You’ve seen the videos, you’ve read the reviews, you may have even dipped your toes in the proverbial water to see how the game feels. And, chances are, you felt like you were entering into a world of frenetic, overstimulating chaos. Perhaps you trudged onward, playing solo or with others, in hopes of figuring out the intricacies of Battleborn. If you feel like this game has too much going on for you to learn, here’s a guide to get you started.
Feeling an awful lot like a Gearbox version of Aeon Flux, the animation video in the Battleborn prologue is an introduction to the characters, and if you have an idea of what’s going on, the story of the game itself. After watching this mini-anime episode, you are thrown into the prologue as Mellka, an Eldrid attack character with a pistol and permanently “in hand” gauntlet. On the gauntlet is an Eldrid blade, which can be used in a variety of her attacks. As you push through the prologue with Mellka, you are given a pseudo- tutorial of the game. There are various chests to open, full of spheres that provide some of the following:
Finding a loot chest can prove to be foreign if you’re not familiar with Gearbox/ 2k titles (Borderlands). When in doubt, if it looks like it doesn’t entirely fit in with the scenery, shoot it and see if it opens. In the prologue, the loot chests tend to have glowing green accents.
While you’re looting and shooting, you’re following a ladylike defect from the Jennerit Imperium, Deande. She is the reason you’re in the prologue story in the first place, and while the objective in the prologue is to extract her, she serves as your guide through the map and your first experiences in Battleborn. The banter between Mellka and Deande sheds some light onto the backstory of the game, but you may not hear much of it because you’ll be attacking Jennerit NPC to get to the boss fight of the prologue.
Along the way you’ll see glowing shards; walk through them, punch them, whatever. Make sure you pick them up: they are the in-game currency. Large glowing shards will have health status bars on them; shoot them and pick up what drops. Shards will help you build turrets, traps, enforcer drones (you can only have one drone at a time), and later in the game, purchase your loadout items. The point: you need shards, so pick up every one that you see.
There is a lot happening on your screen, so it may be easy for you to overlook the “augment available” symbol flashing in the bottom center of your screen. This happens every time you level up, which can happen a total of ten times per match. Unlike other FPS games where your leveling is sustained over the course of your gameplay.
Battleborn has a Helix leveling system that starts over at the beginning of each match. Each Helix is unique to the individual character. Depending upon what skill you select with each level up, you may end up playing your character of choice in a variety of ways. For instance, I really enjoy playing with Oscar Mike, and one of his Helix sides is focused on playing him as a range character, while the other focuses more on close quarters combat (generally speaking). Miko, the Eldrid mushroom, can be leveled up to for combat or as a supportive healer, depending upon what skills you choose. Keep in mind that every hero can be specked in a way that suits the situation and your play style, to varying degrees.
The tricky part of this Helix system shows its face during multi-player, but when you’re playing solo, the game play and audio slow down significantly while you have the Helix open to choose your next skill. When you play multiplayer, choosing a skill becomes a great risk because you can be killed while looking at your Helix. The more familiar you are with your Helix, the faster you’ll be with it, and the less likely you are to be killed during the match or mission.
Play It Again
So, what happens when your tutorial is one 20 minute story mission with only one playable character? Play it again. Grow familiar with the rhythm of the loot and shoot RPG FPS style Battleborn has married to the MOBA formula. Finding loot crates, picking up shards, and becoming acquainted with the Helix system will all be essential in your survival as you enter into story modes and multiplayer matches.
Because there is no test range or training field in this game, the next best arena for getting cozy with the characters is in solo story missions. Each mission’s baddies are leveled to the amount of hero characters, and the missions don’t immediately bombard you with enemies, so this is where you can figure out who you like and who you don’t. You can play story missions as many times as you like, so say it with me once more: play it again. Play the early story missions with different characters, try different skills as you level up. And, because I’m awesome, here is a breakdown of those characters available at the beginning of the game.
There are 25 playable characters in this game, but not all are at your disposal from the get-go. Here are the heroes you can play:
As you complete missions and challenges, more characters are unlocked. Isic, the LLC attacker, is a really fun, sarcastic tank/ range character. If healing and walking like an Egyptian is more your style, Ambra is another early unlock that could serve you well. Another honorable mention is Toby, the adorably angry mech-suit controlling penguin. And while you’re unlocking characters and finding the right fit for you, you’ll be picking up gear. In these gear packs you will find loadout pieces you can set to unlock during missions and matches with shard-currency.
Gear & Loadouts
Gear packs, nifty little colored pyramids containing pieces of gear, are obtained in one of the following ways:
♦finishing a multiplayer match
♦defeating a boss
♦finishing a mission
♦leveling up, either character or command rank, or
♦buying them in the “gear” tab of your command
These pieces, in rarity, order from “common (gray)”, “uncommon (green)”, “rare (blue)”, “epic (purple)”, to “legendary (orange)”. Items instanced to all players on a team (no need to fight a teammate for a gear pack!) or are awarded to players at the end of a match. Gear items are randomized, so everyone will have different goodies by the time you go back to your player lobby. These gear items are neither faction nor class specific (except some legendary character specific gear, but that’s way in the future for new players, so no worries!), so anyone can use anything. Higher rarity items cost more in-game shards to activate as your match or mission progresses, so while they are unique, they may take you more time to activate. My trick around this is using a low level shard generator that requires nothing to activate. There’s usually a downside, like a slower reload time, but if you’re playing a character like Orendi, that won’t affect you at all (she doesn’t have anything to reload).
While in your “gear” tab of your player command center, you can sell gear items and equip loadouts for your match. Your loadout can be match or mission specific, so think about what you have going in and what you’d like to accomplish. I have a general loadout for higher maximum health, shard generator, and a cooldown time diminisher, and while I have character specific loadouts, this is a decent no-brainer for any match I may fall into.
If this was too long for you and you didn’t read a lick of it, here’s a recap:
♦Play the prologue a couple of times, then play the early missions solo with different characters to figure out who you like
♦Pick up shards for in game money, pick up loot for boosts
♦Don’t open your Helix while surrounded by enemies
♦Unlock and equip gear to boost your in game experience
♦Teleport back to base (in matches) to regen health and ammo (bonus tip!)
And, if all else fails, jump on and play with me (PS4) for some hand holding and laughs while we figure out this crazy fun cross-genre FPS.