Gearbox's newest cooperative and competitive shooter gathers heroes from across the universe in a battle over the final burning star. This epic premise not only allows the developer to present gamers with characters of wildly contrasting themes, but play styles as well. In today's feature, we're looking at three characters who illustrate Battleborn's extreme variety: the prototypical space soldier, Oscar Mike; a mystical fungi warrior named Miko; and a telekinetic rapier-wielding technocrat named Phoebe. Read on to learn about each character's unique weapons and abilities, and for our hands-on impressions of the game.

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Name: Oscar Mike
Faction: Peacekeepers
If you've ever played a Call of Duty or Battlefield game, Oscar Mike will be instantly familiar to you. The consummate soldier exhibits an unwavering commitment to the United Peacekeeping Republic, serving on the frontlines of whatever conflict he's been sent to. Gearbox says that while Oscar Mike's tone is tongue-in-cheek, he's not meant to mock fans of military shooters, but merely play on the tropes and themes we're all so familiar with. Gearbox also teased that Oscar Mike's personal history contains some unique twists and surprises that separate him from the stereotypical space marine, which players will learn about during the course of the game. From a gameplay perspective, Oscar Mike's weapons, abilities, and mechanics function exactly as you'd expect them to, making him an easy entry point for new players.

Primary Weapon: Assault Rifle
Oscar Mike's assault rifle is the most straightforward weapon in Battleborn. Players shoot with the right trigger, and can aim down the sights for greater accuracy by holding in the left trigger. One of Oscar Mike's level upgrades allows him to choose between a scope or red-dot sight; since Battleborn's rapid leveling system resets after every match, players can adapt and experiment with their upgrades more easily than the slow progression paths military shooters usually afford.

Unique Abilities:

Frag Grenade – If you've ever played a first-person shooter, you know how Oscar Mike's frag grenades function. However, like all abilities in Battleborn, these explosive accessories work on cooldown timers, so you won't have to worry about scouring the environment for extra supplies. 

Pulse Grenade – Oscar Mike's pulse grenades work exactly like frag grenades, but deal a large amount of damage to an enemy's shields instead of their health. These are especially handy when facing the opposing team's giant spider mechs, should your A.I.-controlled minions come up short during the heat of battle.

Tactical Rounds – This passive ability causes the first and last round in every one of Oscar Mike's magazines to deal three times the normal amount of damage. Later upgrades in Oscar Mike's upgrade tree can apply further modifiers, such as a concussive effect that causes the first round of a magazine to slow enemies.

Ultimate Ability:

Airstrike – Unlocked at level seven, Oscar Mike's ultimate ability allows him to call in a missile strike, which deals major damage to an area for a short period of time. Airstrike is powerful enough to take down an entire swarm of minions at once, and can be used to disperse an opposing team that makes the mistake of sticking too close together during firefights.

Hands-on Impressions:
Oscar Mike was the first character I played as, and he instantly gave me a leg up on my fellow editors who struggled to acclimate to some of Battleborn's more specialized characters (which I was more than happy to take advantage of, naturally). Oscar Mike's grenades are downright mundane compared to the abilities of other characters, but were consistently useful and managed to keep melee-focused enemies like Rath at a distance (thanks to my patented throw-a-grenade-at-my-feet-and-run-away technique). Once I added a scope to my assault rifle, I had a much easier time taking down enemies from afar, and Airstrike gave me some strategic options as well. I eventually found other characters more interesting, but I can see myself going back to Oscar Mike whenever my team needs a good grunt on the battlefield.

Coming Up Next: The Eldrid's mysterious mushroom warrior, Miko...