Battleborn:A colourful first-person shooter

On the surface, Battleborn looks like a conventional next step for the team behind Borderlands and its sequel. But when you peer underneath that exterior, you realise that the game is not quite what you were expecting. All manner of genres have been cited as an inspiration by the game’s development team(including beat ‘em ups, bizarrely) but there is no denying that Battleborn looks a bit like two of the most popular recent PC games.

If you've ever played a MOBA like Dota 2 or League Of Legends before, Battleborn’s Incursion Mode will ring more than a few bells.A 5v5 tug of war skirmish that involves infiltrating your opponents’ base (as they simultaneously go after yours) it seems like a blatant stab at making the world’s first ever MOBA FPS. Gearbox staffers aren't keen on describing the game in terms that simplistic, and you can see why. Everything from the behaviour of your AI minions to the trigger based levelling menu has been adapted and reworked to make it work as a compelling shooter. Whatever else you want to say about it, Battleborn is definitely a shooter first and foremost.

Gearbox has stressed that play is far faster and action oriented than in a MOBA like League Of Legends, and among many interesting alterations to that format, is the fact that the ludicrously fast paced levelling system (called “the Helix”) resets after every single match. This means that you’ll have no choice but to rely on your minute to minute smarts at all times. Unlike in something like Call Of Duty, you aren't rewarded with brutal perks just for putting more hours in than everyone else.

Gearbox isn't currently discussing the campaign at all (except to say, somewhat inevitably, that it’s “going to be awesome”) but the plot is centred around the game’s many factions racing to reach the last star in the solar systemthat’s still burning. Game Of Thrones has been mentioned by Gearbox in relation to the story, with some characters solely focused on gathering resources while others harbour personal vendettas against members of the other factions. How the game will work if you’re playing it alone or if it even works solo hasn't been addressed yet.
“Whatever else you want to say about it, Battleborn is definitely a shooter first and foremost”
The story may have a couple of unexpectedly emotional moments in store, but the multiplayer side of things is exclusively about fun. In addition to being a shooter, Borderlands 2 was also a very fine comedy, and Gearbox is continuing down that road with Battleborn. One example of this significant focus on humour comes in the shape of an exhaustive supply of unique insults, which crop up in battle and vary depending on who you are, and who you’ve just killed.

The game’s creative director Randy Varnell has said that Battleborn was originally going to be completely serious; but the team just found it too difficult not to keep constantly throwing good gags around.

Other good news includes the developer’s ongoing desire to use live player feedback as subtly and invisibly as possible. Battleborn is going to run on dedicated servers, thus granting Gearbox the opportunity to as they did so brilliantly with Borderlands 2 tweak the game’s combat as briskly as possible, with minimal disruption to online play.

There is a slim chance that Gearbox is being a tad too ambitious here. The game’s numerous factions are all completely different: visually distinctive, they have entirely different motivations and skills, and between them utilise almost every single weapon you could possibly imagine existing in a science fiction action game. Balancing such a wild mishmash of different play styles and tactical possibilities sounds like a logistical nightmare, so thankfully Gearbox hasn't come carelessly racing out of the gate with a pre-set release date on the horizon. This looks like the kind of project that won't be released until it’s truly, properly ready. Fingers crossed.

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