from graphics and art style to roster and character variety. The thing is, Gearbox is quietly trying to innovate the co-operative shooter, and a MOBA is probably further away from what Battleborn really is than the studio would like to admit. After all, MOBAs are in vogue right now, and having consumers say ‘it looks like League Of Legends’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing…

But Battleborn is more than a MOBA calling it such is reductive and is a disservice to Gearbox’s efforts. The 2K subsidiary is known for its work on Borderlands, sure, but the 15-year lifespan of the developer has also seen projects like Brothers In Arms and Duke Nukem pass through, and Battleborn looks like some kind of vibrant chimera, fed with the offcuts and scraps on the projects that led to its creation. We’ve compiled the five most interesting mutations in the game so far, to try to understand what Gearbox is doing…

Battleborn: We’re not in Pandora anymore, Claptrap (1)

Gearbox Takes pride in the way it brought the loot mechanic into the FPS, and now it plans to evolve that sense of variety by exchanging guns for characters. The studio is calling the game a ‘hero-shooter’, and they plan to satirise everything that the FPS genre has seen so far with its own character in Battleborn. Gearbox’s art director Scott Kester has said he hopes ‘every character in the game is the main character of a game that hasn’t come out yet’ the team at Gearbox refers to the roster, jokingly, as the ‘battlebarn’. This is good news for players that might have gotten tired of the few playable characters in Borderlands, despite the fun customisation options. Variety, as they say, is key.

Alot Of shooters are happy with doing little to contextualise the havoc you’re wreaking (or, at least, caring so little about narrative that whatever you’re doing feels acceptable). Battleborn, however, takes place inthe future, where solar systems are going dark. One by one, the survivors are flocking to a single system in hopes of fighting off the encroaching darkness. Here, the survivors form five factions and end up fighting each other as muchas the force that pursues them all. It may not be the most original story, but at least it’ll make for some interesting narrative justification.

“ As a genre-fused, hobby-grade, co-operative and competitive FPS exploding with eye-popping style and an imaginative universe, Battleborn is the most ambitious videogame that Gearbox has ever created”

The Alien Race at the heart of the universe’s problems turn out to be called the Varelsi celestial beings that have somehow crawled into our universe. The Varelsi are supposed to be the embodiment of entropy, and their sole aimis to accelerate the progression of time to prematurely bring about the end of time. It’s a big story, and one that’s been worked on with character designers and programmers to ensure the whole experience fits together, and that everyone on the team had the same creative goal. It’s got some tough competition right now(we're looking at you, Destiny), but Gearbox has proven itself in genre mastery before.

Solo Players Rejoice the game is built to support up to five players at any one time, but that doesn't mean you can’t play on your own if you want to. Players can upgrade their characters from level one right the way up to the highest rank in 20 to 30 minutes if they wish a speed intentionally chosen by Gearbox because it wants to emphasise the feeling of RPG progression you’d have gotten from Borderlands. It’s the anti Destiny of co-op FPS games, and we know how much that’ll appease some of the core shooter audience. The days of the single-player campagin might be dying, but at least Gearbox is acting as a vanguard…for now.

A Side From all the different characters you can choose to level up, when you replay any given scenario, you’re given the opportunity to completely remap your heroes’ abilities. Complete specific objectives in-game and you will receive new upgrades and unlocks that can apply to other characters in the roster. All of that is of course in addition to the standard offering of loot available during the missions. Compounded with how short the individual scenario sessions are, these elements will hopefully lead to a completed game that doesn’t just have a wide breadth of missions and characters, but also some good depth, too.

Battleborn: We’re not in Pandora anymore, Claptrap (2024)


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