[CONTROVERSIAL] Would removing health gate make for better gameplay?

As the title states things. Would removing healthgate make for better gameplay?

Is health gate limiting how enemies can engage with the player in Borderlands 3?

Does the cushion of health gate force the Devs to create imbalanced gameplay?

I’ve been thinking a lot about fight for your life and health gate. Or more specifically, failure states in video games in general.

My experience in Borderlands is limited to BL 2, TPS and BL3. But as far as videogames, I have played and completed about 80 in the course of my lifetime. From PS1 Era Onwards.

  1. Fight for your life.

Fight for your life was very novel the first time I used it. In a sense. Instead of insta dying, all you have to do is kill an enemy and you are back up to fight again.

  • This works in the early to midgame where you are reasonably weak and there isn’t always a gurantee of getting a second wind due to reload time and low weapon damage.

  • This stops working when you become invinsible because at endgame, you are guranteed a second win as long as an enemy is present.

  • Fodder enemies are present during almost all bossfights and are always available to be killed during the battle. So there is no fear of dying to mobs, there is even less fear of dying to majority of bosses in the game.

  • The lack of consequences means that the actual act of fighting looses its charm and the game has to maintain your interest, not with interesting enemy encounters but with more and more powerful guns to kill the enemies and bosses faster. These aren’t mutually exclusive but there is a real possibility that because the combat gets boring past a certain point due to being invinsible, the only pleasure left is aquiring better gear.

  1. Healthgate

I am specifically talking about Borderlands 3’s current healthgate system. Where above 50% health you cannot be oneshot. And have about 3 seconds to react after being brought to low HP before you die.

  • It works for keeping bosses from one shotting players. A lot of bosses have hard to dodge attacks. Healthgate prevents these ultra high damage and hard to dodge attacks from instagibbing the player. But then, maybe the reason bosses don’t have their damage numbers properly balanced is because there is a healthgate. I digress.

  • Healthgate means that high hp regenearation is far superior to high HP for tankiness. Which, besides not making sense, causes certain builds to practically be GOD MODE. With the player being completely invinsible. And only dying “when they want to” as one player stated on a forum post about Zane.


Conclusion.

Now, I am sure someone who has more gaming experience than me or who actually designs games will be able to articulate things better.

And there are many things I haven’t stated since that would mean about a 2 thousand words. Such as normal mod, TVHM. Mayhem modifiers. Enemies strengths and weaknesses. etc etc.

At the core of all this, I am asking, would removing healthgate (And low key adjusting FFYL) make for a better gameplay experience?

Perhaps by forcing better design. Perhaps by allowing the games current and really well designed enemies and bosses to actually shine and pose a threat. (Except Maliwan,invisible, reverse flash Ninja Troopers. That ■■■■ needs to be looked at XD ).

Would it lead to more build variety? Would it lead to more thoughtful and engaging gameplay?

Would it put more guns back in the meta?

  • And secretly, I am hoping for Mayhem 2.0, they introduce a way to toggle healthgate off and/or have modifiers that make Going into FFYL a much scarier proposition.

Peace, love and loot XD

.no.

It would probably force devs to balance the game completely different
Right now, borderlands is mayhem and everything dies within a second
Enemies, you, everything
The damage is too high and there are too many of them to not have things like health gate or ffyl to prevent you from constant respawning

I hate health-gate system and balance behind it, or I should call it lame balance.

Healthgating, ffyl, cartoon graphics, billions guns and others are borderlands staples, removing them and it is not borderlands anymore.

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During pre-release, I wondered if they had maybe been able to get away from health gate, not for your reasons, but for another one. You ask for it to be more likely for us to die.

I was wondering if, by removing health gate, the team would have to be more creative with damage mechanics. They’d have to focus on numbers and make sure they never created anything that would one hit most or all builds. At the time I thought this would be possible. However, if someone were to wear a band of Sitorak and a loaded dice…They’d have a total damage pool of barely 6000 (I think). Whereas any other character will have 11,000 health and then their shield.

In retrospect, there’s no good way to balance enemy damage around these possibilities.

As for FFYL. With the way this game handles damage, it’s a mechanic designed more to keep the developers from, again, having to balance damage. As long as they give you the ability to get up, they can down you with zero remorse.

