PC, PS4, Xbox One
The first thing you see after tapping through five pages of a EULA for Battleborn is an advertisement for the game's season pass. After the sales pitch, you get to watch the lengthy animated prologue that functions as a prelude to the game's tutorial which is, itself, just a stepping stone to you actually getting to play the game. You'll spend a lot of time at the start of Battleborn kicking your heels.
Gearbox Software's got a bit of reputation in the last few years - Borderlands was an exercise in style over substance, a cartoonish tornado of a game that fetished firearms, explosions, and ridiculous characters at the expense of all else.
Largely it panned out, at least in the case of Borderlands. Releases like Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines bombed, and so their recent record is a bit hit and miss. It's unfair to let this sort of thing tarnish Battleborn, but it's a legitimate question: Is it one of the "decent" Gearbox releases?
It's hard to categorise Battleborn simply but you can trace its parentage - it feels like a Borderlands sequel but with a new, and far less compelling, world to build from. It owes a debt to the MOBA Genre, with the rapidly leveling characters and many of the multiplayer modes. It's not a bad place to draw inspiration from, and it's something that's working well for Overwatch, a game I'll be mentioning more in a little bit.
The story of Battleborn, taught to you over the course of those overlong and exceptionally tame animation sequences, is that there's one planet left and everyone wants the planet for themselves. Your heroes, some two dozen of them, are engaged in a variety of scraps to try and determine the winner, through a multiplayer battle mode and a fairly asinine story mode, which you can play in co-op or alone.
Let's give Gearbox some dues. The characters are inventive, and different enough that it's worth playing all of them. I've played roughly half, losing interest in the game at whole before I managed to grind through and unlock all of them, but each character has an interesting gameplay loop. Take the soldier available to you from the start, Oscar Mike. Oscar Mike has an underbarrel grenade launcher and a stealth generator, a little later he gets a call-down airstrike, the same one you've seen in a bunch of other shooters, with the pretty ring that indicates where the missiles will land, before they do just that, damaging everything inside the ring.