Let me get something off my chest before delving further into this review… I’m not a huge fan of Borderlands or MOBA’s either for that matter, so I’m not exactly the target audience for the likes of Battleborn. But even I was willing to give the game the benefit of the doubt, even despite my possible prejudices – after all, Battleborn has been one of THE most hyped games across current-gen platforms (well, unless you count Overwatch and Uncharted 4 for PS4 that is). And all that hype has to stand for something right?
Straight out of the gate Battleborn commits two of the ultimate gaming sins for me. One, you can’t play without an update AT ALL and (more importantly) two, you have to sit through an opening cinematic, without any possibility of skipping straight to the action. Even worse for Battleborn is that the cinematic is animated – and in a style which is the total antithesis of the games current-gen graphics! If you were to go into the cinematic cold, you’d think that you were watching a rejected segement of the original 1980s Heavy Metal animated feature. Why rejected? Because the animation is so rough and unfinished, that’s why. Some of the character animation is even so bad that it looks like a twelve-year old has drawn it! And that’s mixed with explosion animatics that looked like they’ve stepped out of an 80s anime like Akira. It’s bizarre; and worse than that, it’s a terrible way to intro what is suppossed to be the next big IP.
I’m not sure how well Battleborn plays on the PC, but on the PS4 it just doesn’t work. Like all FPS titles, the control system is too unwieldy and downright un-intuitive, the UI is cluttered as all hell – bringing up your skill tree fills the screen, meaning you can’t upgrade quickly and easily mid-battle (as you truly should be able to) as it puts your character in jeopardy. And don’t get me started on the campaign, which sees you play as one of 25 characters – some of whom are LOCKED and unplayable until much later may I add – in what is essentially this games idea of grinding; only existing to allow you to level up your character and gear… Which means it’s not even a real campaign!
Lets just say it’s a good job 2K Games got the jump on the just-released Doom. For a gamer of my persuasion, i.e. one that like good first person shooters, THAT is the (non-COD franchise) game to go for not this. Battleborn is undoubtedly for hardcore fans of MOBA-style games, not FPS games and it’s a shame because that first prologue portion of the game is a pretty decent FPS, with some fantastic, bright and colourful graphics – which is definitey one of the games more unique selling points, setting this title apart from the dark, grimey look of games like the Call Of Duty franchise that’s for sure.
Ultimately I found Battleborn to be a frustrating experience. Based on that prologue mission, there’s probably a good FPS hidden in this title, way down deep in the bowels of a MOBA that, if truth be told, should have been executed as a free-to-play, pay-to-upgrade model rather than the ridiculous £35+ price tag it hit online stores with on release – thank god its being heavily discounted right now AND the developers are still tweaking the game post-release (at least the PC version, according to reports) but whether this is a game that can be saved by updates and DLC remains to be seen.
I can see Battleborn finding a solid core of fans that will exalt this game ad infinitum, but I have to wonder if this will/can survive in a post-Overwatch gaming universe…
Battleborn is out now from 2K Games.