Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Battleborn - 20/20 hours

I wound up playing pretty close to 21 hours, but that doesn't mean very much, because I'm sure most of that spare hour was waiting in line for the matchmaking. I don't know why it takes so long, but it by far has the longest delay between deciding to play and actually getting in a game of any online game I've ever played (admittedly, my experience is limited to Civilization 4, Starcraft 2, and the Borderlands games). Of course, it really isn't worth it, because I can't stand playing competitively. I always delude myself into thinking this time is going to be different, but it never is. I have neither the killer instinct nor the even-tempered desire for mastery necessary to enter on the bottom rung of the ladder.

So why did I even bother trying PvP? Two reasons - I was at about 19 hours and 40 minutes and needed something with a little less time commitment than a story level (hah!) and I was one victory away from unlocking Toby, the penguin in the suit of power armor. If there's one thing I'm going to take away from Battleborn it's that I love unlocking and playing with new characters. If I could have completed challenges in single-player MOBA-style matches, I could have ground out command ranks for weeks and been perfectly content (the blog notwithstanding).

Overally, I'd say that I love Battleborn. It's a guarded, conditional sort of love, but it's love nonetheless. When the game is at it's best, it is exactly the sort of character-driven casual shoot-em-up that allows me to turn off my brain and just ride a wave of adrenaline into an oblivion of bloodlust. Borderlands 2 does a better job of filling that niche, but hey, something doesn't need to be the best just to be worthwhile.

However, it is a brittle greatness. Everything about the game, even the story missions, is designed around the idea of multiplayer. The are moments, not frequent, but often enough, where it feels like you are wearing too-large shoes - it's obvious the spaces are bigger than you need and the timing of enemy attacks is just a little too loose. It's not enough to ruing the game for me, but I can't ignore the fact that my love is predicated on overlooking the imprecision of the fit.

Which is to say I will definitely be playing Battleborn again, but only when I've got a prearranged co-op game. Single-player is fine, but I don't have to settle for it. If I want a single-player shooting experience, I'll just play a game that is tuned for it. On the other hand, because you level up your characters in the missions, Battleborn does have the advantage of not requiring the same commitment and/or coordination as the Borderlands games. I can join a game with any of my fellow players at any time and only have to rely on my personal skill to keep up. . .

Let's not dwell on how terrible a thought that is.

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