While enjoying the recent open beta the game had not so long back, it was never enough to make me go and drop money on a pre-order after playing it. It wasn't because the beta was a letdown or anything like that, but more a lack of online friends unwilling to give even a free beta a try, stopping any thought of me buying the full release dead in its tracks. The very reason I never went out and picked it up has been pretty much confirmed to me as I play it now, as the only people on my friend list playing the game have been reviewers from other sites, all of which also have rubbish friends like me as we battle through the game with random people alone.
Now I'm sure the Battleborn story shall excite many gamers out there who have already given it a look and played the game for 18+ hours like I have so far. I however am a shooter guy, so giving me a gun and telling me to shoot has my trigger happy mind already not noticing whatever space adventure like story your game is trying to tell me along the way. Battleborn kicks off with an amazing (all be it long winded) prologue mission, which felt like I was watching a decent cartoon from back in the day. Once that was out the way however, the closest thing you get to a story is a minute long loading screen with people shouting as the level loads up. Other than that it is told via in-game voice overs while all you're trying to do is shoot the living sh*t out of all the things jumping at you on screen. Something bout a last star, a guy looking like Jafar from Aladdin.....that's all I have people.
The chance of trying to understand the story was lost for me while trying to play it through online with other players, which you kind of have to if you want to have any chance of actually beating the story levels at all. Jumping in and playing with randoms you're not given the option of playing the story out in the way you would like it to be, you know level followed by the next level. But stupidly you are given three levels to choose from and left with just pure hope the randoms playing also vote for the level you need to play, which by the way WILL NEVER HAPPEN. This means replaying levels sometimes right after one another, as you pray and cross everything that your vote actually plays a part in what level you actually want to play. It's not like you can jump out either, as the only way to back out and search again is to dashboard your console, so it becomes some what of a pain in the ass. Surely there could easily be an option where you can click a level and find a game where people also want to play that level too, as if this isn't added soon much like me many will find the story of Battleborn somewhat pointless. Rather than it being a nice little side dish to what is without a doubt a game that plays rather beautifully, it takes away from it when you are fast forwarded three or so levels past from the last level you just played, so you soon just stop caring about whatever they are talking about completely.
Luckily then the game isn't just about a story, as while the controls feel fantastic and it plays really well, it also has a crap load of characters for you to unlock, as you search for THE ONE that you connect with most and make your own.
With the story a distant memory thanks to reasons above, you will find yourself playing through the game simply to rank up these characters and unlocking new ones along the way. While it offers a total of 25 characters to choose from, the game unlocks these slowly over time. So while you start out with only a handful as you learn the ropes, you are slowly fed more the more you play the game. All of these characters have their own uniqueness to them, with all having their own DNA tree and special attacks that you will grow used to the more you spend time with them. My personal favourites at the moment have been characters such as Orendi (who I loved in the beta), as well as characters such as healer Miko, and the larger than life Montana. It's good fun just reading up on these guys and girls via the command portion on the main menu. Here you can read up information, read up on their helix/DNA tree, change their appearance, read up on their lore which you unlock by completing challenges, and finally checking out your stats with them.
The command centre as I like to call it also gives you access to the loadouts and packs you can buy with credits you earn while playing the game. Buying packs unlocks items that you can equip for you to use in game, which can be used by buying with shards you get while playing (gold like items that drop from enemies and somethings around the level or map you are playing on). Seriously though, even after using a ton of these items my character felt no different, so much like the story it became another side of the game I soon lost interest in.
Playing with each character and learning what their weak and strong parts are is all part of the learning curve of Battleborn, but once again this is where it is letdown by some of the community it has. To beat a level or to have any hope of victory when jumping online you have to have a team that compliments each other, or at the very least all have a character bringing something different to the table. Having a team full of say Montana's is just not going to end well for you and the team, and if anything will not only see it end in failure. There will be times where the team has to do something as simple as protecting something, but nope, you will get that online di** who thinks running head first into a bunch of oncoming enemies is a good idea.......well until you're having to run over there and revive him for the fifth time.
Playing online in Battleborn is both a massive factor and selling point in what should make the game fun and enjoyable. But I think sometimes developers overlook and forget that these sort of games are only looked upon fondly afterwards when gamers play them with people they know. I've got to admit playing Battleborn for the first few hours with idiot random players became a massive turning off point for me, as not only was it taking some enjoyment away from the game having to revive such idiots every few minutes, but to also spend thirty odd minutes or so on a mission to then fail because of the same damn person. Here's hoping something is tweaked in the future so you can either try playing them alone, or at least with some bot players.
Then we have the multiplayer portion of the game, a part of the game I'm not ashamed to say hasn't seen me spending that much time with it . Now you can tackle this against bots if you wish via a private session, or you can get your ass handed to you by playing online with others, the option is all yours. Sadly playing with bots will not see you unlocking challenges and achievements with your character, so if you're there for that reason online is the way to go.
Three modes greet you at the menu, with capture maps, Incursion maps and Meltdown maps being the three available. Each time you play the game you are put into a holding section where the rules for each modes are explained to you before letting you and your team loose onto the other team.
Capture is exactly that. Three areas called A, B and C are there for the taking on the map, standing on them until they become your capture point makes your team then score points the longer you hold it. The team who scores a thousand points first will win the match.
Incursion has you pushing through the map to reach and destroy enemy sentries. This one is a lot tougher the one above, due to sentries being bloody powerful. Not forgetting more like a game of cat and mouse as each team try to protect while also attack at the same time.
Finally we have Meltdown, a mode which sees you having to feed minions (na not the cute and funny yellow ones) to grinders while the other team is trying to do the same. Drags out a little this one, as the score of 500 points is needed to win the match, so around the 300 mark it's already got to the point of becoming a little dull if you are met with decent opponents.
+ Is a blast to play when everything goes right
+ Tons of characters to learn about and try out
+ I really enjoyed capture mode and the story when it played out in the correct way
- Having to play story mode in a way that took away from the the story itself
- Other than capture mode, the other MP portions are pretty lacklustre