Overwatch finally finished the job they started in 2016, pushing Battleborn completely into the grave. Publisher 2K announced last November that the game will be shutting down in 2021. Now that Battleborn is officially on the way out, let’s examine some things 2K’s hero shooter did better than its killer.
It has a CAMPAIGN
Battleborn had an actual campaign from launch which – in case you didn’t know – Overwatch still does not. In fact, Blizzard only got around to working on one this year, to be added to the upcoming Overwatch 2. In the campaign, the titular “Battleborn” are brought together to fight against the forces of Rendain, who is trying to darken all the remaining stars to plunge the universe into darkness. While the story itself isn’t as deep as Overwatch’s back-lore, it’s always fun shooting your way through bad guys with the anticipation of a boss battle at the end.
The gameplay is fun and loose
I’m not saying Overwatch is a super serious game. There are lots of great jokes, and the game all around can be very fun. That being said, the atmosphere of Battleborn is a lot more relaxed and deliberately humorous. Battleborn has the wild characters and chaotically enjoyable gameplay Gearbox is known for from their Borderlands games.
Where Overwatch has a gorilla scientist and a spider-obsessed assassin, Battleborn has an AI with a holographic skull face and robot body, and a robot butler with a sniper-cane and pet owl-robot. If you loved Borderlands and Saint’s Row for their humor and level of over-the-top action, you would love Battleborn. I mean, you would love it for approximately another year and a half, max.
An almost entirely different playstyle
Battleborn is frankly much more complex and in-depth than Overwatch. It is more like a weird cross between Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and a Tower Defense game. Capture is the standard FPS domination mode, but with a twist. Players must capture three objective points, and can build turrets to defend each point capped. Incursion is essentially the hero shooter version of Smite. The minions help you push to the Sentinels at the other edge of the map, then help you take them down.
While in a match, you gain experience points to use for upgrading your abilities. You augment said abilities based on the Helix path you choose and the Mutations you have. Think of the Helix like the talent system of Heroes of the Storm: a dynamic skill tree. The Mutations would alter those abilities even further, making them more versatile.
Diverse characters and cool ideas
Don’t get me wrong now, the character in Overwatch are pretty cool. I mean, they’ve all got their unique abilities – some better than others- and lots of backstory. When it comes to the overall design and background of the characters, Blizzard has Gearbox beat for sure. But if you’re going to tell me that the characters in Overwatch look cooler than the characters in Battleborn, then we may have a problem.
An all around more casual experience
I can’t play a single match of Overwatch without worrying about being flamed by my allies. The matches in Overwatch are tighter and you have less room for error. In Battleborn, you are there to have a good time and discover new ways to play the game. You don’t have to worry when playing, because the people you play with or against are not hounding you to follow one play over another. You can do what you want and enjoy yourself rather than finding yourself forced to play a support for the 10th match in a row because SOMEONE decided they would be better as Hanzo over an actually useful character.
Gone too soon
At the end of the day, I truly believe Battleborn could have made an impact. But between the unfortunate release spot, relatively low promotion, and going against a behemoth like Blizzard, I suppose it was destined to live in Overwatch‘s shadow. It really is sad, because on the surface it is easy to assume Battleborn was just trying to piggy back on the hero shooter hype. Other games were met with similar criticisms at the time, but managed to stick around for long enough to carve their own place in the ecosystem. Battleborn certainly had the means to differentiate itself from its competitors, and it would have been great to see what it could become, had it been given the chance to evolve.
If you get a chance to play Battleborn I highly recommend you give it a shot before it closes for good in 2021. This game is worth the time, and I’m secretly hoping it can make a comeback in one form or another.