[guide] Battleborn: A Beginner's Guide

(Jacksfields) #1

With the influx of new players through the humble bundle, I thought to type out some tips/tricks and general knowledge about the game to make an otherwise hard to get into game a little bit easier. If there’s anything I’ve missed or gotten wrong, let me know and I’ll edit the original post

EDIT: Some additional tips from /r/battleborn!

EDIT:SHiFT Codes (go to extras -> SHiFT) for free loot packs. The green codes are still active, and more are constantly released on Twitter, Facebook and during events.


This guide will cover the basics of both PvP and PvE in Battleborn along with some tips, tricks and general things to keep in mind. Most important thing to keep in mind though is: Battleborn is not an easy game to get into!

It combines aspects of both the FPS and MOBA genres, and does so in a unique and very Gearbox way. And while this makes the game incredible compelling and in-depth, it also makes it complex and hard to grasp at times. But when you do, the sense of accomplishment exceeds that of those gotten from games of the ‘parent genres’. -But that is just my opinion, find out for yourself!-

A lot of people will be drawn to Battleborn for the PvP side of the game, but jumping in unprepared can be quite a harrowing experience with how much is happening at the same time. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Don’t neglect PvE
PvE is a very important aspect of Battleborn, and it’s highly recommended to run at least a couple of story missions on normal to get acquianted with the game, your preferred characters and the majority of the game’s mechanics. Preferably run through the entire story (all missions can be done solo with all characters), but it’s understandable that you’d want to jump into PvP as soon as possible.

PvE is also the quickest and most efficient way of getting gear, which I’ll be getting into later.

PvP is completely objective based
Kills are nice to have, and make your job easier, but the primary win condition is capturing and holding points in Capture, escorting minions in Meltdown or destroying the second sentry in Incursion.

Kills only come into play when the score is completely tied (which can be seen at the top of the screen at all times). This happens most often in Incursion where each sentry represents 50 points, so when both teams have lost their first sentries, but the second ones are untouched, the winning team will be decided by kills/assists. Each kill is worth 2 points, and each assist 1.

Buildables (turrets, supply stations etc) and Thrall camps can win games for you
Building and controlling the various buildable options on the map can give you more control and pressure than most players can. Thralls and Elite Bots have immense health pools and most characters (with a few notable exceptions, especially late game) struggle with clearing them. These also help a lot with shredding a Sentry’s shield so you can get to its health quicker.

Turrets give you increased control over the area they affect, and can make it incredibly hard for the opponent to enter that area. Especially Thumper turrets, with the slowing effect on their rockets, can make it nearly impossible for the enemy to close in, so use them to your advantage.

Conversely, taking down turrets and Thralls/Elite Bots should be your highest priority, right after clearing the enemy minions. If you let them be, it will be an uphill struggle to regain control.

Besides these tactical benefits, building buildables and capturing Thrall camps grants you some experience, and each higher tier (buildables can be upgraded up to 2 times after building) gives you more experience than the tier before that. Use this to level up faster and gain a double advantage over the enemy. This is for PvP only! In PvE buildables do not grant experience.

Get to know the map
As an extension on the point above, take some time to get to know the map. This is probably best done through private bot matches. You can set up anything from 1 to 5 players on a team and get some experience with the PvP maps and against Battleborn bots, which are (a tad) more impressive than the Story AI minions.

For exploring the map I’d recommend making the match a 1v1. This way you have plenty of space to scour all the nooks and crannies of the map and find all the turret locations, shard spawn points etc. Bot matches can also help you get a little bit of experience with a new character. In this case, fill out the teams with bots to give you an idea of that character functions in teamfights as well as their base mechanics. Just don’t expect that people are going to behave the same way as the bots because face it: bots are kinda dumb.

Gear does matter
One of the unique things about Battleborn is its gear system. Loudouts can give you a monumental edge in the fight, and going into a PvP match without a loadout will severely cripple you.

