First of all, I’d like to start that I enjoy a wide variety of games. I’ve enjoyed arena shooters like Doom/Unreal, a mix of FPS shooters like Battlefield/Borderlands, MOBAS like LoL/HoTS, and games like WoW. All of these have a relation to the kind of game Battleborn is.
Second, I’m not going to beat the dead horse of explaining how Battleborn is different to Overwatch. If you still have an idea that they are similar, you’re not to blame; face-value similarities and certain reviews cause this. Check out videos like Totalbiscuit’s if you want more info on this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAMGrDUSGJU
However, you’ll find a lot of people give a quick explanation of Battleborn as a FPS MOBA Hero Shooter which I believe is misleading as well.
So, if you’ve been put off this game because you’ve heard it’s a MOBA, have a look at this quick rundown and see if the game’s aspects interest you. While Battleborn hasn’t launched with huge numbers, with its constant updates, balancing, and upcoming features it definitely is able to grow even stronger over time. So maybe you’ll keep it on your radar, even if you don’t pick it up straight away.
NO, IT’S NOT A MOBA
Yes, the game has some aspects found in MOBAs, but the amount will vary depending on the game mode you’re playing. It definitely isn’t just a first-person version of LoL or Smite.
Firstly, the story campaign mode (which can be played solo or co-op with up to 4 other people) is ABSOLUTELY nothing like a MOBA. There are currently 8 missions (9 if you include the prologue) that can be played of a variety of difficulties, and which encourage replay (with additional missions planned for DLC). These missions play out a lot like a dungeon in RPG games with you running through the map killing mobs, defending points from waves, mini bosses, final bosses, bonus challenges, and loot. Replayability is fostered in the different difficulties, loot drops, plus the vast variety of unique dialogue between the characters. Even running a mission for the umpteenth time can reward dialogue and interactions you’ve never heard before.
Capture Mode. Two out of the three current PVP modes have MOBA-esque aspects (Meltdown and Incursion), whereas Capture is almost a pure Domination PVP style with three points to control to be the first team to reach 1000 points. There are more free PVP modes planned to be released in the future, and while we don’t have any details on what kind of modes they will be as of yet, it’s fair to say they will contain a mix of more ‘pure FPS’ modes, and ones with MOBA influences.
As you can see, 3/4 of this game is not a MOBA.
IN WHAT WAYS IS IT SIMILAR TO A MOBA?
Firstly, the variety of characters, and the Hero mechanic is like in MOBAs (or even RPGs). There are currently 26 unique characters (with the recent release of the first of 5 free additional characters) that fill 3 basic roles; tank, DPS, or support. Each character has a set weapon (some with a secondary fire mode, or an offhand weapon), 2 abilties, and an ultimate ability. There is also a mix between pure range or melee characters, and hybrids who can do both. This ‘hero’ mechanic will be familiar to you if you’ve ever played a MOBA, but it’s also found in many other genres, especially the current Hero Shooter genre with games like Team Fortress 2, Overwatch etc.
Leveling up in-match. You will not be the same strength at the beginning of a match as at the end of it. In a match, killing players, killing minions, building defense turrets/healing stations etc. will earn you match XP leveling your character to a maximum level of 10. Each level gives allows you to choose an option from the Helix Tree to augment your character or their abilities. If you’ve played HoTS, this will be familiar to you. It is through these Helix choices that you define how you will play that match. You might have a tank character, but one match spec more towards doing damage, and the next spec more towards buffing your health etc. This is true for both PVP games, and Campaign missions. These levels are reset after each match.
It is mostly thanks to the PVP modes Incursion and Meltdown why most people categorize Battleborn as a MOBA. Incursion can be compared to a one lane MOBA map, with minion waves, mercenary camps (like in HoTS), and two giant spider bots to destroy to win (rather than towers and a base). The basic plan, kill/push back enermy players, wipe out enemy minion waves, protect your minions and control mercenary camps to help take down each of the enermy’s spider bots. First team to kill both of the opposition’s pider bots wins. Meltdown can be compared to a two lane MOBA map with minion waves. The basic plan, kill/push back enemy players, wipe out enemy minion waves, and protect your minions so they can reach points to be destroyed in order to earn points. First team to 500 points wins. Of course, each mode has more nuance, but that’s the general gist.
Time-to-kill. Killing someone else takes longer than in most FPS, it is closer to kill times in MOBAs. While there are sniper characters, you are not going to be 1-shotting people with head shots.
However, even in these MOBA-esque modes, Battleborn tries to differentiate itself from other MOBAs. You don’t have to worry about last-hitting for currency. Killing minions will give you XP (you can also get XP from many other means such as player kills, and building defences), but the in-match currency which is used to purchase buildables or gear from your gear loadout is collected from crystals scattered around the map (or small amounts from killing players or important minions).
Gear isn’t as important. The 3 items of gear you can have in your loadout will give you a nice edge, but isn’t as build defining as in games like LoL. You won’t ever really feel much further behind because someone got a Needlessly Large Rod before you.
Team fights happen a lot quicker than in games like LoL or Dota; there isn’t relatively a quite period in the first 10 minutes of a match with people just trying to farm. Finally, each PVP mode also has a time limit.
While games are generally longer than most other FPSs, you won’t have the 40 to 60 minute games that MOBAs can be notorious (or popular, depending on your view) for. Meltdown and Incursion average 20-25 minutes but have a 30 minute limit, and Capture averages 10 minutes with a 15 minute limit. If teams don’t complete the modes objective within the time limit, the one with the highest points wins (in case of a tie, it boils down to teams’ average player score).
So while you can find aspects similar to those in MOBAs in certain parts of Battleborn, it should be clear that the game as a whole is not a FPS MOBA. There are so many other aspects of different game styles and mechanics mixed with this which make it a very unique experience. So if you like what you’ve heard, and like a game with unique characters (…I am going to take a quick moment to make a personal comparison to Overwatch in regards to characters. Despite both games having a vast variety of characters in the Hero Shooter genre, I personally find the characters in Battleborn to be a lot more unqiue, developed, and overall enjoyable. But this will come down to personal tastes. If you enjoyed Borderlands’ characters and dialogue, without as many butt and fart jokes, then you should really enjoy Battleborn…), various systems of character and account progression, then give Battleborn a whirl. Or at least keep an eye on its development. It could very well be even better in the future.