Promising Potential – Battleborn Multiplayer Beta Impressions

Promising Potential – Battleborn Multiplayer Beta Impressions

* Based Purely on the PVP multiplayer*

Battleborn’s Open Beta event has cleared up a number of things. The general worry was that this Battleborn was a cheap cash-in on ‘Hero shooters’ has thankfully been proved wrong. That doesn’t mean the Beta wasn’t without its flaws, or suggestions of problems that could arise in the retail release.

At the heart of the game is MOBA-like flow, with similarities to Monday Night Combat. Two teams push into the opposition’s side of the map. Depending on the game mode, the end goals are different but are essential achieved in the same way. Incursion tasks players with taking out the enemy team’s towering sentry robots. Not much there in terms of variety or even strategy, but it does highlight the qualities of the Meltdown mode.

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Battleborn feels, and plays, at its best in Meltdown. Players push minions into machines, increasing their score. As the score builds, the machines appear further into enemy territory. The path towards said machines is littered with defence turrets and nodes, in which further defences can be built. Additional elements include aid stations and the ability to build larger units to help the push forward.

Meltdown offers much more flexibility and creativity, supplying opportunities to play the game with a touch of strategy. The meta game of building and  upgrading turrets , along with aid stations, is subtle, but vital, key to success. The end goal may be to rack up the most points, but that can only be achieved by investing in structures. In order to build said turrets and stations, players must gather crystals, which neatly feeds into another element of game.

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Farming crystals can be done by sprinting around the map, taking out the crustrations. Another method is by taking out enemy minions, which also rewards players with experience. If this sounds familiar, the chances are you’ve played a MOBA. In fairness to Battleborn, the MOBA elements never go beyond that. There’s no fixation on going back to base in order to buy items dictating the effectiveness of the player, or a focus on last hits.

Each character may fit into the traditional roles seen in MOBA games, but they’re not as contained. A team without a support character can do just as well as anyone else. Team composition can be made optimal, but there’s not required set up. That very fact is what makes Battleborn simply fun. Fusing together light MOBA elements with solid first person shooter foundations has turned out pretty sweetly.

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The sheer chaos each round of Meltdown provides is genuinely enjoyable, even in defeat. One issues that popped up from time to time wasn’t due to the game, but the players. Most will be so driven to chase down kills, ignoring the meta games at work. It’s frustrating, forcing suggestions of increased rewards and perks for engaging with minions and enemy structures over trying to tot up frags.

Battleborn’s Beta has a number of characters to play as, but only if you’re willing to grind them out. Each one has two ways to unlock them, either by levelling up by playing the game or by finishing certain story/challenge criteria. All of them have their own unique abilities and play styles. Tanks, supports, assassins, casters and ranged offensive options are all present. Supports offer the weakest choice, mainly due to how passive a number of their skills feel.

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Gearbox have done a great job of creating characters with personality, both in terms of gameplay and traits.The Borderland’s type humour is woven into the game. Characters bark out random bits of dialogue, even reacting to enemies and actions . While it can be funny, sometimes it just feels far too forced and annoying, but least the option is there to turn them off.

Given the short amount of time the Beta was open for, the item system never really felt tangible. Players earn coins based on the results of each match. These coins can be used to purchase packs that contain items for use in battle. Items range from common, uncommon rare and very rare. It’s a nice touch that lets a player enhance the method in which they want to play. Items are random, so there’s no telling what will be obtained.

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Crafting an opinion on the item’s usefulness is tricky given all I ever unlocked was low tier gear, most of which made little difference to my performance in game. Increased crit, attack speed and shield recharge times seem to form the bulk of the items. The higher the tier, the more effects the item has, some even have negative effects to maintain balance.

Battleborn’s Beta shows a game with great promise, but with a lot grind involved. Given how different each character plays, there’s potential for imbalance between them being a issue. The method of unlocking each character comes off a an attempt to force the player towards story based content. Grind up to level 28 or finish a section of the story, that’s what most of the choices boil down to.

Gearbox has a decent game on its hands, but the elephant in the room is Blizzard’s Overwatch. Battleborn releases in early May, while Overwatch closes the same month. This could ultimately be the biggest problem Bloodborn has, at least when it comes to hold a strong player base. Hopefully the final version reflects the qualities present in the Beta, garnering a following in the process.

 

Sean Halliday


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