There are two main thoughts about loadouts and how to put them together:

  1. Cheap gear for an early spike and plenty of shards for buildables
  2. Expensive gear for maximizing stats and effects late game

Each has their own pros and cons, so go out there and experiment.

When you get a piece of gear with negative stats, don’t immediately throw them away! Negative stats reduce the activation cost of the item and some don’t even affect your character. An easy example is Rath: as a melee character he is unaffected by reload speed and recoil, so gear with those negative stats don’t affect him at all. Similarly, none of the Eldrid have shields, so stats negatively impacting shields do not affect them.

Grab the large shard clusters whenever you can
In Meltdown and Incursion, when the match timer hits 28:00 minutes, large shard clusters spawn on the map. These give you a significant number of shards which are necessary for activating gear and building turrets, Elite bots etc. Grab these whenever you can. A small percentage of the shards you grab are shared with your teammates, so don’t worry about ‘hogging the shards’. Better you get them than the enemy team. Shards are also in relatively short supply (especially compared to PvE), so anything and everything you can get helps both you and the team.

If you find yourself with a lot of shards, start looking for buildables to build. There are a lot of them strewn about the map, and you can take over turrets in the enemy base after destroying them. This doesn’t only give you an asset, but denies the enemy one.

Try not to die
Seems simple enough, no? Well, it actually isn’t. Remember that Battleborn is a FPS/MOBA hybrid, and with that comes a lot of crowd control and respawn timers. Dieing not only means you can’t help your team for a little while (up to a minute or so late game) but you also give the enemy more experience, resulting in higher levels and a harder fight.

Another thing to remember is that while the game is classified as a ‘Hero Shooter’, you aren’t Saitama/Superman/Hercules/[enter superhero of your choice here]. You cannot dash into 2 enemies alone and expect to survive, let alone dashing into more. Even when playing an Initiator (see character tags below), you need your team with you to have a chance at success. Battleborn IS a team game after all.

When you’re low on health you can teleport back to your base and get full health instantly. All you need to do is make sure you’re in place that’s safe for the next couple of seconds and hit ‘B’ on PC or down on the d-pad for PS4/XBOX One. After a short (and pretty cool looking animation tbh) you’ll be teleported back to base and have your health fully restored. This can be a big difference in your success and effectiveness, as a teleport back to base is always faster than dying and respawning.

The majority of the charm of the game - the characters, humor and setting overall - really come to life in the PvE and as a result really adds to the complete Battleborn experience. And while the PvE is a little more forgiving than PvP, it still has its difficulties that you need to master.

Do each mission on normal before jumping into advanced
The difficulty spike between normal and advanced is pretty big, especially on missions like the Saboteur. Advanced missions are designed under the presumption you’re familiar with the flow and enemy spawns of that mission, and then really ups the ante.

Jumping into advanced missions blindly instantly cripples your team’s chances of completing it. Some spawns can be brutally unforgiving, and these can be worsened by unlucky RNG. Especially the defense missions, in which you must keep a point/structure alive, can be nigh on impossible if you don’t know the patterns.

This will not only end in wasting your and your team’s time, but also in a lot of frustration that could easily be avoided.

Team composition is important!
To be fair, less so on normal, but on advanced a bad team composition can lose you the mission before you start. The difficulty ramps up really quickly with more people in the team, as the missions are designed with healers and tanks in mind as soon as the team size reaches 3 or more.

The following things need to be present in teams of 3 or more characters:

  1. Someone who can heal or shield allies
  2. Someone who can draw aggression from groups/enemies and survive
  3. Someone with good area of effect damage for mobs
  4. Someone with good single target damage for bosses/elites

A number of characters can fulfill multiple roles, for example Ambra has good heals and AoE damage, while Galilea has good survivability and single target damage (and later on in her helix AoE as well, though not nearly as potent as Oscar Mike or Thorn for example). All characters are viable in PvE, as long as these points are covered.

