Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends have massive rosters of characters players can choose from. But that wide variety of characters and gameplay style has stayed mostly within that genre. Battleborn changes that.
Battleborn is the latest game from Gearbox Software, creators of Borderlands. While the game has multiplayer modes that model those found in MOBAs, Battleborn’s gameplay is from a first-person perspective and there’s a story mode to play through.
There are 25 hero characters in Battleborn, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and special attacks. They all level up in the same way characters do in a MOBA, earning new attacks along the way. During a demo at PAX, I was able to try out two of the characters in cooperative gameplay alongside four other players.
The first character I chose was Oscar Mike. Mike is a futuristic soldier and his skills and gameplay largely mirror most other sci-fi first person shooters like Halo. He uses an assault rifle and one of his special attacks is the ability to throw grenades. Honestly, I didn’t find Mike very interesting because his gameplay was so similar to gameplay in other games.
On the flip side, the next character I played was unlike anything I had seen from a first-person perspective. Phoebe looks like a steam punk sorceress who would be good with a sword, and that’s pretty much how she plays. Most of the time her attacks involve close-range stabs from a sabre. One of her special attacks include the ability to transport herself into a different area of the battlefield, and another has her spinning multiple swords around her to deliver a lot of attacks all at once.
The demo was a little too short to get a good feel for the story, but what I did see appears to keep the same sense of humor that was present in Borderlands. And lots of the characters are kind of goofy and over the top.
Besides the cooperative story mode, the game has a number of online competitive modes that are straight-up MOBA gameplay, including defending your base against a bunch of AI minions or playing in two opposing teams of five.
I think Battleborn is an interesting game. Since I only played the story mode cooperatively, I couldn’t get a sense of how it felt to play a MOBA in first person. The large variety of characters to choose from sets it apart from other games with a story. One of the characters I chose was truly fun to play. The other didn’t really have anything new to offer. But that’s largely an aspect that makes MOBAs fun. Having lots of options means you’re more likely to find a character you really like.
Battleborn is scheduled to be released for Xbox One, PS4, and PC in early 2016.