Review: Battleborn: Attikus and the Thrall Rebellion


Play it again, Ambra

For a lot of people, Attikus and the Thrall Rebellion is going to be too little, too late. Battleborn has been plagued with issues since its launch, from poor PC performance to a rapidly decreasing base of players causing long wait times to get into a game. Season pass holders and cooperative-only players have good reason to be annoyed; it's taken five months since launch for this first piece of story downloadable content to release.

That said, anybody who stuck it out with Battleborn should be pleased with Attikus and the Thrall Rebellion. What's here is short and sweet, but it manages to be surprisingly replayable. For five bucks, it's an easy recommendation.

Battleborn: Attikus and the Thrall Rebellion (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Released: October 13, 2016
MSRP: $4.99

While most of the included story missions have built-in replayability, it's small stuff like randomized challenges and the differences that come from tackling it with one of the many characters. The hook for Thrall Rebellion (and presumably the other four "Story Operations" DLC packs in the pipeline) is an almost modular missions structure.

While the mission backbone remains constant, each crescendo is accompanied by optional objectives that can change from game to game. In one game, there may be a simple puzzle to solve before defending the first rendezvous point, then in the next there might be sniper bots posted on the rooftops that need to be destroyed instead.

Completing the optional objectives awards "Ops Points," which serve two functions. First, it acts almost as a dynamic AI, with enemies growing stronger and more numerous at higher Ops Point totals. Second, it is the gatekeeper in front of the cosmetic content included in Thrall Rebellion. Each current character has two skins to earn, one for a fairly low point total and another requiring a more difficult sum.

The optional objectives aren't all equal. During higher Ops Point runs, there is one that asks players to complete a combat section without taking damage from enemy air support that is constantly strafing the battlefield. It basically takes any melee characters out of the fight, forcing them to stand around and watch the ranged characters deal damage from under cover. Another objective tasks players with racing to a shard before the Jennerit can harvest it, except the path to that shard isn't ever telegraphed.

The submissions aren't the only thing that change over time. For the first few plays, the narration is completely different, telling the full story over four attempts. I've run through the mission more than ten times in the few days it has been available. Each run takes about 20 minutes, though searching every nook and cranny to maximize score can take as long as the main story missions.

The map is more Borderlands-ian than most Battleborn areas, with multiple paths leading to each choke point. Even though it's a short mission, there's a lot to explore. It's also great to look at, taking place in the red/purple slums of the Jennerit world Tempest. The story goes a little silly compared to the "save the universe" theme of the main game, retelling the story of Attikus rising up, but through a film noir lens.

The Story Operations only support three players, in contrast to the main game's five, but that might be a blessing for Battleborn's fledgling community. It hasn't taken long (on PlayStation 4) to matchmake a full game; the painful wait times between matches are gone, at least for now.

If anything, Attikus and the Thrall Rebellion whets my appetite for more like this. It's quick enough to play just a round or two and still make progress, and it's varied enough to play several in a row without getting too bored. But now I'm looking more forward to the other four Story Ops releasing so we can have that same solid gameplay with even more variety.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Battleborn: Attikus and the Thrall Rebellion reviewed by Darren Nakamura



Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
How we score:  The Destructoid reviews guide


Darren Nakamura
Darren NakamuraAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strateg... more + disclosures



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