Battleborn: A Galaxy-sized Info Drop about Gearbox’s New IP

Posted June 4, 2015 by Eric Gerson in Video Games

Nearly one year ago, Gearbox Software, developer of the popular Borderlands series, announced their next big AAA title. And while many fans were hoping for the reveal of the inevitable Borderlands 3, Gearbox instead lifted the veil on an entirely new IP, entitled Battleborn. Until now, the details about the new game have been slim. We’ve known little beyond the fact that Battleborn is a sci-fi cooperative first-person “hero shooter” with some MOBA elements. However, Gearbox and 2K Games dropped a massive amount of new information on the game this morning, and WTN has the scoop. And boy, is my excitement level rising as I write this.

First, let’s talk story. According to the fact sheet provided by 2K, Battleborn “is set in a distant future, where nearly every star in the universe has gone dark at the hands of a mysterious enemy. Solus, the last star, is the only beacon of hope for the universe’s surviving population. The fading of stars has led to a great war among those desperate for the last remaining resources. Heroes, called Battleborn, fight for the dominance of their unique factions as all life in the universe teeters on the brink of extinction. Now, the mysterious enemy is threatening to finish what they’ve started, and only an unlikely alliance between the universe’s most powerful heroes can stop them.”

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Remember how Borderlands 2 featured four playable characters, with two more added via DLC? Well, Battleborn will feature, twenty-five, twenty-five, unique playable characters, all with different personalities, aesthetics, weapons, play-styles and skills. Battleborn‘s singleplayer Story Mode is a “narrative experience” that can be enjoyed alone or with up to four other friends via online and local co-op. 2K describes the Story Mode as “modular”, meaning it is not entirely linear, and allows players to pick which missions to tackle in which order. Missions can also be replayed for better rewards and to further progress each of the 25 characters.


Map of the Solus System, the setting for Battleborn’s modular Story Mode

Battleborn also features three distinct 10 player, 5v5 team-based competitive multiplayer modes. According to 2K and Gearbox, the modes are as follows:

  • Incursion: Teams of heroes defend their base from waves of AI-controlled minions while working together, alongside their own minions, to destroy their opponents’ base;
  • Devastation: Teams of heroes face off in a fast-paced death match and must capture and hold objectives on the map to win;
  • Meltdown: Teams of heroes protect their minions as they march to their death at the center of the map. Points are scored for minions who throw themselves into the incinerator, and the team with the most points wins.

Reading these descriptions, I can see where the MOBA comparisons come from. Both Incursion and Meltdown involve competing teams of AI “minions” who are supported by the player-controlled hero characters. So while Devastation sounds like a more traditional competitive shooter mode, the other two seem to have strong MOBA influences. It will be interesting to see how the console market responds to what has so far been largely a PC exclusive genre–at least as far as popularity is concerned.

So what else? How about Battleborn’s unique character and player progression system? For starters, during every single mission, whether coop or competitive, players will be able to take their character from level 1 to 10 by earning in-mission experience. Each level-up unlocks a new branch on that character’s unique skill tree–know as the “Helix System”. On each branch of the character’s helix, the player has to make a choice between one of two mutually exclusive upgrades. For example, upon reaching level 6, a tank character would have to choose between special ice bullets that slow enemies, or fire bullets that inflict burn damage over time. In every new match, the player can make different choices as they work their way along their chosen character’s helix, meaning the combinations of skills and buffs you select one match may be completely different than the next.

Outside of the in-mission Helix System, there is also a Persistent Progression System. Playing as one character will earn you persistent exp that will improve your Character Rank for that hero, which in turn unlocks new options for that hero’s helix. For example, after playing with the tank enough, you might unlock poison bullets, which you could choose to swap in place of the ice bullets. So, upon reaching level 6 in the next match, the choice would be between fire and poison, not fire and ice. There is also a Command Rank tied to your own player profile, which unlocks titles, badges and loot that can be used with any hero.


Center of the image, from left to right: Orendi; Marquis; Phoebe; Miko; Rath; Montana

As for the heroes (the titular “Battleborn” themselves), 2K provided a list detailing ten of the twenty-five. While that is too much to detail here, the variety on display is demonstrated by the featured image at the top of this article, as well as the concept artwork directly above this paragraph. Therein, you can see six of the different heroes in the center fighting off a swarm of robot baddies (other heroes can be spotted in the background). The image includes the huge minigun-wielding tank Montana, the sword-wielding bladesmith Rath, and the fungus-like dagger-throwing “combat botanist” Miko. I can assure you, the full character list provided by 2K is just as varied and bizarre, and each character thereon has an intricately detailed backstory and personality.

Alongside all of this information, 2K also provided a new launch trailer, which you can check out below. Take a look to get a better sense of the character variety and gameplay. Then check out the extensive singleplayer demo video found here.

Battleborn is slated for a Winter 2015 release on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. While the title may have been shrouded in mystery before, I can say with full confidence that Gearbox’s new IP is now squarely on my radar. The game will be playable at E3 this year, so keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks for gameplay impressions as media outlets finally get their hands on Battleborn.

About the Author

Eric Gerson

A karaoke visionary and an avid gamer, Eric has been a Nintendo fanboy since birth, and a PlayStation owner since the PS2 era. An equal-opportunities gamer, Eric believes games are either good or bad, irrespective of their genre or setting. PSN and NN ID: GerStud101.