Skip to main content

The Attack Of The Hero Shooters Begins

It's May, most of our wallets will have recovered from holiday spending, and the triple-A game developers know this.  Enter: two games which I recently gave a heavy play of, Gearbox's Battleborn and Blizzard's Overwatch.
This TotalBiscuit video is a fantastic watch learn the comprehensive difference between the two.
You are going to be hearing two things about these two games:
  1. They are both first person shooters where you pick from a roster of heroes with a bank of abilities like you would see in a MOBA.  Because they were released around the same time, it would seem like they are in direct competition with each other. 
  2. They actually play nothing like each otherBattleborn plays more like a 3D MOBA and has a weighty, quasi-RPG feeling reminiscent of Borderlands or WildstarOverwatch is more of a pure action FPS like Team Fortress 2.  You might as well get both in order to enjoy the diversity in gameplay between them, so they are not in direct competition with each other.
I would say both perspectives are partially correct.  There is a definite difference in core gameplay to be had.  However, your average gamer only has so much time and money.  Consequently, the games will nevertheless compete; most people will need to decide which they want to buy.
Battleborn, a FPS shooter with MOBA influences that plays a bit like Borderlands.  It actually has a MOBA mode.
I guess I am committed, because I bought Battleborn, digital deluxe version, for a large amount of money.  Then I received an invitation to play Overwatch in open beta.  Having played them both, I now somewhat regret my initial purchase of Battleborn because it seems to me that Overwatch offers a more solid gameplay experience.
  • Battleborn feels floaty, a bit like a MMORPG boss battle.  There are lots of gratuitous special effects going off and damage numbers popping up.  It does not help that the netcode often rubberbands me around.  The result feels muddled and chaotic, less like I am playing the game and more like I am experiencing it.
  • In Overwatch, better net code means faster reactions, much of the floatiness is gone, and rubberbanding is almost unheard of.  Your characters actions have more weight to them; there's no boss monsters in Overwatch, so the stuff you shoot dies pretty fast.  The result feels more cohesive, more like I am playing the game and not just experiencing it.
If only a game existed that was the best of both games: Battleborn's depth with Overwatch's netcode and balance.
Overwatch, a FPS shooter with MOBA influences that plays a bit like Team Fortress 2.  It does not actually have a MOBA mode.
As far as popularity was concerned, I do not think Gearbox was under any delusion that Battleborn would trump OverwatchOverwatch is made by Blizzard, a company which has been building up a huge fanbase for decades.  Since Blizzard is so popular, Overwatch was always going to be the more popular game, so you cannot determine game quality from player headcount alone.

To a great extent, I want Battleborn's unique mix of game mechanics to be more successful.  This is because I feel that Blizzard's success has been bad for the PC platform as a whole.  With the exception of Diablo, all Blizzard does is make high quality, improved clone versions of existing games.  Their continued success means more clones for all of us, and the PC platform has been suffering from clone burnout for even longer than Blizzard has been around.

Gearbox stuck their necks out a bit with Battleborn by offering a unique hybrid between MOBAs and Borderlands here, not even Smite plays anything like this.  Another reason to root for Battleborn is that it offers deeper mechanics in ways that Overwatch's goal of improving Team Fortress 2 cannot.
Battleborn can be a pretty cluttered, confusing experience sometimes.

I fear for Battleborn's longevity because it is more of a hybrid game.  Hybrid games suffer from a problem where they alienate audiences of different genres.  Developing one kind of game is easier than trying to bring two types of games together.  Gamers who enjoy one type of game are forced out of their comfort zone with a hybrid.

The attack of the hero shooters is not quite over yet:
  • Already in closed beta is Hi-Rez Studios' Paladins.  
  • Epic Games is targeting a mid-2016 release for Paragon.
  • Microsoft Studios is publishing Gigantic some time in 2016.  
It is looking like Battleborn will be a quasi-interesting singularity in a sea of clones, so enjoy it while it lasts.   As for Overwatch, is it as future proofed as any Blizzard game.

As for me, next weekend I will probably be playing Stellaris, a nice looking game from a completely different genre, the 4X space empire game.  But that is for another blog entry.


Popular posts from this blog

Empyrion Vrs Space Engineers: A Different Kind Of Space Race

In my quest for more compelling virtual worlds, I have been watching Empyrion: Galactic Survival a lot this bizarro weekend, mostly via the Angry Joe Show twitch stream.  What I have concluded from my observations is Empyrion is following in Space Engineers' shadow, but it is nevertheless threatening the elder game due to a greater feature set (the modding scene notwithstanding).

Empyrion is made in Unity, whereas Space Engineers is built on a custom engine.  While this does put Empyrion at a disadvantage when it comes to conceptual flexibility, its developers nevertheless have a substantial advantage when it comes to adding features due to a savings of time spent that would have gone into developing their own engine.  Examples include:
Planets.  Empyrion already has planets and space to explore between them, whereas in Space Engineers planets are in the works but still awhile away (so you just have asteroid fields to scavenge).Enemies.  Space Engineers' survival mode boasts onl…

Resonant Induction Really Grinds My Gears... In A Good Way

From about 2pm yesterday until 8pm today, I've been dabbling with my latest custom mod mix for Minecraft 1.6.4, which is this time very much Universal Electricity focused.
Aside from the usual GUI enhancers and Somnia, the primary contenders in this mix were:
Calclavia Core - Of course: this is the base of the Universal Electricity system.Resonant Induction - This seems to be largely focused on increasingly more advanced methods of refining ores divided across 4 ages of technological progression.  It also includes some really cool things such as assembly lines.  I'll primarily be talking about just a few blocks out of this mod today.Atomic Science - A mod dedicated to generating more of those lovely universal electricity volts via the power of splitting the atom.  Build your own nuclear reactor!  Deal with nuclear meltdowns!  You maniac!ICBM - A mod dedicated to generating more destruction using those lovely universal electricity volts (and more than a little gunpowder), it cer…

Greasing The Grind: Adding Lasting Appeal To Virtual World Sandboxes

Game design, being about entertainment, is not as much science as art.  We're coming up with interesting things that the human mind likes to chew on that "taste" good to it.  Different people find different things, "Fun," and a game designer is tasked with coming up with fun, appealing things.  As pertains to virtual world sandboxes, I identified three of them.

Challenge Appeal.

Dwarf Fortress and Fortresscraft Evolved have the same end game appeal preservation mechanic: wealth equals threat.  The more money your Dwarf Fortress is worth, the bigger the baddies who will come for you, including a bunch of snobby useless nobles who do nothing but push dwarves around and eat.  The more energy you make in Fortresscraft Evolved, the more and bigger bugs come to shut down your base.  Rimworld does something a little different based off of which AI Storyteller you choose, but it generally adds time to your wealth accumulation when deciding what kind of threats to throw a…