Edit: I wrote this before reading the majority of your post and it seems we have similar thoughts that just happen to be anchored in different Harboured expectations

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Any time I went to rely on the gate it had adverse affects, Moze was killed. Times when I had expected defeat, accepted it almost lol there’s my Moze still alive because the gate held.

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If you remove health gate, enemies attacks will need to be entirely reworked to avoid excessive one shotting.I don t think that in the current deplorable buggy state of the game it is the kind of massive work needed. This said if for an eventual bl4 they could entirely rethink the damage system for something more logical yes

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Not gonna agree with that, I think the way healthgate works in Bl3 is fine (notably because we don’t have the Bl2 problematic where healthgating could be abused into oblivion). Since the game throws so many enemies at you and mind you, you can only get a second wind so many times before the FFYL timer becomes simply too short for a kill, it would just flat-out suck if the enemy could actually one-shot you.
Of course lifesteal/good regen is always better than just healthstacking, that’s not stupid but simply a fact. Player health is a ressource and anyone will tell you that it’s better to find a way to sustain your ressource use rather than just having a big bank full of it and hoping its enough. Healthgate does tie into that as well, but not as much as you may think. Matter of fact is, both player damage and enemy health far outscale player health on high difficulties to a rather extreme degree, which means two things:
1: Healthstacking is just ineffective.
2: If you have any amount of lifesteal you can heal yourself at a rate faster than the enemy can damage you.
If you were to remove healthgate… Well, it would mostly screw Fl4k players over. Zane and Amara have so much lifesteal that unless enemy damage was specifically adjusted to one-shot characters (at which point the whole balancing of the game would just be ■■■■■■ massively, Borderlands is after all an RPG with shooter mechanics, not a shooter at the core which is very much reflected in the way encounters play out) it just wouldn’t matter and Moze… Well, most of the time she’s either running a low health build and thus doesn’t have healthgate anyways, or she runs a Sapper and has high lifesteal.
Fl4k is the only character who relies on regen and static healing as none of their skills or gear (besides one anoint) actually gives them lifesteal.
Would it make for thoughtful and engaging gameplay? No. There’s again the problem of encounter design. You don’t approach enemies, you just get swarmed (particularily because enemies often only spawn once you get close).
Would it lead to more build variety? Hell no! It would make surviving more difficult and as such limit your gear choices. I mean, look at the Slaughtershaft with all the Rocket Launcher spamming badasses and then tell me that you genuinely want them to be able to just one-shot. I currently thoroughly enjoy the fact that Zane can be played without using the barrier if you want to.
Would it put more guns back in the meta? No. The guns that are in the meta are there because they exceed in killing enemies quickly. Especially with the risk of being one-shot, you’ll want to dispatch your foes as quickly as possible. If anything, it would narrow down the meta even further.

Again, Borderlands is a role playing game at the core. It rewards you for putting well thought-out builds together, farming the gear that is needed for them, and the fights are meant to put them to the test. That’s the reason for the crazy scaling.
I can see the wish for a more tactical approach to shooting, but this ain’t the franchise for it, chief.

4 Likes

Agree, and dsagree at the same time.

I agree that the current healthgating and FFYL allow for “lazy balancing”

I disagree about it breaking the game completely, there is two kind of damage in the game :

Stream of damage (usually enemy shooting at you)
Nuke damage (Melee, ability …)

Stream of damage don’t care about healthgating, they’ll take you down anyways. How do you deal with those? By bulking up, by using cover, by increasing distance, and by using regen.

Nuke damage are usually avoidable source of damage, that ought to punish you heavily. The healthgating system allow you not to get OS each time, which would be annoying, while letting the damage being high enough to also punish super tanky build. Cause yeah, without healthgating, OS ability would be impossible to balance considering different build have very different effective hit points ( [Health + shield)] / [1- damage reduction]). How do you equally punish Fl4k for eating that missile and SoR Moze? You scake the damage up to Moze and you healthgate Fl4k.

Believe it or not, but I rarely benefit from Healthgating with my Fl4k while I really massively on it with Amara or Zane. I just play differently.

The current problem is more in the form of life steal. Lifesteal make you regen at a speed that is absolutely insane, meaning that anything that don’t OS you just can be ignored.

