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