I Love Battleborn, But its Players are Ruining the Experience

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Battleborn gets a bad rap. Too often compared to Overwatch, I think that Gearbox's latest quirky shooter can be a lot of fun to play. Mike, Wesley and I have spent many nights playing Incursion or Meltdown, doing our best to support our team and waste some adorable robots. We've had some great experiences with a few people in matchmaking, but more often than not we end up with a few really awful teammates and its becoming a serious problem that has kept us from playing more often.

Crappy teammates are an unfortunate reality of multiplayer matches. There are the classic AFK-ers, making sure that the opposing team has at least one easy target, the hardcore douchebags who let you know that you are the reason the team is losing but never give any constructive advice. No game session would be complete without a Sir Robin or two, leaving the game as soon as they think it's lost. The list goes on. My piont is that anyone who has spent a quantifiable amount of time playing a team game is aware of these people and it usually isn't a big deal. So why is it such a problem for Battleborn?

The simplest explanation is time. If you've got a loud idiot shouting at the team in a Halo match, you only have to put up with his/her shenanigans for 8 minutes or so before you are on to the next match and a totally different team. A single match of any gametype in Battleborn can take 20 minutes or more, vastly protracting the torture of a bad team mate or two.

The reward system for playing PVP makes a loss even more painful. The difference in XP earned from a loss compared to that of a win is immense. It seems that no matter how many kills I get, minions I kill or turrets I construct, I end up with just a handful of XP after a loss. If there weren't such a rift between the two I could stomach a few more jerks but as it stands, I have begun playing less and less Battleborn because of all the difficulties we've encountered.

Just the other night, while playing an Incursion match, Wesley and I were treated to the tirade of a player convinced that he was the only decent part of the team. He popped onto the chat about five minutes in (after Wesley and I had pushed hard to deal some significant damage to the enemy Sentinel before we were shut down) to explain that the reason he had "0 kills and so many deaths was because he was the only one pushing." He immediately proceeded to call for a surrender, which was thankfully rejected. When that happened. he popped into the voicechat once again to remind us of our apparent desertion of the objective. Then he left the match, leaving us a player down. We fought hard, but ultimately lost that match.

Reading the most recent post from Gearbox on the Battleborn site, I am encouraged by some of the changes they are making to the matchmaking system. I like the idea of a more streamlined matchmaking system and faster selection of games. In the post, the devs say that building a more precise matchmaking system results in longer waits for matches overall, and that allowing the community to choose individual maps splits the player base into more and more complex sub-communities which can make the waits even longer. I get the math on that. It makes sense and I think their mew approach will help alleviate a lot of the headache of finding a match in the first place.

I was very surprised though to find that there was no mention of any way to report players behavior. When someone leaves the match early, stays AFK for half the match or intentionally stalks and griefs other players, there is zero authority for them to answer to or for other players to report the behavior to. There is no way to curb the behavior if there are no repercussions for said behavior in place. I think this is the biggest reason that Battleborn's matchmaking system is so out of control.

The steps that the devs are taking are good and will address a number of the complaints from players. However, it is folly to think that this latest patch is the last we will or should see. Battleborn is an incredibly fun game in many respects, but there are plenty of shitty players whose actions have significantly diminished the enjoyment we might otherwise find in the game. I don't pretend to hold all the answers, but being able to call people out for their shitty behavior seems an obvious place to start.