A couple weeks ago, we talked about Overwatch, Blizzard Entertainment’s new hero shooter.
For those who missed it, here’s a quick recap on what a hero shooter is.
First, what is a “shooter?” A shooter is a game with fast-paced action where the ability to aim well and avoid incoming attacks is the key to victory. One of the characteristics of a shooter is that you have a level playing field. Everyone is playing the same character, basically, and the weapons you pick up and use during a match don’t remain with you. Every match begins with all players having the exact same tools at hand.
A hero shooter differs from this in that all characters are NOT the same. Each character has differing capabilities and the game is as much about the strengths and weaknesses of various combinations against each other as it is the fast twitch muscles of the players. In that respect, the hero shooters are much like a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena, which is…never mind, that’s another topic). Overwatch, as we noted two weeks ago, features a number of quite different heroes, and you can switch from one hero to another any time you like, even mid-match. Your heroes never change in any way except cosmetically, with the quick change capability being key to Overwatch’s gameplay. Comps can be adjusted mid-match, if something’s not working. But this isn’t about Overwatch again.
This is about Battleborn, which is ANOTHER hero shooter just launched from Gearbox Software. Gearbox gave us one of my favorite single-player and cooperative multiplayer hero shooters, Borderlands. Battleborn looks an AWFUL LOT like Borderlands, which is a good thing, but the story is different. Story matters in Battleborn, because you’ll be interacting with it throughout your time in the game. Battleborn has eight campaign missions through which the story is revealed, and you can play them offline in single-player or online in cooperative multiplayer mode.
From there you move into the online competitive multiplayer, and this is where Overwatch and Battleborn directly compete, and significantly differ. Yes they are both hero shooters, where you decide as whom you will play and the game randomly places you on a particular map, while you pray to the random game gods for a map you actually know and like. But, unlike Overwatch, Battleborn lets you improve your character through unlocking new characters, new skills, and obtaining new gear. Those are all MOBA-like elements that Overwatch lacks.
I don’t want to put you to sleep with too much detail, but let me just say that you unlock new heroes by ranking up through experience gained both in multiplayer matches and campaign mode. So you can grind your way to any new hero you want. You also level up ten times during a competitive multiplayer match, which unlocks additional skills. That happens each match, you reset back to your base skills for any given character before the next match. Gear is somewhat in between. You permanently acquire gear, like you permanently unlock a hero, but the gear must be activated in each match by collecting shards in the match itself. Just because you put an item in one of your loadouts doesn’t mean you can use it, you have to activate it again for each match you play.
Battleborn Launch Trailer
So both Overwatch and Battleborn are hero shooters. Which one is better? I haven’t officially rated Overwatch yet, since that game doesn’t release until May 24th, but Battleborn is out now. I’m rating Battleborn a 7 and ½ out of ten and unless something changes I’d give Overwatch an 8. But the games are different enough that you might want to play both. Overwatch is simple. Nothing to gain, nothing to level, just pick a hero, get on a map, and starting killing things. No campaign missions, nothing to configure or collect. It’s all about learning each class and its abilities, then being faster and smarter in the matches. Battleborn is more strategic, yet still with faster action than a MOBA (even though one of the competitive multiplayer modes sure FEELS like a MOBA as you’re escorting computer generated units to capture enemy resources). Which of the 25 heroes you choose to unlock, which skills you pick during a match, and what gear you make ready for activation in your loadouts are all a big part of your success.
If the concept of hero shooters intrigues you, the good news is that before the end of May you will have two very good games from that genre available to play. Battleborn is available right now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One at a cost of $50 for the standard edition and $75 for the deluxe edition. Overwatch was less expensive, but the deluxe edition there was strictly cosmetic while Battleborn’s deluxe edition includes some gear.
That’s Into Gaming, I’m Mark Lautenschlager.