Battleborn (PS4)


Videogames are entering their broadcast era. The medium’s progress has been halted to better serve game sessions streamed online to an audience who may not even play. Story, world building; forget them. They’ll come later. The attitude has become corrosive, belligerent, and frustrating. Competitive or not, what’s projected via Battleborn is a videogame which hasn’t progressed past shooting or punching a weak point on non-descript monsters. It sure is colorful though.

Pages of tenuous EULAs introduce Battleborn, stripping away years worth of consumer rights. Publishers know anxious people will skip. That’s not a positive opening.

Battleborn is built for hype, rocking a theme song and kinetic animated sequences which neither mesh nor match with the polygonal saturation in-game. Characters spout snarky one-liners and bleeped expletives. One of them satirizes Battleborn’s meathead community, chastising newcomers with shots of “Noob!” Yet, he has the most motivation of the crew – he likes to shoot things, so he’s in the right place. The rest are cooperative heroes because the game needs them to be.

There are lots of characters. Too many, probably. Battleborn more resembles a collection of ideas than a universe. Battleborn pits mismatched personalities of fungi, robots, military parodies, heroines, ninjas… there are no identifying aesthetics to this world outside of Nerf-like guns. It’s a cluster of misshapen ideas where people gather – and they have to since solo play balance is ignored – to complete a story out of sequence.

Narrative depth is dire. The corridor-then-waves progression which constitute this story is aggravating. Any appeal in playing alone – for those few who may appreciate soaking up Battleborn’s world – is wiped when dealing with languished pacing and the droning insistence on villains who take hundreds of bullets to put down.

Battleborn’s universe, gameplay, and functions are dreadfully underexposed, mashing the ambling shooting of Destiny with the strategic corridors of League of Legends. So goes the title – you’re born for this if you already played those recognizable hits. Tragic is that Battleborn is now the expectation, not only dressed with an indistinct title, but stuffed with tired level designs existing only as playgrounds to shoot things. Battleborn’s joints are decades old.


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