Our Biggest Concerns From The Battleborn Beta

If you're into first-person shooters in any way at all, you've probalby got your eye on Battleborn, the ridiculous, cartoony MOBA from Gearbox Software. A sci-fi world full of unusual characters from a surreal assortment of species and situations, Battleborn is exciting, elaborate—and maybe a little overwhelming. Gearbox has shoved ten pounds of game into a five pound sack, and it's bursting at the seams. Here are a few reasons why this scenario is a bit worrying, based on the game's April 2016 open beta.

Absolute chaos

Your average battle arena is populated by ten players, with five fighters per team, all of whom vary greatly in size and shape. At a glance, it's very tough to tell who's on your team and who you need to blast, as other players' life bars pop up inconsistently, and their slight differences in color are what determine friend from foe. Additionally, the battlefield is also littered with little marching drones released by both sides, so while they provide a distracting target for your enemies, they also tend to overtake the battlefield with even more chaos. If you can figure out what the heck you're shooting at, you're already a step head of your opponent.

RIP, team noob

Battleborn includes a levelling system for each character, as well as a cumulative rank for the player, all of which unlock special abilities and powers. These numbers should ideally serve as a way to properly balance teams battling against one another, since every randomized round will have both experts and new guys just hopping in, but it's not uncommon for the unsuspecting noobs to be clustered into a B-list team, which is then immediately mashed to goo on the battlefield by the opposing warlords. Balanced rounds last 20 minutes, but imbalanced rounds are over in just a few.

The dirty thirty

Hardcore gamers with awesome rigs demand that games run at 60 frames-per-second and 1080p resolution, as with The Last of Us Remastered and Journey. In general, a game will still look and feel pretty awesome even if it runs at slightly lower specs, but Battleborn is currently capped at a measly 30 frames-per-second, which means that animations can look pretty choppy. It's not really noticeable until you switch between Battleborn and a beautiful, more realistic-looking game like Star Wars Battlefront, but when you do, you suddenly feel like you're playing Battleborn through molasses. It's tragic, because at 60 fps, it would feel like playing a Pixar film. And isn't that the dream?


Battleborn comes with a canned sense of humor: malevolent robots who talk like game show hosts, mushroom men who shriek about pain and salvation, and absolutely cliched mad scientists in mech-suits, all of whom occasionally drop some moderately foul language. It's inoffensive, but the level of cheesy jokeyness begins to border on that of cringe-worthy fan fiction at times. It's not an inventive kind of humor, but instead a recitation of nerdy joke tropes that will occasionally make you want to play with the volume turned low.

Flying solo

The game's beta includes two solo missions where your hero is faced with traversing a large techno-fortress, killing huge waves of enemies, and protecting a sentry, all before facing an oversized boss. Each of these solo levels takes about an hour, if you take the time to run around and pick up all of the power-ups. But these levels' replay values feel pretty minimal. Gearbox will almost definitely include more solo missions over time, which will allow you to slowly level up your chosen heroes without needing to engage in online competition, but unless these missions are given some real variety or reward, buying a pass for one more hour of play seems unlikely.

Exploitable junk

Every character has a set of abilities designed to heal or harm, and these abilities are augmented by gear that you purchase in blind packs between missions using currency you earn during the game. Because there's a huge variety of gear and a huge number of characters to augment, some of these countless combinations are ridiculously overpowered. During the beta, it's possible that you'll come across an enemy who can heal themselves faster than any damage can be dealt, or a few opponents who can eviscerate you in only two or three swipes. These exploits will probably be closed with the game's full release, but every new bit of gear will re-open the possibility. There's nothing that kills enthusiasm faster than an invincibility bug.

Turret neglect

Certain online modes really require a lot of collaboration, and though Battleborn offers voice chat, the game is mostly just people running around to shoot at one another. Rather than take the boring task of running into obscure corners of the battlefield and collecting crystals to build defensive turrets and drones, the focus seems to be on offensive maneuvers. And because the beta does very little to explain how each battle mode works, or even what your buttons do, players seem unconcerned with actually contributing to a victory by building the necessary resources. It's something that will change with experience, but you'll always have one guy who's only in it for the headshots.


Of course, as your un-strategic team slumps towards failure, you'll be compelled to quit and find a new group who actually knows how to play. And, unfortunately, many players do that without penalty, leaving their scant team of five players short a warrior. This is when the game's potential imbalance truly starts to show, because a shortage of players on a team that small almost guarantees failure. Without a penalty for peacing out, ragequitters gonna ragequit, harming everyone else unlucky enough to get stuck with a big diaper baby on the team.