It’s understandable if you’re confused as to what Battleborn really is – the game’s marketing and the dev team’s messaging has been somewhat foggy to this point. So much so, that even as I stepped into a preview event for one of its PvP modes last week, I was still unsure what exactly the title was bringing to the gaming community. Fortunately, things became clearer once I got hands-on, and it turns out Battleborn – or its Incursion mode at least – is pretty damn fun.
As it did with Borderlands, Gearbox has crafted Battleborn from a selection of different genres, with Incursion mode obviously influenced by the MOBA genre. The goal is to defeat the other team’s sentries, and to do that, you need your minions to disable each sentry’s shield before you can go all-in on the offensive. Sound familiar? All of this is done while competing with the other heroes in the game, and this is where the 25 classes of Battleborn really flex their respective muscles.
Overgrowth, the only map we played in Incursion, is reminiscent of the classic MOBA three lane structure. Its tightly-woven, green pastures make fighting the opposing team’s heroes rather close and personal, and with minions and bots running by, gets chaotic fairly quickly. The layout of the map makes jumping back into the action fairly fast after respawning, and I found that there were generally only four main points of map engagement: around your team’s sentries, and around the opposing teams.
Unlike in the game’s other modes, having direct PvP action makes choosing the right classes and working as a team vital to victory.
In the two rounds I played (which lasted about 25-30 minutes each), I used a shooter character, Oscar Mike, to do the damage. OM’s fast attacks and massively damaging AOE ability made taking out minions and other players a breeze, and our team won the first game without any real worries.
In the second round, the opposing team picked new classes while I stuck with Oscar Mike, and I quickly realised that he’s incredibly underpowered when it comes to close quarters combat. I’d continually get cornered and subsequently annihilated by the other team’s selection of characters. If anything, I learned that rotating characters will be hugely important when playing Incursion – it can be the difference between winning a round or being absolutely destroyed throughout, and it’s a demoralising 30 minutes if you’re on the receiving end.
The problem with this is that you’re never going to really know who the other team’s going to choose. Unlike Black Ops III’s balanced set of specialist classes, Battleborn’s slew of characters seem to have certain weaknesses that other characters can exploit fairly easily. This was always going to be a problem, given the 25 playable characters all differ in the way they attack and defend, and I can see quite a bit of frustration stemming from this. But, as I mentioned above, perhaps rotation will be key to winning games in this particular mode.
I also found that there was almost too much going on the screen during combat, and I sometimes found myself shooting and use abilities blindly, and just hoping for the best. There’s really no room for those wanting to take their time and deliberate over what action is best and how to go about it – Battleborn is chaotic, overwhelming, and exciting.
As you run around shooting, bashing, and spell casting, gold shards are littered throughout the map, and it’s in your best interest to pick them up. Shards play an important role in both offensive and defensive manoeuvres, allowing you to build and upgrade turrets and healing stations in select spots around the map. Having these up in the last part of a match was vital, and each can drastically affect the battle when used properly.
Shards also allow you to equip any of three loadout modifiers, which are chosen before jumping into a game and give minor stat increases. Modifiers are earned while playing through the game’s handful of modes, but are especially useful in Incursion. The Helix System, Battleborn’s levelling tree, plays an important role here as well. You start at level 1 every match, and each level you attain allows you to choose one of two skills to add to your character.
It’s important to understand how you’re building your character, and to choose skills that complement those of your teammates. Working together is the key to winning Incursion, and having the right selection of skills can make the difference in the last few minutes of a game when everyone has reached the maximum level of 10 and things get noticeably more hectic.
Incursion ably showcases the potential Battleborn possesses. Gearbox’s latest wacky title is certainly fun, and I can see this mode being particularly popular even for those without a love for MOBA-styled gameplay. I’m definitely keen to jump back in further down the line.