Update, October 24: With the release of the fall update last week, Battleborn will see no further updates or development.
Development on Battleborn has come to an end. With the release of the Fall Update last week, Gearbox’s hero shooter received its last major changes, although you’ll still be able to play it for “the forseeable future.”
Going F2P put Battleborn into a new and unenviable situation, competing with all these gems.
Despite Gearbox’s best efforts, including a move to make Battleborn partially free-to-play, player count has been consistently disappointing, and as such the game is now moving to ‘maintenance mode’. That means no big updates, and that only a small team will be working on the game, maintaining servers and fixing bugs.
That means that the dev team will have moved to other projects within Gearbox, the most high-profile of which is pretty likely to be Borderlands 3.
The Fall update is a reasonably simple affair, adding a handful of Borderlands-themed skins, fixing a few bugs, and otherwise streamlining a few other aspects of the game. The only change likely to have any real impact on the game is to skill damage growth formulas, which will make sure that low-damage skills don’t ramp up too fast as games progress, preserving a meaningful difference between low and high-damage abilities. You can read the full patch notes here.
Original story, September 17: While Gearbox’s ill-fated Battleborn had its own slew of issues, you can’t deny that it came out at a really unlucky time. Offering hero-shooter fundamentals just as Overwatch arrived on the scene was a recipe for disaster, and that’s what we got. After the half-hearted partial free-to-play relaunch failed to grab audiences, Battleborn was officially put to rest yesterday, with no future updates planned after the next, as detailed in a letter from Randy Varnell, creative director on the game.
That isn’t to say that the game is shutting down, merely entering ‘maintenance mode’, the last phase of life for any piece of software. Once the upcoming Fall update lands, no new content is planned, and only skeleton staff assigned in order to keep the servers running and patch up any emergency bugs discovered. It seems that Gearbox is officially moving staff on to their next big project, whatever that may be.
While more Borderlands would be the safe bet, Gearbox are seldom predictable. Nobody expected them to dust off the venerable old Homeworld franchise, after all. And so, let us remember Battleborn for its sweetest moment, something that everyone can agree on: That the Aeon Flux-ish intro animation seen above was actually pretty damn cool, and that the new Deltron 3030 song produced for it - Countdown - was amazing. If only the game looked as good in motion.
And then I remember that Countdown never got released outside of the game, minus the background battle noises from the intro. Even in its final, fondest memories, Battleborn finds one last way to disappoint; It was the game that took possibly the last Deltron single to the grave with it. A fitting legacy.
Battleborn is available as a Free Trial on Steam, with a £25 purchase option to upgrade it to the full game.