The co-op gameplay provided in Battleborn is a story campaign which is chopped up into 8 missions. Upon installing the game, players will have to play a Prologue (must be played solo) which basically teaches them how to play the game while introducing the story of the game. After completing the prologue, the first mission will become available. Completing a mission will unlock the next one. There are two ways to play the co-op missions: a publicly or privately. A public mission will put players in a matchmaking queue to find four other players to play a mission with. Players can only choose to queue for a random mission or the very last mission if they have it unlocked. If queued for a random mission, upon being matchmade, the players will be presented with a choice of 3 random missions to vote on. The mission with the most votes is selected to play. A private mission can be launched with anywhere between 1 and 5 players in the lobby (players can simply invite their friends through Steam to join their lobby). The party leader can select any mission he or she has unlocked, regardless of whether everyone else in the lobby also has it unlocked.
Regardless of whether it’s a public or private match, once the mission starts they act exactly the same. Players can select from any of the characters they have unlocked to play as for the entirety of the mission. At the very beginning, 8 (out of 25 total) characters are unlocked to pick between. Each character has unique active and passive abilities. During the mission, characters will level up (max level 10). These character levels are only persistent for the duration of the mission. Each level up allows players to invest a point in their “Helix” tree. For each level, the Helix tree offers two choices to mutate their active abilities in some way, or provide them passive bonuses. For example, players may be asked to choose between making one or their skills also debuff enemies versus boosting the damage of another skill. All point investments are permanent for the duration of the match.
Missions generally take between 30 and 45 minutes (usually longer on advanced difficulty). There two difficulties (normal and advanced) and both are playable in “hardcore” mode (only one life per character). The missions will each have some kind of story which facilitates the objectives that must be done. These objectives include things like protecting an area, holding out against waves of enemies, and escorting NPCs. Each mission will contain some kind of boss and probably a couple of mini-bosses. The maps contain chests which include power-ups (e.g. speed, cooldown reduction, health pick-ups), extra lives, score, coins, and gear. The extra lives are shared between the whole team. When a character dies, they get about 20 seconds before they bleed out. During this time they can only call for help or release to the waypoint. Other players can revive them before they bleed out in order to save the extra life. If all extra lives run out, players cannot respawn anymore.
Successfully completing a mission will award players with a medal based on their score (score is shared between teammates). Score is gained through the mission by killing enemies, completing random timed objectives, and picking up the score orbs found in chests. This medal is generally only important for unlocking characters and bragging rights. Players will also receive two kinds of XP (command XP and character XP for the character they played) as well as coins.