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Dissecting The Elements And Influences Of Battleborn

In 2009, Gearbox's hit Borderlands set itself apart from other action games by combining the fast-paced combat of first-person shooters, the varied skills and progression of RPGs, and the endless loot of dungeon crawlers into a new and unique experience. For Battleborn, the developer is once again blending ideas and elements of a number of genres. We break down the core components that simultaneously make Battleborn feel familiar and unique.

Team-based Competitive Matches
What It's Like: Ever since the inception of team deathmatch, first-person shooters have been mixing cooperative and competitive play. Battleborn's five-player team size encourages and rewards groups who play together as a tight-knit squad, similar to shooter series like Battlefield and Rainbow Six, as well as the multiplayer offerings of the Left 4 Dead series. Battleborn's Incursion mode, which we played during our visit to Gearbox, was structured similarly to MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota 2, tasking players with taking down the opposing team's base and a pair of A.I.-controlled mechs in between.

Why It's Different: While MOBAs may be the easiest comparison point for the structure of Incursion mode, Battleborn plays like a shooter through and through. The matches we played had more of a tug-of-war feel than most competitive shooters, with both the scores (earned from killing players, NPCs, and taking down the opposing team's massive spider mechs) and map territory constantly oscillating between the two teams. The smaller player count also makes matches feel more intimate than most shooters, while the inclusion of NPCs (which we'll discuss later) ensures there isn't much downtime.

A Massive Roster Of Playable Characters
What It's Like: Gearbox likened the game's stable of playable characters to the fighting-game genre, and the comparison is apt; each hero not only sports his or her own unique abilities, but the wildly different themes and aesthetics of Battleborn's gang of misfits reminded us more of a Marvel vs. Capcom or Mortal Kombat than a shooter. MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota 2 also have giant rosters of disparate and unique characters, making it another obvious comparison point.

Why It's Different: Many shooters like Battlefield and Team Fortress 2 feature different classes with unique abilities, but they pale in comparison to Battleborn's extreme sense of variety. The closest comparison would be Evolve, but unlike the hunters in Turtle Rock's shooter, the characters in Battleborn aren't just limited to guns; melee-focused characters like Rath and Phoebe change up the feel of battles and team tactics even further. I played as five of Battleborn's characters, and each felt satisfyingly different – Thorn in particular felt like she was from a completely different kind of first-person game, but still somehow meshes with Battleborn's world and gameplay. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the wilder characters like Phoebe and Caldarius in action, but on the whole, Battleborn's stable of unique heroes is what distinguishes the game most from other shooters.

Coming Up Next: We break down Battleborn's leveling system and A.I.-controlled combatants...

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