Hey there Battleborn team, just wanted to share my thoughts on the PS4 open beta and why it actually made me cancel my PC preorder. I only play story mode (PvP makes me anxious), so my feedback should be taken with that in mind – I’m fully aware I’m missing a big part of the game, and maybe it’s just not for me, but hopefully there’s some value in this feedback.
First, I guess I should be clear that Battleborn is indeed what I expected: A fun arena-type hero-based shooter with the humour and great art style of the Borderlands series. But there were a number of issues that detracted from the fun for me:
– Helix progression in Story mode seems redundant; choosing to reduce my recoil or have 15% extra damage on an ability isn’t that fun since I have to repeat the process every game, and there wasn’t enough enemy variety to make CC better than damage in most cases. Honestly I think choosing a ‘story mode’ Helix build at the start of the mission would be worthwhile, or just bake some of the complexity into the characters so it’s one less thing to worry about.
– Speaking of things to worry about, collecting items from shattering crystals and shooting chests mid-mission seems to slow down the pace, particularly as the only thing that carries over between missions are credits. The temporary buffs during missions aren’t needed to beat the mission, and are too common to make me feel like they had any impact. The gold crystals are essential to keep the robot alive in the escort mission, but finding them means running away from the robot – if you hadn’t run away, maybe he wouldn’t have taken the damage that required you to run away… I’d personally rather the enemies dropped crystals and buffs rather than have them in chests, so killing enemies feels rewarding and keeps you in the thick of the fight.
– And that brings me to the enemy design: most of the void guys are thin, so hitting them is a nuisance rather than satisfying (might be an effect of my not being comfortable on a controller). The ones with shields spit up an ‘IMMUNE’ above them when you shoot, but I found that was often off-screen when I was sniping or was obscured behind other effects. I think there needs to be greater confirmation when you actually hit, and a greater effect when you hit their shield to make it noticable that “You’re doing it wrong”. This was particularly pertinent with the weird ice golem things where it wasn’t clear at all what I needed to target (I’d just shoot all over their body and hope for the best).
– The loot design really disappointed me. Having to spend gold to activate items for incremental temporary buffs? Seems contrived. I was expecting just to equip some gear that would passively make me better, but having another thing to micromanage mid-game made it something I just didn’t have the mental space to bother with (in addition to shooting, reloading, abilities and their cooldowns, buying buildables and actually completing the objectives of the mission). Loadouts were something I just didn’t care about, and being across characters rather than targeted loot for specific characters made the heroes feel cheap and disposable.
– All of this comes back to the progression: while having lots of unlockables (more characters, skins, tints etc) was great, actually playing the missions wasn’t fun because of the factors above (helix being a chore, chests/crystals being a distraction, and enemies being a nuisance to target even with aim-assist on). All of this culminated in my not enjoying the game and I really had to think if this was going to be something I wanted to play day in and day out – sadly the answer was no.
Just to make this feedback complete, here are my thoughts on the heroes I played – mostly Marquis, and I reached command level 7 (wasn’t worth playing more because there were only two stories and as above, it was a chore rather than fun):
– Marquis (3 or 4 missions): I like sniping, so playing Marquis was great. Trying to get headshots with a controller is rough though, but I knew that and my preorder was on PC so I wasn’t too worried. His abilities were bizarrely short range; I’d basically look at the ground and trigger them in a panic and not bother otherwise cuz it disrupted my flow of sniping otherwise.
– Thorn (1 mission): Thought it’d be more fun than it was; the charging of her arrows wasn’t clear enough or worth the extra damage in most cases. Her curse was underwhelming, but her abilities were satisfyingly impactful. What killed it for me was the constant charging of her arrows gave me a mad case of RSI after playing one mission so I had to change character.
– Miko (1 or 2 missions): Thought I’d go healer, and found that because of most chars having shields the healing was unnecessary. I ran one story mission with two Thorns (who doesn’t have a shield) and even then her base regen made switching away from offence seem unimpactful to the mission. His attacks, meanwhile, seemed relatively overpowered when I’d just come from playing a sniper and Miko seemed to dish out a lot more damage and much more consistently. Maybe I’m just a bad sniper!
– Montana (1 mission): This character was fun, managing heat was liberating vs ammo, though his accuracy left a lot to be desired – I suppose you need to get up close, but even then his extra height made targetting enemies really frustrating looking down a lot. His charge seemed to lag a fair bit (I’m in Australia) and in story mode I guess the disruption isn’t as necessary. I only used the ice ammunition because I got the helix talent that reduces heat; again, story mode doesn’t seem to have much call for slowing things.
I hope this feedback is helpful to the development team. I’ll be keeping my eye on the game as it progresses through launch, and hopefully if some of the issues above get addressed I’ll be able to find space in my playlist (some really good games coming out this year, the competition is strong!).
All the best.