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Here's what we think of the Battleborn beta

Battleborn! It’s a great big new franchise for Gearbox and 2K; a hero shooter with MOBA-sensibilities that’s coming at a time seemingly flooded with games that look and play in a similar way. Battleborn will have to do something exceptional to stand out. Does it?

The latest 2K and Gearbox game entered its open beta this weekend and I have to admit that I wasn’t excited for this game. I’ve been to two behind closed doors events for the game so far and each time the game just felt boring. But that was many months ago so I downloaded the beta anyway and entered the world of Battleborn this weekend.

The beta contains both a versus mode and a story mode that you can play through, I haven’t even clicked on the story mode yet but I’ve managed to complete 19 games which normally last around 25 minutes so that’s (grabs calculator) around 8 hours of game time. Obviously not enough to fully understand the game but enough to give my feelings on how it’s going.

When I first entered the world as Montana, the hulking bullet sponge with a mini gun, I was completely confused. People were running all over the place and the game was talking about minions and mercenaries and there were turrets everywhere.  It was weird but after a bit of concentrating I figured it out.. you need to escort your minions through the map so that they can attack the enemy sentry. You can build turrets by spending shards that you collect and you can hire mercenaries by killing them… LOGIC.

So first game down I entered the world again as Rath, a weird dude with Jedi samurai swords or something.

Now unlike Montana you can’t sit back and attack as Rath is a melee character so you really need to get into the mix and swing wildly… I found random button mashing to be the best option while waiting for my powers (every character has 3) to charge and then randomly hit them as well. Rath isn’t my type of character…

So the next game I loaded up Oscar Mike.

Oscar Mike is your standard assault character and comes equipped with a machine gun, grenades and a stealth ability. He’s a middle distance guy who worked well for me and I finally felt I had a full understanding of the game. Running around, killing the enemy Battleborn and escorting my minions while farming the shards. I was addicted and was having a ton of fun.

That is until around 3 hours later when the gloss wore off, the game is fun but it is definitely missing something. It feels incredibly shallow and even changing characters and trying different things couldn’t shake the feeling that the game is simply Spawn –> Attack –> Die –> Repeat…

It’s not an incredibly good-looking game and while the humour in the game reminds me a lot of that other Gearbox title, Borderlands, it isn’t enough to keep me engaged in this very simplistic shooter. Maybe I’m missing something but after 8 hours I really have no desire to get back into the game and will definitely not be shelling out R1000 ($60) for something that reminds me of a free to play game.

There are things like loot chests, gear load outs and enhanced abilities to unlock but really.. who cares? I know I don’t. Not only do I not think Battleborn will do well but I’m even worried it will do that badly that it could take Gearbox down with them. This game is a huge investment from 2K and Gearbox and unless it does something drastic to change it, I just can’t see it taking the gaming world by storm.

Let me know how you found the beta over the weekend.. are you going to be playing more this week?

Right, Battleborn then. It’s uh…a game. One that I’m utterly uninterested in after spending a weekend with it, much like your parents are when forced to do some sort of couples counselling. On the surface, Battleborn has everything going for it: A cast of characters who shine, gameplay that looks interesting and even some single-player action to jump into. Exciting stuff, right?

Yeah, about that. Listen, there’s nothing inherently bad about Battleborn. But for all its bluster, catchy YouTube videos describing a universe under siege from Twilight fandom run amok and a gigantic cast of characters, it doesn’t exactly stand out. Frankly, it’s boring. And that’s because underneath all those shooter mechanics and skillsets, it’s a MOBA. A genre which I don’t exactly enjoy.

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Gearbox is going to spin a tale about how Battleborn is a hero shooter in the weeks before release. About how Battleborn is many genres, are magically glued together into one cohesive form that the world has never seen before. It really isn’t. It’s a MOBA from a first-person perspective, one of many new games that the entire industry becomes fixated on, just like how you couldn’t start any FPS in the early 2000s without a tutorial stage set on Normandy Beach while Axis forces machine-gunned your comrades down around you.

And I’m just not feeling that spark. That spark of genius that gave birth to Borderlands and saved Homeworld from oblivion. Look, Battleborn is going to have an audience. It’s going to have followers, a fan community and cosplayers at every convention. I don’t want it to fail. I want every game to be a winner, but it’s hard for me to get excited about a MOBA-shooter that looks like an Xbox 360 port and stretches any brief moment of enjoyment far further than necessary.

It’s by no means a bad game. But when you’re throwing down $60/R1000+ for a product that is still going to have the balls to sell you DLC in the side-menus, “alright” just doesn’t cut it.

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