Don’t be so quick to call it a MOBA. At first glance, Battleborn might look like it fits the ever-popular MOBA formula, with its colorful cast of heroes, AI-controlled minions trotting towards an opposing base, and 5v5-focused multiplayer modes. But developer Gearbox Software would rather you refer to Battleborn as a ‘hero shooter’, because there’s far more going on here than the three-lane action you’re used to. For starters, Battleborn will cost full price ($60 / £44) when it debuts for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on May 3, 2016, so there’s no need to fear the usual trappings of a free-to-play model. And for everyone who’s played and loved the Borderlands series, the story campaign in Battleborn (playable in singleplayer or co-op, no less) looks like it’ll be right up your alley. If you’re wondering what exactly Battleborn’s bombastic FPS action is all about, here’s everything you need to know.
As with fighting games and other hero-centric shooters like Overwatch, the roster of characters in Battleborn could very well make or break your interest in the game. Battleborn’s roster will include 25 heroes at launch, hailing from five sci-fi factions that blend nature, magic, and tech: the United Peacekeeping Republics, Eldrid, Last Light Consortium (LLC), Rogues, and Jennerit Imperium. These titular Battleborn have been driven from their homes, and now war over Solus – the last remaining star in the universe – to call it their own.
With heroes come abilities, and each Battleborn has six unique traits (counting passives) that dictate their playstyle. Heroes are classified under three easily understood roles – attacker, defender, or support – but vary wildly in terms of complexity, from simple point-and-shoot gunners like Oscar Mike to tricky melee-attacking healers such as Ambra. You won’t have access to all the heroes right from the get-go, but additional characters are easily unlocked as your overall profile levels up – and it won’t take ages to access the entire cast through play alone, unlike most MOBAs. Because you’ve already paid for a full-price game, you also won’t have to pay an additional cent to earn bonuses like new taunt animations or alternate color palettes for your favorite heroes.
The first-person perspective
While thematically similar games like Smite and Paragon opt for a third-person viewpoint instead of the typical top-down perspective, Battleborn is the first game built to deliver hero battles in first-person. To succeed on this atypical battlefield, you’ll need to do everything you’d normally do in a multiplayer shooter: check your corners, watch out for snipers, and hide behind cover whenever necessary. At first, it can be a lot to take in, especially with Battleborn’s incredibly colorful, vibrant aesthetic (and the fact that certain abilities will momentarily zoom you out to a third-person view). But once you’ve learned your way around a map, mastered your own move kit, and know which flashy abilities to avoid, you’ll be golden.
Speaking of abilities, Battleborn’s controls work beautifully on …