By Jaran Chance
This May gamers will see the release of Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch and Gearbox Software’s Battleborn and there is a bit of understandable confusion surrounding the titles.
At a glance, both games feature a robust roster of cartoony characters in online player vs. player matches. However similar the two games may seem at a glance, they each have their defining characteristics and both appeal to specific audiences.
Battleborn is an arena style first person shooter that also features a campaign while Overwatch is strategic squad-based first-person shooter developed purely for multiplayer.
Battleborn is designed as a multiplayer online battle arena game similar to popular titles of the genre like League of Legends and Dota 2 with its own special twists on the formula. The game is developed by the makers of Borderlands, Gearbox, so their signature quirky humor inevitably shines through.
The campaign of Battleborn is based around a colorful roster of 25 playable characters fighting to defend one of the last known stars in the universe from certain doom.
The multiplayer is a first-person take on the classic MOBA formula where players fight to destroy the opposing team’s base.
The characters of Battleborn fit the traditional mold of a tank, healer, and DPS, some specializing in melee, some in guns and ranged weapons and some even in magic. Each character has their own passive skills and attacks along with two activated skills and a slow-charging ultimate. During each individual match players will level their character, assigning skill points to personalize the character and hone in on a desired play style for that match and resetting upon the match’s conclusion. Players level up based on kills and objective progress so the better a team does, the larger their advantage.
One of Battleborn’s most appealing features is the process of unlocking characters through gameplay, similar to classics like Super Smash Bros. Melee or Timesplitters 2.
Gearbox has also announced that they plan to regularly release free characters and maps for multiplayer, with 5 characters in the foreseeable future. The paid DLCs for Battleborn will further the game’s story and give players added character skins and emotes.
Battleborn released May 3 for PS4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows will appeal to the more casual players looking for an interesting easily accessible take on the MOBA genre and loyal Gearbox fans looking to delve into the developer’s newest IP.
Overwatch alternatively leans more toward a traditional shooter where two teams of six battle to complete objectives. Drawing large inspiration from team shooters of the past such as Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike, the game heavily emphasizes cooperative play.
The game’s story is set in the near-future where an anti-terrorist organization called Overwatch is being dismantled through accusations of corruption, sedition, and possible conspiracy.
The maps for Overwatch are set in real-world locations such as Hollywood or Route 66 and feature at times up to three phases of intricate level design tailored for the many different movement types. Some characters have thruster-packs or wall-climbing abilities shedding a new light on level traversing from match to match. Each objective is designed to have multiple paths of approach to avoid stagnation in stand-offs encouraging players to play to their character’s strengths. Also players are able to switch characters in-game upon death or in their team’s HQ.
Overwatch’s quirky gang of 21 heroes are divided into four classes, offense characters focused on dealing heavy damage, the defense focused on stopping the enemy team’s advance, tank characters designed to endure and block massive amounts of damage and support characters serving as healers providing buffs for their team. Heroes in Overwatch also possess two activated skills and an ultimate ability on top of their base attacks and passive abilities.
The object in choosing which hero to play is team balance, an unbalanced team will not easily succeed. Blizzard incorporated a helpful feature in the hero selection screen to inform players when their team is unbalanced and how to improve their team composition. Though often when using online matchmaking, team-balancing becomes an issue, with some players refusing to change heroes, destroying the balance of a team and throwing the match for all involved. Also occasionally if a player is inactive in matchmaking or goes inactive during a match they are not booted from the game, leaving the team at a clear disadvantage.
One interesting distinction for Overwatch is the inability for players to choose what match-type they want to play. Instead, players simply hit play and are thrown into a random match of one of the four playable match-types. Players will have to complete objectives like escorting a payload or capturing objective points.
Overwatch, unlike Battleborn, features no leveling system or progression and no unlock process. All of the heroes are designed to be equally capable of keeping the playing field as equal as possible. Instead, Overwatch simply features loot crates upon gaining player-profile experience ranks which feature character customization options like new skins, voice options, sprays, emotes and winning poses.
Blizzard has said that they plan to keep all content released after launch free, including new characters and maps. Instead opting for paid character customization options and cosmetic releases.
Overwatch is coming to PS4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows on May 24th. Players seeking a challenging cooperative multiplayer experience will enjoy Overwatch’s rewarding competitive experience.
Overall players seeking a humorous and quirky adventure with an interesting take on MOBA style multiplayer should look into Battleborn. While players seeking a competitive and challenging cooperative multiplayer experience should check out Overwatch.