After ten days of intensive multiplayer madness, the Battleborn Open Beta rode off into the sunset last week, leaving a feeling of wistfulness behind for the gamers who poured hours into unlocking all twenty-five badasses and tempering them in the fires of bombastic combat. In terms of giving gamers something truly awesome at no cost whatsoever, Gearbox Software has does something really exceptional. But I wonder if this beta was maybe too good for its own good.
Battleborn launches on May 4th, and to be fair I wasn’t even looking at it as a potential buy before the beta showed me the error of my ways. So if nothing else, the beta put a game back on my radar that I had been inexplicably overlooking despite my adoration of Gearbox’s previous series, Borderlands. That’s got be a win, yeah?
Maybe, but here’s the thing: I played this game for ten days straight, unlocked all twenty five characters, tried them all out in story missions and multiplayer, and generally logged in more time with Battleborn than I do with a lot of games that I actually pay for. Now release date is coming and….well…I’m kind of tired of it.
Tired of a game before it’s even released. That is a new sensation for me. Gearbox put forth such an amazing and complete beta experience that I literally burned myself out playing it. I feel a bit bad about that, like I’ve robbed them or something. Sure there are many more story missions and multiplayer modes in the finished product, but Battleborn strikes me as a Destiny-esque experience where it’s less about the actual story or level design and more about grinding to unlock and upgrade your chosen heroes. And I’ve already done that. A lot. I’m not really up for doing it all over again just yet.
Don’t get me wrong, Battleborn is a fantastic game and if you missed the beta or only dabbled in it there is a lot to recommend it, particularly if you’re a fan of Borderlands. I love that you can play the same missions and hear different dialogue almost every time, I adore the massive amount of personality each character has, and the sheer diversity of the cast is something that should be celebrated in addition to the gameplay just being really fun.
Everything from generic space marine (for the less imaginative among us) to flirty penguin mech-pilot to hillbilly hawkman with a rocket launcher to senior citizen in the galaxy’s most advanced (and deadly) wheelchair is present and accounted for. Archetypes you needed in your life but never existed until now. This massive of a cast inevitably leads to balancing problems in PvP (Galilea and Ambra, I’m looking at you), but gauging issues like that before release is what the beta is for.
Any way you look at it, the game is a blast. And yet, having been given such a massive chunk of game to play for a week and a half I can’t bring myself to pre-order. At some point in time, this game and I are going to meet again without a doubt, but it’s probably going to be down the line and at a lower price point. I have very positive feelings about Battleborn thanks to the beta, but I don’t feel like buying it right away. Does that count as a success?
On one hand, at some point I’m definitely going to be getting a game I wasn’t paying much attention to beforehand. But then again, the beta had so much content and went on for so long that I’m already burnt out on it prior to release day and I just don’t feel like re-unlocking all of my characters, skins, taunts, etc. again. I’m not sure what to call that, but I do know that I’ll have fond memories of this beta for years to come in spite of the fact that a single griefer/AFKer can stop you from advancing in story missions (seriously, Gearbox, a player booting system should be first on the agenda) and the scoring system is inscrutable at times.
As it was, it was a free preview of an awesome game that functioned like a springtime Christmas gift to gamers everywhere, possibly at its own expense. There are several things Gearbox could have done differently to make their open beta a bigger success for themselves. I feel like if they had limited the beta to five days and/or greatly diminished the available characters, or at least let your beta progress carry over into the main game I’d be foaming at the mouth to play the retail release. That or the beta should have been a few months prior to release instead of a few weeks to give us time to miss the world of Battleborn.
As it is, it puts some of us in a weird place where we’re asked to shell out sixty bucks for a game we just played tirelessly for free for the better part of two weeks. With the rapid-fire release schedules of modern gaming, I find it really hard to play any one game for an extended period of time because every week brings new indie titles to check out, each month brings free PS+/XBL Gold games, there’s always another AAA title around the corner, and always another sale on Steam, XBL, and PSN to catch up on games we missed out on but still want to play. We’re overstuffed.
The beta definitely made me love the game, which is kind of the whole point (along with testing the multiplayer servers and the like), but it also made me feel like I’m being asked to go buy a game I’ve already played the hell out of. Previous betas for franchises like Halo, Gears of War, and Destiny gave me just a taste of the game to whet my appetite and I couldn’t wait for the full release. The Battleborn Open Beta felt more like a mythic Roman feast and now I need to use the vomitorium.
All I can say is that if you love you some Borderlands and ever thought about what it would be like if you didn’t spend half of your time trying to decide which guns to sell, which to discard, and which to shoot stuff with or wanted to spend more time destroying other players with a trash-talking playable cast of dozens at your fingertips then this here is a game for you. If you missed out on the beta, there’s no reason at all not to snap this up, but as for me, I can’t get the call of Dark Souls out of my head right now. Thanks for the good times and an awesome beta, Battleborn. I will be seeing you around.