I've been keeping an eye out for Gearbox's latest game Battleborn since it was first announced in 2015. Naturally I jumped at the chance to try out their open beta (I really don't like the opportunity to pay to be a game tester - I'm looking at you Overwatch). I played a little bit of Borderlands with my brother and felt its content was less than appropriate, especially with kids. I was happy that Borderlands 2 had a content filter and we played that game a lot. I bring up the Borderlands series because if you've played any amount of Borderlands, then you already know a great deal of how the game feels. The controls and feel of the game are all Borderlands-esque. That is in itself good and bad. It's good because the gameplay of Borderlands is excellent. It's bad in that the controls and movement style feels slightly out of date. I got my character stuck on a map in a mission and I wouldn't have been stuck if my character was allowed to crouch or double jump, which is nearly standard on all games of this nature. You do get used to it, but you will notice and miss being able to do those things.
I played through the first two available story missions that the beta has to offer. The story missions are supposed to run on average 30 - 45 minutes. If you play solo, you can expect to take a lot longer than that depending on the character you choose. This is one the first major departures from the Borderlands formula. In Battleborn, the character is the load out. Some characters are support characters. Some are brawlers. For example, if you choose Miko to do a story mission Solo, you are essentially bringing a knife to a gunfight. Choose carefully, even when playing in a group. Completing missions unlocks additional characters and gear. Gear are perks you can use in a mission which you have to charge to use by finding in-mission currency. With this setup, I found myself longing for the sweet, sweet loot that made Borderlands so enjoyable. But this is a beta, and better gear and characters are probably waiting to be found in the full game.
One thing that really hasn't changed is Gearbox's warped sense of humor. The first mission, "The Algorithm" also offers plenty of witty dialog between the boss, your character, and at the boss and his minions. The dialog does contain some PG-13 language that was actually bleeped out in the dialog and sub-titles. Maybe I'm just weird, but I found the bleeping added to the humor even though it could have been left out entirely. I've read that there will be a total of 8 story missions and if true, it's probably not going to be enough. However, the meat of the game may be in its multiplayer modes. I didn't play any of the multiplayer modes. Not because I didn't want to. I did. The problem was that once I selected a multiplayer mode, I waited for the system to match me up with 9 other players. And waited. And waited some more.
Neil Armstrong was once quoted as saying
I believe that every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises.
I sort of feel the same way about matchmaking. I don't have an unlimited amount of game time. I have a family, a job, and a son with a pinewood derby car that isn't close to ready. So the idea of sitting around for 5 minutes (or more) waiting to be paired up with other players isn't going to cut it. There's other games to play that won't make you wait. Hopefully it is part of the beta that will be corrected later. We'll just have to wait.
All in all, the gameplay was enjoyable and there's a huge selection of characters, each with their own unique abilities. But I was only able to play half of the small portion of the game that is available. Normally I'd say "That's OK. I can wait". But with all the things that are competing for my time, I don't have that luxury anymore. The beta is free and open until the 18th. Give it try, maybe with more players, I'll be able to try the multi player modes.