Communication matters!
Yes, you’re fighting AI and they’re predictable in their patterns (to some extent), but what they lack in capability they compensate through sheer numbers, both in bodies and damage output. Bad communication can lead to people accidentally triggering multiple spawn points, overwhelming you with an army of mindless enemies or an inefficient defense of a mission critical point, letting through enemies that tear through its health like it’s wet tissue paper.

However, also respect the fact that there are multiple ways to move through the mission and its spawns. Some prefer to rely a lot on buildables, while other don’t mind running the risk of taking some damage to a defense point or waste a few lives in the process. There are very few places in the story which requires you to use buildables, and even those points can be done without buildables by well coordinated teams. Which will never be in PUGs.

There are no ‘true’ checkpoints in the game
While the game does feature checkpoints, these are merely spawn points for if you die. Running out of lives or losing a mission critical objective means you fail the mission and need to start from the beginning again. This can be incredibly frustrating when you’ve spent the last 30 minutes fighting through hordes of enemies, even more so in PUGs where people have expectations of you.

A side note to this is that while you do have lives, it’s generally better to conserve them as much as possible. Throughout the mission, the number of remaining lives affects the number of score drops (little yellow orbs): more lives equals more score drops. This can be important if you’re trying to unlock certain characters before you reach the Command Rank at which they automatically unlock.

Explore the map
The story missions include a lot of lootable boxes spread throughout the map, and they’re definitely worth checking out. They include things like temporary buffs, bonus score/credit, lives and just flat level ups. Using these can give you the edge you need to complete a mission successfully.

Sometimes it’s better to wait a little while with picking these up. If you’re close to leveling up, grabbing a helix orb is effectively wasting it. The same goes with health drops, buffs and overshields when there are no enemies around and you’re waiting for the next wave to spawn.

Don’t hog all the shards!
Shards are relatively common in PvE, especially if you look around a little, but that doesn’t mean you should run out and get them all for yourself. The rest of the team also needs them to activate gear and build buildables. While not a hard set rule, it is part of a generally accepted code of conduct among avid PvE players, so respect that.

There are also some shards that are hidden behind a varelsi shield and require a turret to be built to be accessed. It’s a generally accepted practice to let the one who built the turret to get the shard cluster inside.

One of this game’s defining features is it’s diverse cast of characters, and there’s almost guaranteed to be one that perfectly fits your playstyle. Which leads me into my first point:

Try a lot of different characters!
Don’t judge a book by its cover is exceptionally true in Battleborn. Each character has a unique playstyle and you might be surprised how much you enjoy some of them. And don’t be discouraged if you struggle with a character the first time you play them. Some of them are quite complex and require a bit of experience to pull off properly.

Here are some good starter characters:

  • Oscar Mike. He looks like one of the most boring designs ever, but looks are deceiving. He has some of the (arguably) best lines in the game and has very beginner friendly mechanics.
  • Thorn. Both similar and dissimilar to Oscar Mike, Thorn is the quintessential archer character. A little more skill required to pull off, but she will teach you a lot about mobility and movement.
  • Marquis. One of the best, if not the best, sniper in the game. He can exert a lot of pressure with just his rifle from the start, and has an amazing passive that increases his damage every 3rd shot.
  • Miko. If you like Team Fortress 2 Medic style healers, Miko’s your boy/girl/thing. The best sustained healer in the game and according to a lot of players a must include in almost any comp.

One thing all of these have in common is a small hitbox, making them harder to hit than let’s say Montana (or THE MANTANNER). Large hitboxes make you easy targets and as a result are harder to play effectively at the start.

Here are some characters to avoid at the beginning. I’m just going to cover those that you unlock early on, as the others give you a fair amount of experience with the game in their unlocking process.

