Battleborn Beta Impressions: It's Alright

Battleborn Beta Impressions: It's Alright

A name similar to Battlefront, Battlecry and even Bloodborne hasn't helped next month's Battleborn stand out. Descriptions of the game place it in an overflowing stew of team shooters and MOBA-influenced games. This week, at last, there's an open beta which allows us to at least judge the game on its pre-release merits.

And the judgment is: It's solid, colourful, a little funny.... solid.

That is faint, perhaps damning praise, but it's true. It runs well. The shooting is satisfactorily crunchy. The opportunities to upgrade and unlock characters are alluring enough to invite repeat play, though the gameplay itself isn't so fresh as to immediately make converts.

The game is nearly done. Its beta is some combination of server stress test and marketing formality in advance of a May 3 launch (mission accomplished!). We will learn more about the game the more shooter and MOBA players dip in and emerge with their takes. That is also what the beta can do: get us all talking about whether this multiplayer-centric game merits a spot in gaming's most loaded of barrels.

The beta is free and went into wider release today across PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Let's break down what it is.

Battleborn Beta Impressions: It's Alright

First, it is the rarest of betas: one that has singleplayer content. It has what looks like a quarter of the game's eight mission campaign. I played all of the first mission twice, first solo in an hour and then with a team of four other players that dwindled to a duo by the time we beat the boss 45 minutes later.

The story missions are where Batteborn's designers can most distance themselves from claims that they're a MOBA. The missions are linear shootouts like you would find in Destiny or Call of Duty with hordes of enemies sweating off hit points. The open world of Borderlands is not here, but the sci-fi enemies and smirking humour are.

Aside from Battleborn's arresting amount of playable characters the other MOBA-style thing that is happening in this story mode and the game's other modes is the climb you make every session from a level one powered character to level 10. You kill enemies, gain experience and trigger a level up which allows you to pick one of initially two upgrade options per level. For example, at level two, I can make my attack-owl fly through obstacles or make them invisible.

Battleborn Beta Impressions: It's Alright

You gain a different type of character level progress after each match. Every few steps up that progression ladder activates a third option for a tier of mismatch upgrading. It's called a mutation. For example, when I'm in the middle of a mission while playing as Marquis and reach level six, I can now choose this middle option of having two attack-owls on the battlefield at once:

Battleborn Beta Impressions: It's Alright

One reason Battleborn is tough to judge right now is because it has so many characters. I like playing as Marquis and enjoy the way his gun stacks damage if he hits the same enemy three times in a row. I think his uber weapon, unlocked several character levels into a match, looks cool even when I'm firing it at a temporarily-immune mid-level boss:

Stick to a character and you'll unlock their backstory, numerous upgrades they can take into battle and better victory animations.

Battleborn Beta Impressions: It's Alright

This is a game that will be judged on the maths of its shooting physics and upgrade systems but also on the range of its characters and the allure of their medley of abilities. The screen you see when you boot up the game sends the message that there's a panoply of distinct characters in this game, at least one of which maybe you'll hate or love.

But what do I really know of Battleborn? I've not played as the spinning swordsman Rath that keeps killing me in competitive multiplayer matches. I've not played as the little penguin-looking Toby or the the woman with the hoop dress and lots of swords or as the boss of the first story mission who gets added to your roster after you beat him.

Battleborn Beta Impressions: It's Alright

You see more of the game's characters when you play competitive multiplayer. Those matches are five on five in the two modes in the beta. Those modes, Incursion and Meltdown, see player-controlled heroes escorting minions, which is the kind of thing that invite the comparisons to you-know-what.

These matches took about 20 minutes. I played a couple. They weren't that close. It's hard to say why. Most people seem to just be flailing around, myself included, because, you know, the game is just a beta we're all stumbling through. No one knows the characters that well yet, except maybe the people who keep grabbing Marquis and force me to play as someone else. I've been playing as the mushroom guy Miko. He's a healer:

Battleborn Beta Impressions: It's Alright

I'm curious how other people feel about this game. Battleborn seems to be coming at the best and worst of times. It's spring, so gaming is supposed to be getting a little slow, but people's obsessions with League of Legends, Dota 2, Team Fortress 2 and Call of Duty are eternal. There's also another new shooter with a big colourful cast coming out really soon and, and while this is from the makers of the very good Borderlands, that one is from Blizzard. Plus we've got Epic's Paragon out there also trying to woo console players into more MOBA-style action. It's crowded, but maybe this week's a good week to check this one out at least for free and see if we've got room to play it.