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lifesteal does not make you invincible either:you have to reload at some point, plus there is so much knockback going on that you can easily lost your target, plus multiple source of damage or enemies with high fire rate can beat you out of it. It is the best way to facetank but has limitation too.

It’s a simple thing to do in theory, but when you remove healthgate you also had to lower the damage output of all enemies and rework damage calculations on some enemies completely. And then you’d run into the opposite problem: The characters with strong health regen would just outheal the incoming damage as some can already do that to some degree of success.

If they ever let go off the healthgate mechanic, then they would need to balance a whole game around it. From scratch. That’s nothing you can just do in a patch or two as we’re talking about every single attack in the game and it all had to be tested.

Edit: One thing they already did to make healthgate less reliable is to remove the Invincibility frames. In BL2 you had a short period of Invincibility after getting healthgated. This was either massively shortened or cut completely in BL3 as you can die extremely easily now even directly after getting healthgated. That’s why people report “getting one shotted”, especially in the slaughter shaft where you have easily 5+ damage sources per second flying your way.

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What’s health gate, can someone give an in depth explanation?

I will agree with you about FFYL, especially with Too Angry To Die. However, I feet like healthgate is much less of an issue in BL3 transit was in BL2. Mainly due to no numerical bonuses to health regen, making low health healthgate abuse builds a thing of the past. Furthermore with some Mayhem modifiers, i.e. enemies fire an extra projectile it seems like they blow right through the gate.

I understand what you say in OP, but it would take MASSIVE gameplay adjustments to make endgame playable without healthgate IMO.

Healthgate - When you are above 50% health, you cant be put into FFYL by a single attack. Instead you will be left with a sliver of health.

I personally despise health-gate and would love to see it gone.
In Borderlands 2, it pretty much wrecked any Gaige build relying on shields, which was kind of her survivability (BSS keeping your HP low and your shields high, and Fancy Math scaling off missing HP), so it was Moxxi weapons or die. But I think that is part on what they want high difficulty levels to be (knife-edge kill-or-be-killed if you miss a single step). And in OP levels it turned things like Turtle shields, which I loved using (Hoplite on Gaige was nuts) useless as you´d end up with 0 HP. It´s funny because when I looked into the UCP, I was able to set them to reduce a percentage of health - so OP10 Hoplites/Tortoises would not get you to 0 HP. I never understood why health was a flat bonus with these mechanics, it´s kind of counterproductive.
In 3 I have come across the same issue with Moze and Shield of Retribution trees. I think health gate to be a silly mechanic where there are items (Front Loader, Deathless) and an entire characters´skill tree built around the idea of having little to no health.

To be fair, I’ve never seen a single game where having a high health pool was the key to tankiness. I most games I’ve played, there is a health threshold you wanted to reach to avoid being one shot, and then you either start stacking health regen or damage reduction/armor and protections for survivability. Borderlands is totally in line with what I see in other games.

Also, I’m not sure I understand your point about FFYL. Enemies don’t just stand in front of you waiting to be shot, they do things. Most characters lose a lot of their damage once they go down. And why should we fear dying to mobs? They aren’t the threats, badasses and bosses are. I don’t get what your concern is here.

Finally,

Honest question: do you only play Zane or Amara? Because you seem to be taking “invincibility” for granted as if it is something every character has just for existing. You do need to actively take advantage of healthgate, which means you need life steal or ways to generate huge portions of health extremely quickly to get above the 50% threshold. Moze and FL4K have far fewer tools to take advantage of it.

I disagree with a lot of this post. At the very east, healthgate scales for all of the characters equally, even if some don’t get to abuse it as easily as others. If we start tying survivability purely to total EHP, then Amara and Zane still come out on top with their massive damage reduction, lifesteal, and health/shield abilities, while Moze and FL4K would become far more squishy.

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So there’s an actual mechanic in the game that says if I have 24000 health and an enemy hits me for 25000 damaged I won’t die? I’ll be at 4 health?

I’m glad you’re “invinsible” but I’m not.

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That’s how it is supposed to work, in BL2 there were builds based around it. You would use a turtle shield with enough health penalty to get your health <500 and COM’s that offered 10k+ health regen/second. So as soon as your health went down, you were above healthgate nearly instantly.