Battleborn on Steam (open beta through 4/18/16)

MSRP: $59.99 (standard), $74.99 (deluxe pre-order includes season pass)

Platforms: Windows

Release: 5/3/16 – open beta going on now

I went into this one pretty much blind.  I knew that Battleborn is an FPS with a story mode and PvP component, and that it is related to the Borderlands games, and I vaguely remember reading something about it in PC Gamer back in the fall.  Over the past year, I’ve started to have some minimal success with MOBAs, and I do love an occasional shoot ’em up, so I thought I’d give it a shot.


At least for the open beta, there seem to be four modes – story public, story private, versus public and versus private.  For my first foray, I want nothing to do with PvP or public humiliation, so I opt for Story Private.  There are two story chapters currently available for play, and I thought, maybe, if I started right at the beginning, I’d get a bit of a tutorial. I chose normal for my difficulty (there are only two and normal is the easier of them), and left hardcore off.


Then I did what I always do – I looked for someone holding a bow.  I prefer ranged combat to melee in almost every game I’ve ever played, so I usually tend to start with an archer archetype. Thorn was carrying a big old bow, and was a female character (something I also tend to gravitate towards) to boot, so I figured I’d dive on in.

This was not the best idea I ever had.  There’s no real tutorial, I struggled with the UI, and I died at least twice to some far away laser cannon bullshit. I’d like to blame the keymapping scheme – your abilities are on E & Q rather than the number keys, but other than opening the upgrade screen many many times by accident, I don’t think that was the problem.  The problem was I had no bloody idea what I was doing.


At this point, I thought maybe there was some flaw in my character choice.  So I went back and picked Miko, who has a rather impressive mushroom hat and a healing spell.  Unfortunately, Miko’s auto-attack requires you to be pretty damn close to something to hit it, and the enemies come in packs, and I still have no idea what I’m doing.  My time with Miko was only slightly more successful – this time I at least got to the first checkpoint.


Though I’d already gotten my fill of the game play, which for me mostly consisted of hiding, jumping out and mashing the mouse button, and then either hiding again or dying, I thought I’d poke around in the menus.  From what I could figure, the seven characters available at the start will be the characters available at the start of the purchased game as well, with quite a few other characters available as unlocks – either by leveling up, or by completing certain achievements.


Battleborn is something I might have dabbled in if it were one of the many FTP / micro-transaction MOBAs on the market, but with the steep entry cost, lack of tutorial, and how absolutely frustrating I found the easiest part of the game, I’m going to give this one a pass.  However, I appreciate that I had the opportunity to try it out, even if it only led to me to conclude that it’s just not for me.

Battleborn’s open beta client is available to download on Steam, and the testing window will run until Monday, 4/18.

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