Battleborn goes free-to-play. Sort of. Half of it.


My brother’s elderly cat decided to start pooping behind the television rather than take himself outside. To combat this my mother set up a row of cacti at cat butt height behind the television and thus began a battle of wills which spanned that cat’s remaining years. Speaking of free-to-play competitive multiplayer scenarios you can enjoy from the comfort of your living room, Battleborn has now made its competitive multiplayer modes available free of charge.

Battleborn [official site] is, in the words of Randy Pitchford, Gearbox’s “FPS; hobby-grade coop campaign; genre blended, multi-mode competitive e-sports; meta-growth, choice + epic Battleborn heroes!”

The update in question is out now and brings what Gearbox are billing as a free trial. They’re still hoping the free sections will encourage people to pick up the full game. The trial is a slice of the game which encompasses the competitive multiplayer, so the Incursion, Meltdown, Capture and Face-Off modes as well as a new one called Supercharge which is scheduled for just after the free trial stuff goes live.

The free-to-play side of things is a familiar format where you get a weekly rotation of free heroes with which to play and can spend in-game or premium currency to own them or to pretty them up. Perhaps this will actually make half of Battleborn into a viable F2P MOBA-ish thing rather than funneling people towards the full game and its story kerfuffle.

I wondered a while back whether 2K (Battleborn’s publisher) would use Turtle Rock’s game Evolve going free-to-play as a test scenario while they worked out what to do with Battleborn. I guess the answer is that they landed on semi-free-to-play as the current solution after various price cuts over its first year couldn’t get it to meet the company’s expectations.

In Gearbox’s words, the trial offers “unlimited access to all competitive multiplayer gameplay modes and maps, without any time limits or level caps. To keep things fresh, there is a weekly rotation of six heroes from the roster of 30 total heroes. Progress with each hero and player account progression is also permanent, so when the same character comes back around players can pick them up where they left off.”

The update is also intending to build on the new player experience. That was fleshed out a bit with a dojo and dedicated training mode in an earlier update but now there will be novice queues where you can play against other newcomers. I’m not sure what’s to stop anyone smurfing, though?

If you do decide you want the other bits of the game, or to unlock heroes, cosmetics and more permanently it sounds like you can either go with the full retail version as normal or buy what you’re interested in via the game’s marketplace either using the currency you can earn by playing or with the premium currency which you get by paying real money. You need the full game to earn achievements and the blog goes into some of the other info players who are going from free to paid Battleborn might want – in-game credit for duplicated content and the like.

If you did buy Battleborn outright you get Founder Status and some bonuses as a reward. The bonus content includes “Legendary Gear, 1,000 Platinum, 50,000 Credits, Loot Packs and more, plus an exclusive “Founder’s Crown” Flair item. What’s flair? These special pieces of gear have visual components for your hero such as ears, horns and headwear.” There’s more on that here with the Founder’s Status blog.

I’m now re-downloading Battleborn to see if any of the changes the devs have made in the past year have improved the game for me. When I reviewed it it left me cold. Battleborn was a sprawling mishmash of tasks, odd or confusing UI decisions, ineffectively communicated story objectives and repetitive missions. The last two apply to the story campaign which won’t be part of the free game slice. Purely thinking about the PvP side, the balance and matchmaking were problematic at best. I remember that in terms of that nebulous “gamefeel” quality Battleborn was as mulchy, dull and unsatisfying to me as Overwatch and Destiny were both tight and fun.

ANYWAY. The free trial is free on Steam and includes the competitive multiplayer bits (so the FPS, the genre-blended multi-mode competitive e-sports and a subset of the choice + epic Battleborn heroes). The full game is £24.99 and has everything else (the hobby-grade coop campaign. and the missing parts of the meta-growth, choice + epic Battleborn heroes).


  1. Eleven says:

    cant breathe laughing too hard

    • TormDK says:

      Personally, I hope this is well recieved by the community.

      The Incursion mode deserves a healthy population

      • LobiJani says:

        I love this game so in my opinion the whole game would deserve a healthy playerbase. In my review on Steam I said that they would win by going F2P with SOME microtransacrions. (But that’s just my 2 cents)

  2. Awesomeclaw says:

    I think I saw this for sale on PS4 for £4 (which rather puts me off the idea of spending £25 on it anywhere). I kind of want to check the game out just to see what it’s actually like. I think the core ideas of the game are fine but it seems that Gearbox failed at every single aspect of the execution.

    • Suedealien says:

      I picked up Battleborn when they had it in a Humble Bundle a while ago, and I really enjoyed the campaign, both solo and coop. It’s limited in scope, but I really liked the characters and the gameplay. Honestly, it feels like Borderlands with a 90’s Saturday morning cartoon flair and some dumbing-down/polish (depending on how you view it) that makes it very comfortable to pick up for 30 minutes, play through a level, and then put back down until you get the urge to blow up more robots. I’ve ended up putting a lot of hours into it, actually, and overall, I really enjoy it.

