Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Release Date: May 3, 2016


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Battleborn'

by Redmond Carolipio on Aug. 19, 2015 @ 1:15 a.m. PDT

Battleborn combines frenetic first-person shooting with co-operative combat, and an expansive collection of diverse heroes to create an experience unlike anything you’ve played before.

What's the universe to do when there's only one star left? According to Gearbox and its upcoming shooter Battleborn, the answer is to get everyone together and shoot it out.

Gearbox, the creative engine behind the tongue-in-cheek ethos of Borderlands, strikes me as the happy-go-lucky, maybe-drunken uncle of the first-person shooter landscape, which is typically bathed in the alpha intensity of franchises like Call of Duty or Halo. There's a goofball attitude that leaks through the pores of Battleborn, which brings together 25 of the universe's greatest warriors to fight for Solus, the last star of the universe and the key to all life. Naturally, whoever controls the star probably controls (or defends) the universe.

The variety of characters is staggering, not just in appearance but also in ability and backstory. A taste of multiplayer put me in the shoes of Montana, a massive, lumberjack-like figure who is slower than evolution but carries a minigun capable of mowing down hordes of enemies. He's actually pretty typical compared to someone like Miko, a sentient alien mushroom (with arms and legs) who resembles Raiden or Kung Lao, with his mushroom cap serving as his "hat." Then there's Oscar Mike, who as the name might suggest, is a slightly comedic embodiment of every soldier trope that's ever existed in a first-person shooter. He's decked out in a spiffy combat suit and carries powerful soldiering fare, like a high-end assault rifle. I found him to be the perfect "entry" character for the game, since his combat mechanics fall right in line with any other FPS you might have played.

Not everyone uses guns — arrows, ethereal swords, knives, magic and even a robotic owl can be found in the stables of the 25 characters, which Gearbox believes all but guarantees that everyone will find a player who fits his or her style.

Part of the potential allure of Battleborn was how easy it was to pick up a character, master his or her strengths and special attacks, and fuse it all together with a group of strangers for a common cause. It's not unlike Borderlands or Destiny in that regard, but the bright and bouncy visuals along with a combination of slight puzzlework and monster fighting made for an organic experience that didn't carry the tension one would get from other multiplayer games. The story mode can actually be enjoyed with just one player, but it's clear the game opens up when you join with others.

I didn't expect to get sucked into a multiplayer experience as easily as I did with Battleborn in a small window of time, but Gearbox seems to have found that sweet spot for fun, multifaceted and accessible FPS combat. I'm looking forward to digesting more, along with others when the game is released in February 2016.

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