  • Montana. While he is easy enough to understand, he is HUGE! Every sniper in the game is going to wring their little hands as soon as they see him appear.
  • Orendi. Orendi can be challenging to learn as her main damage skill, Shadow Fire Pillar, has an activation delay. She also has a very peculiar playstyle that doesn’t carry over to other characters.
  • Shayne & Aurox. While unlocked early, Shayne & Aurox is an incredibly complex and nuanced character with a gigantic hitbox. They also have a very unique playstyle that’s hard to carry over.
  • Whiskey Foxtrot. While a clone of Oscar Mike, he plays and feels completely differently despite the superficial similarities. Has no mobility and his burst shots and slow grenades can be hard to get used to.

Character Tags
In the command menu, when you select a character and go to their info page, you’ll see a number of tags in the top right of the screen. While they tend to be fairly accurate, some of them can be confusing. Here’s a short explanation on the tags and their meaning.

  • Adorable. Because Toby is an adorable penguin.
  • Advanced. The character’s skills/helix augments have some synergy/dependency, but not nearly as much as Complex does. Does NOT mean harder to play.
  • Agile. The character is fast and/or highly mobile. Often includes skills or helix augmentations that increase mobility. Focuses mainly on vertical movement.
  • Assassin. The character is specialized in taking down a single target fast.
  • Brawler. The character is adept at getting into and staying in fights.
  • Combat. The character is exceptionally useful in the middle of a fight.
  • Complex. A lot of the character’s skills/helix augments depend on each other to be effective. Does NOT mean hard to play.
  • Controller. The character has a lot of crowd control (CC) abilities that setup or assist the team.
  • Disruptor. The character has quite a few crowd control (CC) abilities that stop or interrupt the enemy.
  • Easy. The character’s skills/helix augments are stand-alone and have little to no dependency on each other or the interaction is very straight forward. Does NOT mean easy to play.
  • Healer. Pretty self explanatory. The character heals.
  • Initiator. The character is especially adept at starting fights. Usually involves a combination of movement abilities and crowd control.
  • Mobile. The character is fast and/or highly mobile. Often includes skills or helix augmentations that increase mobility. Focuses mainly on horizontal movement.
  • Pusher. The character has good AoE damage and/or fast minion clear.
  • Rescuer. The character is especially adept at last second saves that mean the difference between life or death.
  • Shielder. The character specializes in restoring allies’ shields.
  • Skirmisher. The character is specialized in hit and run or guerilla tactics.
  • Sniper. The character can accurately hit targets at long range. Does NOT mean the character needs to stay far back.
  • Stealth. The character can cloak and disappear from sight. Only indication is a slight shimmering effect.
  • Tank. The character is a beefcake. Lots of health and often has a shield that blocks damage
  • Territorial. The character specializes in controlling a specific area.
  • Versatile. The character is flexible and can fill or specialize in multiple roles.

Level up the characters that you like
Each character can be leveled up from level 1 to level 15. At levels 3, 5, 7, 9 and 12 you unlock an additional helix augmentation called a mutation, which can drastically change the way you play that character. At the other levels you get skins or lootpacks to supplement your collection.

Tied into this are the lore challenges. Completing these will give you additional information about the character and their personality, and completing all five gives you a Legendary piece of gear with a tertiary effect that is unique to that character.

Thank you for plowing through this wall of text! If you have any questions, just ask and I’ll try to answer them, if someone else from the community doesn’t beat me to it :wink: I hope you enjoy the game as much as I do and maybe see you in-game!

Advanced Guides
(Almost) Everything you need to know about GEAR!
How gear affects skills - a visual guide courtesy of @lowlines

Special thanks to
@Sm0kerCrew for suggesting adding in character information
@Ganjamira , @Kitty_Jo and @Psychichazard for pinning the guide
@Kitru for pointing out shard prevalence, buildable XP gain and PvE PUG Code of Conduct
/u/wdcardb (Reddit) for suggesting adding the SHiFT codes
@vutherac for reminding to add a focus on surviving
@mzealley for pointing out the return to base button and using private matches for exploration/character experience.
@maskerader and @mzealley for discussing the accuracy of remaining lives and score drops

Why Alani is still fundamentally flawed
Kill the Focus on Kills
New to battleborn here
After playing for neearly 9 hours of gameplay
How to play well in battleborn
So many new players! A perfect time to be a cool bro!
Getting Started in PvP for people that don't PvP
Suggestion: In game wiki
New to battleborn here
Tag System - Issues, Solutions and Definitions
Will it get better?
(Pain_Parade) #2

awesome write-up…this should be required reading before playing

(precursorgold) #3

Nice run-down of proper team comp. I always thought that you only needed a healer but the way you explained it makes alot more sense.

