Quick­fire char­ac­ter shap­ing de­fines Gear­box’s


Bat­tle­born sees Gear­box carry the car­toony buf­foon­ery of the Bor­der­lands se­ries into a mul­ti­player shooter, one where grow­ing in power is less tied to pil­fer­ing a world of its loot, and more about throw­ing down in are­nas and blitz­ing through skill trees in 15-minute bursts. If the for­mer pro­gres­sion arc is akin to time-con­sum­ing Mr Uni­verse body build­ing, this is the equiv­a­lent of Pop­eye chow­ing down on spinach for a burst of mus­cle.

Rank­ing up on the so-called skill helix in­volves se­lect­ing a power from ei­ther the left or right strand of each of its ten rungs. As we dis­cover dur­ing our first match of Cap­ture, in which teams of five com­pete to se­cure three ter­ri­to­ries, this al­lows plenty of lat­i­tude for ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. Four-armed witch Orendi, who gets in op­po­nents’ faces to un­leash reck­less many-limbed flour­ishes, can add ei­ther a knock­back ef­fect to her en­ergy-burst

other spe­cial abil­ity or give it the power to blind. In MOBA fash­ion, such pro­gres­sion is about shap­ing your char­ac­ter for the bat­tle at hand, your ranks re­set­ting af­ter each ses­sion.

Build­ing around a sin­gle tech­nique proves ef­fec­tive for the Melt­down matchtype, in which you at­tempt to guide AI-con­trolled min­ions into a fur­nace as the other team tries to dis­rupt you and do the same. Tank man Mon­tana’s pow­ers in­clude Mans­for­ma­tion (a ground pound), Hail­storm (bul­lets slow tar­gets), and the enemy-ram­ming Lum­ber­jack Dash. By ex­clu­sively de­vel­op­ing the lat­ter, we add a 50 per cent boost to its range, re­duce its cooldown by a quar­ter, and add a launch­ing ef­fect onto the end. We’ve gone from jab­bing at range with his mini­gun to charg­ing in to de­liver close-up flurries of pain.

Lev­el­ling is quick enough that it’s dif­fi­cult not to max out your char­ac­ter by each round’s

Cre­ative di­rec­tor Randy Var­nell

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