December 29th, 2016
It seems to me that one of the biggest issues crippling Battleborn is the amount of time one can spend in the game but not playing. That is to say, waiting. Waiting for a team to assemble, waiting to revive, waiting while you ‘sprint’ across the map at a snail’s pace to rejoin your teammates.
Certainly, there are other issues and at least some aspects of the waiting problem are exacerbated by the dwindling player base. However, there are a few things that could be done to minimize the waiting.
- Make queuing more dynamic:
- Allow players to backfill teams already in a match. It is mind-boggling that there is a menu option to quit a game but no option for the now screwed team (and yes, for the post part you are screwed if you are a character down in Battleborn) to get a replacement.
- Give players something to do while waiting. An Overwatch-like skirmish mode, playing checkers, almost anything is better than asking them to watch a nearly static screen for 5, 10, or more minutes. This is just asking for players to get distracted and then either get stuck with a default character or simply not play at all as they found something more interesting to do than watching the video game equivalent of paint drying.
- Let players change characters upon revive. Maybe they chose the wrong character; maybe they thought they could do without a healer, but changed their mind. Whatever. If they want to change, let them.
- Stop penalizing people for dying a lot. It already sucks to get killed, but then to have to wait progressively longer to revive? That’s stupidly punitive. It makes a losing game worse as characters are kept out of play longer and longer. It’s a dis-incentive to play, not an incentive to play better.
- Make some shorter match modes. If I have to wait 10 minutes or more for a match and matches can last up to 30 minutes then, barring getting my ass handed to me and the match ending abnormally quickly, playing Battleborn is a significant time investment. Not everyone has ~40 minutes to play, but surely we want these people to be able to play if they want, no?
- Get rid of “move” and have everyone move at “sprint” speed—or even better something a bit higher. Everyone and their cousin complains bitterly about character speed, so fix it. Yes, some gear will have to be adjusted or eliminated—but you won’t need this gear so much if the movement speed is upped, so it seems a small price to pay for a better playing experience.
Now, I want to head off a couple potential protests. First, I like the long matches. A good, well-fought Incursion match that go full time is damned fun even if I’m on the losing side. My team and I, maybe a player down, fought a good fight. We didn’t (all) quit, instead we hung in there and kept the last sentry up.
Players of Overwatch and/or other games will have no doubt noted I got some of these ideas from them. If you think that is somehow a bad thing, I think you are thinking in the wrong way—particularly if you want Battleborn to continue as a viable game. Gearbox should do what works, looking at and doing what other similar, successful games do is a perfectly sensible thing. When I play Overwatch, I’m never not playing for more than a minute or two and it never takes me more than 30 seconds to rejoin my team if I get ganked. I am playing 95% of the time, not 75% or whatever it works out to of the time as I am in Battleborn.
Finally, if you watched the chat about the upcoming winter changes or read about them, it seems that some of these may be in the pipeline already. I sure hope so. I like Battleborn a lot and so I want more people playing it. It offers a richer playing experience via the helix and gear builds than other games do. Sure, it’s got a learning curve, but it engages my brain in ways that a simpler game like OW does not. There is a space in the MOBA ecology for it, but it needs to better and more humbly adapt to that space and the realities of players’ expectations.