PLOT Stop, or I’ll shoot.
RATED T for TeenDETAILS PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC; $59.99
BOTTOM LINE It just misses the mark.
Battleborn weaves together first-person combat, role-playing-game-like character upgrades, a wide cast of playable characters and great overall pacing. The game is divided between three different multiplayer sections and an eight-chapter story mode. It features a roster of 25 playable characters, which includes gunslingers, fantasy characters, many-limbed mutants and robots that look like refugees from an animé cartoon series — a hodgepodge of archetypes plucked from all corners of geekdom.
The only aesthetic principle that unites the characters and binds them to the environments in which they compete are saturated colors. Seriously, aside from the characters’ fluid animations, the most striking visual components of the game are not architectural or background flourishes but the game’s riotous color palette.
At the start, players have access to only a handful of avatars. Additional heroes can be unlocked by completing challenges, like killing a number of a certain kind of enemy and ranking up one’s overall career statistics or Command Rank, as well as running through story missions.
Despite the game’s scattershot humor, which trades on a wide range of references but has little bite, the moment-to-moment gameplay is rather flat. This may be the result of an overreliance on wave-based enemy confrontations where the game routinely places you in a bottleneck area in which you must withstand the barrage of three waves of enemies.
Such tasks are eased by using collectible resources to set up defensive measures like repair drones and environmental traps such as flame-shooting fountains.
Battleborn lacks the cultural sting of Grand Theft Auto V or The Magic Circle, and while it does offer players a slew of fighting styles to choose from, the thought of tackling similar objectives over and over to unlock new avatars will leave you numb.