How Battleborn Shoved a Penguin into a Mech Suit
This past weekend, the world met Toby – the cutest and most terrifying penguin to ever squeeze himself into a walking tank. (Get more of his backstory here.) Toby is so out there – and that’s saying something considering some of the other Battleborn heroes we’ve already announced – we had to corner Game Designer Brian Thomas to explain how Toby plays.
First, we’ve got to ask – where does the idea of a penguin in a mech suit even come from?
Toby emerged as a combination of two strong character pitches. Part of Toby came from a desire to do a kind of punk rock heavy mech suit, the other as a penguin in a globe, attached to a cyborg body who murdered people and danced in his globe. It was just so bizarre and funny, we knew we wanted to do something with it. Merging the ideas helped give the mech more character by giving it the most adorable pilot who ever lived, and it improved on the penguin pitch by making the suit it was piloting way more badass. Thus Toby was greenlit and born into the world.
Even though he is cute and cuddly, how does Toby handle, playstyle-wise?
Don’t let the penguin piloting the mech fool you, Toby combines some classic mech and railgun gameplay elements to be one of our most powerful defenders. His primary attack is a charged railgun that lets you repel enemies at medium and long range. Additionally, he can zoom in to improve his long range targeting.
So, play Toby somewhat Tank-y, but also ranged?
Well, his skills are all about controlling the battlefield. He fires arc mines that hover in place and damage nearby enemies, helping to control chokepoints. He can also deploy an energy shield to give him and his teammates some cover in battle. He can shoot his railgun through that shield to supercharge his shots and get speed and damage boosts.
You’d use Toby to create choke points and lead people into traps? Makes sense…
Exactly. And when Toby needs to finish off nearby enemies, his ultimate skill transforms his mech’s engines to discharge a powerful heat beam that can vaporize the poor chumps in front of him. If he can establish his ground, he can hold it for a long time and it takes a concerted effort to take back that ground.
Considering all this, Toby’s greatest strengths would be….
Toby’s most effective when he’s got an area he wants to defend and control. He can bunker down behind his shield, snipe enemies, and allow his arc mines to protect his flanks. If he does get in trouble, he can use his mech’s jump jets to boost out of trouble or unleash his ultimate, Railgun Barrage, to repel threats.
For someone going up against Toby’s turtling tactics, what’s their best bet?
Toby’s limited speed and large size makes him an easy target if he’s running away, so if enemies can knock him around and force him to retreat, the fast killers can hunt him down and take him out. Crowd controls such as blind, stun, and slow can help opponents hamstring him by locking him down.
Which of Toby’s helix choices/augments are your favorites and why?
Toby has a great augment at level 1 that lets him shoot his arc mines out of the air with his railgun, causing them to explode. It has an old school FPS vibe to it, where you can carefully shoot an arc mine into a crowd, snipe it with your rail gun, and watch a wave of enemies fall. He also has a great augment that outlines enemies when he is zoomed in. This is a huge help for teammates, because you can paint targets and let them know where long-ranged enemies like Marquis are hiding.
A big part of Battleborn is teamwork – so, which heroes pair well with Toby?
One of Toby’s best friends is Reyna. She can mark targets for bonus damage, and he can snipe them with a fully charged railgun. This combo is brutal against weaker opponents.
She can also keep him safe from sneak attacks by applying an overshield if he gets in trouble.
…and since Toby has his own energy shield, you can double down…
Right, Reyna can use Toby’s shield for cover and protection, and use her ability to slow enemies when they are near his arc mines.
What is going to really test Toby players?
Toby’s biggest worries are the fast melee characters like Rath and Phoebe. Their maneuverability and close range combat can keep him off balance, which leaves him vulnerable to other snipers like Marquis. If Toby knows where a Marquis player is, he can use his shield to block him and fight back. But if a Marquis player is well hidden, or Toby is distracted dealing with Rath, Toby’s large size exposes him to a lot of fire from snipers.
Good tips and thanks for the insights, Brian!