Now that the Battleborn open beta is live, it’s probably a good a time as any to talk about the game. Over the past few months, I’ve seen an alarming amount of people try to compare Overwatch and Battleborn. Don’t. Really. Please? About all the two games have in common is that they’re first person shooters, and despite what you may have read on the internet, Overwatch is not a MOBA. It actually has very little in common with MOBAs. I don’t know when or how people got that into their head. I guess it has something to do with the wide array of characters, but other than that, Overwatch has about as much in common with a MOBA as Team Fortress 2 did.
Battleborn, on the other hand, wears its MOBA influences on its sleeve. It’s not a true MOBA, if such a thing exists, but it’s close. It’s a 5v5 shooter. You level up, becoming more powerful as the match progresses. You earn a currency. Not to buy things from a shop, though, to purchase and upgrade defensive turrets (and eventually buy passive pieces of gear similar to Runes from League of Legends). There are creeps, and there can be powerful NPCs on the map for your team to kill.
So yes, in a lot of ways, Battleborn is quite like a MOBA, but it’s not a 1:1 ratio. Battleborn does a few things differently. First starters, the game modes help to differentiate the game. It’s also faster; there’s more of an emphasis on fighting than on becoming more powerful to fight. In terms of MOBAs, it has more in common with Heroes of the Storm than it does Dota 2 or League of Legends. As I said earlier, there are no items, but you earn talent-like buffs for your abilities as you level.
You also start with all your abilities, with an ultimate that unlocks later. Game modes are also more objective based, and less about pushing lanes and destroying towers. Those turrets you buy can be rebuilt, and ultimately they’re not nearly as dangerous as towers in Dota 2 or League of Legends. They’re mostly meant for killing the waves of creeps when nobody else is around, or covering from the back lines. Players can take them out with relative ease.
As for the game modes, Incursion is somewhat similar to what you’d expect in a MOBA. There’s one primary lane – at least in the map available in the beta – with a few side paths for flanking and PvE objectives. The primary goal is to get to the enemies base and destroy their sentries. The other game mode available in beta is Meltdown, which has multiple lanes, but the objective is to earn points by escorting minions to the enemy base. The third and last game mode, which isn’t in the beta, is Capture. From what it seems, this is your typical capture points & hold them to win. Not sure if it has creeps, since it does seem like the the typical game mode from most non-MOBA shooters. It’s also unfortunate that each game mode is only launching with two maps. While most MOBAs can easily get away with one, once you have a semblance of variety, you open up expectations that there will be a lot more than one map. Gearbox has already detailed its plans for post-launch support, and all additional maps will be free. Only launching with two, though, is disappointing.
Overall, that’s Battleborn, but is it good? Sure, yeah. It’s perfect fine – perfectly adequate. There’s nothing here that wows me, nor is there anything egregiously bad. The writing, or sense of humor to be exact, I think will be very divisive, which could also be said for the Borderlands games, I suppose. If some people already thought that those games were trying too hard, they’re going to absolutely love Battleborn. It seems like Gearbox saw the unexpected success they had with Borderlands, and did whatever they could to replicate it with Battleborn, both aesthetically and with the writing. Do they succeed? Probably not, but just as some people loved Borderlands for its humor, and other people really didn’t, the same will be true for Battleborn. I just suspect there will be more people in the latter camp. In the competitive multiplayer, it’s not too much of a concern, and some of the characters actually have a lot of personality, in a good way. But for the campaign, I feel like much of it is cringe worthy, and it’s trying a bit too hard to emulate Borderlands. Humor, though, is super subjective. I know that more than anyone having written a few comedy novels. Everyone has a different sense of humor.
As for how the game plays? In this way it also takes a lot from MOBAs. Characters here are really beefy, and if you’re playing a sniper, don’t expect to be one-shotting people left and right. Everyone has a regenerating shield, and a fairly large health pool. Tanky characters have other forms of damage mitigation. It’s fairly easy for any character to escape death, at least temporarily, and it’s not uncommon for people to chase their quarry across the map, but that’s a MOBA for you. The game also has a lot of visual noise, with all the creeps and spell effects, and some of the weapon models are egregiously large. It’s not uncommon for enemies and friends to get lost in the chaos, especially the smaller characters with narrow silhouettes.
All in all, I’ve been enjoying what I’ve played of Battleborn. In fact, I’d say it has exceeded expectations, but since I didn’t have an y prior to playing it, that wasn’t exactly much of feat. The game has potential, sure, and it’s unfortunate that both it and Overwatch are launching within a few weeks of each other, but the two games really are distinctive enough from each other that it shouldn’t be too much of a concern for each one to find it’s own audience. As for me? I’ll probably play both because I have no self control and I love video games too much.