Gearbox Software pulled a surprise, post-E3 announcement out of their hats today with the reveal of Battleborn. From the teams that put together Borderlands 2 and probably all of Gearbox's other junk too, Battleborn is a first-person shooter battle arena set in a space opera setting -- think Star Wars-style fantasy. Five heroes versus five heroes in what looks to be a Dota 2 type of good vs. evil scenario. And of course, it just reeks of that amazing Gearbox personality.
That's not all! Come on down! Battleborn isn't just a battle-arena game, it's also a co-op shooter, including what Gearbox's zany floating head Randy Pitchford describes as a, "hobby-grade co-op campaign." I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds like a great supplementary experience to the multiplayer mode... or is it modes?
What's been revealed about the multiplayer is pretty standard for the MOBA genre these days. Front and center in the discussion is the term "eSports" which these days is meant to thrilling moment to moment gameplay with a strategic layer meta. Basically, it means it's fun to watch and fun to follow in addition to being fun to play. Exactly what sort of features Gearbox plans to implement to supplement the eSports claim, such as spectator mode, replays and soon, is yet to be revealed.
What's most striking about Battleborn is of course its style and personality, a very Gearbox focus for the game considering the developers past with the visually outstanding Borderlands series. At first it might be easy to call out Battleborn as aping Dota 2's visual style, only in space, considering the main hero featured in the trailer looks a lot like Windrunner in Samus' Zero Suit. The more that's shown, the easier it is to see Battleborn is making its own identity. I see themes of Star Wars' Jedi, Hellboy's clockwork Nazi, steampunk, Warcraft, and that's not even beginning to analyze the evil side either. Until actual gameplay is shown, it will be difficult to make any sort of controversial claim.
I will say that, personally, I'm already digging the style of Battleborn. It's not just that I love future-based fantasy settings, which I do, it's that every character shown isn't just a pile of tropes. Sure, some of them have obvious character design inspirations, but they're each particularly unique in many regards as well. Even dual-saber Jedi dude, who is just such a freaking Jedi, looks completely different than expected. Plus, man, it means so much that all off the women shown (I think there are three revealed so far) aren't sexualized beyond all reason. I've seen zero boob windows so far. God bless you, Gearbox.
Battleborn is, unfortunately, planned for as late as a 2016 release. However, as with all battle arena style games, I think it's safe to say that a lengthy beta will be taking place. That beta could, potentially, start any time between now and that eventual 2016 launch. Oh, and cheer up console gamers, Battleborn is announced for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Note: Game Informer had the initial announcement for Battleborn with their monthly cover reveal, and will be featuring new Battleborn content announcements throughout the week. I'll post the cover here, because it's all sorts of badass, and source their Battleborn hub so everyone can keep track.