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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Battleborn Review: This is Spartan.

I know what you think about Battleborn, but baby... lemmie try to change your mind.
I don't get much time to blog these days, usually I have to "need" to blog. I either loved or hated or felt deep concern about any given article I've written. I've seen three times as many shows as I've talked about. So with Battleborn, I feel concern. Everything said about it is true. It's too little too late. Overwatch has already decimated the player base and essentially won over the press and fans.

As my blogger buddy Chance devastatingly pointed out to me a few weeks ago on the podcast... "nobodies talking about it." I barely talked about it myself, but I just couldn't stay away. I don't have it in me to play something for 60 hours just to make a point. I genuinely can't stay away from it. Allow me to explain.

Gearbox curates a gameplay loop that they've been slowly refining since the first Borderlands. For some reason, no one else quite has "it" and it's really hard to explain. I think it may all be about their head shots. In games like the last couple Tomb Raiders, the aim assist is so intense I can regularly get head shots by accident. For some reason, no matter my load out and no matter my weapon, in gearbox's games I always have to do the right amount of work. It's not too hard or too simple. It's a delicate alchemy tailor made. It's also perfectly captured in Battleborn.

I think it's funny when people say Gearbox isn't funny.
What is unfortunately true is that this puppy was rushed out the door. The two PVP modes only have 2 maps each and the campaign is a paltry 8 missions. It feels like there should be 12-15. Maybe this was all designed. Too many missions or modes and the player base gets divided. That's just it, you can reason away everything wrong with this game in the name of balance. How can you make a game that is essentially for everyone at any time?

Only good at FPS? Oscar Mike plays exactly like every single Shooter McCspace-marine you can remember. He even has a couple fun twists to pique your curiosity. I know I wanna play Halo with lava grenades and "sick ass space lasers." What about Elder Scrolls? There's an otherworldly sword and board gladiator with your name on it. My point is, every character is genuinely fun to play. I haven't exactly tried every one of the 25 "Battleborn." But I've gotten pretty far with more than half and only 3 have actively disappointed. I don't even know where to begin to pick a favorite...

If I'm in a rogue mood, I'm Reyna. A pirate queen with a laser cannon, magnum pistol, and a dead eye. I tend to go off by myself to find loot and she can hold her own to a point. Her real job is buffing the team's shields and eventually putting up bullet walls. As soon as I see my team going down I Errol Flynn like a motherf**er. Shielding friendly's from death, taking down enemy captains, and generally saving the whole goddamn day. She's amazing.

Or Mellka the chick with a jade claw for one arm and a machine pistol that launches grenades when you reload. She's crowd control and DPS in one snazzy package, plus her faction (of space elves and stuff) regenerates health so if you have loot that gives her a shield... I've gone too inside baseball haven't I? My point is that even though there is a dearth of content, each new character could honestly hold their own if they were the star of a 12 hour single player game. No. I'm serious.

Picture a Saturday morning cartoon that knows exactly when to curse.

Battleborn is almost a new game every time you dive into a different character. I never would have thought I'd enjoy being a healer until I had two pieces of legendary healer loot foisted upon me. I've been having a blast with my ninja mushroom medic ever since. And it should be noted that Miko, unlocked from the start, changes back and forth from a male voice over to a female voice over. Because he/she/them is a colony of spores! It may be a step removed from a real issue, but gamers can be a depressingly prejudiced and sensitive bunch. They did not have to go that direction and they certainly didn't need to make that character a cornerstone of the posters and marketing. Kudos, Gearbox.

In the end, a multiplayer game lives and dies by it's player base. And in that case... death is near. We peaked at 10,000 and are now stuck around 2,000 on PC. It won't be long until it's free to play and it won't be much longer after that when the content support dries up. It's a shame. Though the folks that are left make the most of it. Not a single person has been rude to me or anyone else.

 If I played as someone like Reyna in a Call of Duty player base at least ONE little f**k is going to say something stupid about her full figure. Not here, we're all just happy folks are still out there. No one, as long as nobody has run ahead and screwed the whole team, is going to say anything nasty. And I've played public while miked with a friend who happens to be a woman. Nobody did anything weird and she has only the nicest things to say about her time with the game personally. Isn't great she only feels comfortable in games with a DOA player base?  Sigh... one topic at a time, McCracken.

It may not be a great game, but I've had a great time with it. Strong characters, a decent but brief campaign, a delightful community, and a fine loot/leveling system make it a memorable experience. Sometimes in spite of itself. If I had a 10 year old brother back when I was in high school I'd be playing this with him every. single. day.

I think you've confused Reyna with someone who takes sh*t.

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