Gearbox Software is known for creating addictive games that implore gamers to come back to them time and time again, and the prime example of this is Borderlands. They are in the midst of trying to duplicate the addictiveness and excellence people have found in the Borderlands series in their brand-new IP Battleborn, and when you look at the depth of progression in this game, they just might do it.
The level of progression is inside of Battleborn is actually quite staggering to think about. People who 100 percent Battleborn, all 25 characters, their Character Rank and each player’s Command Rank, will most likely have poured in hundreds of hours into this game. The amount of meaningful gameplay that lies within this shooter is intimidatingly excellent.
“In Battleborn right now, there are 100 command ranks you can get. You’ll unlock new abilities and do some things as you move through. Players get the Gear System at Command Rank 5. For character ranks, you go from one through 15. Every Character Rank will get some reward that is very centric to that character and you can alternate back and forth. Rewards typically are different skins or visuals for the character, different taunts or animations and then mutations, which are the third choices of several levels of the helix,” Battleborn Creative Director Randy Varnell told atombash.com.
What will be one of the determining factors for Battleborn is whether or not the game’s narrative missions and competitive multiplayer actually make grinding for progression enjoyable or torture. We’ve seen effective examples of how a game can make players grind for progression, but it’s a difficult line for any developer to walk, even for one that has already accomplished the feat once with Borderlands.
Gamers will have various Lore Challenges to complete for each of the 25 characters that are in Battleborn, and Gearbox said each character’s five challenges will be tailored to their abilities or lore background. Varnell told us about some of the rewards gamers will receive when they complete a Lore Challenge.
“As you unlock some of those challenges, you’re going to unlock little bits of lore like a text entry, diary entry or a picture, a specification about the character’s weapon, audio logs and I think there’s a song in the game too. When you finish the character rank and all of those lore challenges together, it’s kind of what I call hundred percent-ing the character, you’re completing all of that character and then there’s another special reward that recognizes you as a master of that character,” Varnell said.
One of the game’s most unpredictable and entertaining competitive modes has to be Meltdown, which pits two teams against each other and the group that gets the most minions through their respective incinerators wins. Preventing the opposing team’s AI minions from getting into the incinerators is a fiery catalyst for the chaotic gameplay.
Meltdown is a fantastic mode and it’s easy to see how these matches can carry on for dozens and dozens of minutes. Gearbox has test matches that carried well over an hour-long, so to keep things from getting out of control, they decided to use a time limit for each match.
“In competitive it’s like that, but after the 25 or 30-minute mark start to [fatigue]. We had some very early competitive matches in Battleborn where I’ve played an hour and 15-minute games. We would be winning and were engaged, but afterwards you’d be like ‘I don’t ever want to play this again’ (laughs). We found that once we got the average match length down to 20 or 25 minutes, people wanted to play another match far more than before,” Varnell said.
Matchmaking is a topic often discussed for competitive multiplayer games and the system is one worth wondering about for Battleborn. Gearbox told us “we will do skill-based matchmaking,” and went on to say gamers will, at the very least, be matched up based on their Command Rank.
Even if the developer decides to go with the latter example, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee even-skilled players will be matched up against each other. Varnell further described the ideas they have in mind for Battleborn and provided some of the things they are considering.
“We have some abilities to do true skill matchmaking. We’re using Microsoft Thunderhead servers right now and they’ve got some support for skill matchmaking. Steam also has some support for that on PC, so we’re looking into some different options there, but we know it’s a very important thing and we’re trying to get it in by launch. If it’s not in by launch it’ll be very shortly after that,” Varnell said.
Microtransactions do seem like a feature that would fit a game like Battleborn, but Varnell told us that it’s important to the studio that the game is “a $60 retail offering and it feels like you’ve got a full game experience for $60.” All of the game’s characters will not be gated by microtransactions in any way, but he did say that “long-term it’s hard to say” whether or not microtransactions will be in the game.
Battleborn does have a lot of depth and potential within not only its systems, but its modes and gameplay. Character variety will not be the issue with this game. Will the game’s narrative and competitive modes will keep you coming back past the first few months the game is available? That is the question. Battleborn will be released for PS4, Xbox One and PC on May 3.