First Impressions: Battleborn Beta (PS4, 2016)

Over the last week or so, Gearbox’s newest IP (the first since 2009’s Borderlands) Battleborn was in beta offering a glimpse into its various modes and characters.

I only managed to shoot through the two story missions it contained and they both clocked in at around an hour a piece. The opening level I played at PAX last year but with only one friend along for the ride this time, I got to take a little more in.

Battleborn is a lovely looking game, if not overly simplified. Everything from characters to environments look hand drawn, not unlike a high end Disney film. Mechanical enemies erupt in cartoony explosions and numbers pop as they take hits, similar to Borderlands.

The entire affair is very tongue in cheek and although it requires some critical thinking occasionally, it is worlds apart from Borderlands‘ menu hopping, gear equipping, stat raising formula. It’s still in there though but not nearly to the same extent. When you level up, you’ll receive Augments that allow you to bring up a menu that resembles a DNA strand. Keeping with the theme of simplicity, this is done by simply holding up on the D-pad and using your analogue stick to pick one of 2 skills.

Battleborn’s strong point was always going to be its characters. In the full game there will be a whopping 25 to choose from but in the beta we got a choice of around 6. They are not merely skins though. Everyone is different from Rath, a samurai, Thorn, a an archer and a chain gun firing, bubblegum chewing behemoth called Montana. Battleborn’s design almost requires you to play with friends. Combining a healer like Miko and someone who can mark enemies like Marquis is a lot better than just choosing two melee based characters or a couple of sharpshooters.

Enemies arrive in abundance and take a while to put down but it is all fairly balanced. The only time it becomes tedious, is in its boss battles, which was occasionally an issue for Borderlands.

I’ll be playing and reviewing Battleborn when it’s released and I look forward to giving it a full rundown. It’s shaping up to be something quite special with a tonne of replayability value.

Battleborn will arrive on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on May 3.


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