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Always-on. That's what we usually call it when a game won't let you play offline. The more pernicious term applied to these scenarios is “always-on DRM”. In the case of Gearbox Software's upcoming Battleborn, the game will require a constant internet connection to play any of the game modes.
Gamespot explained that the game's single-player and multiplayer are tied together so the game has to be always-on in order to synch up data across both play modes. In a statement given to Videogamer.com, 2K Games explained...
Battleborn requires an internet connection to play, whether you're playing single-player, cooperatively with friends, or competitively against others. One of the reasons for this is that experience points earned in Battleborn's Story Mode carry over to Multiplayer and vice-versa.
This did not sit well with the gaming audience at all. There were a lot of really good questions in the Gamespot article's comment section. The most common question was: why can't you play offline in the single-player mode and then just synch the data up when you do go online to play multiplayer?
It is a question that doesn't have an answer sadly. When discussing Battleborn's requirement for having to stay online, the statements to Videogamer only focus on the synchronization between single-player and multiplayer but they don't explain why players who don't even want to play online and would prefer to play offline can't just play offline.
Instead, the 2K Games statement goes off on a tangent to explain away the necessity of an always-on connection, stating that it's also necessary for recovering profiles and data in case of a hardware malfunction...
[…] maintaining data integrity is a major priority for the team, and online gameplay permits player's data to be accessible, even after experiencing a hardware malfunction or purchasing a new console.
I have no idea what someone's hardware failing has to do with them wanting to play offline. In a way it almost sounds like a justification to always stay privy to a player's playing habits and data in Battleborn and less about them having the privacy, options and choice to play the game the way they want.
Worse yet is that portions of the game will be locked behind a PlayStation Plus subscription, so you'll have to stay online and have a PS Plus subscription to access “certain gameplay and functionality”. Unfortunately they don't say what gameplay and functionality is locked behind PS Plus, but like most multiplayer games I'm assuming the online co-op and PvP modes in Battleborn might be the ones locked behind PS Plus.
Both Videogamer and Gamespot note that if there's a PS Plus restriction on some gameplay and functionality that it's likely going to be equal for Xbox One owners as well with Xbox Live Gold, but that hasn't been confirmed yet. On the upside at least Steam gamers don't have to worry about paying for the multiplayer.
In addition to this, there will also be an open beta for Battleborn in early April for the PS4, Xbox One and PC. The PS4 version of the game will receive the open beta nearly a week ahead of the Xbox One and PC, starting on April 8th. You can look for Battleborn to launch in full starting May 3 for home consoles and PC.