Saturday, May 21, 2016

Battleborn - Pros & Cons

Most of you know that my initial thoughts of "Battleborn" were mostly against it. I felt that Gearbox, and 2KGames making the game server reliant was a huge mistake. I personally feel that requiring a server sign-in at launch limits the gamers' control over their paid for experience. Should the servers go down for whatever reason the gamer would not have access to the game at all. Furthermore all of the players' save data being stored on server data banks that they do not have access to can lead to even more complications should said data banks be hacked into. I'm not saying your data is any safer on your PS4, because it isn't, I'm merely saying you have even less access to what you've earned/paid for due to said development choice. That accompanied by the looming fact that Battleborn is a wholly team oriented with each played character playing a crucial role in in-game team efforts makes this game an iffy buy. When you play competitively in Battleborn it's not like playing as one of CoD's elite soldiers, or Destiny's heroic guardians who can each carry their own in PvP combat. Each used character in Battleborn ultimately feeds off of, and relies heavily on the aid of assisting players' characters. You have weak healer, powerhouse brutes, and a balanced few characters who are equally assist and combat centered. In that sense k/d is made less important even though the uneducated few still thinks it holds sway in Battleborn's victories. If you fail to see Battleborn in this light then most of your time will be spent being frustrated.

On the plus side Gearbox did well with their character design. Each character is their own unique creation with their own in-game functions. Despite having similar class associations in battle, Battleborn's roster of characters each play completely different. The weapons they carry vary, and the MOBA inspired skills they can acquire set them apart from one another. Along with functionality characters in the game visually look different, and come complete with their own personalities that are shown through taunts, and spoken dialogue. Most, if not all are parodies of some sort, but hold their grounds as being unique in the unique universe they have spawned from.

Aside from characters the environments shown on the select few maps are beautiful to look at. They have that Borderlands type of cell-shading much like the characters themselves. The layouts which feature scattered MOBA support structures are well laid out, and perfect for the competitive modes featured in the game's multiplayer. Even the environments featured in the co-op portion of the game are attractive in their own visual ways. Past the visuals that are characters, and said environments the game also features a cinematic style of animation that is not unlike "Heavy Metal". I absolutely loved the opening cinematic which featured hard hitting hip-hop music with a hybrid of 3D elements, and indie style cartoon animation. I'm thankful that, that was made a mandatory part of the initial playthrough, and not left for players to just happen upon should they ever venture into the game's co-op experience.

When it comes to the online multiplayer portion of the game things are not all that great, and not all that bad. Occasionally you will get stuck in a match with a team whose sole focus is getting the most kills. Other times though the team you are paired with will have some sense about them, and go for the intended objective as they should. I've heard many serious Battleborn players bitch over the mic when they get paired up with a team who just does not understand the reasoning behind the mode of play that they are in, and rightfully so. As I mentioned earlier characters each have their own unique role to play in battle, and if the player selection is unbalanced in that sense your team will struggle to gain the upper hand. Thus leading to the bitching and moaning I spoke of. Simply choosing your favorite character all the time is not always going to be in the team's best interest. You're gonna need a healer, a brute strength character, and some balanced characters in the mix to pull off the win. That and a understanding of the objective/s at hand. It's definitely not meant to be a solo experience, and is certainly a team effort.

One thing that surprised me in multiplayer happened in a "Capture" playthrough that I got booted out of. I was wrecking the other team as one of the weaker healer type characters, and someone just didn't like it. After forcefully getting back to the main menu I was met with a pop-up message from Gearbox/2KGames stating that the game I was in was still in session, and that I could join back in if I wanted to. I jumped back in as quick as I could, and to my added surprise my level and previously earned skills were still intact! Needless to say my team ended up winning, and I scored some loot and coin for my dedication to team play. This alone made me think to myself, "Hey, maybe Battleborn isn't so bad after all ...". Never in my time as an FPS, or MOBA player have I been given the option to go back into a match I was wrongfully booted out of. That, my friends is a monumental step in the right direction for online game management. For that reason alone I'm gonna give Gearbox, and 2KGames credit. I'm gonna hold onto Battleborn, and see how it evolves from here. For now things are looking hopeful for the MOBA/FPS hybrid, and I hope it continues to be so.

For those of you on the edge about buying into this game just know that it is server reliant, but that if you can stomach that fact you might actually enjoy the game for what it is. The real icing on the cake, if there is one, is that Gearbox is going to be releasing free characters, and maps in future installments. For both the season pass holders, and those of you (like me) who didn't opt to pay the extra twenty dollars for the season pass. If that's not incentive enough to buy into this already fairly solid gameplay experience I don't know what is. Btw, I think there's a new female healer type character coming out this month for all of you Battleborn faithfuls!

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