What do you all think? And can you please let me play as Marquis from time to time? Thanks.


    No Australian servers. That was my experience.


        Even in 'story' mode.

          What? So single-player is still online-only?

            It's like The Division, you can play it solo, even split screen BUT you need to have an active connection first. Not a fan of that...

      I didn't have an issue at all getting in thought, no lag or waiting more than a minute or so for a match up (and my internet is f*@$ing shocking, 2 days for 10gb download...)

      What were you playing it on? (I was running Ps4 so it may have gone down differently).

        I was on PS4 and my ping rating was always in the red, playing with Americans.

          Where abouts are you state/metro/country locale? I'm in Brisbane and had no issues finding aussies to play with, had a few mates in Hervey Bay QLD and Tamworth NSW who had no issues either. If you have someone else to play with before you search for a server I found better chance of getting more aussies than searching on your own. Then again could just be the ports playing up. Hope it gets better when it comes out for you!

        Yeah I only played briefly but performance was great, and I live in country Tasmania. The game just felt good to me though, nothing to really make me want to play again.

          Good to see a reference point that far away getting a good connection! Im running from Brisbane and had no issues, currently counting down the days!

    I honestly don't like the visuals. Too much clutter and effects for a PvP game.

      Yeah, but it's not really a PvP game.

        In all the PVP matches I've been in it seems like PVP is all anyone ever focuses on rather than setting up defenses and managing minions. Of course that may just be people not knowing how MOBAs work but the feel is always that PVP comes first, everything else is just a secondary concern.

          When I played I only focused on killing minions. We destroyed the enemy team. I was a sniper too, so that says a lot.

      I had similar thoughts, when three or more characters are all using their abilities in the same area plus all the NPC minions and such, so much is on screen that I have no idea what's going on.

      That and they need to tinker the hit detection a bit so that you actually feel like your hurting opponents rather then just draining a small part of what feels like an overly huge health bar.

      Not for me I think. A week before Uncharted 4 I can see this becoming a dust collector.

    I like it more that Paragon but less than Overwatch...Also 2016. Year of the FPS MOBA hybrid...

      I actually prefer this over overwatch. Overwatch feels like a frantic game of Team Fortress 2 without the balanced feeling or flowing gameplay. Felt more like a COD match in a small map to me.

      Don't forget Battlecry, or Gigantic, or Paladins, or...

        Paladins looked a bit underdone last time I looked at it.

          While Paladins looks a little simpler I found the gameplay much more engaging than this. There is so much clutter and just stuff going on that I don't really feel like I am doing a whole lot. Paladins I feel did a much better job capturing the team push aspect of Moba's in a First Person game.

    I'm kinda interested in this purely for the single player. Hope it turns out good

    Really didn't rate it at all. Just not my style of game I think - Got bored very quickly lol

    My experience was the same. It's alright.

    Everything played pretty well. The art style and graphics were good. Could be fun with a group of friends online. But nothing really grabbed me or made me want to consider buying it at launch. Or at all.

    If they emphasise that it's by the Borderlands guys, it'll help it sell. However, Overwatch is so close to it and already has a big fan base, so...

    Pretty average overall. It's fun but after briefly testing out each character and finishing the first mission, I was already tired of the game. It's ok, and the comedic parts are mildly entertaining, but there's just no enough interest there to keep me going.

    Last edited 14/04/16 12:12 pm

    I had hopes for this game, but the more I read about it the more it sounds as though the Borderlands guys should've just made more Borderlands....

    I played a bit of a closed beta a few months ago. Was extremely unimpressed. Did not enjoy any aspect of it.

    Almost certain that full release has global servers.

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