Heliborne is another cool looking game that came across the ethereal surface of my existential desk not too long ago. As the only multiplayer helicopter game I’ve personally looked at, Heliborne seemed an awesome concept. Full disclosure before I get into the meat of my review: I’m complete rubbish at playing this game. However, with that said, let’s take a closer look at what Heliborne is all about.

Story

The isn’t really so much of a story in Heliborne as there are simply war scenarios that you will play through. As such, I will leave this unscored.

Gameplay

Obviously, with multi player centric games, gameplay is where it’s at. You really need to nail the gameplay to keep people coming back. Especially in a war type setting. Heliborne is an interesting study in excellent and yet somewhat unapproachable gameplay.

The controls for the helicopters are pretty tight. However, I also feel this is the least approachable aspect of the game. The learning curve between just starting and actually being able to compete with other players is pretty steep. For those familiar with flight sims and such, this probably wont be an issue, and you are definitely the primary demographic for this game. For the layman however, I don’t feel the same can be said. For me, playing Heliborne became a bit of an exercise in frustration.

It is important to note as well that this is more of an arcade experience. There are definitely aspects of role playing and customization however.

As of the last time I logged on, there were only four maps available and a handful of single player bot scenarios. There are a lot of iconic helicopters available through playing the game, and many, many optional skins available for purchase.

I mentioned above that the flight controls were pretty tight. The same can’t be said for the actual combat itself. I found plenty of issues with hit detection and hit boxes, which leads to way too many unnecessary deaths and no lack for bullet-spongery, which was a big let down, and in my estimation, was the primary cause for the lack of accessibility I mentioned above as well.

Since PvE is basically just bot campaign scenarios, those get old pretty quickly, and combined with the issues with hit detection and such, leads to Heliborne being kind of boring in the end. It is also worth noting that this game crashes often. Especially while waiting for matchmaking to work in multiplayer. This is also an online only experience (or at least, offline mode was not functional for me).

All told, with all the issues and lack of accessibility, I give gameplay a 3 out of 10.

Graphics

Unfortunately, the graphics in Heliborne are quite dated. They are certainly functional, although I found that identifying ground troops was pretty difficult. This could very well be intentional, but it doesn’t add to the fun in my estimation. Even where they were marked, they were still fairly indistinct.

That said, there are moments of beauty in this game. It’s just inconsistent.

That said, the helicopters themselves look decent. The terrain is really the main issue. It just looks washed out in general.

4 out of 10

Audio

The actual sounds of in flight communication and such does sound pretty realistic. It’s a bit sterile, but in general, I think this is actually more realistic than everything else in the game. I don’t recall much else about the audio, but the realism is definitely there.

7 out of 10

Multiplayer

With the constant crashes and long waits to actually find a game, I did not find the multiplayer to be compelling. That said, it’s certainly the only reason to buy this game and there are definitely people who are able to get past those issues. I personally was not one of them though.

For me, matchmaking was broken and was the primary culprit for copious crashes.

2 out of 10

Verdict

Heliborne is a game I really wanted to like, but in the end, I found it to simply be frustrating. That said, there is definitely a loyal fanbase, and for those of you who really love flight sims and such, I think you will find my score to be abhorrently low. For those of you who are hoping for a more pick up and play or casual war experience however, I can’t recommend this game.

In the end, Heliborne ended up being exactly what a 4 out of 10 looks and plays like. Don’t hate me if you love the game though. I know there are a few hundred of you souls out there. I’m glad it plays well for those peeps.