Finished first run, thoughts are mixed

So just finished my first storyline run today, clocked it at around 1 day and 12 hours total (not counting a half hour or so of aimlessly running around looking for stuff to fill out the map at random points) and ended at level 44. Between the story, gameplay and some issues with the state of the game with bugs, I definitely have a few thoughts.

For the gameplay I did have plenty of positives that I’ve expressed to many a degree before, though since progression is so much faster and damage fall-off happening quicker, a fair few guns last barely a level or two while others can go five or more, making for some rather chasm sized disparity with weapons.

I did thankfully find that Maliwan SMGs and some handguns do get much more manageable charge times at higher rarities, though sniper rifles and most shotguns unfortunately suffer egregiously under them. Atlas’s gimmick is much more balanced than I expected, though on a personal note I did feel a bit disappointed at how little variety there was to their range of weapon possibilities. Atlas SMGs I feel would have been an interesting alternative to have to work with, to say nothing of the easy callback to Tales with the Atlas Silver SMG that Sasha had.

Dahl and Tediore did again fall quite a bit to the wayside for me, Dahl’s damage numbers and lack of synergy with any real elemental applications made them just barely passable for me on Amara and even on full auto most guns were taking forever to chip away at enemies. The Tediore reload gimmicks are thankfully more varied than I imagined, but a lot of their use for those gimmicks are situational at best and from all I tested I didn’t find any that lasted more than a level or two for effectiveness.

Hyperion and Jakobs are thankfully much unchanged from 2, Hyperion is as accurate as ever and the inclusion of weapon shields with potential abilities like bullet reflection, absorption and amplification under fire were a welcome and highly synergistic addition. Jakobs maintaining its more straightforward, old fashioned mechanics still holds up, and the critical damage ricochet effect gives it some CC utility I hadn’t even realized I’d wanted for them.

Tongue was a dark horse for me, I had hoped the exclusion of the Explosive element wouldn’t nerf its usefulness completely, so I was very pleasantly surprised at how effective having the splash damage be variable to all the other elements was, as well as the damage increase effects of the sticky bullets stacking on enemies. COV came in just ahead of Dahl and Tediore, but just barely, for rocket launchers the ability to go without needing to reload was a godsend, but otherwise I found them just passable at best, aside from a couple of good Uniques and Legendaries that stood out.

The rest of the gameplay veers a bit, mostly cause its in line with the majority of the bugs I encountered. I played on Performance on a PS4 Pro, so a lot of the broader bugs I had little issue with for the most part, aside from some audio hiccups and for the later game cutscenes I think some visual mismatch with how the audio was arranged. The only real “gamebreaking” bug I found was a spot in the final visitable planet when standing in a puddle/small lake and opening an Eridian white chest that dropped me through the world all of a sudden, like falling back off a ledge and forcing me to respawn, though it was only the one time.

For me the bugs might be less bugs and more misfires of how the skill calculations are supposed to work in the game, possibly just for Amara as I haven’t dived into the other Vault Hunters yet. Her healing effects for Samsara and Sustainment are still noticeably off from their written descriptions, Samsara proccing far less for her health regen at 3 to 5 stacks and for Sustainment it seems to randomly only proc off of DoTs rather than direct elemental damage from guns. Seeing as both of these are her most significant forms of combat healing, having them work properly is paramount for getting any proper use with her at endgame.

Finally then, my thoughts on the story. I did find the Calypso Twins rather weak, even Zarpadon in The Pre-Sequel had a bit more characterization given to her and from the feel of it, I think it was in that the actual proper “villain” role was split unequally between Tyreen and Troy, trying to push them more as a pair and it wasn’t working as such. Troy felt too frat-boyish and second fiddle to Tyreen, whose godly ego was on the right path to being properly villainous, but in the end came off more as too cheerfully annoying. She never got properly angry or incensed at the Vault Hunters for constantly managing to interfere with her, and despite always having the upper hand after most of their encounters it was never indicated as though the stakes had quite properly escalated. There was a point up to Troy’s boss fight that felt like their relationship was starting to get tense and strained, and I got the feeling like a schism between them and dividing the COV as a result could have been a really interesting story twist to develop them both further, but it went nowhere and Troy ended up being hardly a speed-bump in the grander sense of the plot.

