Battleborn, the upcoming “hero shooter” from the designers of Borderlands, is currently running an open beta. It’s available on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and is scheduled to end on April 18, 2016. Curious about the game and wondering if you should give it a shot? Here’s five reasons why you should.
But I mean that in a good way. Sure, the user interface, environment, mapping, and even some of the character mannerisms and voices can seem a bit repetitive if you’ve played Borderlands. But they also provide a nostalgic burst of that chaotic, high energy action, familiarly sprinkled with touches of irreverent, tongue in cheek humor. If you’re like me and you miss Borderlands but are somehow still sick of Borderlands, play Battleborn. It’s a chance to get the ole gang back together for another round of fun.
We older gamers remember a golden era of videogames when demos were a common staple, one of the only ways to test a game out before buying. Now that betas have all but replaced demos (at the cost of acting as a free QA tester for the publisher), they give the player a chance to assess how much they like a game before deciding to buy. $60 isn’t cheap, but with thousands of potential playing hours, Battleborn has great value. But will you be okay with the minimum half hour commitment to each story mission or match? Can your play style support that on the long term? Now would be a good time to find out with the beta’s help.
As a critic I’m aware that modern game design relies on keeping the player hooked for as long as possible, and that means diminishing any possibility of permanent failure. I’ve taken advantage of this many times, and always assumed that its absence would mean boredom and frustration. Yet in Battleborn, where story missions or an Incursion Match will run at least a half hour, failure is ok. Not only does it add a grander sense of accomplishment when achieving a goal, each failed mission still provides opportunity for character growth and progression. None of your time feels wasted.
Battleborn, picking up where Borderlands left off with Badass Rankings, has a character leveling system that relies on fulfilling “micro-accomplishments” while in-game. It’s a seedy tactic picked up from mobile games, one that keeps the player engaged by offering a constant sense of achievement through the completion of mini-goals, but admittedly, it’s effective. When combing through the game statistics at the end of a mission, it can be downright life-affirming to check your rankings in each category and see how you stack up against the other players. That alone will keep you going for several rounds. And if you suck? You have a clear outline of what to aspire to.
The most practical reason to be playing the beta right now? You need a leg-up on your competitors and teammates. The action in Battleborn is immensely fast, and leveling up on the Helix tree while in a match can be confusing. While you’re frantically trying to choose between two augments for your next power-up, your teammates around you will be hit with additional damage trying to “cover” for you. You need to be as familiar with your main character as possible—in fact, you need lots of time in story mode playing each character just to figure out who your main will be. Use this time during the open beta to memorize the augments of your preferred hero so you will be a huge asset on the battlefield.
Holly Green is a reporter, editor, and semiprofessional photographer living in Seattle, WA. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gameranx, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.