June 22, 2015 by Ryan Ward
Gearbox Studios has certainly proven that they can make a competent and exciting first-person shooter with the Borderlands series, but their newest game, Battleborn, looks to bring some new and exciting changes to the genre. Battleborn is a MOBA-like FPS with both competitive and cooperative modes. We were able to go hands-on with the game at E3, and while we really wanted to be able to compare the PvP mode to Microsoft exclusive Gigantic, unfortunately Gearbox was only showing the cooperative mode, so we couldn’t get a direct comparison. Still, from what we did play, it looks like Gearbox has another highly addictive hit on their hands.
At the time of playing Gearbox’s E3 build, Battleborn had 10 different characters from 5 different factions that ranged from a pistol-wielding robot to a four-armed spell-casting sprite. Your standard RPG trinity is here with tanks, damage-dealers, and healing specialists. Since I tend to lean towards support characters in multiplayer games, I chose to play as Miko, a half-man half-mushroom that throws kunai at his opponents and heals his fellow players with spores. Paul, who was also playing on my team, took big Montana, a ranged tank capable of dishing out damage “when he’s not clotheslining bears for fun” and leading the charge into battle.
After loading into the game, I was instructed to open the skill tree and choose some skills. The skill tree is basically a series of two choices unlocking a new choice every couple levels. Since this demo was only Battleborn‘s cooperative mode, the gameplay was fairly Borderlands-esque and consisted of a series of small bad guys and capitalized with a couple of big bad guys leading to a couple giant boss fights towards the end. Overall, the gameplay was fun but simple, and it felt like I was just playing a re-skin of a previous Gearbox game I had played many times before.
Calling Battleborn a “re-skin” might make it sound like I didn’t enjoy playing, but it’s actually the contrary. Out of everything we saw, our only disappointment was that we weren’t able to play the competitive mode. The gameplay itself was smooth and fun, but if I wanted to shoot up AI opponents, I would just play Borderlands. Still, Gearbox’s latest has us excited and hopeful that the PvP mode will deliver the depth and strategy that the E3 demo was sorely lacking. There’s no question that fans of Gearbox’s previous work are going to be satisfied with their new competitive IP.
Battleborn is scheduled to be released in Q4 2015 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.