This ties in of course to the big mis-step for me and a lot of people, Maya getting killed by Troy. Given how little time we had with her comparative to the overall time-line of the story, it felt rushed and heavy handed as if it needed to prove that the Twins were indeed some huge, deadly threat, yet we have no real resolution or even proper aftermath over it. Compare that to Roland’s death in 2 at the hands of Handsome Jack, and its easy to see the differences and which one worked better for what reasons. The logic of the event itself felt odd and that leads to my other real issue with the story, the feeling of smallness and isolation of the “main” cast.

For all the past faces of the Crimson Raiders we see, all of them are regulated to side roles at best and even the few that come along for the ride tend to fall out of things very quickly, and we get a highlight only on the main few people like Lilith, Tannis and Ava (who all end up being Sirens which doesn’t help the issue) and it becomes even narrower when dealing with the Vaults in the game and other important moments.

Tina, Brick and Mordecai are slated as “B Team” on Pandora and only show up for a few missions and side missions at best, and even then they don’t rejoin the main group properly despite all the evidence pointing at the fact that they need all hands on deck to handle the growing crisis. With only Zer0 and Maya currently showed for the generation from 2 (and no explanation given for why the other FOUR are missing in action during all this), having two of the three Vault Hunters from 1 regulated to essentially crowd roles doesn’t really give the story any sense of high stakes or grandeur, either in the broad sense or in the personal sense for the “family” Lilith claims the Crimson Raiders are. In 2, Brick and Mordecai were fighting with us all the way to the Vault and the last stand against Handsome Jack’s forces, but in the final hours against the last boss here we’re dropped in alone and without ceremony. Against a united bandit empire spanning supposedly billions strong, there isn’t much sense of engaged unity in the protagonist cast.

And this is most obvious in us, the player character directly. While the Vault Hunters have more dialog this time around, its still far less than in The Pre-Sequel and the interactions are even more generic with most characters. Despite the even heavier spotlight shone on Sirens for this installment, Tyreen nor Troy give a customized goading or even acknowledgement to Amara being one, and it makes the Vault Hunters feel even more out of place in the story. This pairs with the lack of the greater support cast for important events like the Vaults and comes off even worse still, like we the “main” characters are just standing around doing nothing while all these things are happening to the people we’re supposed to be friends and comrades with.

Back to the comparison with Roland’s death in 2, that one worked because its execution was quick and jarring, and even then it still felt like we were there as it happened, made helpless by the speed of it and unable to even get the chance to react. Here it happens to such a cinematic extent that I found myself actually counting opportunities where the Vault Hunter in question could have done something to contribute, even if just to the conversation going on let alone fighting or whatever else. Even if the events ended the exact same, it’d feel more involved and less like suddenly watching a recording of events despite being there at the time.

Do I think the story is a bad one? Not in the least, there was still fun to be had and its evident that there was something to the plot points. But some of the twists were definitely more awkward than hard hitting and came off as rushed and too blunt for the reactions that were likely intended to get for them. I’m refraining from any final judgments until we see what the full content of the DLCs will be and what they’ll add or not to the story and aftermath, but I’m hoping they’ll do something to balance out these issues even just a little bit. For what feels like a final outing for some of these characters, it’d just be a shame for them to go out on an awkward note rather than an epic one.

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Excellent and well written post, thank you!

Summed up nicely, I just finished my first playthru as well on the weekend and was lvl 40 when finished, biggest problem I had was the final boss fight killing calypso twins, final cut scence finishes and when it cuts back to charater I’ve fallen thru the map, had to exit and reload, but really annoy I lost all the loot from the drop on the final fight at lvl 40 which I need to help set me up for mayhem mode. They seem to busy nerfing loot drops rather than fix bugs in game, where is your priority gearbox?

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yes.

Boils down to “Guns good, story bad.”

A lot of wasted potential. Even if the Villains aren’t as villainous as Jack they can still be fantastic antagonists if written well. Tyreen had a few moments where she really shone… but none of them were capitalized on. Typhon was a waste. Maya a waste. Ava pointless. The 4 new vault hunters under utilized…

But I love the guns.