      If they had focused on making a really polished, longer, coop focused shooter a la Borderlands, I think the game could have done really well and gotten a lot of good press. Instead, they ended up with an unfinished-feeling campaign (that reviews felt was pretty meh) and an unfinished-feeling multiplayer that drew nothing but unfavorable comparisons to the much more polished Overwatch. It was a case of them trying to do too much and doing it all alright and coming up against a game that only did one thing, but did that one thing exceptionally well.

      I hope it does come back from the dead through some polishing over time and the F2P model, though. I much prefer the characters to the very standard-archetype-feeling Blizzard brood.

    • Kowie says:

      HRK has the pc steam version on sale for $6 usd.

  3. EasyStar says:

    I was always a little sad that Battleborn lost out so heavily to Overwatch. The characters and story mode had the right silly Borderlands-ish feel, and Overwatch’s characters all seemed stiff and dull by comparison.

    Buuut Overwatch’s mechanics are just straight up better for competitive play, and somehow the Overwatch fandom has managed to flesh out the characters all on its own.

    Still good to hear about this. I’d like to see Battleborn survive at least, whether or not I go back to it very often

    • KDR_11k says:

      Style wise Battleborn always seemed more Dreamworks vs. Overwatch’s Pixar. Then there’s the massive information overload that BB inflicts on any new player.

  4. colw00t says:

    Pip this might be the greatest lede of any article in human history

  5. montorsi says:

    I, too, would rather poop on cacti than ever play this game again. I played it in beta with a couple friends and after a few matches we all agreed we’d rather be doing anything else. Pair the intolerable clusterf of mobs, cannons, and whatever other nonsense they packed into very small spaces with clunky mechanics and the temerity to launch alongside Overwatch… welp, Gearbox continues to prove they can do nothing right outside of Borderlands. That includes this grudging F2P offering.

  6. pigy33 says:

    For the more mature audiences this is a really nice alternative to Overwatch. If anyone wants a game with 1000’s of hours worth of in-depth multiplayer that isn’t just based on twitch-shooter skills (has 9 unique melee characters) and actually brings something new to the FPS genre! Battleborn is most similar to Monday Night Combat (so I’ve heard) and is great for people who like building armies in minatures table top games because there is so much to think about in terms of what helix abilities to pick at each lvl, gear, actually using these in game against others, ect.

    I just made this post to tell the mature audience about how unique Battleborn is and they should give it a try if they find COD and the new “anime COD” called Overwatch boring. As most people who hate Battleborn are kids or casuals who don’t understand how to play or don’t want to learn how to play the game so they get wrecked and say the game sucks.

    Also yes, when you first start playing it feels like a cluster f***! But once you learn the mechanics it makes for some really nice gameplay!

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      As someone who’s played neither game, I have to say, the particular phrasing of your comment really didn’t make me keen to try Battleborn. If anything it had the opposite effect which, I can’t help feeling, might not have been what you intended.

      • pigy33 says:

        Well I’m not trying to convince people to play and I purposefully tried to overwhelm the reader by mentioning a lot of unique mechanics in Battleborn to adhere to a certain type of audience that likes a lil complexity in their games. As people are comparing Battleborn to Overwatch when they are two completely different types of games which satisfy different types of audiences, thus people should give Battleborn a try who haven’t.

        So yeah, if you are more casual or new to FPS’es then my post probably should convince you more to play Overwatch. However note that Battleborn does have PvE which is more casual but I was just referencing PvP.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Super Monday Night Combat. Regular MNC was more of a team shooter than a MOBA with levels mattering very little and fights being fairly quickly decided. MNC allowed you to ambush someone, kill them quickly and they wouldn’t have to wait forever to respawn.

      I liked regular MNC better…

      • pigy33 says:

        Hmmmm, I looked at both MNC and Super MNC and idk which one Battleborn is like, but I see what you’re saying that MNC is more like a team-based shooter because the time to kill (ttk) is so low and SMNC definitely has more moba elements and seems like the ttk is higher like Battleborn but I can’t say for sure which one BB is more like because I didn’t play either.

        However I can say that most people who play Battleborn (100+ hours) have played TF2 for 1000’s of hours and are bored of it and only have really have Battleborn left for some FPS enjoyment instead of them coming from a MOBA background. So Battleborn is classified to be an FPS with MOBA light elements but certainly adheres to FPS players more than MOBA players who need a little more depth to keep FPSes enjoyable, as with myself and many others who find games like Overwatch and COD to be the same old boring stuff.

  7. Uberwolfe says:

    That first par genuinely cracked me up :D

  8. Morcane says:

    This game is so much better than Overwatch (yes I know it’s comparing a TF2 like vs a MOBA…who cares). Shame really.

  9. Thirdrail says:

    It’s like when your friend with flippers and a beak decides she’s willing to date guys who make less than $100k a year!

  10. BaronKreight says:

    As they say in Russia – “Mice were crying from pricks but continued to eat cactus”.

  11. Ejia says:

    Catbutt vs. cacti seems like a rather good local multiplayer game, so perhaps it’d work as an arena shooter too.

  12. vorador says:

    I’m honestly surprised Battleborn is still alive. I mean you could find it for 10-20€ a few weeks after Overwatch launched, and nowadays is like 6-11€.

    It tanked. Like really hard.