Meet Battleborn's Thorn, Montana, & Reyna
This week we're taking a look at just a few of the unique playable characters in Gearbox's new cooperative and competitive shooter, Battleborn. On Monday, we revealed the newcomer-friendly space marine, Oscar Mike; the poison-kunai wielding mushroom healer, Miko; and the floating, telekinetic swordswoman, Phoebe. Today we've got three more characters for you to learn about, and they're just as eclectic as the last bunch. Thorn is a slim and agile elf-like warrior who's deadly with a bow; Montana is a mountainous, Gatling-gun-wielding soldier with a zeal for battle; and Reyna is a tough rogue commander who sports some powerful support abilities. Read on to learn about each character's unique weapons and abilities, and for more of our hands-on impressions of the game.
Thorn's tall, thin frame makes her the most agile playable character we saw during our visit to Gearbox. The elf-like warrior was one of the first Eldrid settlers to land on Ekkunar, Solus' most hospitable planet, and she has thus lived most of her life beyond her faction's control. Thorn frequently clashes with the Eldrid's passive adoration of nature and is more than willing to defend her new home world – luckily, she packs a number of deadly abilities to help with her cause. Thorn can also jump much higher than other characters, but her speed and agility come at a cost; unlike the other characters we saw, Thorn doesn't have a shield.
Primary Weapon: Bow
Thorn can't fire as quickly as her gun-toting colleagues, but her arrows deal a punishing amount of damage. Players draw back her bow by pressing in the right trigger; releasing the button fires the arrow, but you can also charge the projectile for greater damage the longer you hold in the button. Holding the left trigger will zoom in slightly, making it easier to target distant enemies – though you'll still have to correct for speed and gravity.
Volley – Thorn's Volley ability simultaneously unleashes five arrows in a horizontal spread, all of which deal extra damage. This can come in handy if you're having trouble hitting a foe or have the opportunity to shoot multiple enemies at a time. However, Volley is even more useful in close quarters. A point-blank shot will land all of the arrows on a single target, which can be fatal depending on the enemy and your upgrade choices; Thorn can add an additional four arrows over the course of leveling up.
Blight – What good would an elf-like creature be without at least a few magic powers? Activating Blight creates a mystical symbol on the ground that damages enemies and slows down their rate of movement, giving Thorn time to run away or charge up another arrow.
Dark Curse – Thorn's passive ability gives her arrows dark energy that causes extra damage to enemies. It also curses them, which factors into her ultimate ability.
Apex Predator – By far Thorn's coolest ability, Apex Predator summons a scalewolf, a ghostly beast that mauls the targeted enemy. Thorn can increase the duration of the attack by cursing the enemy first with her arrows.
Thorn was the second character I played as, and I had more difficulty taking down foes in head-to-head encounters than I did playing as Oscar Mike. However, I instantly fell in love with how fast and nimble she is; I could easily outrun my foes and jump to high ledges that other characters couldn't reach. Thorn is more vulnerable than other characters in part because she lacks a shield. However, about halfway through the match, I transitioned from prey to predator, thanks to Thorn's upgrades. I still had to choose my targets wisely and avoid big shootouts, but I was more than happy to stalk my enemies from the trees, thump them with a volley of high-damage arrows, and then disappear back into the wilderness. I definitely plan to spend more time playing as Thorn when Battleborn comes out.
Coming Up Next: A soldier that's as big as the state he's named after...
Don't let Montana's imposing frame fool you. The gigantic trooper is the most cheerful character in Battleborn, mainly because he gets to do what he loves – shoot people with his giant Gatling gun. Gearbox describes Montana as a bleeding heart who always has some encouraging words for his teammates. Thanks to his massive size, Montana is an easy target to focus on in battle, but his tiny cranium (which he's rather sensitive about) makes landing headshots difficult. Montana moves at a sluggish pace, but can soak up more than his share of damage before dying.
A guy Montana's size needs an appropriately large weapon, and his powerful Gatling gun lives up to expectations. It also functions exactly as you'd imagine; you fire by holding in the right trigger, and can spin up the barrel in advance by holding in the left trigger. Montana's gun will overheat if you shoot continuously for too long, though several of his augmentations are built around this fluctuating temperature level.
