This is a serious post intended to get the attention of developers for both positive feedback and constructive criticism, but also spark conversation among the community. Thank you in advance for taking the time to hear my words!
First off, great game! Truly excellent. After playing for about 50 hours in 5 days, I can see you folks put a lot of time into little details and important things not many other game production teams pay attention to. And, well, Borderlands is hilariously amazing and incredible.
But, time to get serious. I’ll get right to what I want to say, in point form. The criticism follows the complements. Here are all things I’m grateful to have experienced. The small, and the big:
- Humour is spot on.
- Sending mail to other players is radical.
- Player movement and climbing is intuitive - ladders are fluid.
- Cooperative mode is killer and lets me happily join any friend’s game at any time, specifically if they are lower leveled.
- Details in the scenery are incredible, especially later into the game. I had to take several screenshots of the insurmountable beauty. Really.
- The social aspect of the game is unparalleled. I really like how the menus encourage social behavior and connections. Well done! There are lots of small features supporting this.
- The variety of bosses is phenomenal and each so unique.
- Bringing old characters back in the plot is fun and reminiscent.
- NPCs have been improved a ton. They even revive you if you are down.
Here are things I thought were problematic. Each point is followed by an explanation and a solution. After this section, I also describe why the circle of slaughter is a massive problem in its entirety, destroying the fabric of the game itself.
- In cooperative play, the joys of finding rare loot can no longer be shared, but could be. Players no longer get an idea of what each player gets as loot, which is often an enjoyable experience to have together. I like the idea of unique loot for each person, but I would like to see item rarities and types to be the same for all players. This also saves players time from having to individually check each loot crate for something good - their teammates will know.
- Sensitivity with many scopes, mainly snipers, is uncontrollable. Mainly, the sensitivity does not adjust with varying zoom amounts accordingly. I don’t use them because of this.
- Proving grounds doesn’t have much purpose. It places you into an existing game with no team preparation towards a boss fight goal as I had expected. I’d recommend all players having a starting location, and an automated waypoint guiding the players to a chosen boss fight which must be followed, since that is what all players are expecting given their matchmaking intentions.
- "Critical" hit words often block the actual damage numbers inflicted. Making the numbers a rendering priority would make sense.
- Markus has a firing range mini-game, but there isn’t a target to check weapon damage on. Add a target we can check weapon damage on - please.
- Fl4k’s critical damage buff while invisible is overpowered with the right combinations. “Guerrillas in the mist” with any weapon that reflects critical hits to other enemies is far too overpowered, and looks a bit bizarre. I’d suggest changing the damage buff, from the entire action skill altogether, to a regular damage boost rather than it being considered “critical”.
- Fl4k’s Gamma Burst action skill is, in my opinion, obnoxious. The severity of it’s presence should be reduced substantially. This may or may not be specific to the Burst Aid Augment, as I haven’t used it myself.
- Fl4k’s pets get in the way for everybody. Half the time I found myself shooting at other players’ pets amidst chaos because I couldn’t tell if they were an enemy or not. Because of this, I have actually never once assigned a pet to my lvl 50 Fl4k. I kick butt as Fl4k, and have zero pet kills.
- Neon lights, illuminated textures, are too bright and are very straining for the eyes. Please reduce how bright they are. The contrast of these lights, such as those in parts of the cities at night time are way too severe. This is the first time I have ever had to drastically change my TV’s settings to compensate. This includes the bright neon skin which can be purchased with eridium. Sure it looks cool, but too bright. Did I say it’s too bright?
- Slide artifacts remove the purpose of running. Why run when you can slide anywhere, all the time, twice as fast? Giving the quick-slide thing a 2 or 3 second cooldown is recommended. As a player I’ll never take the artifact off otherwise, as it even provides outstanding maneuver defenses during boss fights.
- The damage resistance of Zane’s Digi-Clone doesn’t seem to scale properly to differently leveled hosts. When the host was a much higher level than my own, I found the clone was quickly destroyed as if being hit by much stronger attacks. Perhaps needs a bug fix.
- On Xbox, inventory and skills menus and actions take far too long to load, hindering combat adjustments. Far too long meaning 3 to 4 seconds. I’d personally opt for a black and white 10 killapixel rendering of the inventory if it meant I could do things swiftly. That’s 100x100 resolution. This is one of those times where a fancy display is less important than a functional one. I’d like an option for a borderlands 1 styled inventory and skill tree for fast performance.
- Mayhem mode enemy health/shield buffs seem falsely under advertised. I could be missing something, but they are much stronger than double or even triple their regular health. This was tested on mayhem lvl 3 with two players. I was also aware of their current random buffs as shown in the menu - they weren’t part of it. Not sure if this needs a solution or an explanation.
