Under all the news and chatter coming out of the video game industry right now, one title is becoming one of the most anticipated new IPs to come: Battleborn. Gearbox Software, creators of the brilliant Borderlands franchise, have just revealed the first footage of gameplay for the co-op campaign in a new 13-minute demo. Andrew Goldfarb, Gearbox’s content editor, sits down with Aaron Linde (lead writer) and Randy Varnell (creative director) to walk us through the demo and give us a bit of insight into what it’s all about. Below the video, I’ll provide my own thoughts and commentary but let’s get to what you’re really excited about:
In Battleborn, players will take the role of a hero from one of the several different races and factions in the story. These factions have been in conflict with each other for some time, but have now found a common malevolent enemy that threatens them all: the Veralsi. The heroes of these different factions have put their differences aside to fight this enemy together. While the demo features some of these heroes, it does not reflect the full character roster.
It’s clear right away during our introduction to the characters that the combination of humor and awesomeness is still a significant staple in the Gearbox’s character designs. Unsurprising, as lead writer Aaron Linde and Anthony Burch (lead writer of Borderlands) are known to be more than well-acquainted. The writing and humor in Battleborn looks to be just as promising in serving up the laughs.
While the art style is incredibly unique and unlike anything we’ve seen before in a FPS, it’s difficult to imagine such unique visuals coming from anywhere else but the creative minds of Gearbox. From the Pixar-like proportions of the characters to the almost hand-drawn look of the explosions, everything in the aesthetic looks well-polished and world-defining all while bringing a new and innovative attitude to the shooter genre.
The HUD design overall is evocative of that of Borderlands but stands alone with it’s own unique and cartoonish art-style, especially in the shield and health bar. When damaging an enemy and gaining experience, the respective numbers are displayed briefly and lightly on screen succeeding at not visually compromising the environment so much that it breaks immersion. This is something unattained by many games, Borderlands included in this author’s humble opinion.
In the first battle, we’re given the perspectives of each character and their combat styles. Thorn, the bow-wielding mage, is seen flinging arrows from her bow at low-frequency but with high precision and damage output. She also seems to have an area-of-effect ability that disperses a damaging fungi gas (which looks amazing). Miko, a hero of the same faction as Thorn, seems to share this fungi ability along with other more support-oriented abilities. Miko is seen slinging throwing darts at the enemies which seems to be his primary attack. Rath, a vampiric-looking swordmaster, uses his long red blades to mow through enemies. We’re often subjected to the barrel of Montana’s gun simply ripping bullets through robots and hurling grenades at their more concentrated clusters. And Oscar Mike is your more basic assault rifle-toting soldier who also seems to be able to set up turrets giving him a chance to shift focus to enemies in a different area.
After the first battle in the demo, “Level Up” appears at the top of the screen as well as “Augment Available”. “Every time you level up in Battleborn, you get to choose between different ways to customize your character,” Varnell explains. Going into the level up screen for Oscar Mike, two options are displayed: adding a red dot sight or long-range scope to his assault rifle. In this demo, the red dot sight is chosen. Varnell also goes on to explain that each character unlocks an ultimate skill at level 7. Montana’s ultimate skill is called Mansformation. “Montana’s a big guy moving around slowly, but Mansformation gives him a way to charge into combat and get in close and personal so he can really help his team out absorbing all that damage.”
At the next moment in the demo, Rath and Montana face a narrow upward ramp full of enemy robots and my first thought is “Why doesn’t Montana start mowing these guys down with his gun?” That’s precisely when Rath rapidly spins in circles and advances through them in a hurricane caused by his swords. Not one robot minion is left standing.
The demo ends after a long battle with what can only be a boss called Black Wolf who ejects smaller robots than himself out of his sides giving something to distract the players with. Not to mention the missiles he constantly launches at our heroes.
Throughout the demo are wonderful voice-acting performances, something Gearbox has never failed to deliver. Overall, Gearbox seems to be infusing all of their signature, tried-and-true game design elements into Battleborn. This particular gamer welcomes it with open arms. No specific release date has been revealed yet other than sometime in 2015 on PS4, XBox One, and PC.
Who will you play in Battleborn? What do you think of the demo? Let us know in the comments below!