Lumberjack Dash – Montana's slow movement speed makes it difficult to sneak up on enemies, but his Lumberjack Dash mitigates the problem. The speedy attack causes Montana to race forward in a straight line, injuring enemies and knocking them back.
Hailstorm – Another option for dealing with speedier foes, activating Hailstorm loads an alternate ammunition into Montana's gun that slows down any enemies he shoots with it. Hailstorm also slows down the time it takes for Montana's firearm to overheat.
Mo Heat, Mo Damage – Montana's passive ability increases the amount of damage he deals when the barrel of his Gatling gun heats up. Two of his level upgrades – Hot Blooded and Cold Blooded – can also grant him health regeneration based on the temperature of the barrel, giving players a number of strategic options for how they approach the character and which abilities they favor.
Mansformation – Montana's absurd ultimate ability causes him to launch across the map at a target, knocking back and injuring enemies caught in the wake of the impact. Mansformation also causes Montana's skin to turn metallic, temporarily reducing the amount of damage he takes. Amusingly, players designate their Mansformation target by using the Kids in the Hall head-crushing gesture.
When I first started playing as Montana, I was turned off by how slow he moved; it seemed like I was always arriving late to the party as my teammates clashed with the opposing team, and characters like Thorn and Rath were capable of running circles around me. Instead, I focused my attention on the other team's A.I.-controlled minions, which were easy to take down with the continual spray of Montana's Gatling gun.
As with Thorn, my experience playing as Montana changed around mid-match after I leveled up a bunch of times. The brute's Lumberjack Dash and Mansformation abilities both allowed me to literally thrust myself into the middle of firefights, and the myriad upgrades I had chosen increased my damage and health to absurd heights. Things became especially frenzied when I teamed up with a friendly Miko, who provided me with a steady stream of healing buffs as I smashed, stunned, and shot up our enemies. I don't normally enjoy playing tank characters, but Montana allowed me to approach the role as more of a wildcard than the team's leading damage dealer, which made the character more enjoyable for me.
Coming Up Next: We take a look at Reyna, the gadget-oriented commander leading up the Rogues faction...
Faction: The Rogues
Reyna is as close as the Rogues faction gets to having an official commander, and she plays a similar role on the battlefield. Her Command Glove gives her the ability to buff teammates and debuff enemies, making her a more tactics-driven option for players. Don't worry, though – she's still packing heat.
Reyna's offensive abilities are split between her pistol and Command Glove. Players fire her handgun with the right trigger, which predictably deals physical damage, while pressing the left trigger unleashes a slower projectile from her Command Glove that depletes an enemy's shields.
Overwatch – This support-focused ability allows Reyna to emit a charge from her Command Glove that automatically targets a nearby teammate and provides them with an overshield. This is especially useful for characters who have smaller shields, or no shields at all, like Thorn.
Priority Target – Similar to Overwatch, Priority Target sends out a charge from Reyna's glove, only this one seeks out an enemy. Once hit, a percentage of all the damage dealt to that foe will bypass their shield for a short period of time, regardless of whether Reyna or another teammate is doling out the pain. As you can probably surmise, this ability would be wasted on a character like Thorn.
Rally The Troops – Reyna's passive ability increases her movement speed for every shot she lands on an enemy with her pistol. This effect is stackable and also buffs nearby teammates, giving them an incentive to stick close to their commander.
Nick Of Time – Reyna's abilities and upgrades revolve around helping out her fellow teammates, and Nick of Time ensures she's always in the right place at the right time. The ultimate ability allows her to instantly warp to any ally's location. In addition to supporting a teammate in need, Nick of Time also gives Reyna an exit strategy should she run into trouble of her own.
Impressions: Reyna wasn't playable during our hands-on time with Battleborn, so we don't know how she compares to the other characters. That said, our time with Miko convinced us that even support-focused characters can effectively slay the opposing team's A.I.-controlled minions while helping out their teammates. We're guessing Reyna won't be an exception.
Come back on Friday to learn about three more of Battleborn's playable characters, or check out our previous reveals of Oscar Mike, Miko, & Phoebe. For our full month of bonus coverage, click on the banner below to visit the Battleborn hub.