- On Xbox, trying to pan/rotate the view upon opening the map often results in it initially jumping to view a fast-travel location nearby. This happens without touching the d-pad, and is very annoying whenever trying to quickly map out a route.
- Chest locations don’t seem to be random anymore. From what I can tell, they’re all determined to be somewhere or not. I find it’s fun exploring to find loot in weird places with no guarantees. Just saying.
- On Xbox, the switch weapons button, when not bound, inhibits popular interactive functions. I use the d-pad to switch between four weapons, and as such I also re-mapped the Y button to switch weapon modes - NOT the standard “hold Y to switch weapon mode” in classic mode. Being that I want to switch weapon modes instantly, non-classic mode is the only way to go since classic doesn’t have the option. Since the default “switch weapons” button is not bound, the problem is that I can no longer press Y on players, ammo machines, or catch-a-rides for the interactive options they once had. I recommend, for console users, to keep the interaction buttons constant and not dependent on remapped ones - or at least if no option is present, resort to default settings in those instances.
I really hope my input here can help make the game better.
Last, but most importantly, I want to say the Circle of Slaughter is game breaking! How do I know this? Well, I have to dedicate a whole new section in my post for it!
Borderlands 3 would benefit if this game mode was removed. I’m serious. It has added chaos and taken away prestige. Prestige is all that borderlands has for players! Let me explain.
Players, like myself, seek to have the best gear that can be shown off to tear up enemies in a social environment. We want to be the best in our own ways. And for many of us, seeing other people who have great talent, tactics, and weapons imposes a view of prestige and respect for that person - assuming we’re comfortable in knowing their feats are legitimate and honest.
After completing the campaign, I had explored the COS to see what it was about, but all I found was disappointment. To understand the COS more, I took a fresh lvl 2 character in the game mode, and after one game I was lvl 15 with 7 legendary weapons and $2 million. Let me explain what that means if that didn’t raise any red flags for you.
There’s a few problems. 1) Legendary weapons are intended to be sought after, not expected; they are rare tools for the vault hunter to get excited about. This is no longer the case. 2) Levels should have meaning. I was leveling up so fast I kept swapping my main weapon with the next one on the ground without a care. All gear is now essentially undervalued until level 50. Why take time to normally level and replace any gear you get, when you can level up fast? Other sources of experience are essentially useless to those who play COS. 3) Why is there money gained in the first place? It’s a seemingly organized event. It should have it’s own rewards which are balanced for each player. Excess money diminishes the value of itself greatly. Instead, reward players unique tokens for completing challenges instead which could then be spent on unique COS specific things.
What that all means is, it directly affects how players continue playing outside of the circle of slaughter. Incentive to play the campaign, or any other part of the game for the matter, is likely lost. An easy example is when people are too high of a level to get anything beneficial from the first playthrough, and plow through the main missions without enjoying it as a memorable experience.
Incentive to explore for loot is gone. The challenge is removed. The excitement of leveling up after dedicated involvement is lost. This isn’t good.
I’m sorry to say this, but someone dropped the ball - big time. I highly suggest immediate action to temporarily solve this mistake. A possible temporary fix is making the mode available when True Vault Hunter mode becomes available, and/or removing 90% of drops, 90% xp, and 100% cash drops - but providing some other unique incentive to play it. It’s been a while since I played Borderlands 2, but I believe the Thunderdome is an excellent example of where to take the circle of slaughter, if even possible.
If that wasn’t enough, here are more points of why the circle of slaughter deserves a place in the circle of shame:
- Dying doesn’t seem to have any consequence, even when the whole team dies.
- Rakks are ridiculously fast and hard to kill.
- Waves of enemies calls for blanket bombing.
- The elevator is buggy. Players can fall through it, or even activate it during the slaughter. Activating it is the only way some people can actually kill the numerous strong rakk by trapping them inside one by one.
- It encourages a subjectively bad play-style: There is a loss of strategy or teamwork, and splash damage attacks are so effective, you’d be dumb not to use them. Some people have what seams to be unlimited amounts of legendary grenades to which ridiculous effects apply, causing nothing but blast noises, flashing lights, and no aiming for the entire duration.
- End-of-round stats aren’t existent. It’s always fun to see info on the amounts of damage, the amounts of kills, etc.
- It’s unstructured and constantly chaotic after the first round.
- All-in-all unsatisfactory. I felt no accomplishment after completing the 5 rounds.
This game mode not only lacks a lot of potential, but adds a source of destruction towards each player’s stature and prestige. It was probably thrown together, but in my opinion, and no offense, it should be thrown out - and quickly. Metaphorically lock it in a crap-filled porta-potty and launch it into orbit. Please - on behalf of every competent vault hunter.
This is all I got for now.
If you agree or disagree with things I said, please leave a comment about what you think. If you are a game developer or somebody with influence to the dev team, please let me know you were able to acknowledge my post - it would make my day.