Battleborn, the multiplayer arena FPS developed by ‘controversial’ studio Gearbox, (who we discussed briefly a few weeks ago) was one of 2016’s greatest and most fascinating video game train-wrecks. Only No Man’s Sky eclipsed it at the time in terms of letdowns. Arguably only Lawbreakers suffered to the same degree since. After just over a year of trying desperately to hold on to a diminishing player-count, the news that everybody already expected broke a few days ago – Battleborn won’t be receiving any more content or patches after this year’s Fall update. Stick a fork in her, because it looks like she’s dead.
(^’Top 10 Photos taken seconds before disaster’ material or what?)
The announcement came on Gearbox’s own forums over the weekend from Creative Director Randy Varnell. (NOT Pitchford, who seems to have yet to comment on the game’s fate) Amongst the standard thanking of the community and an ironic remark on the ‘bittersweet’ feeling of leaving a project, (has any word every characterised Battleborn so much?) two pieces of information from the statement stand out. The first is the assurance that Battleborn’s servers will be remaining active for now, as well as a quick rundown on the Fall update’s content – including Borderlands-themed skins. This could well not be a coincidence, for the second item of note is Varnell’s moving over to work on a ‘highly anticipated but unannounced project’.
(^No seriously, what did he mean by this?)
While it’s too early to confirm anything, this project being Borderlands 3 seems likely. Project 1v1 has technically been announced even if it’s yet to get an ‘official’ name, and Pitchford himself commented at roughly the same time the forum post was made that Borderlands 3 would only be formally announced when there was something worth announcing. The language is similar enough to draw parallels, though when Borderlands 3 will be coming remains anyone’s guess.
As for Battleborn itself, perhaps it’s for the best that the game is quietly taken out behind the shed and put down. While it may have had its merits the title is known best for its failures and flaws, most notably an embarrassing player count just a few months post-launch that never truly recovered. A cluttered UI that almost seemed a parody of itself, and character designs that lurched between uninspired, unattractive, or simply bizarre (and not in a good way) certainly didn’t help.
It was Overwatch perhaps that truly sealed the game’s fate, however. Though the two games are different mechanically, the Tweet pictured at the top of this article didn’t help matters. It was the comparison Battleborn itself drew that perhaps compelled Overwatch’s team to hold the highly anticipated game’s open beta the same weekend as Battleborn’s release. Factor in Paladins appearing shortly after as a free-to-play alternative to both (with Battleborn not going F2P until it was far too late) and it’s easy to see how Gearbox’s game never even got off the starting line.
Randy Pitchford himself may also be somewhat accountable for Battleborn tanking. In my last Gearbox-themed article I briefly touched on some of Pitchford’s ‘eccentricities’, and a series of Tweets one perhaps wouldn’t expect of a professional CEO (my favourite of which is at the bottom of this article for reasons that will become clear when you read it) further cemented his apparent baby, Battleborn, as an object for scorn and ridicule. The game has its fans, but Pitchford is an undoubtedly controversial figure, and with the amount of time some of the internet have spent mocking him its entirely possible that many were actively gunning for the game’s failure. In the end it seems, they got their wish.
So that was Battleborn, a game that died much as it lived – quietly, except from those that mocked it. Still, cheer up Gearbox, it’s not all bad.
At least you’re not Lawbreakers.
At age seven, Jordan wanted to be a paleontologist. That went well. He now fills the void by writing on all manner of mildly-interesting topics - when he finds time in between complaining how everything was better in the 'good old days', that is.