Meet Battleborn's Oscar Mike, Miko, & Phoebe
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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Miko is one of the sole survivors of a species of sentient mushroom beings. These bipedal creatures shared a collective consciousness and spanned an entire planet in one huge fungal megacolony – until the mysterious Varelsi wiped out their star. Since then, Miko has joined the other members of the nature-loving Eldrid faction to fight against the Varelsi and compete with the other factions for control over Solus, the last star in the universe.
Primary Weapon: Kunai
Miko is a support character, and thus focuses mostly on healing and helping out other team members. However, Miko's poisonous kunai shouldn't be underestimated as an offensive weapon. Pressing the right trigger throws them one by one, while the left trigger unleashes seven weaker blades at once in a horizontal spread.
Cloud of Spores – This offensive ability allows Miko to throw down an exploding spore sac that damages enemies caught in the blast. It also slows them down, making it a valuable support tool as well.
Poultice – Miko's Poultice ability allows the player to instantly heal a teammate. The power also acts as a buff, providing additional health to the ally for a short period of time.
Medicinal Mycology – This passive ability adds poison damage to Miko's kunai, dealing additional damage over a short period of time. This poison damage does not stack, however.
Fungus Among Us – This ultimate ability allows the player to drop Miko's mushroom cap on the ground, which deals area-of-effect damage to enemies for several seconds. It also simultaneously heals teammates within its radius.
Miko can't survive long in head-to-head battles with enemies, which makes the character a difficult selection for newcomers. With a skilled player at the controller, however, having Miko on your team can be a game changer. Miko's Fungus Among Us ability is great for crowd control and defending the team's spider mechs; placing one down near the A.I.-controlled mechanical beast is sure to scare off attacking enemies, and gives teammates in need of health a place to rally around. Miko's healing powers can also transform a tank like Montana (who we will cover later this week) into a nearly unstoppable force if the two characters stick together. If you see Miko lurking on the outskirts of a battle, you'll want to take the mushroom warrior down as quickly as possible.
Coming Up Next: We take a look at the L.L.C.'s aristocratic swordswoman, Phoebe...
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Faction: Last Light Consortium (L.L.C.)
Even in a game full of insane characters, Phoebe stands out on the battlefield – or floats above it, as the case may be. Phoebe is one of the final remaining human members of the Last Light Consortium, a profit-driven collection of corporations that sells weapons to all of the warring factions. Phoebe also has telekinetic powers, which she uses to attack enemies with her floating rapiers.
Primary Weapon: Rapier
In addition to her four floating rapiers, Phoebe holds a fifth blade in her right hand. Pressing the right trigger will stab at an enemy within close range, and it can be chained into a three-attack combo. Pressing the left trigger performs a swipe attack that can hit multiple opponents and can be chained for a two-hit combo.
Balestra – While not completely finalized, Balestra allows Phoebe to instantly teleport to a targeted area while simultaneously reducing the damage she takes. Gearbox says the ability may also buff teammates or de-buff enemies.
Blade Whip – This powerful offensive ability sends Phoebe's floating rapiers flying out in front of her in a direct line of attack, providing her with a little more range than her melee attacks afford.
True Strike – Phoebe's passive skill causes her telekinetic blades to deal extra damage to her primary attacks; right-trigger attacks prime the floating blades, increasing their strength, while left-trigger attacks unleash them on the targeted enemies. True Strike can be further augmented by Phoebe's level upgrades, providing additional buffs to herself or allies when triggered.
Riposte – As the name suggests, Phoebe's ultimate ability gives her the opportunity to block a single incoming attack from an enemy. Phoebe can't move while triggering Riposte, but if the block is successful, her telekinetic rapiers strike out in a series of attacks that damage and temporarily stun all enemies in their path.
Phoebe wasn't playable during our hands-on time with Battleborn, so we don't yet know how she stacks up to other playable characters. However, Gearbox describes her as a disruptor – a character designed to distract enemies and disrupt the flow of battle. Her ability to float above the battlefield certainly seems distracting enough, and her focus on combo-driven melee attacks suggests she'll be a dangerous foe in close-range encounters.
Come back later in the week for more character reveals and hands-on impressions. For our full month of Battleborn coverage, check out our hub by clicking the banner below.