First the Basics
Both games are being compared because they both do two things great. First they are both lively colored games filled with humor, and both decided to avoid the “realistic” zone most modern games go down. It’s a breath of fresh air and both games do this great. The second thing is the fact both games offer a roster full of unique characters. Both games have over 20 unique characters, and both have a very unique style to each character. Figuring out the way you want to play should be easy.
Style of Gameplay
Battleborn is set up a lot like a MOBA (Multiplayer online battle arena) as expected. Each character is unique their own and will support your team based on their powers. A healer would be best to stick back and support, while an assault player would be at the front lines. Working together is pinnacle to accomplish anything. That being said, once you pick a character you are stuck with that character throughout the match. There is no switching. To add on top of that only one player per team can pick any specific character. Battleborn truly sets itself up as a MOBA by restricting players like this.
An interesting thing about Battleborn’s characters is the fact a lot of them are based on powers or close quarters combat. A lot of characters have close attacks, or carry weapons that are melee style combat. You will also see a lot of players constantly casting spells and changing the environment. Battleborn plays a lot like a MOBA with minions taking part in 2 of the 3 game modes. The game plays a lot like Borderlands in a MOBA world.
Overwatch on the other hand is a bit different. You still have your classes, but things are a bit more mixed up to be friendlier to a user. An assault character could potentially have the ability to heal a team, but plenty of characters also rely on support characters at the same time. So it’s often a good idea to have a good mix. That being said if any part of your team is slacking (say nobody picked a support character) anyone can switch at any point in the game. Or lets say you think a certain class would find a weakness in the opposing team, you can switch and make that adjustment.
Overwatch plays out more like an arena shooter than it does a MOBA. There are no restrictions and combat is generally more based on shooting and weapons, and less on abilities. That’s not to say there are no abilities that can change the tide of battle, but a good team will also find a way to get around things by blasting away. Overwatch more resembles Team Fortress 2 than it does a MOBA.
How They Play
Overwatch is a bit more fast paced overall with swift combat and constant battles taking place in general spots. People are constantly respawning and mayhem is always taking place. The cool thing about Overwatch is the approach to every area of the map. There could be people above you, below you, or coming in through side doors. However there will also be lots of explosions and things happening.
Battleborn is more restricted with there clearly being two sides to every battle. Things move a little more floaty, but overall slower. Players are often casting spells or creating barriers, and they are not really chasing each other all over the place. Maps also seem to be bigger with action spread out across the whole map, instead of being focused on one objective.
BOTH games offer a competitive edge to whatever team can form a strategy, but they vary. Battleborn is heavily focused on team strategy, with long term decision making and how the field of play changes. Overwatch is more on the moment strategizing with constant changes needing to be met.
Neither game really offers an option to stay offline. Overwatch is purely an online battle with no offline component at all. Battleborn does offer a “story mode” that is co-op, but it really feels tacked on and linear. It plays nothing like Borderlands at all.
An interesting thing about Overwatch is all 21 characters are unlocked from the get go, and all of them are fully usable at any point. To me this makes things really balanced from the start and puts everyone on an equal playing field. Instead of unlocking weapons and characters, Overwatch lets you unlock skins and other cosmetic bonus item via loot drops.
Battleborn again dives into the MOBA world with progression with multiple tiers of progression systems. The first is the MOBA style approach where you start at level 1 every time you start a match. The more you participate and help your team, the higher you progress within the match. As you progress you unlock new perks. This then resets when you join a new game. Then Battleborn also has an overall progression system which allows your in-game progression to unlock higher tier perks. The more you play with a single character, the more you unlock for that character. Each character has their own progression system. If that wasn’t enough, Battleborn also makes you unlock half of the roster via progression along with other overall perks.
Battleborn tells its story via the story missions that are long and grueling, but the jist of things is that a group of species are all hovering around the last star. Each world has sent people to defend them from Varelsi which is another species invading from an alternate dimension trying to steal the last star’s power. Battleborn never really dives deeply into any specific character, but you can read their animated comics.
Overwatch doesn’t provide a story mode, but Blizzard has done an amazing job putting together short animations that you can watch. Each animation dives into each specific characters back story and gives them life. Overwatch is actually a team set up for the Omnic War which has since become defunct. Even if you don’t plan on playing the game, I highly suggest just simply watching the animated shorts!
Looking At The Long Run
This is something important to me, so it is worth highlighting. Both games are promising free content in future updates, which will include new maps and heroes. This means both games will expand in the long run. Battleborn does have DLC and a “season pass,” but from what I can tell it only includes story co-op missions and skins. Both characters and online levels seem to be coming free for both titles, which means there will be no community divide.
That being said, Blizzard does have a little bit better of a track record when it comes to long term support. Gearbox kind of scares me anytime they leave Borderlands because their track record outside of that series is not very strong.
Overall Decision Making
Personally I’ve played both and I don’t want to list my bias here at all, but here is how I feel you should decide.
If you are a hardened FPS player I would go with Overwatch. It is set up more for FPS players and there are plenty of characters that are easy to learn and get going. It simply plays like an FPS, while melee style characters are bit rarer, and overall the group of heroes isn’t really focused, giving it a variety of approaches.
If you are good with MOBA style games and prefer more melee style combat, or perhaps you have a team of friends, I’d go with Battleborn. As an FPS player Battleborn can become frustrating when dealing with so many strategic things going on at once. However if you know how to play a MOBA, it’s easy to find your spot.
Quick note: I would not pick up Battleborn for the excuse of a “story mode” because it feels so tacked on, so don’t let that be a part of your decision. Realize both games are basically online multiplayer only titles and judge them based on that.