Battleborn as an Allegory, and the Stages of Grief

Have another rant, perhaps the last, for what it’s worth.

I’ve contended for a while that Battleborn’s plot represents the struggle of game development, or perhaps that of most any creative enterprise. Like many creative types, the Battleborn are misfits and outcasts, celebrating individuality against a horde of bland conformity, taking calculated risks with limited resources, and desperately trying to keep the lights on in their little corner of the universe.

The Varelsi, on the other hand, seem bent on consuming everything for the sake of consumption, like a corporation blindly following a doctrine of expansion and greed. And then there’s the sell-out, Rendain: disillusioned, pessimistic, resigned, surrounded by nostalgic mementos in his little one-room pocket dimension.

Perhaps it’s a stretch.

So, I took a long break from Battleborn on PC out of frustration, then came back fairly recently. With the way things have been over the past months, Battleborn sometimes seems like a metaphor for itself. The PC population rarely breaks 300 players, averaging 100 at most times of the day. So here we are, trying to keep the last light of this game from fading into the darkness of obscurity, amidst constant suggestion that we give up and head for the Battlefield, or join the Global Offensive, or sign up for that club that’s really into mashing up the Justice League with Japanese cartoons… I forget what it’s called.

And yet, in other ways, the correlation falls apart. There’s this impression that the tiny PC community is somehow close-knit and chock-full of camaraderie, which in my experience is complete and utter nonsense. There’s a facade of unity on message boards, perhaps, but what I mostly see in-game is rampant schadenfreude with a side of exclusionary cliques. Most players I’ve encountered will do just about anything to win, and delight in the thrill of crushing an opponent and taunting over their corpse. This isn’t just from observation – many have proudly admitted to such motivations.

And in this steamroll-happy environment, it’s hard to tell the difference between latency, broken gameplay mechanics, and outright cheating. As far as cheating goes, there’s no tools available to definitely accuse a player of the act (especially when executed with a melee character). I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve won a match, only to have the same opponents come back and win the following match with an extremely suspicious shift in behavior, such as a significant increase in point-blank critical hits. Some think the problem is rampant, others think it is isolated, but the one thing we all agree on is that the in-game reporting function seems absolutely pointless.

Thanks to the above issues, I see new players come and go quite often. They get the game for peanuts, or in a bundle, and are taken in by its charms for about a week. Then they see what’s on the horizon – either spend hours grinding for perfect legendary Gear for the strongest, CC-spamming melee characters, or cheat, or both. And for what? To become the guys that are scaring them away from the game in the first place? So they leave, and I really don’t blame them.

There’s also a sentiment among my friends that frustration and critique is categorically ignored by ardent fans and developers alike, while positivity is exalted. This certainly isn’t unique to Battleborn, especially nowadays, but the narrative often feels like this:

“Do you stream on Twitch? Have any fanart? Do you cosplay? Are you actively promoting the game and its community in your free time? No? You’re just playing the game, and not in a tournament? Well, quid-pro-qu… oh, I mean, well, um… we value your input, or something. Just put your suggestions in that box right next to the incinerator.”

Yet we keep playing, charmed by the best of the gameplay and lore. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. Sometimes there’s fun, but often, it just feels masochistic. Thankfully, there is now the sanctuary of Bots Battle, a magical land of make-believe where you can pretend your tactics actually work against other players. And then there’s the Ops, a mixed bag which ranges from polished to potentially unfinished (I’m looking at you, glitch-happy Demon Bear). And then it all culminates in one last cutscene, one last dare – believe in this game’s future, I dare you. What’s the worst that could happen, besides deepening your disappointment and distrust?

In all, it’s been a bizarre ride. Sum the good times and the bad times, and it’s hard to tell the net result. It’s probably positive, but certainly close to zero.

In closing, I give you the stages of grief, as seen through the lens of Battleborn Versus.

Denial

“They just got lucky, is all. We’ll get them next round! This game seems way more balanced than other shooters and MOBAs I’ve played! With the right gear, and the right team composition, we can’t lose!”

Anger

“I WAS AROUND THE CORNER! THE CORNER! HOW DID I GET PULLED AND STUNNED?!? 2000 DAMAGE IN LESS THAN THREE SECONDS? HE’S TAUNTING NOW! YOU DID NOTHING! NOTHING! YOU JUST SHOT THE LAST BULLET! WHY IN THE HELL WOULD YOU TAU-”

Bargaining

"I just want to win a match, just once. Please, stop matching me with that 5-man team with the Kelvin and the Rath and the Shayne & Aurox. Just give me some opponents at my skill level. I’m tired of spending most of the match looking at the respawn timer. Can at least get one that lasts long enough to work on some of my Lore?

Depression

“Fine, I get it, I’m terrible. I don’t have the right Gear, and I make all the wrong decisions. My team is always yelling at me. This sucks. I should just quit.”

Acceptance

“This game is pretty broken, especially when there’s lag. I definitely think those guys are cheating. But I like the space elf that says funny stuff with an accent. I like shooting arrows. So I’m just gonna shoot these arrows and lose and I don’t care anymore, it’s fine.”

Bonus Stage: Anger
"WHY WON’T YOU LET ME SHOOT MY ARROWS IN PEACE?!? IT’S NOT LIKE I’M EVER GOING TO DO ENOUGH DAMAGE TO EVEN KILL YOU, YOU STUN-HAPPY SON OF A-"

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A lot of truths there …

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You are not alone.

