Mixing genres isn’t something that is new to the gaming industry. Over the past few years, the lines have blurred so much that many games are difficult to place into a single camp. One game that perfectly fit this indecipherable mold at PAX 2015 was Battleborn. Let’s be clear, though, this is most definitely not a bad thing.
Battleborn takes a first person shooter and mixes it with the constantly expanding MOBA genre. The thing is, calling Battleborn a MOBAFPS doesn’t do the game justice, since even the combination of these two broad genres fails to encapsulate everything that it can do.
This becomes apparent when you take a look at the character roster. Unlike Borderlands, which had you pick from a handful of playable characters in order to level them up over dozens of hours, Battleborn has a vast roster of 25 characters that you level up over the course of a single match/mission. This is where you feel the first influences of the MOBA aspect of the game.
Every character feels completely different. And it’s not just in a “this one uses a different gun” way, either. In fact, many of the characters don’t even use ranged weapons, which sort of belies the whole first person shooter, but in no way does this bring the game down. It’s actually a lot of fun.
For instance, the character I used was a swordswoman named Phoebe Elizabeth Audelia Hemsworth IV. As you could probably tell by her name, she’s a complete badass. This woman flits about the screen stabbing enemies in the face and wiping out entire swarms of grunts with a sweep of her blade. She does have one ranged ability (every character seems to have at least one), but it is a special ability on a cooldown. Yet, even without using that ability, she felt neither shortchanged nor out of place.
This is something that can be said of every character in Battleborn. Each one is unique in every sense of the word, using varied means of offense, and contributing to the team dynamic in interesting ways. A sniper that can lock down an entire area with her arrow volleys, a magic wielding four-armed rogue, and a huge axe-wielding being who is the last of his kind are just a few of the different flavors that Battleborn offers players.
Getting them all into a single round amps up the fun. During my hands-on demo, I got to play a co-op mission that had me and my teammates fight through hordes of mutant-like enemies. Lights flashed and sound effects whizzed by as we all got into our own grooves, falling into each of our character’s styles and abilities. The fact that we weren’t all playing the same soldier/grunt/killing machine added a welcome touch of variety that surpasses even that of Borderland‘s insanity.
Speaking of that insanity, it didn’t feel overdone. Yes, things got hectic quite a few times as we were swarmed by hundreds of enemies who would’ve like nothing more than to completely remove us from existence, but all that did was provide us opportunities to show off our awesome abilities.
Watching one of my teammates who was playing as Orendi summon a pillar of fire in order to save the rest of us from an advancing horde, or teleporting myself behind a large, and quite vicious, brute in order to deliver a critical blow was nothing short of amazing. The speed in which players can find themselves in the heat of battle and quickly overcome it lends itself to the fun-filled experience of Battleborn.
Yet, you shouldn’t let the speed of battle trick you into believing that Battleborn is an easy game. Its speed comes from intuitive gameplay and amazing abilities, but you can die, and quite easily. Battleborn presents players with a healthy challenge as they navigate maps in order to locate objectives, all while trying to stay alive while being constantly under the threat of death. Boss battles scattered throughout the hands-on demo made it very clear that allowing yourself to become a bit too comfortable is a surefire way to get embarrassed.
All in all, Battleborn is a vastly fun experience. On paper, mixing the different game elements probably doesn’t sound to smooth, but in action, it was one of the best experiences on the PAX 2015 showfloor. It seamlessly blends genres in such a way that it becomes something quite its own. With a single player campaign, co-op campaign, and a competitive mode tagging along for the ride, this game is sure to provide some serious fun in the very near future.