Looking forward to the advanced guide!

(<Deep Space Planet Future Gun Action>) #4

I agree. This needs to be pinned, if you ask me :wink:

The only thing I would add to this guide is a short paragraph about the ingame descriptions and role tags for the characters. (‘Attacker’,‘Defender’, etc.).
Sometime these are can misleading (Thorn’s ‘Sniper’ tag or WF’s ‘Easy’ tag) to new players. And while most of those mistakes can be avoided by reading a character guide, it doesn’t hurt to mention it in a general guide like this.

(Jacksfields) #5

Thank you!

Didn’t even think of that, but might do one in the future!

Good idea! I think I’ll add a subheader about characters in general.

(Rick is my Spirit Animal) #6

This is a brilliant written guide - I hope many beginners will come across it to enhance their first experiences of Battleborn :heart:

Dear fellow mods, @JoeKGBX , @Psychichazard what do you guys think about to pin it?

(Watcher on the wall) #7

Already made a topic on this, Ganj :wink:

(Rick is my Spirit Animal) #8

Awesome! :heart:

(Jacksfields) #9

UPDATE: Added info about characters.

Thank you! A pin would be amazing!!!

(Rick is my Spirit Animal) #10

Oh dear thats amazing!!! Many tags caused me a bit of a headache in the beginning, such as the difference between “agile” and “mobile” - thats very usefull for starters! Your explanation of “Easy”, “Advanced” and “Complex” are great as well!

(Watcher on the wall) #11

(Watcher on the wall) #12

Pin granted.

Keep up the good work @jacksfields

(Jacksfields) #13

Thank you!!! :smiley:


Aye, more please!

(Jacksfields) #15

Any suggestions on topics you want to have covered? I’m pretty tempted to write more advanced guides as needs be :slight_smile:


More map-specific guides, perhaps? Strategies, etc?

(Jacksfields) #17

Going to be a lot more work than this (requires images and such), but I’ll try my best :smiley:

(Awesome By Analysis) #18

Something you may want to consider adding is that, in PvP, spending shards on buildables (building or upgrading, I believe) grants xp but does not do the same thing in PvE.

Might also want to include some stuff about the prevalence of shards (e.g. shards are much less common in PvP than PvE, which will have you dripping in shards by the end, usually, which means that expensive gear is fine in PvE but of questionable value in PvP) as well as explaining what each gear tier actually means and why it might be better to have a low tier item instead of a high tier one (low tiers are cheaper to activate; white cost free shard generators are generally considered more useful/better than even the legendary shard generators).

There might also be some value in including various general codes of conduct that the community seems to have agreed upon (at least in my experience). In PvE, don’t be a shard hog, the person who spends the shards on the varelsi shield turret should be the one to get the 6 chest and/or the giant shard (because they’re the one spending the shards to open it up), stick together and work with the group rather than running around grabbing shards right at the start because it’s like it’s really a zero sum game (e.g. the game doesn’t really limit you on how many items you can activate).

(Jacksfields) #19

Really good suggestion! Just thinking about it for a minute and I think I can make this a more in depth (advanced if you will) guide. There’s just so much to talk about!

(Awesome By Analysis) #20

I would definitely avoid talking about specific tactics. More generally accepted codes of conduct (because otherwise newbies are liable to make some pretty significant faux pas) and little known but highly useful bit of general information (like the buildable xp thing).