JOYFUL DAYS PLAYING BETAS (1): BATTLEBORN
A presentation before the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and four-star Army general. A presentation before foreign diplomats that I have been working for this semester. A ridiculous problem set for Microeconomics. Two to three applications for summer internship programs.
The fragments of sentences above aren’t independent clauses, but a mind-dump of what my last week was like. I am exhausted. In the midst of the craziness that was the prior week of graduate school, I got the opportunity to play some video game open betas. Even though I have access to a great library of completed and well-produced games, I decided to play game betas, and it was awesome.
In the midst of last week, I didn’t want routine. I didn’t want to jump into regular Halo 5 matchmaking to play some Breakout, Grifball, or Big Team Battle—even though I did do some of that anyway. I didn’t want to play The Division, a game I am beginning to have second thoughts about. In addition, I didn’t want to continue other games I am slowly making my way through, such as Pokemon Omega Ruby or Halo 2 Anniversary. What I did want was something fresh, something new that would break the mold of routine created by my schooling.
Over the last few days I have had the great opportunity to play the Battleborn open beta, the DOOM open beta, and the Halo 5 Warzone Firefight beta. Here are my thoughts on the first open beta I played this past week: BATTLEBORN.
BATTLEBORN: Bring Your Friends—If You Have Them
My friends on Xbox Live told me last week that I am incredibly negative about video games and media, such as films and TV shows. This may actually be very true. I am cynical when a product promises a lot of things and content because past experiences have shown me that making video games is hard, and studios, whipped into line my publishers, are limited entities. However, I am okay being negative and cynical about means of entertainment—it keeps the industries honest and it allows me to be joyfully surprised when I am impressed by a product.
I was joyfully surprised by Battleborn, the upcoming video game by Bethesda and id Software. Battleborn can be described as a shooter MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game with a pretty decent campaign experience. When I launched the open beta, the first thing I did was play a story mode mission—the open beta offered two. I felt that if I wanted to do well in the multiplayer, I needed to get the basics down first.
My experience playing the Battleborn story missions was pleasant; however, I will skip spoiler details and get to my main points. The average player will struggle playing the Battleborn campaign without the help of friends. I am not just referring to the difficulty—but there was one mission you simply cannot beat by yourself. The story mode that Battleborn has created struggles without conversation and cooperation. It is beautiful and gorgeous similar to Borderlands, but the lack of an open world may limit a game that was meant to be played with at least one more person.
INCLUSIVENESS WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Battleborn’s multiplayer was more impressive than what the available campaign levels had to offer. The open beta offered two different game types: Incursion (base-takedown mode) and Meltdown (minion-waves to score points). My description of the game types isn’t very thorough, but that is due to the fact that their description isn’t critical to my analysis. What made Battleborn’s competitive multiplayer impressive is that it allows for each player to play in the style of their choice, given the great variety of characters available—one of the game’s great strengths. Do you enjoy a HALO or CoD playstyle? Great—play as Oscar Mike or Mellka. Do you enjoy a more recon or sniper type of combat? Play as Marquis or Thorn. Do you prefer to be a rolling tank? You got Montana and Caldarius. Prefer melee hack-and-slash? Well, there is Rath and Phoebe.
The great strength of Battleborn lies in its inclusiveness. Battleborn, rising from the success of Borderlands, opens the world of shooter MOBAs through a variety of play styles that can appeal to all sorts of players. Of course, the game’s verdict remains to be settled. With a May 3rd launch date, Battleborn will face a tough month of competition against the releases of DOOM (May 13th), Homefront: The Revolution (May 17th), Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (May 24th), and Overwatch (May 24th). Out of all of these titles, the most direct competition will come from Overwatch, Blizzard’s answer to Battleborn, which releases their open beta on the same week as Battleborn’s launch date—talk about a corporate dick move.
Battleborn will likely be a solid competitive multiplayer platform with an uncertain future. The future of Battleborn will solely depend on early adopters—how many people will buy the game early and stick to the game? In addition, I remain highly doubtful of Battleborn’s story mode. From what I saw, it is as fun as long as your friends tag along—not a solid foundation by far.
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