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Stages of grief from a vet player who remains addicted to the game.

  1. Well known outside editing apps caused us much pain, namely the remote meta data server.
    We are plagued with the need for an always great Internet connection.

  2. The game isn’t PvP or PvE, not even OPs missions orientated but it tries to pander to all three.
    The gear and Shield system smell bad because they have to serve so many courts from one vendor.

  3. We are still using the Unreal Engine, something we’ve embraced, but the beloved console is denied from us.

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This tale makes me sad, for i can soooo easily see it occurring on the PS4.

And I truly, TRULY sympathize for you brave PC warriors!

But not yet.

Not just yet…!

Post Winter Update PS4 Battleborn has been like night versus day…

I would say PS4 Battleborn is the healthiest / most active that it has been since release!

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Boo! Get outa here with that “healthiest it’s been since release”. Gimme a break we are grieving here!

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The end is near for Battleborn. Pc always had the short end during the entire Battleborn lifetime in terms of population. Console has been healthy for the most part but it’s definitely declining in terms of veteran players. On Xbox1, it consist mostly of newcomers and level 100+ players that have achieved such rank through pve or boost yet their player’s pvp skills are worst than level 10.

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@lemonheadjake @RayLightning

Try being positive?

I have almost 1000 hours of dedicated PVP (minus the PVE requires for my Platinum) and play for extended sessions almost daily, so, at least for PS4, I know of whence I speak.

My thoughts and prayers go out to you xBoners and PC people!

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There is nothing to be positive about my friend. I’m supposed to be happy because you are still putting time in on this game?

P.S. This game didn’t do that well at release and dropped sharply from there. However I doubt very much that current numbers on any system come close. I’m curious why you think the population is that high. Other than steam I have not seen anything definitive about population counts. If you have a source of such data I would love to see it.

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There’s a fine line between being positive and ignoring reality. Battleborn is like a dead zone on pc most of the time during the day due to their low player population.

Even though Xbox doesn’t have it as bad, we can’t ignore that teaming up and going against newcomers is never fun. There are very few veteran players on this platform. Like I mentioned the majority consist of low to average skilled players = not fun. To make matters worse, the few that are above average tend to run under full premade teams.

P.S: That’s a perverted nickname to give to Xbox players lol

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As i’ve said many times, basing population numbers on steam charts alone is a pretty poor way of determining these things. PC players are a bit…odd…err, eclectic in their tastes. If it’s not either a) incredibly cheap or b) f2p, chances are it didn’t get much traction to begin with. Just look at CoD: Infinite Warfare. Nobody is going to deny that Activision-Blizzard games and especially CoD titles don’t get massive advertising budgets, ride the hype train, and keep chugging along despite a loud and vocal but ultimately minority amount of players complaining about the sameness or the mechanics from title to title. Guess what the the average is for the last 30 days? 1,824.3. I know, several times over the population of BB pc. But it had way more exposure, it’s in a way more defined genre, and people know what to expect with CoD. Given it’s extremely lackluster PC population, would you call Infinite Warfare dead or dying though? Doubtful. The console install base is much higher.

I guess the point i’m trying to make is that generally, the most popular games on PCs are different than the most popular games on consoles. The most popular game in the world - League of Legends - averages 7.5 million concurrent players. There are more people playing this one game right now than there are people playing ANY game on their PS4 or XBox One. Combined.

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:acmcry:

If you follow gaming news you would know that COD tanked. You picked the best/worst comparison. COD is a failed game and yet they are doing several times better than battleborn. I’m not sure what point you were trying to make with that comparison but it does work to show how unsuccessful battleborn really is. That bit where you talk about how more people play games on PC than any other system, but they don’t play battleborn. That was my favorite bit. Good job.

So… I guess all of us should probably stop playing then. claps hands Alright everybody, out of the Battleborn boat! Grab whatever gear you don’t want to part with and get a move-on! No, you can’t sneak Toby out. Put him back.

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You definitely missed the entire point. Infinite Warfare struggled by CoD standards. It sold half as much as Black Ops 3. It was still the top selling console game of 2016. By a wide margin in fact. It did awful on PC and has a low population there. However the population is much more robust on console, and you definitely can’t call it a failed or dying game because of that

So despite the fact that it is a failed game on PC it’s not an indictment on the title as a whole. A game can still be successful by making up the margins on the consoles, even a game like Battleborn.

The part where i mentioned LoL’s population dwarfing the number of all other games on all other platforms combined was to further illustrate my original statement. If you look at the top 10 PC games, and the top 10 console games at any given time, you won’t see a lot of translation

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and they somehow have pentastrike, yea lvl 120-something in faceoff with that title playing like a lvl 5 i carreied my camping the depostie as ambra

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While positivity is exalted, I wouldn’t say critique is too ignored. I think a lot of people just gave up, weird(sad)ly enough

I uh

PC players can much more easily get games, between larger storage, crazy amount of uploads and deals, and humble bundles and the like. They either float or get obsessed it seems. That’s fine, but not always optimal

I would disagree that the PC community is clique driven. There are basically those that have a microphone/Discord and those that don’t. I will add anyone that communicates on Steam and if they accept party invites they are usually invited to whatever Discord I am in. I know lots of other players that are the same way.

…You feeling OK? Seem to be doing a lot of attacks lately, out of character.

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If it makes you feel better, World of Warcraft players have been shouting “The end is nigh!” for about 11-12 years now.

(Though, to be fair, I WILL be taking Toby with me. For reasons.)

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